Mike Tanier

Going Deep

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Panic in Packerland

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


The Packers are in trouble. Aaron Rodgers has a concussion and will probably miss next week's game, if not more. Jermichael Finley is out at least three weeks with a knee injury. Ryan Grant has been gone for a month. Even the backups are getting hurt: Donald Lee replaced Finley and caught a touchdown pass, then walked to the locker room with a shoulder injury. At the rate things are going, the Packers are going to have to call Lynn Dickey and Harlan Huckleby out of retirement to field a team.

The Packers' woes may have an impact on your fantasy team. You may need to replace Rodgers or Finley for a while. You may also be concerned about the remaining starters: is Donald Driver going to get enough balls with Matt Flynn at quarterback? Here's a position-by-position look at what's going on in Green Bay, with advice about how to get through the next few weeks without a Packer-related crisis.

QUARTERBACK
Matt Flynn is an unknown commodity, and he must be considered a last-stitch emergency fantasy starter at best. Given a healthy roster of weapons and a soft schedule, he'd make an appealing one-or-two week backup, but the Dolphins (Green Bay's next opponent) allow just 193 passing yards per game and have given up just five touchdowns in four games. If Rodgers misses multiple games, Flynn will face the Vikings and Jets: two tough opponents for an inexperienced passer.

The best option to get you through the Rodgers interim is Matt Cassel, who faces the Texans and Jaguars in the next two weeks. If you didn't scoop up Cassel like I told you to last week, and you don't have a good Rodgers alternative on the bench, you may have to bite the bullet. The two best quarterback options sitting on waivers are probably Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Freeman. Fitzpatrick is a great stat gobbler, but he is on bye. Freeman provides rushing yards (113 this season) and is growing up quickly, but he faces the Saints defense this week.

RUNNING BACK
Brandon Jackson gained 115 yards and a touchdown this week, but that doesn't mean he has turned the corner as a fantasy featured back. Take away his 71-yard run, and his numbers dip to 9 carries for 44 yards, right in line with his performance in Week 4 (9 carries, 33 yards) and better than his effort in Week 3 (7 carries, 12 yards). Jackson got one carry at the one-yard line against the Redskins and lost four yards. When the Packers had another goal-line opportunity, Fantasy Headache No. 1 John Kuhn got the call but failed to score.

Rodgers' absence may make the Packers more run oriented, and Jackson's 71-yard run, plus a few catches and receiving yards, were at least flickers of fantasy life. If you pounced on Jackson when Grant got hurt and need him to get through a bye week, so be it. Once Rodgers returns, Jackson appears slotted for a 10-carry role. Kuhn has shown no real skill as a goal-line back, so don't waste a waiver claim in the hope of cheap touchdowns.

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