Stop me if you think that you’ve heard this one before. Jermichael Finley is bigger and stronger. He is running better routes. He’s had the best camp of his career. Aaron Rodgers has developed better chemistry with him. Finley finally ‘gets’ it. Blah, blah, blah. It’s the annual refrain coming out of Wisconsin during the preseason. This is his sixth preseason and the hype machine is working overtime once again. I suppose this could be the year. Just ask yourself if 1-for-6 is the kind of percentage play you really want to make. There’s another player in Green Bay that’s making a little noise. The rookie out of Alabama ran with authority, reminding me of Trent Richardson, only a little stronger and maybe a little slower in pads. He displayed incredible strength, breaking tackles and showing off a spin move not normally associated with backs his size. Obviously, defenses can’t stack the box at Lambeau with Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb stretching the field and opening up passing lanes. The sky is the limit. What’s not to like? Well, the only problem is that the Packers hate to run. They’ve hated it ever since Ahman Green left, feeding the rock to the tailback just often enough to keep the defense honest. They also have Jonathan Franklin, DuJuan Harris, Alex Green and James Starks in an overcrowded stable. Do you really trust the Pack to give Eddie Lacy enough touches? I sure don’t. Nevertheless, if you eschew the reliable RB’s in the first two rounds and don’t mind a low floor, then he is worth a roll of the dice.
San Francisco at Kansas City
Frank Gore is understandably slower than he was in his prime, but he looks as strong as ever. He’s still the bell cow and if he continues to go in the fourth round, he presents a decent value. LaMichael James has big play ability, but even if Gore were to suffer an injury, I don’t see James being used much between the tackles. He’s fast with great moves but he’s not a bruiser. The more interesting prospect is quarterback B.J. Daniels out of South Florida. He runs the read option well and is extremely athletic. In Week 2, he was very accurate, able to loft throws with good touch or zip it to receivers on quick slants. The rook made good decisions and demonstrated decent pocket presence. Despite the new digs, Alex Smith is still captain check down. He rarely tests secondaries and most of his passes are of the ultra-conservative variety. Dwayne Bowe’s stock takes a hit on my sheet. It’s only the preseason, but it’s still Alex Smith and I don’t care what his numbers were the last two years. A lot of people are excited about Jamaal Charles getting a heavy workload. Let me tell you, I’ll be nervous every time he touches the ball. Indelibly imprinted in my mind’s eye is that non-contact ACL tear against the Lions two years ago. In PPR leagues, he should rack up the receptions, but I have no faith in the 49er castoff carrying enough weight to make this a high scoring offense. Knile Davis ran well and is worth a late pick. Speedster Cyrus Gray is underrated and could make a fantasy splash if he ever was given the opportunity, but he remains buried on the depth chart.
Minnesota at Buffalo
The fantasy market has largely ignored Greg Jennings, at least in terms of his normal price tag. It’s understandable considering that Christian Ponder is running this offense. Can the third year project get the ball to him? Jennings should face easier pass defenses this year with Adrian Peterson drawing everyone into the box. He could see a lot of man coverage with a single high safety. Fred Jackson looked serviceable, Kevin Kolb not so much. The potential fantasy value of Robert Woods, T.J. Graham and Jackson all hinge on E.J. Manuel making a quick recovery from his knee injury.