The Green Bay Packers have made three consecutive playoff appearances since 2009, including one Super Bowl victory. With Aaron Rodgers at the helm, the Packers have many more postseason berths in store. Despite having a porous defense last year, the Packers still went 15-1, which shows how dominant their offense can be. Green Bay has the second-easiest schedule in 2012, so count on Rodgers and his receivers to pour on the points.
Aaron Rodgers has established himself as the top quarterback in fantasy football. He's mobile, he can score with his arm or his legs and has arguably the best receiving core in the NFL led by Greg Jennings. He threw for an astounding 45 touchdowns, but what's more impressive is that he only threw six interceptions. With Rodgers gaining another year of experience with the same group of receivers, don't expect much of a dropoff from his 2011 numbers. If anything can stop him, it's his offensive line, which allowed him to get sacked 41 times last season. It will be hard for Rodgers to play a full season under that kind of pressure again. Hopefully the addition of center Jeff Saturday can alleviate some of their problems. Once the elite running backs are gone, Rodgers is worth taking as early as the fourth-overall pick.
The Packers don't have much of a running game, yet they remain successful. James Starks is listed as the team's starter, but Green Bay may use as many as four running backs. Sharing time with Ryan Grant and John Kuhn last year, Starks only had one touchdown in 13 games. The offense will remain pass-heavy and Kuhn will likely be featured at the goal line, so Starks will have very few scoring opportunities. Second-year backs Alex Green and Brandon Saine could also see touches throughout a game. Starks has the most fantasy value of the group, but is just a reserve at best.
Wide Receivers and Tight End
It was Jordy Nelson, not Greg Jennings who was the Packers' statistical leader. Jennings missed the final three games of the season with a knee injury, giving Nelson the chance to capitalize in his absence. In those games, Nelson totaled 306 yards for five touchdowns. Had Jennings stayed healthy, their numbers would have been more identical. On the year, Nelson ended with 15 touchdowns. That total will likely go down, but his receptions and yardage should remain the same, making him a high-end No. 2 fantasy receiver. Jennings is still Green Bay's top wideout. From 2008 to 2010, he has not missed a game and has recorded at least 1,100 receiving yards. He was on his way of having another typical year by his standards until the injury. Jennings is a top-10 wideout based on his consistency, but with the emergence of Nelson along with the number of targets to feed, he could get lost in the mix at times. James Jones had some big games last year, but playing as the team's fourth option makes it hard for him to be consistent. However, he has a nose for the end zone, scoring 17 times over the past three seasons. He's worth taking in the late rounds given his big-play ability. Donald Driver returns for his 14th season but will be in a limited role. He'll battle with Randall Cobb for playing time.
Jermichael Finley has the talent to be the league's best tight end, but injuries and inconsistency have limited his potential. Hopefully he could build on his 2011 season where he tallied 55 receptions for a career-high 767 yards and eight touchdowns. He has developed into one of Rodgers' top targets and that can only lead to positive outcomes. Consider Finley a second-tier tight end.
Mason Crosby is a premier kicker due to his offense. He only attempted 28 field goals last season because the Packers scored a league-leading 70 touchdowns. The lack of field goal opportunities hurt to a degree, but kicking for an elite offense is always a plus. Crosby also improved on his accuracy, converting on a career-high 85 percent of his kicks. Treat him as a top-five kicker.
The Packers defense did a 180-degree turn in 2011. After fielding an elite defense in 2010, Green Bay fell to 19th in points per game and last in yards allowed per game. They even took a step back in pressuring opposing quarterbacks, recording 18 fewer sacks. However, they should rebound with their style of play. Green Bay led the league with 31 interceptions last year and will continue to play aggressively. Rookies Nick Perry and Jerel Worthy should take some pressure off of Clay Matthews so he could very well have a bounce-back campaign. Green Bay enters 2012 as a low-end starting fantasy defense.
Travis Chan is a fantasy sports enthusiast and contributor for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. You can follow him on Twitter @Travischan1.
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