Fantasy Football Early Bird: Previewing the Green Bay Packers Offensive Weapons

Charles Rex ArbogastExpect Boykin to have secured a role as the Packers number three wide receiver.

Jordy Nelson
Those who follow the Packers won’t be surprised to see Nelson recently qualified in a story by ESPN’s Matt Williamson as one of 14 No. 1 receivers (subscription required). Nelson weathered injuries to Rodgers, Randall Cobb and Jermichael Finley to finish with 85 receptions for 1,314 yards and eight touchdowns—and the 11th-ranked receiver in fantasy football.
Lacking competition from James Jones (now in Oakland) or Finley (still a free agent), Nelson represents Rodgers’ surest target. While Cobb plays the necessary role of possession receiver—and does so very well—Nelson shreds defenses on deep passes, demonstrating underrated quickness and very consistent hands. Per Sporting Charts, Nelson dropped only three of his 127 targets in 2013. Among wide receivers with as many targets, only Larry Fitzgerald dropped fewer.

Randall Cobb
Regarding the offense’s aforementioned “possession receiver”—an unfair and often oversimplifying designation—Cobb’s role in the offense will continue to grow as long as he’s healthy. Missing 10 games last season, he finished with just 31 catches. That doesn’t paint a complete picture. Rodgers targeted Cobb nearly eight times per game, an increase over the prior season of almost one, and he finished with 80 receptions in 2012.
Target both Packers receivers this summer; while Nelson figures to best Cobb in yards and scores, the latter will likely see more passes thrown his way, bridging the gap between them. And though Williamson classified him as a No. 1 receiver in real football, Nelson’s fantasy value falls somewhere between WR1 and WR2; Cobb’s ought to be considered in mid-WR2 territory.

Jarrett Boykin
Boykin didn’t catch on until the Packers’ receiving options tapered; he didn’t register a catch until Week 5, after which he caught 48 for 638 yards and three touchdowns. Extrapolate those numbers over the course of a season and Green Bay would nearly have another 1,000 yard receiver—and your fantasy team a solid WR3.
“I can’t say enough about Boykin,” McCarthy said at the NFL Annual Meeting (per “The young man is a heck of a player, he’s done it the right way, special teams, he’s performed every opportunity he’s given.”
Barring an impressive rookie joining the corps, Boykin has likely cemented himself as Rodgers’ third wide receiver. Given Green Bay’s lack of a sure-thing tight end, that role ought not be underestimated. He’s very capable of, if not likely to, catching 70-plus receptions this season.
Doubtful to be among the first 30 wide receivers off draft boards, pick Boykin as a WR3 with high upside.

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