Green Bay Packers Early August Scouting Report
Training camp is now under way. Different head coach, different offense, but the same results for three players – injury wise. Family night is now behind us. What we found out should not surprise anyone. The defense with the perceived starters on the field, are tough to move the ball against. Things get a little easier with the backups in. The offense had its moments as well. QB Aaron Rodgers to WR Davante Adams and WR Geronimo Allison, and WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling is a thing you should all start getting use to. Anyway, it was technically a practice and more detail follows.
On offense the quarterback group, fantasy wise, starts and ends with QB Aaron Rodgers. The backups going into camp are QB DeShone Kizer, QB Tim Boyle, and QB Manny Wilkins. Kizer was doing well in practices leading up to Family night, but fizzled when the lights were on throwing two interceptions. He had a chance to distance himself but failed to cash in. It doesn’t bode well if anything happens to Rodgers. At running back, RB Aaron Jones and RB Jamaal Williams are nursing hamstring injuries – sustained a few practices ago. RB Dexter Williams took over in their place and had a very good Family Night. Last month I said that Jones value in part would depend upon his health – and it isn’t looking like a great start. And now Jamaal Williams is injured too – which is unusual for him. But this clearly opens the door for Dexter Williams. RB Tra Carson, FB Danny Vitale, as well as D. Williams are getting practice carries in their absence. Hopefully in the second August report there is more clarity at this position. But the talent is there. Also on the roster is RB Corey Grant who has played with Jacksonville and RB Darin Hall who was claimed on waivers from the Bengals. At tight end the clear number one guy is still TE Jimmy Graham who did well on Family Night – and should be a fantasy concern of yours. He vows to be better this year. There was a point last year before his injury that he was on a pace to set Packer tight end records for number of receptions and yards in a season. The one guy who is making the most of his opportunities again this year is TE Robert Tonyan. His blocking is improved, he is still catching passes easily, and he also had a good Family Night. He also had very good preseason games last year. TE Mercedes Lewis will always be a very good blocker and available on game day. And TE Jace Sternberger is trying to learn the pro game. His progress will be on display in the next four preseason games. Others at the position are TE Evan Baylis and TE Pharaoh McKever. At wide receiver, some things after the first three are coming into focus. WR Davante Adams, WR Geronimo Allison and WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling are the top fantasy picks at this position – in that order. After that WR Jake Kumerow and WR Trevor Davis seem to taking the number four and five spots. WR Equanimeous St. Brown is somewhat of a mystery because no one talks about him. WR J’mon Moore did not have a good Family Night and may be in the process of playing himself out of Green Bay. WR Darius Shepherd is making an impression with his route running, ball catching, speed, and quickness. The Packers have no receiver like him on the roster, and he seems to come ‘made to order’ for the slot position – such as it will be out of bunch formations. He can also return punts and kicks. At least so far this year there are no injuries at the position. The offensive line is still doing well. The starting line should consist of OT David Bakhtari, OG Lane Taylor, OC Cory Linsley, OG Billy Turner, and OT Bryan Bulaga. And they have better backups in OG Elgton Jenkins, OG Cole Madison – both are making very positive impressions in camp both with their play and with teammates. It looks like OT Alex Light – an undrafted free agent two years ago out of Richmond – has grown up. Good comments about him from camp practices. And Bakhtari and Bulaga are having good camps as well.
On defense it seems like the players are beginning to bond – playing in anticipation of each other’s moves – if the reports are accurate. It sounds scary to me. On the defensive line not much has changed. DL Dean Lowry, DL Ken Clark, DL Mike Daniels, DL Montravius Adams, DL Tyler Lancaster, and DL Fadol Brown should all be pushing for playing time. Brown has an injury, but the report is that it isn’t considered serious. DL Kingsley Keke could lineup up anywhere along the front. We will see how the preseason games go. This defensive line group was good last year and should only be better once they can rest each other during games. At outside linebacker the Packers have OLB Preston Smith, OLB Za’Darius Smith, OLB Rashan Gary, OLB Kyler Fackrell, and OLB Reggie Gilbert. The Smith brothers and Gary should also have the position flexibility Packer DC Mike Pettine desires. The Packers lost the Khalil Mack sweepstakes a year ago and now may have three players close to his ability – I like it. Camp reports indicate that Za’Darius Smith is practically unblockable and Gary overmatches any second string guys. Fackrell also gets some positive comments but not many. Also at the position are OLB Kendall Donnerson, OLB Brady Sheldon, and OLB Markus Jones. Jones at the D-2 level came in 6th for the award going to the outstanding player at that level. He has already sacked a QB in his first practice. At inside linebacker the Packers have ILB Blake Martinez, ILB Oren Burks, ILB James Crawford, ILB Ty Summers, ILB Randy Ramsey, and ILB Colton Bolton. Not much has changed here. Burks is getting the attention. At corner back the starters are CB Jaire Alexander and CB Kevin King. But King has pulled a hamstring toward the end of Family Night. He has been plagued with that before. This would be the 3rd consecutive season with injuries if he doesn’t right the ship. CB Josh Jackson is also nursing an injury. Next man up would be either CB KaDar Hollman or CB Tony Brown. Both have impressed with their play. Brown has also impressed with his willingness to play special teams in multiple ways. CB Tramon Williams is the mentor of the group. The rest are CB Kabon Ento, CB Nydair Rouse, and CB Chandon Sullivan. At safety the Packers have S Adrian Amos, S Darnell Savage, S Raven Greene, S Tray Matthews, S Mike Tyson, S Natrell Jamerson, and S Will Redmond. Amos and Savage are the starters. Greene and Jamerson have been getting most of the backup reps. I don’t know about Tyson and Redmond, but S Josh Jones did report for training camp. Jones isn’t getting reps like he probably think he should but what do you expect when you try to force a trade and fail? Now forced to compete, my guess is that the Packers will try to show case him at safety in preseason games which would then generate trade interest and hopefully trade him for a late round pick. Still, in spite of the "Jones road bump" and the few injuries, things are looking good for this defense. Of concern right now K Mason Crosby still isn’t kicking. The original report when camp began was "it isn’t serious and he will return soon". So how soon is soon? I don’t know but K Sam Ficken seems to be holding down the fort in his absence. Ficken missed a closer field goal at Family Night, but finished the night with a 63 yard field goal. Make of that what you will.
My recommendations for your fantasy team are; QB Aaron Rodgers, TE Jimmy Graham, WR Davante Adams, WR Geronimo Allison, and the Packer defense. I removed running backs and kicker from my list for now until I see how things shake out there. I am reminded that hamstring injuries derailed Trevor Davis year last year. Hopefully they won’t derail your fantasy draft.
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