Jared Cook
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Jared Cook is an big, athletic tight end that has been full of promise, but has yet to truly break out. The 6’5, 254 pound tight end has never had a quarterback of Aaron Rodgers throwing the ball to him…until now.
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Cook’s last five seasons:
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2011: 49 catches, 759 yards, 3 touchdowns
2012: 44 catches, 523 yards, 4 touchdowns
2013:  51 catches, 671 yards, 5 touchdowns
2014: 52 catches, 634 yards, 3 touchdowns
2015: 39 catches, 481 yards, 0 touchdowns
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Cook’s 12.3 yards per catch last year ranked only behind Gronk, Greg Olsen, Gary Barnidge, Zach Miller, Jimmy Graham and Crocket Gillmore at the tight end position. His career average is 12.8 yards per catch. Richard Rodgers catch 58 passes last year for Green Bay for 510 yards and eight touchdowns. Rodgers averaged just 8.8 yards per catch. Cook will be used to take advantage of the middle of the field.
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Cook, who will turn 29 next month, has a chance to deliver TE1 numbers. He’s certainly an intriguing option.


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Jermichael Finley is an enigma. When he is playing, there aren’t many tight ends with his skill set. He’s 6’5″”, 247 with great speed, hands, and the athleticism to make acrobatic catches. It’s almost unfair because he’s far too quick for linebackers and far too powerful for defensive backs.
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Yet, he has been plagued with injuries throughout his career. You would think that with just 82 catches for 1051 yards and seven touchdowns in three seasons wouldn’t translate into a desirable fantasy tight end option. However, you’d be wrong. We’ve know the potential of a monster campaign is there. That’s why you see him high on most fantasy football tight end rankings lists.
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The risk isn’t in owning him. The tight end position has become deep enough where you could find a suitable replacement if he gets hurt again. The risk in who you pass up on to get him. You could be passing on Jason Witten, Vernon Davis, or Dallas Clark to take Finley. I have him ranked third behind Gates and Witten, but I appreciate why someone would take the safer route with Davis or Clark. I can also appreciate if someone wanted to wait even longer and go to the next tier of tight ends.
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There are a lot of factors to consider. What running backs, receivers, and quarterbacks are available. If you want an elite quarterback and the options are starting to get thin, you may want to hold off on drafting a tight end. If you already took some risks (Michael Vick, Brandon Lloyd, etc.), you may want a safer option.
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In Weeks 2-4 last year Finley had at least 100 yards or a touchdown. He closed out 2009 averaging 67.4 yards over his last five games with four touchdowns. Then he went off in the playoffs to the tune of six catches for 159 yards.
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I do believe that Finley could turn in a magical season if he stays healthy. If you’re a risk taker, Finley could be your guy. Just be prepared to strike early if you want him on  your squad.
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Adrian Peterson delivered once again despite playing on the Vikings’ sinking ship. He ran for 1298 yards and 12 touchdowns. He added 36 catches for 341 yards and another score. After being dogged by fumbles, he improved his ball control by coughing up just one fumble all year. Peterson is once again in the conversation for the first overall pick in fantasy leagues. He shouldn’t slip by the top four or five picks even in PPR leagues. With a rookie quarterback he’ll likely be called upon to take some of the pressure off. Toby Gerhart showed he was capable towards the end of the year, and should see an increase in touches this year. He remains strictly a handcuff though.
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Matt Forte bounce back from a somewhat disappointing 2009 season by running for 1069 yards and six touchdowns. He averaged a career high 4.5 yards per carry. Forte also added 51 catches, his third straight year with 50+, for 547 yards and three more scores. Forte figures to be a high-end RB2 in non-PPR leagues and a low-end RB1 in PPR leagues. Chester Taylor will keep Forte fresh and provide veteran insurance should Forte go down, but isn’t a hot fantasy commodity.
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Jahvid Best will operate between the 20s, but rookie Mikel Leshoure will get the touch carries near the goal line as well as closing out games. Best deal with turf toe last year which sapped his explosiveness, but injuries have been commonplace for Best. He has the ability to put up huge numbers, but is a fantasy risk even as an RB2 because of his injury concerns and Leshoure’s presence. It’s possible that both Best and Leshoure could each have weekly fantasy value.
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Green Bay has a bit of a mess at running back. For starters, we already know that they are first and foremost a passing team. We also know Aaron Rodgers always steals a few rushing touchdowns per year. With Ryan Grant and James Starks sharing carries, there may not be a reliable weekly option barring injury. The Packers added Alex Green in the draft who will likely handle third down duties and further muddy the water.
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Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers is by far the best in the division. The writing was on the wall the wall he handled the Brett Favre situation while still delivering on the field. A concussion cost Rodgers from reaching 4000 yards for a third straight year, but fantasy owners can live with the 3922 yards, 28 TDs (11 INTs), 356 rushing yards, and four rushing TDs. If he’s not the best fantasy quarterback in the league, he is certainly a top three choice.
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Chicago’s Jay Cutler cut his interception total from 26 to 16. His yardage (3274) and touchdowns (23) also dipped, but the Bears were winning and more committed to the run. He doesn’t have great weapons around him, but he makes do. The Bears drafted Gabe Carimi to provide some much needed improvement on the offensive line. His toughness may have come into question, but his arm strength never will. He’s a solid QB2 that is really hit or miss.
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Detroit’s Matthew Stafford just can’t seem to stay healthy. The Lions did not invest heavily in their offensive line, as their play was actually not that bad. They did give him some complimentary weapons in the form of Titus Young and Mikel Leshoure to add to Calvin Johnson, Brandon Pettigrew, Nate Burleson, and Jahvid Best. Don’t look now, but the Lions are on the rise. If the injury bug bites again, Shaun Hill has shown that he’s more than capable to step up.
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The Vikings finally addressed the quarterback situation with a long-term solution. Christian Ponder is a good fit for the offense and has the experience to play right away. The team will likely add a veteran to mentor Ponder, but it appears he’ll get his shot. If Sidney Rice does not return, the Vikings will need to give Percy Harvin some help at WR. Adrian Peterson will make the life of a rookie quarterback easier.
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Also check out:

