1st and 10 Week 17

1st and 10 Week 17 by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles

“1st and 10″ is a weekly segment by Utter-Fantasy.com, getting fantasy insights from a knowledgeable person in the fantastic fantasy football community. With 10 questions each week, we will canvass some of the hot button topics to keep us all informed on the ever-changing NFL landscape and which may carry major fantasy football implications.

On Monday afternoon, approximately 12:00 Noon Central, I will post the latest segment in “1st & 10.”  If you enjoy it, let us know. If you have any fantasy football questions, really let us know.

 

Week 17-  July 11th, 2016

“1st and 10″ Week 17 Special Guest Writer- Jennifer Smith- senior writer for TheFantasyAuthority

Special thanks to Jennifer Smith and be sure to follow her on Twitter @FF_female920

 

Utter-Fantasy #1) The running back can be a hit-or-miss position. Of the 11 RBs selected early last year in fantasy football drafts, only one delivered on what people were hoping for, that would be Adrian Peterson. The disappointing group included Marshawn Lynch, Eddie Lacy, Arian Foster, Melvin Gordon and Jamaal Charles. I believe, however, that the current top 10 RBs are safer picks in 2016, than the top 10 RBs were last year? Do you agree Jennifer?

Jennifer Smith TFA: Well, injuries were the main factor last year with many you mentioned and those concerns are still present in this year’s top 10 RBs (as they always will be due to the ground and pound of being a workhorse); however, I’m confident in those at the top compared with last season. Age and durability have been the main topics coming up, but also small sample size/experience (e.g. Elliot, D Johnson). The main things I look for in my RB1 are 1) opportunity/volume 2) consistency 3) injury/durability concerns. If you spend an early round pick on these guys, you want a return and a big one at that. Both Charles and Bell are coming off knee injuries, but their rehab seems to be going well and I have no concerns about their volume or consistency when healthy. Doug Martin and Mark Ingram are integral pieces in their offenses (and consistent), and Lacy dropped weight and seems primed for a bounce back. I am high on Lamar Miller’s talent on a run heavy Texans team (he’s my #5 RB) and David Johnson will have to prove that his performance at the end of the season was legit. His coaching staff seems confident that Chris Johnson and Ellington will be complements and D Johnson will get lion’s share of the carries.

Devonta Freeman and Ezekiel Elliot are probably the backs I have more concern about, only because we haven’t seen Elliot at a professional level and there is always adjustment there, even though he is clearly very talented and well-rounded. Will he actually get 280-300 carries as is speculated? I’m thinking it will be less than that, but plenty to make a fantasy impact. Freeman’s efficiency started to wane over the second half of last season and with Tevin Coleman healthy, he will see less touches (265 carries last season, 73 receptions). The volume will be there and he showed he can be the bell-cow, but his performance over first half of last season (4.5 YPC; 9 TDs in 6 games) may be inflating fantasy owner’s expectations for 2016. He actually fell out of my top 10 (#11).

 

Utter-Fantasy #2) We all know that WR Antonio Brown will likely have another stellar season in 2016, but the other offensive players are harder to predict. Please write a brief sentence on the following Pittsburgh players with regard to their likely success with QB Roethlisberger and overall impact in fantasy football for standard formatted leagues. WR Markus Wheaton-WR Sammy Coates-WR Darrius Heyward-Bey-TE Ladarius Green

Jennifer Smith TFA:

WR Markus Wheaton- He will come out of the gate at the WR2 position and was tied with Heath Miller last season for the 2nd most red zone targets (third overall targets). He was pretty unimpressive in beginning of season, but had 4 TDs in last 6 games and seemed to develop chemistry with Big Ben. If he doesn’t step up initially with M. Bryant out, he’ll open the door for Coates. With a late 8th round ADP currently, you could snag a WR2 for a WR3 price (which is where I expect him to land for most of fantasy season), but I would rather have guys like Marvin Jones, Crabtree, or Travis Benjamin at a similar price.

