Does Davante Adams get big fantasy downgrade after Packers trade WR to Raiders?

I never thought I’d be more stunned by a wide receiver trade than when the Texans shipped off DeAndre Hopkins for a running back and a Round 2 pick a couple of years ago. Congratulations to the Green Bay Packers … you win.

The Packers agreed to trade Davante Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders in exchange for their first and second-round picks in the 2022 NFL Draft. The Raiders immediately satisfied his demands for a new, and well-deserved, contract making him the highest-paid receiver in the NFL at $28.3 million per year.

Apparently, this one has been in the works for a while. Adams bought a home in Las Vegas recently, which raised a few eyebrows considering his contract was expiring and his relationship with Raiders quarterback Derek Carr — the two played college football together at Fresno State. Adams later told the Packers he would never play on the franchise tag, sending quietly heated contract talks dating back to last summer to a boiling point.

In the most stunning development of this saga, According to Ian Rappaport of NFL Network, Aaron Rodgers agreed to come back and sign his new contract with the Green Bay Packers already knowing that Adams’ time with the team was coming to an end. The relationship was so far gone that Adams wasn’t interested in this mega-contract with the Packers but purely wanted to go play with the Raiders. Adding more fuel to the idea that this fire has been burning under the surface for quite some time.

Updated fantasy outlook for Adams, Raiders

This is an offense-changing move for the new-look Raiders under Josh McDaniels, who make their big swing to keep up with the AFC West arms race.

Adams is the best wide receiver in the NFL. I don’t think it can be debated. The position is stacked with incredible players, both down the line of depth and at the very top of the rung. But what Adams has done over the last four years in consistently dominating in the stat sheet and displaying a flaw-free game on film has not been matched by anyone.

Davante Adams will take a slight fantasy hit after the Packers dealt the receiver to the Raiders, but he should still be an elite option. (Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Davante Adams will take a slight fantasy hit after the Packers dealt the receiver to the Raiders, but he should still be an elite option. (Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

If anyone thinks Adams is simply a product of Rodgers or just a good receiver that’s elevated by his star passer, they are openly admitting they don’t watch the games. Every part of his game is special.

Of course, going from Rodgers to Carr is a quarterback downgrade. That also isn’t really up for debate. Carr is coming off the best season of his career and has a case to be among the 10 best players at the position but Rodgers is coming off back-to-back deserved MVPs. Rodgers might be one of the five best pure throwers of the football in league history and he’s operating at the height of his powers.

All that said, Carr is not enough of a downgrade to crater Adams in fantasy rankings; dynasty, redraft, best ball … any of it.

The fact that Carr is a proven, above-average player at the position and he’s a passer with whom Adams has a baked-in electric history. Aside from a new contract for Carr, swinging this trade for Adams is the strongest move the Raiders could make to cement Carr’s status as their guy for the next few seasons. Adams won’t be dealing with quarterback instability any time soon. That matters a great deal, as does the Raiders’ cavernous hole at outside wide receiver. The volume projection should be pristine.

On that note, consider that while Adams is getting a downgrade in the quarterback column he might be getting a boost in overall offensive volume. While Rodgers has been wildly efficient, the Packers have ranked just 15th and 24th in overall pass attempts the last two seasons. The overall dish might not be Michelin-star quality but it’s far from some fast food dump and the overall slice of the pie might actually offset the loss for Adams.

The Packers have been a slow-paced and balanced attack since Matt LaFleur took over as head coach. Josh McDaniels’ offenses have been all about tempo, pace and more of a pass-first operation when he’s had quality, non-rookie quarterback play in New England. That’s how it should be with the Raiders and that’s really going to help offset tanking Adams in projection models. This is an offensive system I have believed would be an excellent fit for Carr's strengths as soon as news broke that McDaniels was taking this job.

On the Packers, Adams would have been my No. 1 wide receiver for fantasy and a clear-cut top-five pick. He will not be that on the Raiders. However, he won’t fall outside my top-three at the position and he’s still a comfortable Round 1 selection.

Elsewhere in Vegas, consider me still very in on other pass-catchers like Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow, provided their ADPs stay reasonable. Adams is a transformative talent. He alters the efficiency ceiling of the entire unit. With the rest of the depth chart devoid of needle-moving pass-catchers, this trio should combine for the vast majority of Carr’s looks. While Carr isn’t an elite player, he’s good enough to keep the train on the tracks for all of these guys.

Updated fantasy outlook for Rodgers, Packers

Back in Green Bay, the league MVP returns to an offense utterly bereft of pass-catching talent. Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb are slated to return but they are both best out of the slot, as is last year’s rookie Amari Rodgers. The outside options are a stone-cold zero with the rocky Marquez Valdes-Scantling still unsigned.

There will not be an immediate fix in free agency. The top wide receiver available is theoretically Odell Beckham but the team he most recently played for doesn’t expect him ready until maybe November. JuJu Smith-Schuster is out there but again, he’s a slot-only player. He’d be a huge upgrade over Lazard and Cobb but is he too redundant? Same could be said for Jarvis Landry. Will Fuller and Julio Jones are unsigned but present enormous injury questions. Beyond those names, there are no for sure starters left … beyond Antonio Brown and you hardly need a run-down on why that’s unlikely to happen.

Provided Green Bay doesn’t have an ace trade up its sleeve, it looks like the Packers will finally do what fans and media types alike have been clamoring for: Take a Round 1 receiver.

This draft does have a good mix of size and speed to fit in on the outside. Now Green Bay has two first-round selections and a pair of second with which to remake their wide receiver and/or tight end room.

The Packers have been more of a run-leaning offense than most fans might realize. That should remain the case. Rodgers won’t be as hyper-efficient without Adams but he’s so good individually that this passing offense should remain a quality unit.

Nevertheless, this whole group now enters 2022 as a huge question mark. Everything beyond Adams was already up in the air or in need of an upgrade. Now the foundation piece is gone.

With such a lack of clarity hanging over the Packers' offense, it’s hard to give the stamp of approval for drafting anyone in the passing game right now. When the dust settles, that take will surely change. We should believe in Rodgers’ ability to elevate this unit, especially after it presumably gets some level of a talent boost. Especially when you consider everyone beyond the No. 1 receiver has been sorely lacking in the talent department for the last three years.

But if we believe Adams is a transformative talent — everything about his film and stats resume confirms that he is — we can’t believe that things will be business as usual in Green Bay.

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