 

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As the NFL Lockout continues you may have to seek alternative avenues to get your football fix. The interest level for college football will be at an all-time high if it continues. There are other ways to get your football fix though, including LOMBARDI – A New American Play – on Broadway.
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The play is about legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi and his relationships with his family, team, and a “civilian” outside of his social circles. Not only do you get your football fix, but you could win some fabulous prizes.
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Win Tickets to Super Bowl XLVI
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* At every performance April 5-April 30, sign up at the theater for a chance to win tickets to Super Bowl XLVI! The winner will be selected at random on April 30.
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Win Tickets to the 2011 NFL Draft
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* At every performance April 5-April 27, sign up at the theater for a chance to win tickets to the 2011 NFL Draft Round 2. We will choose a winner live, on stage after every performance in April! All winners will also receive a signed copy of When Pride Still Mattered, by David Maraniss. Winners will be part of the staged audience at Radio City Music Hall!
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Spring Recess Week: April 18 to 24

* Visit the lower lobby 30 minutes before showtime to play the LOMBARDI Football Toss! Kids 18 and under have a chance to win mini-footballs and LOMBARDI magnets.*
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Plus you can win tickets for free. The fine people at LOMBARDI hooked me up with a pair of tickets to share with my readers. You’ll have to be from the New York area or planning a visit. All you have to do is tell me who your most valuable fantasy football player was last year. We’ll select a winner at random.
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Click here for more info on LOMBARDI.
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Contest Alley


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Jay Glazer is reporting that Ryan Grant is done for the season with leg and ankle injuries. Run, don’t walk, and make a bid for Brandon Jackson. However, you have to understand that he’s not going to get you what Grant would have. If you don’t get Jackson, Fred Taylor or Peyton Hillis are other RBs to target.
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In other injury news, two players that could not be any more different in stature, but both dramatically affect the way their team defends the run could miss the season as well. Of course I’m talking about the Colts’ Bob Sanders (torn bicep) and the Jets’ Kris Jenkins (knee). Feel free to downgrade both defenses, particularly when it comes to stopping the run.

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As I suggested in this week’s Get ‘em or Don’t Sweat ‘em article, Brandon Jackson will get the start for the Packers this week against the Lions. Ryan Grant, who was on the sidelines in a boot was already ruled out of the contest. Needless to say Brandon Jackson should be a hot commodity on the waiver wire.
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The Lions held the Bears to 3.3  yards per carry, but were destroyed by Matt Forte’s receiving numbers. Jackson, who started the season as the Packers’ third-down back, should be suited to attack Detroit’s defense in a similar manner. 
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If you’re looking for a short-term fix at RB, Jackson is your guy this week.
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Image courtesy of Icon SMI


Image courtesy of Icon SMI

 

Not according to Grant’s ADP at Mock Draft Central that has him going on average with the 21st pick. A number that is staggering to me, considering Grant is coming off a 1450 total yard (1253 rushing), 11 TD season. In fact, it was the second consecutive 1200+ yard season for the fourth year back that will turn 28 during the season.

 

He’s going after guys like Rashard Mendenhall, Shonn Greene, and Ryan Matthews who are far more unproven. He’s even going after WRs like Calvin Johnson and Miles Austin who have bigger question marks entering the new season.

 

Grant picked it up down the stretch averaging 92.7 total yards with 5 TDs in last year’s fantasy playoffs (Week 14-16). He didn’t turn in many monster weeks, but he didn’t have many duds either. He was a steady source of fantasy points all year long.

 

Grant has little competition for carries. Top backup Brandon Jackson always seems to get nicked up. Rookie James Starks isn’t ready to take on meaningful carries. Grant’s main threat is Aaron Rodgers stealing rushing TDs. The Packers would be wise to let Grant run in short TD passes and save their franchise QB from the hits.

