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Offseason Primers: Green Bay Packers

Senior Fantasy Writer
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An inability to slow down Colin Kaepernick in a Divisional Playoff loss at San Francisco will overshadow what was a pretty typical year for the Packers. And in this case, typical means very good.

Despite another season without a legitimate rushing threat and injuries hitting two star receivers from last year and tight end Jermichael Finley underwhelming, Aaron Rodgers was on fire. He didn't post eye-popping numbers like he did in 2011, but he still finished as the second-best quarterback in Fantasy thanks to eight games with at least 30 Fantasy points in standard formats. He had some weak outings as well, including five with 16 points or less, but no one is doubting Rodgers as a top-flight Fantasy option, especially since he can be had a full round later than where he was picked in drafts last August.

2012 Touches Leaders
807 total touches (rush attempts + receptions)
Alex Green 153 (135 car., 18 rec.) 18.9%
Randall Cobb 90 (80 rec., 10 car.) 11.3%
Cedric Benson 85 (71 car., 14 rec.) 10.6%
James Starks 75 (71 car., 4 rec.) 9.3%
James Jones 64 rec. 7.9%
Jermichael Finley 61 rec. 7.6%
Aaron Rodgers 54 car. 6.7%
Jordy Nelson 49 rec. 6.0%
Greg Jennings 36 rec. 4.4%
All Others 140 17.3%

Surrounding Rodgers is a receiving corps that figures to get a little thinner this offseason. Long-time Packer Greg Jennings left for better riches in Minnesota. But he leaves behind speedster Jordy Nelson, sure-handed James Jones and dynamo Randall Cobb as the primary players in the Packer pass attack. All four have intriguing Fantasy value but Cobb is the one who will draw the most attention on Draft Day. That's because he came on strong last season for the Pack, leading the team in catches with 80, receiving yards with 954 and total yards from scrimmage with 1,086. He caught 77 percent of his targets, easily the highest of any receiver with at least 30 targets last year. If there's something to get tripped up on it's that Cobb didn't start to shine until the Packers' run game went from bad to non-existent. Once they started to get something from the run game, Cobb began to slow down, and that includes during the postseason. But the Packers have said they're going to take Cobb off of special teams and focus on using him more on offense, so chances are he will be in a position to put up very good stats in 2013.

One thing is for sure, the Packers' commitment to throwing the football won't change. But what about their run game? Last season the team ranked 20th in rushing with 1,702 yards, 25th in rushing touchdowns with nine despite running the ball 433 times (the league average was 435 rush attempts). The Packers tried to run the ball more but couldn't be effective with it. Could that be the catalyst to make the team splurge on a rusher this spring, or will things stay the same? We'll find out.

James Jones -- Draft Day Value

2012 Target Leaders
558 pass attempts
Randall Cobb 104 18.6%
James Jones 98 17.6%
Jermichael Finley 88 15.8%
Jordy Nelson 73 13.1%
Greg Jennings 62 11.1%
All Others 133 23.8%

Randall Cobb is an exciting player to watch and Jordy Nelson is an elite receiver, but if there's one Packer receiver to aim for this summer, make it Jones. He quietly led the NFL in receiving touchdowns last year with 14, picking up career-highs in catches (64) and yards (784) along the way. This while playing in 91.5 percent of snaps for the Packers, according to Pro Football Focus, a monster number right up there with No. 1 receivers on other teams. Jones finished with nine 10-plus Fantasy point games in standard scoring leagues, tied for fourth-best among receivers. He also continued to be a red-zone hero, cashing in 12 of 20 regular and postseason targets for touchdowns. He made plays big and small for the Packers last year and will aim to keep it up entering a contract year in 2013. Assuming the Packers indeed thin out their receiving corps, you're looking at one of the best bargains on the board. If you're the type of Fantasy owner who loves to load up on running backs early, expect Jones to be available in Rounds 5 or 6 as a potential No. 2 receiving threat.

DuJuan Harris -- Breakout

The NFL is a crazy place. Example: In the same year Knowshon Moreno was the first running back picked in the draft, Arian Foster went undrafted. We all know how Foster turned out, and late last season the Packers had an undrafted running back come out of nowhere and help them run the ball effectively. That back was DuJuan Harris, who was picked up off the street in October and logged significant carries for Green Bay by December. Playing in six games including the postseason (but really getting a lot of work in his last three), Harris tallied 257 yards on 62 carries (4.1 avg.) with four rushing scores. He picked up nine catches for 81 yards as well and basically looked like a sharp, physical back who displayed good cutting ability and quickness. It's been a while since the Packers have had a capable back to truly threaten defenses -- Cedric Benson was supposed to be that guy but he got hurt. With the work the Packers have done to try and become a better running team, Harris stands to see his career take off if he gets the chance to start in 2013. Any major additions to the roster made by the Packers this spring could jeopardize Harris' playing time.

