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Sleeper Spotlight: Green Bay Packers

As part of the premium content package, we’re not only releasing exclusive team capsules (complete with commentary), but also focusing on one sleeper from all 32 teams in the NFL.

These sleepers all have varying levels of “sleeperness,” but all merit a little more talking about than we had room for in the dynasty capsules for each team. Some of these players are deep dynasty sleepers who could merit a spot on your bench in a deep league, while others are players who may contribute a little faster than the deep prospects, but deserve more attention than they may be getting. By definition, a sleeper could mean something a little different to everyone, but we’re simply doing the best job we can to unearth one player from each team who fits the category in some way, shape or form.

We’ll just never insult you with a comprehensive list of “sleepers” that includes such names as Demaryius Thomas, Ryan Mathews or even someone like Stevan Ridley. You’re all too good for that.

While many of these players will undoubtedly fizzle, we figure there’s value in looking more closely at these deeper prospects and players. We invite you to keep an open mind and even re-assess your value on those who may be rostered in your league. You may even consider adding a few of these deeper prospects we focus on this Summer who are free agents in your league – after all, some are destined to pan out, too.

Randall Cobb
Age: 21 (8/22/90)

Unfortunately, sophomore wide receiver Randall Cobb is no secret to many in fantasy.   

Cobb, Green Bay’s second round selection in 2011’s rookie draft, wasn’t a high profile player entering the NFL, but didn’t take long get noticed once the season kicked off.  In his first game as a professional, Cobb not only returned a kick for a touchdown, but scored again on a pass from Aaron Rodgers.  Welcome to the NFL! As it turned out, these two touchdowns would be two-thirds of his total for the year, but we got a glimpse of what he may be able to provide in time.

At 5’10” and 192 pounds, Cobb isn’t going to out-physical many cornerbacks in the NFL.  At 4.46 in the forty, Cobb isn’t gifted enough to freely run past most defenders.  But while his physical attributes aren’t overly impressive, with the ball in his hands everything changes.  Cobb is a natural runner in space, possessing elite vision and anticipation.  He’s able to use his exceptional lateral agility to change direction quickly and is dynamic after his first his cut.  If the Packers didn’t realize this after watching his special teams play, they were certainly able to see it on the field as a receiver.  He naturally fits in the slot where he can be used on the “2” (slant) route or the “8” (shallow post), both of which attempt to get the receiver into space diagonally.  Because Cobb excels at sticking his foot in the ground to create initial separation, he’s able to create that needed space to then use his special return skills in the open field.  It’s easy to see how Green Bay can best utilize Cobb going forward.

In 2011, Cobb managed 25 receptions, 375 yards and a single touchdown.  His true value was realized in the return game and it’s been reasserted by the coaching staff that he’ll, once again, be counted for those services in 2012.  Playing special teams may diminish his offensive opportunities, but we expect him to eclipse his 2011 totals.  However, for Cobb owners, the real value is beyond 2012.

The existence of Cobb has made veteran receivers Donald Driver and James Jones somewhat expendable.  While Green Bay does utilize a lot of four receiver sets, they have more than enough talent to accomplish this with the receivers currently on the roster.   The aging Driver has one more season in him and Jones passed on a free agency offer from Minnesota in 2011 to re-sign with Green Bay instead.  Now Jones finds himself on the trading block.  By 2013, and perhaps even 2012, Cobb should have clear ownership over the WR3 role.   With Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson still young, the emergence of Cobb will play perfectly into the Packers’ youth movement.

As mentioned previously, Cobb is no longer a secret in fantasy and unless your league uses an extremely shallow roster, he’s not available on your waiver wire.  You’ll need to acquire him in trade.  Once preseason is under way, we expect Cobb’s value to only rise.  There is the potential that Green Bay will attempt to showcase James Jones in the preseason to help facilitate a trade but, either way, the eventuality is that if you have eyes for Cobb, the time to deal is now.  A WR3 in a high powered offense can be a fantasy difference-maker.  Randall Cobb as the WR3 in Green Bay’s system could be dynasty gold if he’s available on the cheap.  Look for owners with good receiver depth for which Cobb is a luxury to get a deal done.

We fully believe that Randall Cobb is a receiver to acquire ahead of a greater role.  He’s young, dynamic and he’s as good as starting by this time next year.  Perhaps other coaches in your league don’t realize that.

Jeff Haverlack
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Scott Dray
10 years ago

So what role do you eventually see for Randall Cobb? Do his playmaking abilities once the ball is in his hands keep him as an elite return man (a la Devin Hester) or does he translate to the offense as a slot receiver (a la Wes Welker). I have Cobb in a PPR league that does not reward return TDs.

Green Bay has some uncertainty in their receiving core in the next 12 months. As mentioned, they may look to trade James Jones and Driver is on the way out plus Greg Jennings is in a contract year.

Wouldn’t it be fair to discuss James Jones’ sleeper abilities if he were on another team? Since Washington didn’t get Josh Gordon, what role would Jones have if they traded for him?

Frank Angelo
10 years ago

That’s an excellent question Scott. The cat’s out of the bag on Cobb but Jones is a bit of an enigma.
He was neck & neck with Jordy Nelson a couple of years ago for the starting gig but his dropsies drove him down the depth chart. Last year, he appeared to have the drops under control and scored 7 TDs with limited opportunities. He’s got to be on the radar for some WR needy teams. He might even have more value right now than Cobb because it seems most fantasy owners have more or less written him off.

Casual Backhand Sauce
10 years ago

If you want a sleeper out of the Packers you have to look at Borel and Gurley. Last year all I heard about from the practice squad was how good Gurley looked. Eventually they had to bring him up because teams tried to poach him from the practice squad. At OTAs all I am hearing about is Borel and how he has been turning heads. The Packers are going to keep 6 wrs on the roster this year. Rumors are that Driver might end up getting axed if they can’t trade Jones so that they can keep both Borel and Gurley on the 53 man roster. Very deep sleeper for next year is Dale Moss. Very raw but heard great things about him in OTAs as well.

CaptiveAssasin
10 years ago

I expect nothing from Cobb. He is very undersized and lacking in strength. He also has a lack of agility for how small he is. A sleeper I think has a real shot is Brandon Saine.

Scott Land
10 years ago

Cobb = Harvin, minus the headaches

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