WR Sammy Coates- They’ll involve Coates in 3 wide sets and give him an opportunity to show what he can do after having a “tremendous” off-season. He has the most to gain from M Bryant’s absence, but won’t hit his numbers in 2016. Coates is a great late round flyer in redraft and best-ball/MFL10 leagues due to his upside and opportunity.

WR Darrius Heyward-Bey- I don’t see him as fantasy relevant, as he is lowest on the totem pole out of all these listed. He had an increased role at the beginning of last season, but then was much less involved once Bryant returned.

TE Ladarius Green –He has the most upside for me, due to Ben’s extensive use of TEs in the past; however, this was with veteran Heath Miller who he developed chemistry with over 11 seasons. Green has been in Antonio Gate’s shadow in San Diego and definitely has the athleticism and size to dominate in the position. In the 3 games Gates was out in beginning of last season, Green averaged 4.6 rec, 58 yards, 12.5 yard average, and scored in 2 out of 3 games. I have him ranked as the #8 TE for 2016.

 

Utter-Fantasy #3) Most fantasy football prognosticators have a certain player(s) that they are higher on for the upcoming season than others might have them. I have DAL RB Zeke Elliott and SD WR Travis Benjamin higher than most. Who have you seen recently ranked perhaps too high, that you have reservations about?

Jennifer Smith TFA: Latavius Murray, Dion Lewis, and Devante Parker are the ones that I’ve seen creep up ranks this summer, perhaps too much. Murray’s YPC last season was unimpressive, but he was able to end the year as the #10 fantasy RB. The story this end result doesn’t show you is the weekly inconsistency and rollercoaster of production that he gave owners last season. He is currently ranked around #17-18 RB off the board and last season, he only bested this ranking in 6 games. The rest, he ranked #23 at best and #57 at worst. He’s ranked near guys like Forte, Anderson, Hyde, and D Murray (and above Gore, Gordon, Langford) and ADP in late 3rd round. This price is just too high for me given the issues mentioned and the addition of D Washington behind him (will probably steal mostly receiving touches, at least initially). I would rather have someone with more consistency for my RB2.

My concerns with Lewis are purely about durability. He has NEVER played a full season and is on the ever-mysterious NE Patriots which many downplay, but is a serious obstacle and frustration of many fantasy owners during season. I don’t question his talent one bit, but coming off another injury (ACL), I think drafting him at around #23 RB (near in ranking to J Hill, Stewart, Gore, D Murray, Landford, and Gordon) is too steep for me. My RB2 needs to be consistent and stable, and I just wouldn’t reach that high for someone with such high risk. FYI, I had the same mindset about Arian Foster last year and told others that even his lower ADP was too pricey. There’s a chance things turn out well for owners, but a higher likelihood of disappointment. Good best ball pick or RB3, but most likely someone is going to reach for him in your league. It won’t be me.

Devante Parker is a guy with upside and his performance at the end of last season after Rishad Matthews’ injury gave him the opportunity was impressive. I won’t argue the upside, as everyone saw how explosive he CAN be when he’s healthy and his fundamentals are sound. However, my concern is his ADP (6.10) and that he is flying off the board before guys like John Brown, Allen Hurns, Donte Moncrief, and Tyler Lockett. We have a limited sample of Parker and he has a nagging foot injury that he’s struggled with since college (missed time last season as well). There’s just not enough to justify a his increased ranking, in my eyes.

 

Utter-Fantasy #4)  In a follow up question, what player have you currently ranked higher than others, because you see them having a better 2016 NFL season than is expected?

