Continuing our team previews with the Green Bay Packers.
Whenever I write something specifically about Green Bay, I cannot help but bring up history. Therefore, I'll open with a little story just to warm up.
"He's fair. He treats us all the same. Like dogs."
DT Henry Jordan on Vince Lombardi
In his last days at Green Bay as general manager, a reporter asked Lombardi about when he began having regrets leaving coaching. He replied, "the night I made the decision." As Lombardi left for the parking lot, Henry Jordan caught up and asked Lombardi if he would chew him out once more for old times. Lombardi said nothing, smiled, patted Jordan on the back, got in his car, and drove away. On this day, Lombardi made his announcement of coaching again in Washington.
The Redskins franchise began turning around in his first season as coach. Just as Bart Starr rose to the NFL elite, Sonny Jurgensen started following a similar pattern in 1969. As Jurgensen began returning to his great form of the mid-1960s, Lombardi promised him even more pass protection the next season.
"1970 will be different!", said the players.
"1970 is the year the Redskins will beat them all; the way the Packers beat them all!"
It was different. Everything was. On July 27 1970, Lombardi made his last public appearance at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore. Not long after his surgery, he unexpectedly attended a minor rookies-only preseason game against the Colts. It was his first venture away from the hospital in a month since complaining of abdominal pains.
"It's great to be here with my team... and even though you lost today, I saw things and players that are gonna make us a champion..." His players stood and cheered after the short speech of their coach. Those cheers faded from history.
That September, the dawn of football came in 1970, but a certain man departed us who held a pious philosophy to the game; who encouraged young men to seek perfection so that they would meet excellence along the way. Vince Lombardi left these gifted words of wisdom not just for football players, but to all of us.
2018 Fantasy Football Green Bay Packers Preview
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When it comes to fantasy quarterbacks and Aaron Rodgers, parity is hard to find. Rodgers has the distinction as the only fantasy quarterback with practicable draft status in an early round. Rodgers prefers the pocket, but comfortably scrambles for yardage on his own regularly. Although Jordy Nelson left, Rodgers seems to connect with anyone with skill of catching a football.
Rodgers practices just as hard as he did in his younger days. He maintains a higher ratio than anyone in football for TDs v INTs. His repertoire for pulling out wins late means your fantasy point totals with Rodgers never end until the final gun. Therefore, if you need garbage time points, you can depend on him too.
Aaron Jones will serve a two game suspension to start 2018. This helps, in small measure, to boost Jamaal Williams and Ty Montgomery for a time. In this era, the Packers under McCarthy seem to embrace a tandem backfield approach.
I say tandem, rather than the usual "committee" because the Packers work things a bit differently from other RBBCs we see around the league. They base a lot of gameplan through offensive series, and not always by the play, because they prefer limiting their substitutions for each down. This is why you'll see Aaron Rodgers often catch a defense with too many men and drawing a penalty. It's part of their offensive tactics.
You are best to keep the backfield as very low temperature targets in your draft. Resist temptation to reach for any of them. Like anything else, you need to ask the question of when you can start them in your flex. Right now, for me, by the time all three of these running backs are off the draft board, I may have a steady flex player or two already chosen.
Williams ADP 93
Jones ADP 110
Montgomery ADP 132
Therefore, the players in the Green Bay backfield are spec pickups when it comes down to it. I would perhaps make a slight exception to Ty Montgomery. His ADP is a late round bargain.
Jordy Nelson's departure from Green Bay moved everyone up on the depth chart. The main beneficiary, Davante Adams (ADP 17) rises to the more lofty levels of fantasy. It is easy to presume that Adams should finally clear the 1000 yard mark, with a healthy Aaron Rodgers. You might think Adams took a big fantasy point plunge when Brett Hundley took over after the injury to Rodgers in 2017, but the drop off was really not that bad.
The count of low returns came in only three or four games with Hundley. I guess the only thing we lost with Adams in 2017 is a set of reliable statistics. We have to pretty much scrub 2017 out of it because of the large portion without Aaron Rodgers.
Where is Randall Cobb? We miss him. If anyone took a fantasy free fall after Hundley, it was Cobb. Cobb currently sits at ADP 100. At this level, with a healthy Rodgers, there is no reason why anyone should dismiss a possible Cobb revival. Keep his temperature at medium-high as a draft target this year.
Geronimo Allison (ADP 212) should be in your sleeper considerations too. Remember James Jones? That's something like where Alison is right now. In 2018, he could get plenty of looks and a few big games with Rodgers. Again, that's as of now. Alison is just the frontrunner and will have competition in camp for that juicy WR3 spot.
So, watch that spot and consider drafting a deep flier for whoever establishes a lock on that job. The candidates are: Geronimo Alison, Equanimeous St. Brown, J'Mon Moore and a couple others. Also bear in mind, this could be one of those situations that doesn't resolve itself until the season gets underway.
Graham has lost some pep since his monster fantasy days in New Orleans. However, I think we can all agree that there are few better landing places for him than with the Packers.
That said, Graham remains something of an enigma for projecting his usage in Green Bay. First of all, tight ends have a history of gradual integration when they join the team. Secondly, Graham has to compete in a sea of other Packers red-zone beasts. Thirdly, since leaving New Orleans and his knee surgery a couple years ago, Graham hasn't had the same presence between the 20s as he used to.
Really, the only known knowns we have is the upside of opportunity for having the job basically to himself and the perceived combination of big play guy Aaron Rodgers to big play guy Jimmy Graham.
So how does one draft Jimmy Graham (ADP 55, ECR 64) all things considered? Ugh. It's among the toughest questions in fantasy football to answer in 2018. I think the best way to approach this is to draft Graham without any reaching if he falls to you, but consider an extra next level tight end.
Yes, I know. Using an extra draft pick sooner on a tight end is an expensive hedge. The other option is to keep your finger steadily on the waiver button and see how things go. Ed Dickson to the rescue! Guess that wasn't very funny...
The Packers are contenders for the NFC North and should be among the top offenses. The fantasy prospects will generally center around the quarterback and pass catchers once again. The backfield remains uncertain.
As the preseason games approach, some answers will come concerning a few of the areas discussed here.
Visit the F6P Fantasy Football Draft Kit Page for more advice to prepare for the 2018 season.