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2015 Team Report: Green Bay Packers

Quarterbacks

Starter: Aaron Rodgers
Backup(s): Scott Tolzien, Brett Hundley [R]

Starting QB: Aaron Rodgers enters his 9th season in Green Bay, fresh off his second MVP award and yet another, productive and efficient season. After missing eight games in 2013, Rodgers played all 16 games for the fourth time in his career while leading Green Bay to a 12-4 overall record. He was seventh in passing yards (4,381 yards), third in passing touchdowns (38) and recorded the lowest interception total (5) among all qualifying starting quarterbacks. Rodgers ranked second in passing rating (112.2), second in yards per attempt (8.43), all while having (8) 300+ yard passing games. The Packers have elite talent at the wide receiver and running back positions, but Rodgers consistency and big play ability is what drives this offense. In addition to his passing prowess, Rodgers has shown a knack for picking up yards on the ground, rushing for (269) yards en route to a career best (6.3) yards per carry. With Jordy Nelson out for the season Rodger's fantasy outlook takes a hit, but he is too talented to not consider a top three option at quarterback.

Backup QB: Scott Tolzien will enter the season as the primary backup behind Aaron Rodgers. This will be his fifth NFL season, however he has only seen action in a limited capacity, throwing for (717) yards, while recording (1) passing touchdown to (5) interceptions during the 2013 season. The limited depth behind Rodgers prompted the Packers to trade up in the 5th round of the NFL Draft and select UCLA QB, Brett Hundley. Hundley ranked first in UCLA history in both passing touchdowns (75) and passing yards (11,677), and was the first player in school history to record a rushing, passing and receiving touchdown in the same game. Hundley is a raw NFL prospect, but he landed in a great place to learn the quarterback position. He is projected as a career backup, although his unique skill set makes him an interesting player to watch if Aaron Rodgers was to get injured.

Running Backs

Starter: Eddie Lacy
Backup(s): James Starks, Alonzo Harris
Fullback(s): John Kuhn, Aaron Ripkowski

Starting RB: Eddie Lacy has become a main staple in the Green Bay backfield, providing a power rushing game that pairs well with their potent passing attack. With Jordy Nelson out for the year, Lacy will be in line for much more opportunities rushing, catching passes, but most importantly in the red zone. Lacy recorded his second consecutive 1000 yard season, rushing for (1,139) yards, (9) touchdowns while recording a healthy (4.6) yards per carry. Despite rushing for less yards in his second season, Lacy more than made up that ground in the passing game, catching (42) passes for (427) yards for a (10.2) yards per reception average. The (10.2) yards per catch was an increase of nearly three yards over his first season total, (7.3 ypc). Lacy has improved tremendously in pass protection, finishing the season with a positive grade on plays where he was tasked with pass blocking. Lacy is seen as power running back, but he has also shown a propensity for making big plays, evidenced by the fact that he recorded a (20) yard rush in seven of sixteen games, despite receiving (20) carries in a game only three times (All Packers Wins).

Backup RBs: James Starks will start the 2015 season as the primary backup behind Eddie Lacy. Starks is a veteran entering his 6th season with the Packers, and has provided solid backup duty in his time with the team. He rushed for (333) yards on (85) carries and scored (2) touchdowns on the ground, as well as adding (18) receptions for (140) yards. After averaging an impressive (5.5) yards per carry in 2013, he struggled in 2014 with a pedestrian (3.9) yards per carry. This led the team to sign two undrafted free-agents this off season, Rajion Neal and John Crockett. Neal remained the #3 back all throughout training camp but in a surprising move the Packers chose to cut him and go with Alonzo Harris as their third option. Harris is 6'1, 237 with a running style similar to Lacy. He is a powerful runner who projects to be a solid short yardage option for the Packers. Harris ran a (4.7) 40 yard dash at his pro day but proved in college he was capable of breaking off big plays. with Lacy doing so much of the heavy lifting, it would not surprise me to see Harris get some work in short yardage situations, as he is better suited for that role than Starks.

Fullback: Coming off a first-team all pro season, the Packers resigned John Kuhn to a one year deal for 2015. Simply put, Kuhn is one of the best at playing one of the least glamorous positions. His main duties are keeping Aaron Rodgers upright and being a lead blocker for Eddie Lacy. When asked, Kuhn can grind out short yards, but he rushed only (24) times for (85) yards and (1) touchdown in 2014. This will mark his 9th season in Green Bay, so his understanding of protection schemes is an important asset for the Packers. The Packers made Ripkowski the 206th overall pick in this year's draft, and he is being touted as the successor to John Kuhn. He has potential as a lead blocker, but will be forced to earn his roster spot on special teams. Kuhn is firmly implanted as the team's starting fullback, so it will take an injury for Ripkowski to see any time on offense.

