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2010 Team Report: Green Bay Packers

Quarterbacks

Starter: Aaron Rodgers
Backup(s): Matt Flynn

Starting QB: Aaron Rodgers was the No. 1 fantasy QB last season, despite being sacked a league high 51 times. In game after game, Rodgers was running for his life, rolling out and trying to create more time for his receivers to get open. Thankfully for him, they are some of the best, and Rodgers turned in his best season with 4,400 yards passing, 30 TDs and only seven interceptions. The Packers added rookie tackle Bryan Bulaga with their 1st-round pick this season, and he should add depth to a line in desperate need of it. This season expect more of the same from Rodgers as he takes full advantage of the emerging talent he has at WR and TE. The Packers entered the playoffs last year as the team no one wanted to play. Their OT loss to Arizona proved that they can hold their own with anyone, and this season Rodgers could lead them deep into the playoffs.

Backup QB: Matt Flynn had a career best season in 2009, racking up seven completions for 54 yards and an interception. He his career totals include nine completions for more than 60 yards and almost 10 total rushing attempts for -1 yard. All joking aside, Flynn enters his third season as the primary backup for Rodgers despite his very limited experience. He's an obvious handcuff if Aaron Rodgers is your starting QB, but his performance won't come close to Rodgers' if Flynn takes over the starting job due to an injury.

Running Backs

Starter: Ryan Grant
Backup(s): Brandon Jackson, James Starks (R)
Fullback(s): Korey Hall, Quinn Johnson, John Kuhn

Starting RB: Ryan Grant's performance was overshadowed by Aaron Rodgers and a slower than expected start to the season. Grant had just 57 fantasy points during his first five games of the season, and he didn't really find his stride until Week 14. His performance was far from poor though, and he had 12 games with 10 or more fantasy points for the year. He had just 130 more yards from scrimmage than he did in 2008, but his YPC were 4.4 compared to 3.9 the previous year and he added 7 more rushing TDs. He finished the year on a tear, and despite a weak playoff performance because the Packers fell behind so early, he finished as the No. 8 fantasy RB. With an improved offensive line, and defenses trying to stop the Green Bay passing attack, Grant is in a great position to possibly move into the top five of fantasy RBs. He'll be going in the first couple of rounds of most fantasy leagues this season and is definitely worth it.

Backup RBs: Brandon Jackson returns as the primary backup to Grant this season and although the Packers added rookie James Starks this season, Jackson is not in danger of losing his job any time soon. Jackson has had several chances to take over the starting job when Grant struggled two seasons ago, but he now seems comfortable as the backup/change of pace guy for the Packers. Starks comes into camp with some injury concerns, but he will not be expected to perform right out of the gate and will have plenty of time to recover physically.

Fullback: Korey Hall, Quinn Johnson, and John Kuhn had 22 touches between the three of them for the entire season, and only Kuhn reached the end zone last year. He also had a TD run in the playoffs against Arizona. If your league requires a fullback, Kuhn is probably an above average option due to his red zone targets.

Wide Receivers

Starters: Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, James Jones
Backups: Jordy Nelson, Patrick Williams, Brett Swain, Charles Dillon

Starting WRs: Despite one of the biggest passing attacks in the league, Greg Jennings had a down year in 2009, averaging more than three fantasy points a game below his 2008 totals and only reaching the end zone four times. This was most likely due to Aaron Rodgers having to read and react to the open receiver more than setting up a play and letting it develop. A more stable offensive line this season should have Jennings back in the Top 10 again. Donald Driver enters his 12th season with the Packers, and his streak of six consecutive 1,000 yard seasons could be in jeopardy as the younger wide receivers on the team push for more time. The biggest threat to Driver is fourth-year man James Jones, who only had 30 receptions last season, but reached the end zone four times.

Backup WRs: Third-year receiver Jordy Nelson also showed signs of improvement last season, finishing with over 300 yards receiving and two receiving TDs. He is more of a possession type receiver though and with Jennings, Driver, Jones, and Finley in front of him, he probably won't be much more than a 400-yard guy again this year. Patrick Williams, Brett Swain and Charles Dillon are all developing players with a lot of competition in front of them. Unless there are several injuries to key players, their contributions will be more on special teams than anything else.

Tight Ends

Starters: Jermichael Finley, Donald Lee
Backups: Andrew Quarless, Spencer Havner, Tom Crabtree

Donald Lee will be on the field a lot this season, but Jermichael Finley is the TE you want if you're looking for fantasy gold. Finley had a fantastic second season after a slow start to begin the year. He had just five receptions in his first three games and missed three games during the season with a knee injury, but he still finished as the No. 13 fantasy TE last season with 98 fantasy points. His big play potential puts him in the Jason Witten / Antonio Gates ball park, and he could have a top-5 finish if he can stay healthy. Donald Lee will certainly steal a few receptions each game, but his days as a fantasy stud in Green Bay are officially over. Andrew Quarless is a big, physical guy who was a 5th-round selection this season, but he could push for time by the end of the year. Havner is a converted LB, but he probably won't see much playing time unless someone is hurt.