Jennifer Smith TFA: I swear, I had him before he was mentioned in the last question but Travis Benjamin is a guy I really like this season. The Chargers offense will be improved this year with the return of Keenan Allen and better play by Melvin Gordon. Rivers ended 2015 as the #1 QB in completions (438) and pass attempts (662), so there’s plenty of targets for this deep threat player. Benjamin finished last season as the #28 fantasy WR, yet he is being ranked around #48 currently despite joining a better team and having a better QB. His ADP is in the ninth round right now, which is a steal for a WR2 across from Keenan Allen. Sign me up.

 

Utter-Fantasy #5) The fantasy football draft can be one of the best parts of any fantasy season. One of my favorite “best ball’ leagues actually drafts “twice”…once prior to the beginning of the NFL season, then at Week 8 of the NFL schedule. (Each team freezes 2 players from their existing roster, all other players are thrown back into the “available pot” and we re-draft.) It is very fun, and brings a new, exciting element to the league as everyone has practically a brand new team. Have you ever participated in a mid-season re-draft league, and if not, would you ever recommend it for a future league?

Jennifer Smith TFA: I actually haven’t participated in a league with a mid-season re-draft, but I’m always game for ways to make fantasy more fun. I like the excitement of getting a “second crack” at drafting, but I would imagine as an owner that is dominating or drafted well initially, the second draft could be un-welcomed or frustrating. The owner that drafted poorly or whose team is plagued with injuries, would be ecstatic. If you sign up for one of these leagues, you know the 2nd draft is coming and most likely you enjoy something different to spice things up mid-season. Personally, I might steer clear of doing a lot of these leagues due to preparation that I do for my drafts and that this might be a lot to manage mid-season. I can definitely see the appeal, especially if you’ve been in fantasy football for a while and are getting bored with regular formats.

 

Utter-Fantasy #6) Falcons’ QB Matt Ryan has put up consistent fantasy numbers year after year, ending 2015 as the #16 overall quarterback. A few years ago he was being evaluated as a top-tier quarterback, but opinions have varied since then. Do you have faith that Matty Ice will have a productive 2016 campaign? Where would you rank him amidst QBs? How early or late should owners be looking to draft him?

Jennifer Smith TFA: Yes, I do think that Matt Ryan will have an improved season compared to 2015 and I have him ranked currently at #13 , right between Romo and Dalton. Ryan ended in the top 10 fantasy QBs in 2012-2014, but his dud last season might be steering owners away in 2016, which is a mistake. Ryan seemed to have difficulty adjusting to OC Kyle Shanahan’s system and threw 16 interceptions (2nd highest in career) and only 21 TDs (worse than any of his past 6 seasons; only season he did worse was his rookie campaign). Julio is Julio, but he can’t do everything. Roddy White clearly did help Ryan’s play in 2015, but Atlanta hopes that Sanu will contribute more. I think Sanu will be better than White and having a decent (emphasis on decent, not good) WR2 to help reduce double coverage on Julio Jones can only help the offense. Add in the successful running tandem of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman, and I think Ryan returns to form and ends the season just outside the top 10

 

Utter-Fantasy #7) Which team or teams that made the playoffs last season will suffer the biggest drop off and miss the tournament this year? Subsequently, which team could you see making the jump into relevance in 2016?

Jennifer Smith TFA: The Bengals may struggle in the AFC North division, as I think both the Steelers and the Ravens will have good 2016 seasons and, as already discussed, they have a depleted receiving corps heading into this season. As we all know as well, Dalton will have to step up his consistency in order to make the playoffs again this year. I know I might anger a bunch of fans here, but I think the Patriots might have a harder road this season to the playoffs than in many seasons past. The Jets missed playoffs by the skin of their teeth in 2015, Dolphins have some great upside, and Buffalo gets Sammy Watkins at full health and a dynamic quarterback in Tyrod Taylor.

