Fantasy Beat – Packers Preseason
Mike Clay has taken to the airwaves to host a Pro Football Focus fantasy football show on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio (10 a.m. ET weekdays – Sirius 210 & XM 87). In addition to his strategy and insight, Clay has had the opportunity to bring in beat writers around the nation to provide an insider fantasy spin on the teams they cover.
On Wednesday he had the chance to speak with ESPN NFL Nation Green Bay Packers reporter Rob Demovsky. Demovsky talked about Eddie Lacy’s projected 2015 value, the potential for a wide receiver to emerge behind Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, and more. You can find him on Twitter @robdemovsky.
Call Him Eddie Moss
Clay kicked things off with a discussion about Eddie Lacy. In 2014, Lacy’s carries and rushing touchdowns were down, but his efficiency was up. Clay wanted Demovsky to explain any reasons for us to expect more volume in 2015.
“The starting point is 1,110 yards and somewhere around 40 catches,” Demovsky said. “But that number could go up to 50 catches. They want to use him even more on third downs. But it’s going to be hard for him to top the numbers (receiving) he’s put up for the last two years, for the simple reason that Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb are going to get a huge amount of targets from [QB Aaron] Rodgers. There are plenty of drives where it’s three or four plays and a long touchdown. How many times have you seen Rodgers and Nelson connect on those long shot plays?”
Clay did his best job to get to the point on Lacy’s projection as a receiver, and it led to a funny anecdote about Lacy’s new nickname for himself.
“He has nicknamed himself Moss, after Randy Moss, because he wants to catch the ball like Randy Moss,” Demovsky said. “He’s really worked hard at it. I don’t think that’s something that came natural to him coming into the league. It wouldn’t shock me if he had two or three receiving touchdowns this year.”
It sounds like Lacy will be more efficient with his targets, but you shouldn’t expect a major uptick in targets given the Packers’ talent at wide receiver.
Do The Packers Have A Third RB? Do They Need One?
The Packers’ running back situation behind Lacy and James Starks is a bit murky at this time. Clay asked Demovsky to go into detail about who leads the battle for the Packers’ third spot on the depth chart, and he threw out rookie undrafted free agent John Crockett’s name into the mix.
“The problem with Crockett is he has hasn’t practiced yet,” Demovsky said. “[Head coach] Mike McCarthy showed his frustration on Tuesday when asked about the running back situation behind Starks and Lacy. They’ve got a guy Rajion Neal who was pretty good early in preseason last season. He’s a smaller back, quicker, could be a change-of-pace kind-of guy. I’m not convinced that they need the third halfback at this point. They both (Starks and Lacy) played all 16 regular season and all playoff games. No injury issues with either one last year. [Fullback John] Kuhn in a pinch could play halfback.”
The Packers could look to add a veteran running back later in camp, but that’s not usually their style – with the exception being Cedric Benson. Demovsky makes it sound like Starks could be in line for a solid role without much competition behind him.
Does The Davante Adams’ Breakout Have Any Legs?
Everyone wants to know if Davante Adams is going to break out in 2015 after receiving a ton of offseason buzz. Clay primed the situation around Adams before finding out Demovsky’s take. Last season, the Packers were among NFL leaders in three-wide-receiver sets; they used three wide receivers about 90 percent of the time on passing downs. Nelson and Cobb handled 53 percent of the targets, which only left Adams with 13 percent. Is there any reason to believe that Adams will siphon more of those targets?
“I think it’s possible,” Demovsky said. “Aaron Rodgers has raved all offseason about the work that Davante Adams did this offseason. Rodgers has said several times that he went back and watched every play from last season, and one of the things he noticed was how about Adams was open. He said that type of a thing will stick in a quarterback’s mind. But as you mention, there’s no reason to think the targets that Nelson and Cobb have gotten will decline unless we see defenses try to take them away in coverage even more than they did. That’s what happened in that New England game when Adams really emerged because the Patriots decided they would take Nelson and Cobb out of the passing game.”
Look Elsewhere For Your TE1
Richard Rodgers was a third-round draft pick by a Packers team that hits on their early round picks more often than not. Clay asked Demovsky to discuss Rodgers, and he wonders if the breakout is coming this year.
“He has gotten off to a pretty decent start at camp,” Demovsky said. “He made a pretty acrobatic catch yesterday, and he said if he was quicker, it wouldn’t have had to look so acrobatic. He’s not Jermichael Finley. They don’t have anybody with the speed and size that Finley had. I don’t know that you’re going to see a whole lot of production increase from the tight end position. Andrew Quarless and Rodgers are going to share the job. Last year Quarless played about 650 snaps and Rodgers played about 500. It wouldn’t surprise me if those numbers are reversed. But I still don’t think it’s going to be a game-breaking position for the Packers.”
“He’s A Bigger Randall Cobb”
The Packers have incredible wide receiver depth. In the fantasy community, many are enamored with second-year receiver Jeff Janis – he’s a measurable freak. Demovsky sees a different guy emerging from the Packers’ wide receiver group. Demovsky even thinks this player might have an impact in 2015.
“I think Ty Montgomery has a real chance,” Demovsky said. “We’ve already seen in training camp, the Packers use him in a variety of ways. When they drafted him, their West Coast scout who watched him at Stanford said he’s a bigger Randall Cobb. You’ve seen how many different ways they use Cobb out of the backfield, out of the slot, end around type things. We’ve seen all of that already with Montgomery. [Aaron] Rodgers has commented, and so has Jordy Nelson, just about how studious he is. When you study like that, you gain the trust of the quarterback. Jeff Janis never really was able to gain the trust of Rodgers last year. Ty Montgomery has already shown that he can make those types of plays and he knows what he’s doing. I’m not saying that Ty Montgomery is pushing Davante Adams for that No. 3 spot, but if something were to happen to any of those other guys, Montgomery could certainly step into that type of role. He would jump into that slot spot.”
In Cobb’s rookie season, he started behind on the depth chart to Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, Nelson and James Jones. Montgomery’s situation is a bit different, as the talent ahead of him is much younger, but his skill set is a perfect fit for an offense that likes to get the ball out to their skill position players in space. According to College Football Focus, Montgomery’s 17 forced missed tackles in 2014 were more than all but four wide receivers in college football. Janis is still a dynasty league favorite, and now is the perfect time to acquire Montgomery.
Dan Schneier is a staff writer at PFF Fantasy and he covers the NFC East beat for FOX Sports. You can find him on Twitter @DanSchneierNFL. You can also add him to your network on Google+ to find all of his past material.