Aaron Rodgers leader among Cal alumni in wizarding world of fantasy

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Former Cal quarterback and reigning Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers may see his upcoming season shortened if the NFL lockout continues.

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Aaron Rodgers isn’t just in the conversation for most dominant quarterbacks to suit up for the blue and gold — he’s one of the best to ever play the game of football. As Rodgers enters his 13th NFL season, he is unquestionably feared as the unwavering leader of the scoring-machine that is the Green Bay Packers offense.

So why should last-minute drafters avoid taking Rodgers in the first three rounds of fantasy football drafts that are taking place in the waning hours leading up to week one’s kickoff?

Because this isn’t reality. It’s fantasy. And unlike the way things are played out on the big screen, fantasy is a world where the great Aaron Rodgers should not be relied on to carry “his team” to victory.

That said, Rodgers and a number of ex-Bears figure to be integral fantasy football contributors this season. Among Cal alumni seeking to stuff FantasyCast box scores include a motivated receiver, a speedster with a new team and a local celebrity returning to the place where his icon status began.

Aaron Rodgers, GB

Any veteran fantasy football owner knows that receivers and running backs, not quarterbacks, comprise the heart of a fantasy football roster. But anybody who says Rodgers isn’t a top-five quarterback heading into 2017 doesn’t appreciate the extraordinary abilities of arguably Cal’s most famous football alumnus. Complemented by an elite receiver corps that includes Bay Area native Davante Adams, pro-bowler Randall Cobb and one of the top wideouts in the league in Jordy Nelson, be prepared for nothing short of another MVP-caliber season.

Keenan Allen, LAC

Allen may be the most excited ex-Bear for the new year to begin, but his high-risk, high-reward outlook makes him an early season coin flip. After being taken religiously in the early rounds of fantasy drafts heading into 2016, Allen fell victim in week one to the infamous “ACL Tear” diagnosis that no player nor fantasy owner enjoys hearing. It was Allen’s third consecutive season cut short by injury, making the 2013 Sporting News Rookie of the Year a risky, but prime comeback candidate for the 2017 campaign.

DeSean Jackson, TB

After spending the last three seasons on an inconsistent Washington squad, the speedster from Los Angeles finds himself as the ideal complement to star receiver Mike Evans in Tampa Bay. With young quarterback Jameis Winston poised to take his game to the next level, expect Jackson to capitalize on defenses that elect to put double coverage on Evans. He may not be the Pro Bowl playmaker that he was with the Eagles, but Jackson makes for an excellent flex option in deeper leagues with his ability to change games in a flash with his special teams play as well.

Marshawn Lynch, OAK

While Jared Goff spent the majority of last season learning on an iPad and Allen spent his year rehabbing, Lynch was back in Berkeley for his bobblehead night and enjoying skittles while watching his former opponents compete on Sundays. Then his hometown Raiders announced that they were departing for Las Vegas in two years, and Lynch was soon enough repping black and silver for Jack Del Rio’s promising roster that has its eyes set on a postseason run. Despite a one-year hiatus from the game, Lynch represents a fantasy threat right away with his ability to punch the rock into the endzone (83 career touchdowns). Add that to the Raiders’ promising offensive scheme led by Derek Carr and Lynch goes from couch-potato to a solid RB2 option on most teams.

Notable Shoutouts:

Jared Goff, LA: Despite solid play during the preseason, don’t expect Goff to make much of a fantasy impact this year under an evolving Rams offense.

Marvin Jones, DET: Has the ability to become a fantastic waiver-wire pickup for shallower leagues, and an excellent replacement for deeper rosters who suffer early-season injuries.

Shane Vereen, NYG: Great value for later rounds, but may not get the touches he needs playing behind Paul Perkins after spending last year recovering from injury.

Josh Yuen covers women’s tennis. Contact him at [email protected].