As part of Cheesehead TV's participation in the Crown Royal First-and-Crown fantasy football league, we're taking a closer inspection at the Green Bay Packers from a fantasy perspective.
Here's how the players on the Packers roster are looking after reaching the quarter pole in the season...
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers
The past: Rodgers put up the type of performance fantasy owners have come to expect in Week 2 against Washington when he threw for a franchise record 480 yards and four touchdowns. With the exception of that one game, however, Rodgers has relatively underperformed, throwing only one touchdown pass the past two games as the Packers have run the ball more than usual. Even though the early bye plays into his statistics, Rodgers currently ranks only 11th among all NFL quarterbacks in fantasy football scoring.
The future: Rodgers may not have the best season of his career, but he remains a must-start quarterback. The Packers quarterback is still getting used to life without Greg Jennings and Donald Driver, a reshuffled offensive line in front of him and a revitalized ground game. Once the Packers offense hits its stride––and it will––fantasy owners will reap the benefits.
Running Back Eddie Lacy
The past: An early-season concussion limited the production of Lacy the first few weeks of the season, but he now appears to be healthy and ready to carry the load in Green Bay, at least for the time being. A 99-yard effort last weekend is perhaps a sign of things to come.
The future: As long as James Starks remains out with an injury and Johnathan Franklin has ball-security issues, Lacy figures to be the workhorse back in Green Bay. He's a good No. 2 running back in most fantasy leagues and with the way the Packers have committed to running the ball this season, he could work his way into the conversation among No. 1 backs.
Running Back Johnathan Franklin
The past: Franklin was probably a free agent in many fantasy leagues before a 100-yard effort in Week 3 and then probably got picked up. With two fumbles this season, however, the Packers coaching staff may not fully trust Franklin for anything more than spot duty on a rotational basis.
The future: Unless Lacy were to get hurt, Franklin doesn't look like a good starting option in fantasy football, although he may be worth keeping on the bench and monitoring his progress. With his raw talent and receiving ability, Franklin has the talent to challenge NFL defenses.
Running Back James Starks
The past: With Lacy out due to a concussion, Starks had a career-high 132 yards in a touchdown in Week 2. As has always been Starks' problem, however, it didn't take long for him to suffer an injury of his own. He's currently out for a couple weeks with a knee injury.
The future: It's worth keeping an eye on Starks when he returns from injury. Because of his knowledge of the Packers offense, the coaching staff trusts him enough to give him playing time. He may not be a starting option right away, but he could be worth stashing on your bench.
Running Back John Kuhn
The past: There used to be a time when Kuhn was a touchdown vulture in 2010 and 2011, but those days appear to be over. He's only touched the ball once this entire season, one carry back in Week 1, partially due to hamstring injury that his limited his participation.
The future: The need for using Kuhn in short-yardage situations has been minimized in Green Bay thanks to the addition of Lacy. Kuhn is not a good fantasy option even in desperation.
Wide Receiver Randall Cobb
The past: To date, Cobb already has two 100-yard receiving games and another game with over 100 yards rushing and receiving combined. Owners were probably hoping for more than two touchdowns Cobb has put up, but all things considered, he hasn't been a disappointment.
The future: The Packers want to get the football into the hands of Cobb in any way possible, whether that means throwing him the football or giving him the occasional handoff out of the backfield. Because of his all-purpose yardage, he's a must-start in almost all fantasy formats. And if you're rare league that awards points for kick and punt return yards, Cobb is one of the top fantasy receivers in the entire league.
Wide Receiver Jordy Nelson
The past: With 371 yards and three touchdowns, Nelson is the tenth-leading fantasy scorer among all NFL wide receivers this season. And had it not been for an early bye, he'd be even higher up the list.
The future: There will be a couple games where Cobb and James Jones will take away a couple targets from Nelson, but it's impossible to predict when that will happen. Nelson remains a must-start.
Wide Receiver James Jones
The past: Considering he led the NFL in receiving touchdowns a year ago, fantasy owners were probably expecting Jones to find the end zone a few more times than the two so far this season. Even so, Jones hasn't been a disappointment with 339 yards on the year and two 100-yard performances.
The future: It's always a little dangerous being part of such a deep receiving corps. There's only one football to go around in Green Bay, and Nelson and Cobb are equally as talented as Jones, if not more so. Still, Jones is a decent No. 2 receiving option in most fantasy formats and a top-flight No. 3 if you're afforded such a luxury.
Tight End Jermichael Finley
The past: Because he missed most of one game due to a concussion, Finley hasn't put up big-time numbers, making two touchdown catches and covering just 153 yards. But he appears to be healthy now, and the further he is removed from his concussion, the more he figures to be a bigger part of the Packers offense.
The future: He's not Jimmy Graham or Tony Gonzalez, but Finley is still a No. 1 tight end option in most leagues, simply because of the Packers' history passing the football. He's liable to have a big game at any moment, although a deep receiving corps takes away a few of his targets. At least there's no other tight ends on the Packers roster limiting Finley's effectiveness. Andrew Quarless, Ryan Taylor and Brandon Bostick aren't even worth carrying on your fantasy roster.
Kicker Mason Crosby
The past: Before the season started, many fantasy football owners probably shied away from Crosby, who's coming off the worst season of his NFL career. But now that he's gone a perfect nine-of-nine on field goals this season, he's likely back to being a starting option in most fantasy leagues.
The future: If Crosby still happens to be a free agent in your league, it's past time to pick him up. The Packers offense is explosive enough to get Crosby plenty of extra-point opportunities if nothing else. He's due to miss a field goal at some point, but he's in a groove right now and fantasy owners just need to ride the wave.
Packers Defense/Special Teams
The past: The Packers were arguably the worst defense in the NFL two years ago, but they've made strides since that time. They rank 25th among all teams in fantasy points.
The future: Even though the Packers defense has improved, there's still plenty of better options for a starting defense. If you have a top-ranked defense on a bye, however, the Packers aren't a bad one-week replacement based upon who they're playing.
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