Aaron Rodgers traded to New York Jets: Fantasy football breakdown

At long last, Aaron Rodgers is officially, finally, a New York Jet. The Packers and Jets completed the much-discussed deal a full 40-plus days after the future Hall of Fame quarterback announced on the Pat McAfee show his time in Green Bay was over, and that he intended to play for New York this season.

Full details of the trade: The Jets got Rodgers and a fifth-rounder this year and the Packers got a second (42nd overall) and sixth-rounder this year along with a conditional 2024 second-round pick that becomes a first if Rodgers plays 65% of the plays.

The Packers and Jets will also swap first-round picks this year, sending Green Bay up to 13th overall and New York down to 15th. The 2023 first-round swap and the conditional pick in 2024 — a condition Rodgers will meet if he merely plays 11 to 12 games this year — were the final sweeteners to get this deal over the finish line.

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Fans of both sides on Twitter will find a way to victory lap this one but I think this is a true win/win deal. The Packers get a good haul for a valuable player but one they were completely done with. It gives them nice capital to refurbish the offensive roster around Jordan Love as they try to ensure their wager to move on to the next era succeeds.

The Jets get a truly massive quarterback upgrade. That’s invaluable for New York, which had no other path forward.

There are no ideal fixes for a team that swings and misses in such an epic and brutal fashion as the Jets did with Zach Wilson at second overall in 2021. This Rodgers solution comes with obvious risks. However, it’s a more than comfortable, while likely temporary, side road off the hellacious quarterback wilderness New York has trudged through the last decade-plus.

Rodgers took a step back last season but so did the entire Green Bay offensive ecosystem. They removed the best receiver in football from their equation — that does kind of matter. Perhaps a healthier, happier, more emotionally invested Rodgers shows up in New York, as well. Even a slightly diminished version of Rodgers would be a verifiable starter for the Jets and the trickle-down effect of a player like that taking snaps for this offense would be huge.

The most obvious beneficiary of Rodgers replacing the 2022 Jets quarterback carousel is Garrett Wilson. You don’t need me to tell you the Offensive Rookie of the Year is good at football. You might want me to tell you just how good he is, though. Wilson’s stats as a rookie are nice. The film is better.

Wilson showed himself to be a fantastic separator as a rookie. He got open at all three levels and was a true coverage dictator from all three receiver positions. It’s a rare capability from a first-year receiver. This is the type of receiver you throw 130-plus targets to on an annual basis.

I’m most excited about his ability to crush it on in-breaking routes and how that will overlap with Rodgers. Davante Adams and Rodgers had an automatic connection on those quick-hitting routes over the middle. They piled up production there, in Nathaniel Hackett’s offense. While Hackett might be a national punchline after this Broncos stint, the fact that there is a ton of language and schematic familiarity between the coach and quarterback makes this easy to project. Wilson could run those routes as well and is a freaky, athletic tackle-breaker in the YAC game. This is just a tremendous fit.

I hate playing fantasy football — dynasty or redraft — like it’s some kind of fake stock market. The game is about getting good players who are in good situations. Wilson has superstar ability as an individual player and is now paired with a future Hall of Fame quarterback who has not fallen off a cliff. Don’t overthink it. Wilson should be one of the first eight or so receivers off the board in fantasy football this year.

His talent justifies it. The quarterback upgrade confirms it.

The rest of the pass-catching corps is solid but Allen Lazard and Corey Davis (no lock to stay on the roster) are at best solid but unspectacular No. 2 receivers. Mecole Hardman is a gadget role player and the tight end room is deep but doesn’t have a star. The way the Jets approached the receiver room this offseason by shipping off Elijah Moore and not moving heaven and earth to get Odell Beckham Jr. tells us something: They're are going to approach play-calling and offensive design in a similar fashion to last season.

The Jets don’t have the pass-catcher corps for Rodgers to do a Peyton Manning with the Broncos nor Tom Brady with the Bucs impression. They aren’t about to throw the ball all over the yard and push to lead the NFL in pass attempts. The Jets plan to have a great defense again and flow their offense through a talented featured back.

The goal is to have Rodgers be an extremely efficient passer — not necessarily a record-breaker.

I like that approach for Rodgers at this stage of the game. Even in his last two MVP seasons, Rodgers was 12th and 13th in the NFL in pass attempts. This can all be a winning formula for the Jets but it’s important to keep in mind when ranking and projecting players for fantasy. That level of volume can be enough for Garrett Wilson to be a WR1 but the other players may end up splitting smaller slices of the pie. By the way, that’s the level of output you want to ask from players like Lazard and Co.

All this brings us back to the Jets’ other young star: Running back, Breece Hall. You can see he is excited about this move.

The way the Jets approached the receiver corps this offseason confirms for me that Hall will remain the figurehead, the workhorse of this offense. By all accounts, Hall had a clean ACL tear and doesn’t face a complex recovery as we saw with J.K. Dobbins last year. Hall should be up to speed early in the season if he doesn’t suffer any setbacks.

Hall’s potential as a receiver is also quite intriguing with Rodgers. It flew under the radar that Hall carried a 4.7 average depth of target as a rookie. That doesn’t seem like much but it’s very high for a running back. New York was getting him downfield looks. That target depth is rare among backs and the best recent comparison is prime David Johnson. Hall can also win on those quick-hitting routes from Rodgers just like Wilson. He has the potential to go truly nuclear this year in fantasy.

The road to get to this moment of competition for the Aaron Rodgers trade was difficult but the analysis is quite simple.

Getting Rodgers in the fold makes the Jets and their strong roster a legitimate playoff contender in a loaded conference. Having him take snaps under center is a massive upgrade for the young stars on this offense in Garrett Wilson and Breece Hall. While the rest of the skill-position corps is solid and potentially deep, the team’s orbit will revolve around those two, just as it did last season. Only now, we can project a serious and efficient quarterback guiding the ship.