Wide Receivers

Starters: Randall Cobb, Davante Adams, Jordy Nelson(IR)
Backups: Myles White, Ty Mongtomgery [R], Jeff Janis

Starting WRs: *UPDATE 8/23: Jordy Nelson is out for the 2015 season after tearing his ACL during the Packers preseason games. It is amazing how fast the Packers went from absolutely loaded at the wide receiver position to now having to depend on 2nd year wide out Davante Adams to be a major contributor. Losing Jordy Nelson will hurt this offense in a number of ways. Rodgers loses his big play weapon (19 catches of at least 20 yards in 2014), an excellent red zone target (43 touchdowns over the last four years) and his most dependable third down receiver. A healthy Nelson forced teams to single cover either he or Randall Cobb, something that went a long way in both players having fantastic statistical seasons. While losing Nelson was a big blow to the GB offense, it could have been worse. Randall Cobb injured his shoulder in the second week of the preseason and it looked as though he could miss up to four games. Thankfully Cobb is on track to be back by week 1. After having his coming out party in 2014 (91 catches, 1,287 yards, 12 touchdowns), Cobb will now have to shoulder the load for the GB passing game. He will have the benefit of more targets but with that comes the fact that he will be the focal point of opposing defenses. He has refined his skillset since entering the league, and is now capable of running the entire route tree. He is dangerous in the screen game, but can also beat defenders off the line of scrimmage making it nearly impossible to defend him without safety help. Cobb has the talent of a #1 wide receiver but to reach his ceiling he will need Davante Adams to step up and take advantage of single coverage. Adams had a very promising rookie campaign, catching (38) passes for (446) yards and (3) touchdowns. The Packers felt confident throwing him into the mix early, and he did not disappoint, catching (15) passes for (184) yards and (2) touchdowns in weeks 5-8. His (756) total snaps, ranked third on the team among skill-position players. Despite being listed at 6'1, he plays much bigger and is capable of beating defenders on jump balls, while also showing a talent for turning the ball up field and gaining yards after the catch. His (4.9) average yards after catch, ranked 41st in the NFL. The Packers will need someone to step in for Nelson and become a red zone threat and Adams projects to be the best option. He led the NCAA in receiving touchdowns his sophomore year (24) and was 3rd (14) his freshmen year.

Backup WRs: The Packers are constantly adding depth to their wide receiver core, and 2014 was no exception. After adding Davante Adams in the second round and Jarred Abbrederis in the fifth, the Packers took a shot in the seventh round on Saginaw Valley State star, Jeff Janis. At 6'3, 224 lbs, Janis has an incredible blend of size and speed, running a 4.42 40 yard dash at the NFL combine. Janis is the physical equal of Jordy Nelson but inconsistency has plagued him since entering the league. At one point it was rumored that Janis was on the roster bubble, but his ability to contribute on special teams saved him from being cut. This was not true of fan favorite Jarred Abbrederis who was cut after a concussion forced him to miss most of training camp and preseason. The Packers chose to go with only five wide receivers on the 53 man roster, with Ty Montgomery and Myles White round out the receiving core. After being cut by the Giants, Packers veteran James Jones remains a strong possibility for the Packers to sign before week 1. He is familiar with their scheme and had some very productive years with Green Bay.

Tight Ends

Starters: Richard Rodgers
Backups: Kennard Backman, Andrew Quarless

Coming into training camp, Andrew Quarless and Richard Rodgers looked to be co-starters with each bringing something different to the table. Unfortunately for Quarless, he was arrested for firing a gun in a public place and from there was firmly entrenched in Mike McCarthy's doghouse. His loss was Richard Rodgers gain. Rodgers is now first on the depth chart and has a real opportunity to contribute after the Packers lost Jordy Nelson for the season. Rodgers received the praise of another famous Rodgers, who said of the tight end "He's got incredible hands; I dare say the best hands on the team". Rodgers has a nice blend of size and speed and can offer another option for Aaron Rodgers in the red zone. He may not be an elite option at tight end just yet, but the opportunity to play a large majority of snaps in a high powered offense could change that outlook very quickly. Quarless is the better blocker of the two, and for that reason he will still occupy a fair number of snaps. The Packers chose to retain rookie Kennard Backman as their #3 tight end, but it would take a major injury to either Rodgers or Quarless before he sees the field in 2015.