 

Grant isn’t going to fool anyone for Ray Rice or MJD with his pass-catching ability, but he has averaged 24.3 catches for 152.7 yards in his three seasons.

 

I am expecting 1450 (1300 rushing) total yards and 9 TDs from Grant, which is enough to have him as my 8th ranked RB (click to see my updated 2010 fantasy RB rankings) and 9th overall (click to see my 2010 Top 50 fantasy rankings).

 

What are your thoughts on Ryan Grant? Would you take him in the first round of your fantasy draft?

 

Driver has been one of the most consistent WRs over the past 6 years averaging 1140.8 yards and 5.8 TDs per season. It’s nice to be able to plug in that kind of production without many worries.

 

Only this year, there are worries. For starters, Driver turned 36 in February. He takes good care of his body, but eventually Father Time catches up with you. Having both of his knees scoped earlier this year is evidence of that truth.

 

Age and injuries aren’t his only concerns though. He clearly is behind Greg Jennings in the pecking order, but it may not stop there. There is tight end Jermichael Finley, who outproduced Driver 34 receptions for 496 yards and 4 TDs to 21 catches for 269 yards and 1 TD over the past five regular season games and their playoff loss to Arizona. There is also the presence of James Jones, 26, who has been impressive in OTAs while Driver has been recovering from his surgeries.

 

Even if he does have a down year, why should you worry about it? You should because his ADP is 68 (26th WR) ahead of guys like Santonio Holmes and Wes Welker  (it’s how you finish, not how you start) and youngsters Mike Wallace, Robert Meachem, and Kenny Britt, who have considerably more upside. There are also QBs like Matt Ryan, Kevin Kolb, Eli Manning, Brett Favre, and Joe Flacco; RBs like Ricky Williams, Fred Jackson, Reggie Bush, Thomas Jones, and Clinton Portis; and TEs like Brent Celek, Owen Daniels, Visanthe Shianceo, Zach Miller, and Kellen Winslow, who on average are being selected after Driver. I would rather secure of legitmate QB/TE or add to my RB depth than gamble on an aging WR with question marks.

 

Prediction:  65 catches, 800 yards, 4 TDs

 

What kind of production do you expect out of Driver this year?

 

Click here to enter the Best Fantasy Football Team Name Contest for a chance to win some fabulous prizes.

The Packers enter the year as one of the most explosive fantasy units in the NFL. They have studs at QB, RB, WR, and TE. If you want a Packer on your team this year you’ll have to get ‘em early.

Fantasy Playoffs Schedule:  Moderate
They should open the playoffs with a bang against the Lions even though it’s on the road. Things get tougher though as they travel to New England and come home to face the Giants. You’ll want to roll with Aaron Rodgers, Greg Jennings, and Jermichael Finley regardless of the match-up. You’ll have to make a decision on Ryan Grant and Donald Driver.

Five Star Fantasy Options
Aaron Rodgers – He’s my pick at the #1 2010 fantasy QB. He not only piles up passing numbers, but has rushing yards and TDs that put him over the top.  He has so many weapons to choose from.

Four Star Fantasy Options
Ryan Grant – Somewhat quietly ran for 1253 yards and 11 TDs last year. He added 25 catches for 197 yards. Grant scored six TDs in the last four weeks.

Greg Jennings – TDs were down (4), but he managed to catch 68 passes for 1113 yards. Not a bad year, but I’m certain he can do much better.

Jermichael Finley – Very athletic TE that is a defensive coordinator’s nightmare. He’s big and physical, but has the speed and athleticism making him a tough cover for secondaries and LBs alike. Finley had 55 catches for 676 yards and 5 scores and really made noise down the stretch averaging 67.4 yards and 0.8 TDs in his last five games. He really stepped it up in the playoffs grabbing six passes for 159 yards.

Three Star Fantasy Options
Donald Driver – Despite finishing slow Driver had 70 catches for 1061 yards and 6 TDs last year. He’s 35 and had surgery on both knees. Time will tell if that will help or hinder is 2010 production. I’d take him as a WR3, but would prefer him as a WR4 at this point.


Packers Defense/Special Teams – They play the Lions and Bears twice, which could account for 10 INTs or more. They also play the Bills. Unfortunately they face Minnesota twice, the Eagles, the Jets, the Cowboys, the Falcons, the Patriots, and the Giants.

Two Star Fantasy Options
James Jones –  He’ll need an injury to become a factor, as well as improved hands. He can be used as a spot starter in favorable match-ups. Last year against Detroit twice, Cleveland, and Tampa Bay he had 198 yards and 4 TDs. If Driver’s knee become an issue, his value will increase dramatically.

One Star Fantasy Options
Jordy Nelson – Nelson is even farther down the food chain, but does have good hands. If given the opportunity he can contribute. Until then, he should remain on the waivers.

Click here for additional 2010 NFL Team Previews.


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