Jermichael Finley -- Bust

Expected 2013 Draft Averages
Aaron Rodgers 15-25 overall
DuJuan Harris 85-95 overall
Cedric Benson Undrafted
Randall Cobb 40-50 overall
James Jones 65-75 overall
Jordy Nelson 65-75 overall
Jermichael Finley 115-125 overall
Mason Crosby Late-round pick
Packers DST Final-round pick

If you think Finley is still a great Fantasy tight end, you're strictly judging him by his reputation. In a Packers offense that registered 40 receiving touchdowns, Finley had two of them. He had his chances to make plays -- catching a career-best 61 passes on 88 targets -- but finished with 667 yards, 100 fewer yards than he had in 2011 (and he had six more catches in 2012). Drops were a problem for Finley, owning seven according to Stats, Inc., not including one in tight coverage in the Divisional Playoff loss to the 49ers. Spats with the team during the season didn't seem to help his workload either as he caught three passes or less in half of his regular-season games. Obviously there's potential for Finley to shine in the NFL, and it might come with another team, but with Finley in a contract year for the second time in three seasons he's truly at a crossroads in his career. At best he's a consideration to begin your year as your starting tight end but we'd take him and another high-upside tight end with mid- to late-round picks.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Dave at @daverichard and on Facebook .

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Player News
Patriots place rookie CB Darryl Roberts on IR
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(9/1/2015) The Patriots have placed rookie cornerback and seventh round pick Darryl Roberts on season-ending injured reserve, ESPN has reported.

Roberts injured his wrist in the first preseason game. He started that game and was showing promise in training camp.


Saints place P.J. Williams on IR
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(9/1/2015) The Saints placed cornerback P.J. Williams on injured reserve, reports NFL.com. Williams will miss the rest of the season after tearing his hamstring. He was a third-round pick in 2015.

Seahawks RB Robert Turbin sidelined with sprained ankle
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9/1/2015) Seahawks backup running back Robert Turbin sustained an ankle injury Saturday against the Chargers, which might keep him out for a while, coach Pete Carroll revealed Tuesday. 

“Robert’s got a sprained ankle,” Carroll said, per SeattlePI.com. “It’s a significant ankle sprain. We have to see what that means. He feels pretty good about it, but it definitely showed up on the MRI and all that.”


Bears place running back Senorise Perry on IR
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9/1/2015) The Bears placed running back Senorise Perry on injured reserve Tuesday to reach the 75-man roster limit. He is in his second season out of Louisville.

RG3 meeting with independent neurologist later in the week
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9/1/2015) Redskins backup quarterback Robert Griffin III will be evaluated later in the week by an independent neurologist to check for lingering concussion symptoms, Redskins coach Jay Gruden said Tuesday. He is expected to be re-tested Thursday or Friday.

Report: Jaguars' Julius Thomas to undergo surgery, miss a month
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9/1/2015) After undergoing a second opinion Tuesday, Jaguars tight end Julius Thomas will have surgery on his broken index finger Wednesday, a source told NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport. 

The surgery could sideline Thomas for up to a month. He is in his first season with the Jaguars.


Chiefs place LB Justin March on IR, Tyler Bray on NFI list
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9/1/2015) The Chiefs placed linebacker Justin March (knee) on injured reserve and quarterback Tyler Bray on the non-football injury list Tuesday.

Giants place OL Will Beatty on PUP list, two others on IR
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9/1/2015) The Giants placed offensive lineman Will Beatty (pectoral) on the PUP list Tuesday, which means he will miss at the least the first six weeks of the 2015 season.

The Giants also placed Josh Gordy (hip) and Bennett Jackson (knee) on injured reserve, while waived-injured Brandon Mosley (back) and Akeem Hunt (hamstring).


Packers WR Randall Cobb: 'I don't plan on missing a game'
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9/1/2015) Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb missed the final training camp practice Tuesday due to his sprained right shoulder. However, Cobb feels his time away from the field will be minimal, per PackersNews.com.

“I don’t plan on missing a game,” Cobb said. "I'm doing everything in my power to get back before then, but we still don't know severity. We've still got to get a lot of the swelling out. It definitely is a lot better then what we all thought it was in the beginning."


Cowboys get roster down to 75 players
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9/1/2015) The Cowboys pared down their roster to 75 players on Tuesday by releasing four and giving injury designations to six, according to the team's official website.

The Cowboys waived linebacker Jonathan Brown, wide receivers Antwan Goodley and David Porter and and tight end Brandon Barden. They also waived/injured defensive end Kenneth Boatright, running back Michael Hill and offensive tackle R.J. Dill.

Dallas also placed Orlando Scandrick on IR, Chaz Green on the PUP list and Mark Nzeocha on the NFI list.


 
 
 
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