As the mercury rises and we inch closer to the open of training camps, our resident fantasy football sickos, Brad Evans and Liz Loza, will profile their favorite booms/busts of every NFL team. Today’s topic: The Cheeseheads of Green Bay.
Which player should owners avoid like a winery at the Dells?
Liz – GERONIMO ALLISON. Yes, he figures to be Green Bay’s No. 3 WR. Yes, this is an offense to target. Yes, Randall Cobb is declining. And, yes, Aaron Rodgers is a stud. HOWEVER, the team also drafted three WRs this past April. Plus, they added Jimmy Graham, who, at this stage of his career, may not be much of a downfield threat, but remains a high-end red zone weapon.
If you’re throwing darts at the Packers’ corps, I’d aim for Equanimeous St. Brown. The Notre Dame product has the makings of a solid outside receiver and Jordy Nelson’s replacement. Read more about him here.
Brad – JIMMY GRAHAM. The New Orleans glory days of Graham compiling 800-plus yards and double-digit touchdowns are monuments in Jackson Square, memories of the past. Though he finished TE4 last fall in Seattle, he was the definition of TD dependent. His catch and yardage totals were nearly identical to Baltimore’s Ben Watson, but his 10 goal-post dunks elevated him in the ranks.
In a Packers offense already featuring a prominent goal-to-go threat, Davante Adams, it’s highly unlikely Graham attracts anywhere close to the 36.6 red-zone target percentage he logged in ’17. A final total around 50-550-6 is realistic, which makes his TE5 ADP (67.8) a wee bit inflated.
Brad – TY MONTGOMERY. Full transparency, Jones will likely prove the more valuable Green Bay back. He excelled in limited usage last season, ranking number No. 2 in yards per carry and No. 19 in yards created per touch. I truly believe he’s slated for at least 12-14 touches per game operating as the Packers’ primary early-down option.
However, Monty will turn the bigger profit. Yes, I’m still picking crow out of my teeth from last year’s unforgivable misfire, but healthy and cast in a more suitable receiver/rusher hybrid role, he has a real chance to deliver as a post-hype sleeper. Recall in 2016, he was a secondary metrics heartthrob, ranking top-10 in breakaway run percentage, yards per touch (6.3), juke rate and fantasy points per opportunity (1.06). With Rodgers under center that year, he also saw a light front on nearly 90 percent of his touches. The chatter he’s expected to take on a “significant” role isn’t coachspeak. It’s plausible he logs 10-12 touches per game and contributes consistent FLEX value for fantasy purposes. At his 131.5 ADP, he’s a late-round stab with major upside.
Liz – AARON JONES. The best value is, hands down, Ty Montgomery, who will absolutely have a large role next season, as Brad outlined above. The most likely to handle early downs and goal line opportunities, however, is Jones. He’s the best fit for the gig.
More powerful and agile than Williams, