2019 Packers fantasy football team preview: Analysts clash on Aaron Jones' upside
The Yahoo Fantasy analysts will preview all 32 NFL teams between now and the end of July as training camps open. We’ll tackle pressing season-long fantasy questions, Best Ball tips (new on Yahoo for 2019) and team win totals. Next up, the Green Bay Packers.
The Packers train moves as Aaron Rodgers moves. If he’s healthy and firing on all cylinders, this team is a legit threat. But if he’s not healthy — or if he’s unhappy — well ... anyway ... the Mike McCarthy era is over!
Davante Adams is an elite WR, Aaron Jones has the tools to take off this year, and the rest of the Packer WRs have all flashed. At full strength, the Packers are a team replete with fantasy goodies.
JONESing at RB?
Showcasing a trimmed down frame, Aaron Jones is prepping to take on a larger role in Green Bay’s backfield. Is the rusher a GOOD, GREAT or BAD buy at his 32.2 ADP (RB16)?
Brad: When you eliminate Sour Patch Kids and Jolt Cola from the diet, GREAT things are bound to happen. Svelte and motivated, Jones is in a prime position to profit massively at his Round 3 ADP. Matt LaFleur’s RBBC commentary heightens fantasy fears, but Jamaal Williams is milquetoast by comparison. Secondary numbers clearly drive home this point.
Under the hood, Jones is a high-revving muscle car. Marvelously efficient, he tallied the third-highest percent of first-down runs among rushers in 2018. Additionally, he totaled 2.97 yards after contact per attempt, forced a missed tackle 19.5 percent of the time and ranked RB12 in elusive rating according to Pro Football Focus. Jones also logged measurable improvement in pass blocking and receiving grades last fall. The sexiest part: He plays alongside some dude named Aaron Rodgers. Stacked fronts are infrequent. In fact, a season ago, he saw eight or more men in the box on just 13.5% of his snaps. Again, he’s in a terrific spot.
When weighing the expected pumped-up workload as a rusher and receiver, the fantastic environment, and Green Bay’s athletic offensive line, Jones is a phenomenal early-round target. It shouldn’t floor anyone to see him register close to 1,500 total yards with 8-10 touchdowns this fall. Bank on him.
Andy: Aside from the fact that Jones hasn’t yet handled 200 touches in a season and his new head coach definitely wants to roll with a committee, what’s not to like? Jones has of course been a very good runner (5.5 YPC) and he’s tied to a great offense, but at this cost ... well, wow. It’s definitely full price. If you’re drafting a back in Round 3, there should be no doubt about his ability to reach 1200-1440 scrimmage yards, with the potential for more. I don’t dislike Jones in theory, but I’m not paying for his best-case scenario. I’m not a buyer at this price — BAD.
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Luring a mammoth 31 red-zone targets, Davante Adams (8.2 ADP, WR2) cashed 13 touchdowns a season ago. TRUE or FALSE? The scoring machine needs to be the second wide receiver off draft boards in .5 PPR.
Andy: TRUE. He’s No. 2 on my board and I could easily build a case for him at No. 1. There’s no question he’s a top-tier fantasy receiver. Adams caught 111 balls last season and his QB thought maybe he was underutilized. Would you really be surprised if he hauled in another dozen or more TDs this season? Of course not. He’s a gifted player who gets easy separation and he’s paired with an all-time passer. Adams is a no-doubt first-round talent.
Liz: TRUE. Heck, if Will Fuller and Keke Coutee take the leap that Matt Harmon’s #ReceptionPerception outline then there’s a real chance Adams should be the No. 1 WR off of draft boards over DeAndre Hopkins. Managing double-digit TDs for three consecutive seasons, the 26 year old has unequivocally become Aaron Rodgers’ favorite target. It makes sense too, given the fact that Adams is a monster in contested catch situations, winning 65 percent of 50/50 balls in 2017 (WR5) and pulling down a true catch rate of nearly 88 percent in 2018. He’s no slouch after the catch either, managing nearly three yards per target in back-to-back seasons.
Praised for the ease with which he’s picked up Matt LaFleur’s offense, and with Rodgers vowing to target him more frequently, Adams is a bonafide top-three fantasy wideout.
Last fall, beer chugging Hall of Shamer, Aaron Rodgers (80.9 ADP, QB3), posted his lowest passing TD output (25) of his career in a season with at least 15 games played. OVER or UNDER 30.5 air strikes in the follow-up?
Liz: OVER. Since becoming the Packers’ starter in 2008, Rodgers has surpassed the above benchmark in four of his nine 15+ game season (in 2008 and 2009 he managed 28 and 30 TDs, respectively). On the heels of Tyler Dunne’s in-depth article about the team’s 2018 locker room drama and a subsequent regime change, Rodgers figures to enter the fall ready to prove the haters wrong. Additionally, his young receiving corps will have a full offseason to acclimate to their signal-caller’s sensitivities as well as LaFleur’s playbook.
In what figures to be a top-10 offense, and behind an improved offensive line, A-Rod is poised for a bounce-back campaign. He’s the Yahoo consensus-ranked QB4.
Brad: OVER. The rift between Rodgers and Mike McCarthy combined with a rickety offensive line proved to be too much to overcome for the passer last season. Though rumors LaFleur may limit Rodgers’ audible powers have already begun to swirl, the environment will be less restrictive, a favorable development which should propel Green Bay’s vertical attack forward. More importantly, the veteran will hopefully be healthy, which, per his admission, he wasn’t at any point last year. It explains why his completion percentages suffered, particularly inside the red zone (QB50).
At 35, Rodgers is no spring chicken, but boosted by a talented receiving corps and reconstructed offense, he’s a strong candidate to toss 31-34 touchdowns. At his ADP, he’s a very affordable elite performer.
Best Ball Bargain Bin
Andy: MARQUEZ VALDES-SCANTLING is gonna have a bunch of quiet weeks, in all likelihood, but he’ll give us a handful of binge games as well. MVS has exceptional size (6-foot-4) and speed (4.37), and the offseason hype is almost getting out of hand. Best Ball is his ideal format.
Brad: GERONIMO ALLISON. It’s rare a former University of Illinois player offers any fantasy relevancy, but Allison checks the box. Trusted by Rodgers, he’s cemented as an outside complement to Adams.
When healthy, he’s flashed plus skills. His 3.11 fantasy points per touch equaled Antonio Brown’s category output last year, though accomplished on a much smaller sample size. If he can attract 18-20 percent of the target share, he’ll easily profit at his cut-rate 121.6 ADP (WR51).
Mad Bets (From FanDuel Sportsbook): Green Bay 9 wins OVER (-150) or UNDER (+125)
Liz: OVER. With the exception of 2018 (a year fraught with physical and mental strife), the Packers have bested this record in each of the last five years in which Rodgers stayed healthy for 16 weeks. Assuming A-Rod stays on the field, the Packers should clear 10 wins.
Andy: OVER. We shall speak no more of this prediction. #BearDown
Stay tuned for more Fantasy Football team previews!
More Fantasy Team Previews
AFC East: Bills | Dolphins | Jets | Patriots
NFC East: Cowboys | Eagles | Giants | Washington
AFC South: Colts | Texans | Jaguars | Titans
NFC South: Buccaneers | Saints | Panthers | Falcons
AFC North: Bengals | Steelers | Ravens | Browns
NFC North: Lions | Vikings | Packers | Bears
AFC West: Chiefs | Chargers | Raiders | Broncos
NFC West: Rams | Cardinals | 49ers | Seahawks
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