Aaron Rodgers' days as a fantasy darling are over as Packers look like team changing identity
The Yahoo Fantasy analysts will preview all 32 NFL teams between now and the eventual start of the 2020 draft season. Here, we’ll tackle pressing fantasy questions, #FantasyHotTaeks, and team win totals. Next up, the Green Bay Packers.
With the Packers deciding not to add any help for Aaron Rodgers are you avoiding him in fantasy or is there value with him being drafted as QB11?
Matt: I would not call Rodgers an all-out avoid. There’s enough of a damper on the future Hall of Fame quarterback right now that he no longer comes with the premium draft slot that he once did. Yahoo drafters are now letting him fall into the double-digit rounds. At that point, selecting him falls well within the late-round quarterback strategy. Didn’t see that one coming. He falls to such a point where all the downside of his supporting cast and the potentially run-heavy offense is baked in. Rodgers may not be a priority target any more but he’s certainly worth considering given his ADP.
Scott: Rodgers is a fade for me. The circus eventually leaves town for everyone, and this offense has just one favorable pass catcher. Matt LaFleur didn’t do much of anything exciting with the 2018 Titans, and Green Bay is quietly trying to transition to a run-heavy offense. Rodgers has also scaled back his rushing in recent years. I’d prefer to go for a younger quarterback, or one more upside-friendly, in 2020.
Liz: Is a top-12 fantasy finish in Rodgers’ range of possible outcomes? Of course. Does that mean you have to draft him? Not at all. The position is so rich with talent that plenty of later-round options exist. As storied a talent as Rodgers is, he’s playing in a run-focused offense with a limited number of proven pass-catchers available to drag his production. Folks rostering him are doing so because of reputation and perceived value. And that’s fine. However, I’d argue there are players with similar ADP and more upside — like Matt Stafford — who could boom in a bigger way.
Aaron Jones was tied for the lead league with 19 total TDs among RBs. Can he sustain similar numbers in what may be a run-first offense or will TD regression and the addition of AJ Dillon limit his ceiling?
Liz: We can’t talk about Aaron Jones without also discussing AJ Dillon. The Packers used a second-round pick on a workhorse running back (845 totes over three years at Boston College) who broke 78 tackles in 2019 (RB4) and comps to a player Matt LeFleur is credited with unlocking. That doesn’t mean Dillon is going to steal Jones’ starting gig right away, but it does mean that Green Bay is keen on utilizing his talents, and probably immediately.
Don’t get it twisted. This isn’t about Jones’ ability. He’s a stud talent, which was illustrated not just via his 19 TDs, but also the fact that he posted a career-high 3.06 yards after contact per attempt last year. It’s completely reasonable to want to roster a starting player with that level of skill, as long as you’re factoring in a likely scoring regression and the potential for fewer touches. He’s right on that RB1/RB2 bubble, and a solid target in the second round of -team exercises. As an example, if I were drafting out of the 10 spot, I’d aim to make him my RB2 behind either Nick Chubb or Joe Mixon.
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Scott: No one expects Jones to approach last year’s dream season, and the AJ Dillon pick tells us how Green Bay feels. But Jones is still the primary back on a quality team, which makes him a reasonable option in Round 2. Even if he falls to the 7-9 touchdown range, he can easily make back his ADP, if given a full season. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Matt: It’s just hard to expect any player to post those kinds of touchdown totals two years in a row. Jones will experience some touchdown regression. The pick of AJ Dillion is certainly problematic for Jones’ future as this team’s feature back but it would seem quite strange if the rookie didn’t also shave off some of his 2020 touch-ceiling. Do you really take a running back on the second day of the draft just to put him on ice for a year while you sort out the contracts of Jones and Jamaal Williams? I don’t mind Jones at his Round 2 ADP but he’s someone I’d be more comfortable with as my RB2 if I go with two RBs to start my draft.
We know Davante Adams will be the focal point of the passing game, but is there any other Packers pass-catcher you believe will have fantasy value in 2020?
Scott: Allen Lazard by default is the wide receiver to consider; perhaps he doesn’t have full Circle of Trust privileges, but he has a few toes in the doorway. And I guess the Packers not drafting a wideout could be spun as an endorsement for Lazard. I grant you Aaron Rodgers has not done much with tight ends in recent years, but sophomore Jace Sternberger at least belongs on the initial watch list. He had a nifty touchdown grab late in the NFC Championship loss at San Francisco.
Matt: Allen Lazard is on my radar as a late-round sleeper. Aaron Rodgers lobbied to get him on the field and made use of him when he arrived. It’s a tiny sample but Lazard did total eight and nine targets in two starts to end the 2019 regular season. He made some splash plays before that and that’s about what you’re expecting. He’d be a best ball option and a bye-week/matchup-based filler in redraft leagues, not a consistent starter.
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Liz: The Packers’ brass passed on drafting a receiver in the deepest class we’ve seen since 2014 (or ever?), which is why my colleagues are advocating for the Lazard King. And they’re right to. Before Devin Funchess opted out of the season, I would have played devil’s advocate to make a case for him, but Lazard makes more and more sense as the No. 2 option in the passing game.
Liz: Honestly, there aren’t a buffet of options from which to create numerous #HotTaeks … but how about Jace Sternberger? I mean, somebody has to fill the Jimmy Graham role (and his 65 targets) on this offense. A third-round draft pick from 2019, Sternberger has enough speed to stretch the field and shines in contested situations (he hauled in 10 TDs over his final season at Texas A&M). I don’t foresee a breakout happening early in the season, but the second-year TE is certainly someone to put on your watch list.
OVER/UNDER on 9 Win Total from BetMGM
Scott: Let’s first consider what this number represents; the books are expecting Green Bay to fall off four wins from a 13-3 season, mindful that the team’s modest point differential in 2019 (plus-63) only earns them 9.7 wins on average. How you feel about the Packers O/U is tied to how you feel about the Vikings and Bears; given that I love Minnesota’s depth and I see Nick Foles being a reasonable upgrade for Chicago, I will lean slightly UNDER on the Pack.
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