I could see the Colts making a jump back into relevance this season with a healthy Andrew Luck. They improved their O-line and so can protect him better and I like their receiver corps of Hilton, Moncrief, and D Allen. Their run game is a little concerning, as if Gore goes down, there isn’t a lot of depth behind him. I could also see Cowboys having a big jump after a horrible 2015 season. They’ll need a healthy 16 games from Romo and Bryant, and for Elliot to hit the ground running (literally), but I could see them having a strong season. Their receiving corps isn’t very strong behind Bryant, however, so that’s something to keep in mind.

 

Utter-Fantasy #8) Of the following NFL players who had significant injuries in 2015, who concerns you the most for the upcoming season? RB LeVeon Bell… RB Jamaal Charles… TE Jimmy Graham… WR Jordy Nelson… WR Kevin White… WR Keenan Allen

Jennifer Smith TFA: I know many might say Kevin White (and I’m concerned somewhat, but more of his rookie performance and not injury), but I’m more concerned with Jimmy Graham. The reports out of Seattle about his recovery timeline have been mixed, some saying he will be ready Week 1 and others that he will start the season on the PUP/reserve list (costing him first 6 games of the season, a huge fantasy impact). As if this wasn’t enough, Graham was severely underutilized last season in Seattle after dominating in New Orleans. He had difficulty converting the few red zone targets he received (30% completion rate) and then tore his patellar tendon in week 12. This is considered one of the most serious injuries a player can face and his ability to bounce back is severely in question (see Victor Cruz). He concerns me most, followed by White.

 

Utter-Fantasy #9) Denver’s WR Demaryius Thomas had 14 TDs in 2013, 11 TDs in 2014 and only 6 TDs in 2015. Does his downward TD spiral continue in 2016, and what do you predict for his overall stats at the end of the upcoming season?

Jennifer Smith TFA: I think Thomas bounces back in 2016 and I anticipate a 10-12 TDs, 110 receptions for around 1375-1400 yards. DT had some distractions (contract, mother’s release from prison) during the 2015 season and has admitted that these distractions took away from his performance. Add in Manning’s struggles and moves at QB, and this temporary dip in production makes some sense. Despite the uncertainty at QB for 2016, DT is by far the most targeted receiver (overall and in the red zone) in Denver, and it isn’t close. He will continue to be an anchor of the offense and looked toward to lead the team in 2016.

 

Utter-Fantasy #10) The Cincinnati Bengals lost WRs Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu to free agency. TE Tyler Eifert is injured again and does not expect to be ready for Week 1. The Bengals signed WR Brandon LaFell and drafted WR Tyler Boyd, but did they do enough in free agency and the 2016 NFL Draft to replace their depleted receiving corps?

Jennifer Smith TFA: It’s a strong no for me on this one. AJG can’t do it all himself and the injury to Eifert is a significant loss. Eifert represented the 3rd most targeted receiver overall and the 2nd most targeted player in the red zone. LaFell represents a fill-in and someone that could be fantasy relevant only because of volume/situation, not based on talent. Anyone that watched him last season couldn’t be overly impressed with his drops and completion percentage (50%), but the Bengals will look to him as WR2 as Boyd gets used in the slot. I was never very impressed with Sanu, so I think his loss hurts much less than Marvin Jones. He quietly had a solid 2015 season with a 65-816-4 line and was a consistent contributor across from Green, but left the Bengals to get more opportunities and leave Green’s shadow. Boyd will need to get his feet wet as a rookie and if Green gets injured, the Bengals will struggle significantly.

Next Week’s Guest….GuestFFL.com’s Matt Dougherty

1ST AND 10 WEEK 16 WITH RTFANTASYSPORTS
1st AND 10 Week 15 with Eric dewalt
1st AND 10 Week 14 With Jamie Black
1ST AND 10 WEEK 13 WITH DFF’s MICHAEL HUGHES

 

To Hell With RBBC

To Hell With RBBC by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles

 

I have addressed the vile F_____subject of “Running Back By Committee” before, but every year the dialogue changes a little or a lot, so here is my 2016 profanity-laced tirade on “RBBC”….( and if you’re sensitive, you may want to skip this piece….as I will likely be forced to contribute to the “Swear Jar” many times, before this is over! )

Hopefully you have been following the joint endeavor between the Dynasty Football Factory and Utter-Fantasy called “1st and 10″, the weekly segment of Q & A that canvasses some of the hot button topics in the NFL landscape.

