Green Bay Packers 2013-14 Fantasy Football Breakdown
The Green Bay Packers are always a safe place to go for fantasy football owners. Except they’re not just supposed to be safe; they’re supposed to be one of the places for fantasy owners to find elite fantasy results.
That probably would have been the case throughout 2013, but a broken collarbone robbed star quarterback Aaron Rodgers of half the season. The same could be said for wide receiver Randall Cobb and Jermichael Finley, while the absences of those three studs didn’t really help the rest of the Packers on a weekly basis.
At the same time, Green Bay not having Rodgers to lean on made them a more run-heavy team, which opened the door for a mammoth rookie season for Eddie Lacy. Even with the injuries, Green Bay still offered some very solid fantasy production, while Rodgers and Cobb both returned late in the year – hopefully to help your fantasy team clinch a championship.
For the highs and lows of 2013 and with 2014 in mind, let’s break down the Green Bay Packers from a fantasy perspective:
Aaron Rodgers is Taken For Granted
Rodgers willingly gave way to Lacy so the Packers could be a little more balanced in 2013, yet he was still on pace for another fantastic fantasy season. Take away his week nine showdown with the division rival Bears (he lasted just two pass attempts) and A-Rod was on pace for a stellar 34-touchdown season.
Throw in a broken collarbone and seven missed games (eight if you count most of that Chicago game) and Rodgers’ talent was made even more impressive by an insane week 17 season finale. Rodgers showed a little bit of rust after that kind of layoff, but ultimately put up 318 passing yards and two touchdowns – including an epic game-winner on fourth down.
Green Bay thought they could make it through the storm without Rodgers, but they were wrong. They 100% needed Rodgers to return to save them in week 17. The same could be said for fantasy owners.
In 2014, fantasy owners won’t take Rodgers for granted, and he surely won’t take playing football for granted, either. Don’t be shocked if he comes out trying to make up for some lost time and has one of his better seasons to date.
Eddie Lacy is a Monster
Lacy made quite the jump as a rookie. You had all the concerns about failed Alabama running backs, his shaky injury history and those summer pictures suggesting he was a fatty. And then Lacy came in as a rookie and dominated.
Lacy was needed more than the Packers probably ever intended on using him thanks to A-Rod going down, but his season-ending numbers were still extremely impressive for a rookie back. In the end, Lacy was at the worst a very effective RB2 and also gave fantasy owners a weekly shot at RB1 production thanks to 1,178 rushing yards, 11 touchdowns and 35 receptions.
He even rushed for a solid 4.1 yards per carry as a rook, displayed very nice versatility, and proved he could be a true every down work horse. Lacy toted the ball 20+ times 10 different times and truly put Green Bay on his back down the stretch of the season before Rodgers made his triumphant week 17 return. He will enter 2014 as a true RB1. You’ll need to spend a first round pick to get him.
Jordy Nelson is Vastly Underrated
When you have arguably your best overall NFL season and you do so without Aaron Rodgers for half the year, you know you’ve made it. Nelson has always been respected for his red-zone prowess and deceptive speed down the field, but it still seems like he’s underrated as a top NFL #1 target, as well as a stud fantasy option.
It was just three years ago that he finished just a few spots out of first place in the running for fantasy’s top receiver, and two years later he’s still putting up fantastic numbers. He put up good numbers in 2012 despite missing four games due to injury, and returned in 2013 to play in all 16 games.
The best part is he notched a career high 85 receptions, as well as a career high 1,314 receiving yards and did it with Rodgers nursing a broken clavicle for the majority of the year. Nelson proved he is a true #1 NFL receiver and despite the uptick in targets and receptions, still kept his yards per catch at an elite 15.5.
Nelson has to share the ball with Randall Cobb and others, but he remains Green Bay’s top target at just 29 years old. He could be even better in fantasy football in 2014.
Who Replaces Finley?
Finley sustained a scary neck injury back in week six of last season, which ended what looked to be a pretty good 2013 season. He had already secured 25 catches and three touchdowns for fantasy owners that drafted him, while his pro rated numbers had he played the other 10 games would have been roughly 66 receptions, 800 receiving yards and about eight touchdowns. That would have meant a career high in receptions and yardage, as well as tying his best mark for scores in a season.
And that’s if he simply kept up that reasonable pace. Had he continued playing with Randall Cobb (broken leg) also on the shelf, he could have done even more damage. Needless to say, he was a fantasy asset and it wasn’t easy to lose Finley if he was your TE1.
But he still hasn’t latched on with another team and with a $10 million insurance policy possibly being activated on his surgically repaired neck, it’s no guarantee he passes up that kind of dough to play again.
That means the green and gold could be entering 2014 without Finley as their main tight end. And given Green Bay’s tendency to pass the ball around pretty evenly and get solid production out of the tight end position, fantasy owners should take notice to who stands the best chance at starting at that spot for the Pack. For now, it looks like it could be the athletic Brandon Bostick, who is an interesting pass catcher with some real upside. Blocking specialist Andrew Quarless is also in the mix, as are rookie options, Richard Rodgers and Colt Lyerla.
Lyerla has to be the dark horse. An undrafted problem child out of Oregon, Lyerla is easily the best pure athlete with the most upside out of this entire group. If he can keep his nose clean and stick on the final roster, he’ll be a name for fantasy owners to watch.