Place Kicker

Mason Crosby: After enduring some shaky moments over the years, Crosby has leveled off as a dependable and productive kicker. He finished tied for #4 in kicker scoring by making 27 of his 33 field goal attempts and tacking on 53 of 55 extra point attempts. The Packers also gave Crosby seven shots from 50+, and he made more than half of them (4), with one of the better distance legs in the league. He might not be worth the top 10 kicker pick he costs in drafts because of his past bouts with inaccuracy, but being connected to a great offense is a strong argument for Crosby.

Kick and Punt Returners

Kick Returners: Ty Montgomery [R], Micah Hyde, Randall Cobb

The Green Bay coaching staff have sometimes waffled over how much they are willing to risk exposing starters like Randall Cobb and Micah Hyde to the extra hits of the return game. Last season Mike McCarthy stuck with some of his starters on punt returns, but turned to DuJuan Harris for kickoff returns. Harris since departed for Minnesota. The team may use a mix this year including college All-American return specialist Ty Montgomery. General Manager Ted Thompson said that his use a returner was not the overriding reason for drafting Montgomery, but that it did play a role.

Punt Returners: Micah Hyde, Ty Montgomery [R], Randall Cobb

After Micah Hyde's solid season in 2013 as a punt returner, the safety outperformed Randall Cobb in 2014 while the pair split the returns evenly. Hyde improved his average to 15.8 yards per return, nearly double that of Cobb, and returned two for touchdowns.

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: LT David Bakhtiari, LG Josh Sitton, C Corey Linsley, RG T.J. Lang, RT Bryan Bulaga
Key Backups: T Don Barclay, G Lane Taylor, C J.C. Tretter, G Garth Gerhart, T Aaron Adams

The Packers' line starts the 2015 campaign right where it left off, as a top tier unit. The line returns all five starters at all five positions, which is a huge positive when ranking these lines. The strength of this line is at the guard positions, where both Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang are among the best in the game. Sitton is the more well known of the two players, and is coming off his second All-Pro consideration. Lang is more underrated but had an exceptional season at right guard, and is a borderline Pro Bowl caliber player. Between them, Corey Linsley mans the center position capably and is one of the best young players at that position. Linsley earned over $330k in performance based play bonus, the second most in the entire league. Linsley played much better than his fifth round status would indicate. Another former mid round selection, David Bakhtiari, earned over a quarter million in performance based play, the fifteenth highest amount in the league. All this is to say the Packers have a young core at key positions and should be in good shape if they can re-sign these players when their rookie deals are completed. One player the team won't have to worry about keeping is right tackle Bryan Bulaga. Bulaga enjoyed an excellent season, grading out as one of the best right tackles in the league, and was rewarded with a five year contract extension. Don Barklay is an above average swing tackle and J.C. Tretter provides interesting depth at multiple positions. Overall this is an underrated line but one of the better in the league. Should Bakhtari and Linsley continue to ascend, the lines' ranking should do likewise.

Team Defense

The Packers benefited greatly from the addition of Julius Peppers, and ended up being a top 10 D/ST in most formats on the back of some big blowout wins at home. They went defense in three of the first four rounds of the 2015 draft, and their 2014 #1 Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix should be better in year two. While they did finish high in fantasy scoring, the Packers were a boom/bust play in 2014 and they generally came up short on the road and they weren't a sure thing at home. They were also middling in yards and points allowed. Micah Hyde does help coming off of a season with two punt return scores on very limited opportunity. While they look like an everyweek start in year-end fantasy rankings, the Packers should be treated as a pick your spot DFS and streaming D/ST.

Defensive Line

Starters: DE Datone Jones, DE Josh Boyd, DE Mike Daniels, NT B.J. Raji
Backups: DE Christian Ringo [R], DE Bruce Gaston, DE Khyri Thorton, NT Letroy Guion DT Mike Daniels, DE Jerel Worthy, DE Mike Neal, DT Letroy Guion DT Khyri Thorton (R)

Starting DL: While 2013 first-round pick Datone Jones certainly may have disappointed as a rookie, he was much improved in 2014. He was very efficient in pass rush situations, though he did struggle to stop the run. Jones will have to serve a one game suspension for violating the NFL's Substance Abuse Policy. Josh Boyd rotated in on run situations and did an admirable job. The Packers will probably be content to continue this arrangement going into 2015. Mike Daniels' role expanded in 2014 and the interior pressure he provided was among some of the best in the league. Expect his numbers to improve again this year and for Thompson to make every effort to lock him up to a long-term deal before the next free agency. Though many feared B.J. Raji would exit in this year's free agency, the team managed to re-sign Raji on a one-year deal. He'll hope to bounce back strongly after a bicep tear kept him out of the lineup in 2014.