In Week 8, I was asked the following question:

DFF- “Play devil’s advocate here and make the argument that a premier wide receiver should not be taken 1.01 across all formats. Convince me that going running back heavy in the first round is still the right strategy.”

My response, in short, was ” With fewer teams than ever before featuring a one-back offense, I think RBs Todd Gurley, LeVeon Bell and Adrian Peterson can easily be argued as selections #1, #2 and #3 in drafts” – See entire response here- LINK

Or, to be even more succinct, I could have simply responded….“Yes, grab a RB and F_____ RBBC!”

And that is the F____ing WORST part of RBBC. Fantasy football owners don’t have man-crushes on Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson or Arizona’s David Johnson! They have man-crushes on WRs Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham Jr and DeAndre Hopkins. Because of F____ers like DET HC Caldwell ( who rotates RBs every other play) we almost have to draft a RB from a one-back offense in Round One, and miss out on those elite wide outs. Maybe you won’t, but I F____ing will because honestly, I’d rather start out in a draft with Todd Gurley and Mike Evans, than one with OBJ and Eddie Lacy.

I count only 6 teams that we are all fairly certain will run a one-back featured offense, those being Arizona, Dallas, LA Rams, Minnesota, Houston and Pittsburgh ( although I think Pittsburgh will use RB DeAngelo Williams more than some fantasy football owners think they will.) The New York Jets, Seattle, Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Tennessee, Indianapolis and perhaps KC, are on the fringe of being one-back offenses, but not so certain that you should miss out on an elite wide receiver in Round One.

This may be interesting……not only are most of the NFL teams pissing us off with their F____ ing RBBC, but it’s not helping them win either. Good! Below is a look at the NFL Playoffs for 2015. See anything that they all have in common, at least for most of them? A solid running game with a featured back. Except for New England( who you can’t trust F_____ anyway), you can name the featured back on all of these teams in 2015. Most do have a complimentary back, but we can live with that.

2015 Playoffs

So “To Hell With RBBC” and when drafting in September, I understand wanting to get elite WRs early, but especially in large leagues, I do not think you can afford to have a SH_____y stable of running backs. The NFL WR corps is deeper than ever, so do not ignore getting strong #1 RB(s) early if you can, then stockpile a SH___load of wide outs later.

OK….let’s see…paying the F_____swear jar. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen…..I owe thirteen F____ bucks. D___ it….F______ fourteen bucks.  D___ it!!

Green Bay Packers Team Profile 2016

Green Bay Packers Team Profile 2016 by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles

Is it a coincidence, that in 4 years with WR Jordy Nelson, the Green Bay Packers won 4 straight division titles, but without him, the Minnesota Vikings enjoyed the honors. ( Nelson tore his left ACL in August 2015.) HC Mike McCarthy probably wouldn’t want anyone to think that one missing player could hurt a season, but when have you seen QB Aaron Rodgers play 16 games and rank 12th among NFL quarterbacks?

2016 Team Outlook–
The Green Bay Packers have dominated the NFC North Division since 2011, but it was Minnesota who took the title in 2015 with an 11-5 season. Green Bay fell just a game short at 10-6. With a healthy Jordy back, Gfreen Bay will again be the team to beat in 2016. The Lions, Bears and Vikings all have good, competitive teams but they can’t put onto the field the caliber of offensive and defensive personnel that Green Bay can.