Place Kicker

Mason Crosby : In his three years in the league, Crosby has scored points (141, 127, and 129). However, he has not maximized his opportunities -- the Packers have ranked 1st, 5th, and 1st in attempted kicking points during that span. Crosby has hit under 80% on field goals each year, including only 75% last year. Charting his misses last year shows several long attempts, but also a few from short range: 49WL, 55WL, 55WL, 51WR, 52WL, 43WR, 38WR, 42WR, 34WR, extra point WL. Despite his numbers being below average for present day NFL standards, the Packers have continued to express confidence in Crosby.

Kick and Punt Returners

Kick Returners: Will Blackmon, Jordy Nelson, Tramon Williams, Sam Shields, James Starks, Quinn Porter

CB Will Blackmon won the return specialist role in the 2007 preseason, but a broken thumb and then a broken foot eliminated much of his year. In his absence, kickoff returns were primarily handled by CB Tramon Williams (30 returns, 22.8 avg.). In 2008 Blackmon remained healthy and handled the majority of the kickoff returns (55 returns, 21.0 avg.). In 2009, injury once again curtailed his season. Although WR Jordy Nelson did not handle kickoff returns in college at Kansas State, the Packers tried him in that role. It paid dividends last year (25 returns, 25.4 avg.) when he stepped in for Blackmon. Several rookies are wild cards. Although 6th round draft pick RB James Starks did not handle returns at the University at Buffalo, the Packers may give him a try. Although undrafted rookie CB Sam Shields had more special teams experience in the gunner role at Miami, his blazing speed will be tested on returns. Undrafted RB Quinn Porter did handle kickoff returns in college at Stillman, returning two for scores last year.

Punt Returners: Will Blackmon, Tramon Williams, Jordy Nelson, Charles Woodson, Sam Shields

When Blackmon returned later in the 2007 season, he delivered (8 returns, 13.3 avg., 1 TD) on the promise shown that preseason. That carried over to 2008 when he averaged 11.1 yards on 36 punt returns, taking two the distance for TDs. Although Blackmon isn't typically mentioned among the top returners in the league, he quietly ended up as the second ranked fantasy returner in 2008. Tramon Williams made a splash on his six returns in 2007, taking one of them 94 yards for a score. While Blackmon was injured in 2007, the Packers turned to old reliable, CB Charles Woodson. Once again, he did pretty well for an old guy (33 returns, 8.1 avg.). He had one return for no gain last year. Although Jordy Nelson only returned six punts during his college career at Kansas State, he took three of those all the way for scores. He didn't fare as well last year, averaging 5.3 yards on 17 returns with no scores. After two consecutive 8th place finishes in fantasy returns, the Packers tumbled to 29th last year.

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: LT Chad Clifton, LG Jason Spitz, C Scott Wells, RG Josh Sitton, RT Mark Tauscher
Key Backups: T Bryan Buluga (R), G T.J. Lane, T Allen Barbre

The Packers offensive line has an experienced and talented pair of bookend tackles. Both Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher are entering their 11th season and are beginning to get long in the tooth. They aren't as good as they once were but are still good starting tackles. The Packers also drafted a tackle this year (Bryan Buluga) and he'll be expected to join the starting lineup in the next season or two. Josh Sitton started all 16 games last year and had a very good season. He is likely locked into that right guard position. Daryn Colledge is an unsigned RFA who is looking for a big contract. However there are no guarantees he even starts on this squad as Jason Spitz is a very capable guard when healthy. It will be interesting to watch what happens with Colledge as the Packers likely won't break the bank to keep him on team. Scott Wells is a very capable center but has struggled to stay healthy throughout an entire sixteen game season. Overall, the Packers should have another good season when it comes to offensive line play.

Team Defense

Defensive Line

Starters: NT Ryan Pickett, DE Cullen Jenkins, DE Johnny Jolly
Backups: NT/DE B.J. Raji, NT Anthony Toribio, NT Aleric Mullins, DE Mike Neal, DE C.J. Wilson, DE Jarius Wynn, DE Justin Harrell, DE Ronald Talley

Starting DL: Prior to last season, the Packers switched from the 4-3 to the 3-4 defense. Several players did not fit the scheme, but one such player that did was nose tackle Ryan Pickett. At 340 pounds, Pickett is a stout run defender and a decent pass rusher for a man his size. Cullen Jenkins mans one of the DE spots and is a good all around lineman. Although not a perfect fit as a 3-4 DE, Jenkins still managed to have a solid year in the scheme last year. Johnny Jolly is listed as the other starting DE and is another solid run defender, but limited as a pass rusher. Like Jenkins, Jolly is probably better suited to play in a 4-3 scheme. Although Jolly is listed as the starter, this position seems likely to be fought for in preseason.