Backup DL: Christian Ringo joins this unit after being selected in the sixth round of the draft. While Ringo lacks the prototypical size for the position, he did put up impressive production at the college level. Gaston was signed from the Arizona practice squad when Luthor Robinson went on IR in late December of 2014.The older Thorton (he'll turn 26 this year) was a surprise selection in the third round of the 2014 draft, but spent the season on IR after a hamstring injury in the preseason. He will have to make a splash in camp this year to have a shot at staying on the roster. After filling in for the injured Raji last season, Guinon was re-signed by the team this offseason. Guinon is a versatile player who can play both DE and NT roles for the team. He has currently been suspended for three games by the league after an offseason arrest in February. He plans to appeal his suspension, however.

Linebackers

Starters: ILB Clay Matthews, MLB Sam Barrington, MLB Clay Matthews, OLB Julius Peppers OLB Nick Perry
Backups: ILB Carl Bradford, ILB Joe Thomas, MLB Josh Francis, MLB Jake Ryan [R], OLB Mike Neal

Starting LBs: A.J. Hawk, Brad Jones, and Jamari Lattimore were all shown the door in the offseason, creating a big need at ILB for the Packers. Sam Barrington is entering his third year with the team and was impressive when asked to fill in for an injured Lattimore. The Packers have moved Clay Matthews back to ILB for the time being, something that will bolster his tackle numbers if it sticks. The most loyal of Packers fans were skeptical when the team inked Julius Peppers to a three-year deal averaging 8.7 million dollars annually. Peppers answered with an amazing season. Even as he ages, Peppers continues to generate game-changing plays and justify the big money he was paid. Nick Perry put up career best numbers in 2014, but even so, many feel he has been a disappointment due to draft position in the first round several years ago.

Backup LBs: The Packers took Jake Ryan in the fourth round to eventually help fill the major need they have at ILB. Ryan also has the versatility to play on the outside if needed. Carl Bradford was the team's 2014 fourth-round rookie selection and certainly did not show much promise. 2014 UDFA Joe Thomas hails from South Carolina State. The hard-hitting ILB had great production there and the Packers are hoping he can bring similar production to their unit given time. Josh Francis was signed to the team in March of 2015 after spending some time in both the CFL and IFL. Like Thomas, the former Mountaineer was very productive in his final year in college, leading his team in tackles for loss. Mike Neal was finally able to stay healthy for 16 games in 2014, posting a career best year and providing a valuable rotational pass-rushing asset for the team.

Defensive Backs

Starters: CB Casey Hayward, CB Sam Shields, SS Morgan Burnett, FS Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix
Backups: CB/FS Damarious Randall [R], CB/FS Quinten Rollins [R], CB/FS Micah Hyde, CB Demetri Goodson, CB Devonta Glover-Wright, SS Sean Richardson CB Casey Hayward, CB Davon House, FS Jarrett Bush, FS Sean Richardson

Starting DBs: Casey Hayward moved into the starting role after Tramon Williams left in free agency. While Hayward is always around the ball, he really struggles with missing tackles, an area he will have to improve in if he wishes to keep his job. Sam Shields played well during 2014 and nearly followed Hayward out the door before the Packers signed him to a lucrative long-term deal. Expect his tackle numbers to remain fairly consistent with what they were in 2014. After an injury-riddled 2013, Burnett really came on in 2014. He posted a career high 130 total tackles. Part of the reason for Burnett's elevated numbers was the presence of Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix. Clinton-Dix played remarkably well for a rookie and looks to be the answer at the free safety position for the Packers for many years to come.

Backup DBs: The Packers made a point of bolstering their secondary in this year's draft when they snagged Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins in the first and second round. Both Randall and Rollins are versatile players who have the skillset to play safety or match up one-on-one with receivers. Micah Hyde played the slot corner role well last season, but the coaching staff believes that he's capable of being the starter opposite Sheilds based on his play. He'll compete with Hayward in camp to see who can win the starting job. Demetri Goodson was the Packers' sixth-round pick in 2014. Devonta Glover-Wright originally signed as a UDFA with the Falcons, but was cut from the roster before the 2014 season. The Packers hurriedly stashed him on their practice squad. Both Goodson and Glover-Wright have the speed and athleticism to play the position, and working with the very talented secondary coach Joe Whitt might just be the recipe they need to bring it all together. Sean Richardson remains purely a depth only option for the Packers.

Last modified: 2015-09-07 00:42:12