2016 Fantasy Football Outlook-

QB– Disregarding 2013, when he only played 9 games due to an injury, QB Aaron Rodgers has either been the #1 or #2 quarterback every year since 2008…..until 2015. Last year ended with Rodgers ranking #12 among NFL quarterbacks. He threw for nearly 500 less yards than he did in 2014, with 7 less touchdown passes (31 vs 38). QB Rodgers and the offense clearly missed WR Jordy Nelson’s deep threat abilities, but they still made the post-season.

RBs– Many articles were written about Lacy’s “weight” in 2015, and Green Bay reportedly wants him 30 pounds lighter. In 2015, RB Eddie Lacy was out-played by RB James Starks. Starks ended the year as the #23 running back in the NFL, and RB Lacy as the #24. In the final year of his 2013 rookie deal…this off-season will be an important one for “Spag-Eddie” Lacy.” James Starks is a free agent, but expected to re-sign with the Packers.

WRs– WR Jordy Nelson and WR Randall Cobb were the #2 and #6 wide receivers in the NFL in 2014. In 2015, no Green Bay wide receiver cracked the top 25. The offense wasn’t the same without WR Jordy Nelson and WR Davante Adams disappointed the entire year. ( rumors are WR Adams’ roster spot is in jeopardy.) It wasn’t until the post-season that Green Bay found out what talent had been sitting on the bench all season. WR Jeff Janis went 7 catches for 145 and 2 TDs in the Divisonal Game loss to Arizona. (The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s wrote- “It’s been 25 years or more since a coach in Green Bay made more errors in allocating playing time than Mike McCarthy did this year.”)


TEs–
2011 was the last time a Green Bay Packer ended a season ranking in the top 5 among NFL tight ends. Jermichael Finley was the #5 tight end that year, with 767 receiving yards and 8 touchdowns. Statistically in 2015, TE Richard Rodgers’ numbers ( 520 receiving yards and 8 touchdowns ) weren’t that much different from Finley’s in 2011, which ranked Rodgers #8 last year. With WR Nelson out, TE Rodgers was relied on more, and will be red zone threat again in 2016.

K– Impending free agent K Mason Crosby has been a Packer for 9 seasons, but he doesn’t want to leave Green Bay, nor does Green Bay want him to leave. Expect a new contract in the near future.

DEF– The Green Bay defense enjoyed a much better season in 2015 ( ranked #9) than they did in 2014 ( ranked #16). Tough vs the pass, their defense stepped up in a year where the offense declined. With important free agents impending from the defense, the Packers will need to fill holes to keep the defense trending upward in the NFL.

2015 Green Bay Fantasy Surprises–
Many a fantasy football league was won in 2014 with RB Eddie Lacy on the roster, which is why he was drafted high in 2015. He returned for his 3rd season over-weight and slow, surprising many with only 758 yards rushing yards and 3 rushing TDs at year’s end. WR Jeff Janis was a surprise in the post-season and might have won himself a spot in 2016 in the starting line-up.


2016 Free Agents That Green Bay Needs to Address–
RB James Starks, WR James Jones, K Mason Crosby, FB John Kuhn, TE Andrew Quarless, QB Scott Tolzien, T/G Don Barclay, SS Sean Richardson, CB Casey Hayward, OLB Nick Perry, NT B.J. Raji, DE Letroy Guion, OLB Mike Neal,

2016 NFL Draft–
Green Bay’s first 2 selections in the 2015 NFL Draft addressed their defense ( FS Damarious Randall- 1st round-30th overall and CB Quinten Rollins- 2nd round-62nd overall) and they will likely address it right away again in 2016. Green Bay’s needs include help on their defensive line and talented new inside/ outside linebackers.

Did You Know–
In 1974, in what has become known as one of the worst trades in history, the Green Bay Packers traded two first round draft picks, two second round draft picks, and a third round draft pick to the Los Angeles Rams for 34 year old quarterback John Hadl.

