Favre to return, compete for QB job

Never mind.

American sports' biggest soap opera of 2008 may have come to an end Sunday afternoon, as Packers president Mark Murphy released a statement saying that Brett Favre would report to training camp Monday for the first time this summer. In addition, sources told ESPN's Wendi Nix that Favre will be given a chance to win the starting quarterback gig, in an open competition with Aaron Rodgers.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports:

"Another source close to the club said that the Packers have agreed to allow Favre to compete with Aaron Rodgers for the starting job and he won't necessarily be the backup this season. Trade talks with Favre have not advanced and coach Mike McCarthy is expected to come up with a plan that will split the practice repetitions with Rodgers."

Now, this might not be the finish line of this increasingly annoying saga, and no one can be absolutely sure that this will be a genuine competition for the starting spot. But if it is, Favre is probably going to win it. Sure, Rodgers had all the minicamps and the beginning of training camp to catch up, but let's face it: Favre is still Favre. He's still got a huge arm; he still looks great in practice pads; his downside, if and when it comes, won't be felt in a preseason game. (It's more likely to be felt in the NFC Championship Game, eh, Packer fans?) So if this is a real competition, my money's on Favre to win it.

For the moment, Rodgers goes from an intriguing "upside" fantasy pick to a highly shaky selection. Even if by some stroke he does win the Green Bay starting gig, Rodgers will have the league's largest shadow looming over his every start. Sure, he's one of the NFL's stronger quarterback handcuffs now, because Favre turns 39 in October, but the odds of Rodgers being a worthwhile fantasy player in 2008 got a whole lot steeper this weekend. Plus, it should be noted, Rodgers' rookie contract runs out after this season, and it's quite possible he'll feel betrayed enough by these shenanigans that he'll want to leave for greener pastures next winter.

Overall, as silly as all of this has been, I have to believe that with Favre at the helm, Green Bay's other skill-position players see their fantasy values rise, or at the very least lose much of their uncertainty. If Favre really is back as the Packers' starter (and I emphasize, that's still a big "if"), you're talking about an offense that accounted for 370.7 yards per game in '07, second-most in the league.

With the recently signed Ryan Grant back in the fold, a top receiving trio of Donald Driver, Greg Jennings and James Jones returning, and Donald Lee verging on being a No. 1 fantasy tight end, there's little reason to think we won't be looking at one of fantasy football's most explosive offenses again. The only potential concerns are Favre's age and the possibility that this soap opera has alienated some teammates -- neither of which concern me too much. As a starter, Favre probably takes his place somewhere in the bottom half of the top 12 quarterbacks in fantasy once again.

Christopher Harris is a fantasy baseball, football and racing analyst for ESPN.com. He is a six-time Fantasy Sports Writing Association award winner across all three of those sports.

You can e-mail him here.