Backup DL: B.J. Raji looks to rebound after a disappointing rookie season. The sixth overall pick in 2009, Raji is big enough at 335 pounds to play nose tackle, yet agile enough to play DE. He will playing nose tackle when Pickett is out and also play some snaps at DE. Anthony Toribio and Aleric Mullins will compete for a roster spot as a backup nose tackle behind Pickett and Raji. The Packers used a second round pick to select Mike Neal and he will join the rotation at DE. Jarius Wynn and seventh round pick C.J. Wilson will compete to be in the rotation at DE. Justin Harrell has only played 13 games in his three seasons and is in a battle to make the team. Harrell is a former first round pick and has plenty of talent, but his health is a major concern. Ronald Talley will compete for a roster spot.

Linebackers

Starters: OLB Clay Matthews, ILB Nick Barnett, ILB A.J. Hawk, OLB Brad Jones
Backups: ILB Brandon Chillar, ILB Desmond Bishop, OLB Brady Poppinga, OLB Cyril Obiozor, OLB Robert Francois, Frank Zombo.

Starting LBs: With the change in defensive schemes last year, the Packers had to acquire players that fit the scheme. They drafted Raji sixth overall, then followed that up by using their second first-round pick on outside linebacker Clay Matthews. After struggling early, Matthews came on strong in the second half of the season and gives the Packers a building block for their defense. After missing the second half of 2008 with a torn ACL, Nick Barnett returned last year to anchor the LB corps. Barnett is a solid run defender and is adequate in coverage. A.J. Hawk will line up next to Barnett, but he has been under fire for his inconsistent and occasional lackluster play. Longtime Packer Aaron Kampman left as a free agent and the Packers currently have Brad Jones slotted in as the OLB opposite Matthews. Jones was a seventh-round pick in last year's draft.

Backup LBs: The Packers have a solid group of backup linebackers, led by veteran Brady Poppinga. Although Poppinga primarily plays OLB, he is versatile enough to play inside and also has starting experience. Desmond Bishop has talent, but has yet to crack the starting lineup. He gives the Packers a solid backup on the inside. Brandon Chillar is another experienced veteran backup who is capable of playing at any of the LB positions. Like Poppinga, Chillar has NFL starting experience. Robert Francois, who spent time on the Packers practice squad last year, will compete for a backup LB spot. Rookie free agent Frank Zombo, who played defensive end in college, will compete for a backup sapot at OLB. Cyril Obiozor will battle for a spot on the roster.

Defensive Backs

Starters: CB Charles Woodson, CB Al Harris, SS Atari Bigby, FS Nick Collins
Backups: CB Tramon Williams, CB Will Blackmon, CB/FS Jarrett Bush, CB Pat Lee, CB Brandon Underwood, CB Josh Bell, SS Morgan Burnett, FS Charlie Peprah, SS Khalil Jones, FS Derrick Martin

Starting DBs: Charles Woodson had a remarkable season for the Packers and was named the Associated Press defensive player of the year. Woodson finished the year with a career-high 66 solo tackles and has averaged seven interceptions in his four years with the Packers. The 33-year-old Woodson was named the NFC defensive player of the month a record three times. Veteran Al Harris is currently penciled in at the other corner spot, but at age 35 and coming off a torn ACL, he is not a lock to keep the starting job. Nick Collins recently signed a three-year contract extension and his big play ability is a big part of Green Bay's strong defensive play. Collins has racked up 13 interceptions in the last two years. Atari Bigby is the starting strong safety, but he will have to ramp up his play to keep the job. Bigby has been plagued by injuries and inconsistency the last two seasons.

Backup DBs: Tramon Williams stepped in for the injured Al Harris last year and played solid football for the Packers. Williams could start this year should Harris struggle returning from his injury. Will Blackmon has been plagued by injuries and hopes to contribute as a kick returner and reserve CB. Jarrett Bush can play both free safety and cornerback and hopes his versatility can earn him a job. Rookie Morgan Burnett has a great chance to win the starting strong safety position at some point this season. Veteran Derrick Martin brings experiences to the secondary. Pat Lee, Brandon Underwood, Josh Bell, Khalil Jones, and Charlie Peprah are all competing for roster spots.

Last modified: 2010-06-07 15:34:22