All team reports
can be seen at this link- TEAM REPORTS

Team home page: www.packers.com

Team Profiles- Green Bay Packers

Team Profiles- Green Bay Packers

by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles

HC Mike McCarthy is probably a great coach, but let’s face it, his only two quarterbacks in Green Bay for the most part, have been QB Brett Favre and QB Aaron Rodgers. It’s not like he’s had the same kind of QB adversities to deal with as say HC Rex Ryan has. Perhaps his biggest challenge came in 2013, when QB Rodgers broke his collarbone, and HC McCarthy had to struggle to the playoffs with QB Matt Flynn for 5 games. They made it to the playoffs (It didn’t hurt that Detroit had an epic collapse the same time QB Rodgers was out with his injury.)

The 2013 playoffs began with QB Rodgers back in the line up, but Green Bay lost to the 49ers in round one. In 2014, Green Bay again made it to the playoffs, but this time, it was the Packers who had the epic collapse. The Packers were leading Seattle in the Conference Championship 16-0 at halftime, and 19–7 with under three minutes left in the game. One score later by Seattle, a successful onside kick, another score by Seattle and a two point conversion, and the Packers were stunned to be losing 19-22. A quick field goal by Green Bay tied it, but Seattle won the coin toss in over-time and won the game with a touchdown. Fortunately for HC McCarthy, he does have a Superbowl win (2010), or his legacy in Green Bay would be for having successful regular season records, and crumbling in the playoffs.

2015 Team Outlook–
The Green Bay Packers have dominated the NFC North Division since 2011, and they will so again on 2015. The Lions, Bears and Vikings all have good, competitive teams going into the 2015 season, but none of them can put onto the field the caliber of offensive and defensive personnel that Green Bay can. The Packer’s coaching staff, quarterback, running backs and defense either rival or are superior to the the rest of the teams in the NFC North. Even their receiving corps should be considered superior, except the Packers are facing a free agency decision with WR Randall Cobb, who is a key part of that offense. If he leaves, their receiving corps takes a hit. Fullback John Kuhn could also be leaving.

2015 Fantasy Outlook–

QB– It’s hard to believe that it has been nine years, since Aaron Rodgers had to sit and watch as team after team passed him up in the 2005 NFL Draft. QB Rodgers wasn’t selected until the 24th overall pick came in, by the Green Bay Packers. 5 wide receivers were selected before Aaron Rodgers, and none of them are still playing in the NFL. The Cleveland Browns, who have had nothing but quarterback fiascoes for decades, passed up Rodgers and selected WR Braylon Edwards with their 3rd overall pick. Using 1st round picks on college quarterbacks is risky business, that’s a given, but the Browns still have to feel sick looking back on that 2005 draft. Aaron Rodgers is a great, great player. He can do it all, and that’s all there is that needs saying about him.

RBs– Two running backs recently came into the NFL after having played for the Alabama Crimson Tide…RB Trent Richardson and RB Eddie Lacy. RB Richardson is looking like one of the biggest busts to come into the NFL of late. He was the 3rd overall selection in the first round by the Cleveland Browns in 2012, but now sits on the Indianapolis Colts roster. RB Eddie Lacy on the other hand, is looking like a steal from the 2013 draft, having dropped all the way down to the 61st selection of the 2nd round. (Actually, none of the 2012 running backs selected from the first 3 rounds of the 2012 draft have done very well in the NFL, which is a big reason no RB was selected at all in the 1st round of the the 2013 draft.) In 2014, RB Lacy totaled over 1500+ yards from scrimmage and scored 13 TDs (4 were receiving TDs) He’s a strong, durable running back with a trade mark “spin move” that can make defenders miss badly. Powerful at the goal line, and elusive in the passing game. RB Lacy is a top 5 RB going into the 2015 season.

WRs– To go with one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks, the Green Bay Packers just so happen to have the #2 and #6 wide receivers in the league from 2014, catching his passes. WR Jordy Nelson, drafted in the 2nd round of the 2008 NFL draft, was second only to Pittsburgh’s WR Antonio Brown in the receiving yards last season and tied for 2nd in the league with 13 TD receptions. He has great hands, fantastic speed and should easily rank in the top 5 of wide receivers next season. WR Randall Cobb is Green Bay’s other star receiver and he ranked 6th in the NFL with 1324 total yards and 12 TDs, Cobb is a free agent this year, and there are a lot of teams that want him. He may elect to take less, and stay with Green Bay. (Last year WR Eric Decker chased the money to New York, leaving Denver and QB Peyton Manning, and he ended the 2014 season as the 28th ranked WR. He was #8 in 2013.) If WR Cobb does leave, GB has a young wide receiver in WR Davante Adams, one of the talented rookie WRs that came into the league in 2014. WR Adams is a sleeper for the 2015 season, whether Cobb leaves or not. UPDATE: WR Randall Cobb re-signed with GB.

TEs–
Although tight ends aren’t used in the GB offense like they used to be (in the days of Sterling Sharpe, Mark Chmura or Bubba Franks) the Packers still have a couple good ones, who find the end zone now and then. TE Andrew Quarless was the 26th ranked TE in 2014, with 323 yards and 3 TDs. The Packers also have rookie TE Richard Rodgers, no relation to the QB, who ranked #41 in 2014 with 225 yards and 2 TDs. Their only limitations are targets from QB Aaron Rodgers. UPDATE: Waived TE Brandon Bostick. 7/4/2015 interestingly, the Packers have no plans to release TE Andrew Quarless following his July 4 arrest for firing a gun twice in the air during an altercation.

K– Mason Crosby has been with the Packers for the past 8 seasons. He was selected by Green Bay in the sixth round of the 2007 NFL Draft. K Crosby had a rough 2013 season, but HC McCarthy believed him and stuck with him, which paid off in 2014. Crosby ended the season as the 3rd ranked kicker in the NFL, knocking in 34 of his 40 attempts for field goals. With such a potent offense, Crosby is a strong candidate to finish in the top 5 again in 2015.

DEF– The Green Bay staff does a great job selecting players in the NFL drafts, for both their offense and their defense. Although not yet a Pro-bowler, Haha Clinton-Dix played like one at times for the Packers. He was the 1st overall selection in 2014. With names like Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers and Nick Perry leading the way, the Packers have one of the top defenses in the league. The Packers have a lot of players either coming back from injuries or are currently free agents, so they have issues keeping this defense together.

2014 Green Bay Fantasy Surprises–
The Packers offense is a well oiled machine, so there aren’t a lot of surprises. RB Lacy had some durability issues when playing for Alabama, but he’s only missed one game in the NFL since being drafted, perhaps that’s a surprise.

2015 Free Agents That Green Bay Needs to Address–
QB Matt Flynn- FB John Kuhn- WR Randall Cobb (re-signed)- OT Byran Bulaga (re-signed)- DE B J Raji (re-signed)- DT Letroy Guilon (re-signed)- LB Jamari Lattimore- CB Jarrett Bush- CB Davon House- LCB Tramon Williams

2015 NFL Draft–
The immediate needs of Green Bay are on defensive, depth at right tackle, and at the corner back position. The Packer’s have a lot of defensive players possibly heading for free agency, so they need depth on defense everywhere (DT and DE), Byran Bulaga’s contract is up so the Packers need help pass-blocking (OT) and they could easily lose Tramon Williams and House (CB). UPDATE: Green Bay’s entire 2015 NFL Draft can be seen at this link- GREEN BAY’S DRAFT

Did You Know–
The waiting list for Packer season tickets is over 86,000 names long, making the average wait to be 30+ years. With only 90 tickets turned over annually, it would be 955 years before the newest name on the list got a ticket. Typically, new fans to Lambeau Field are the beneficiary of season tickets that have been willed to them by next of kin.

All team reports
can be seen at this link- TEAM REPORTS

Team home page: www.packers.com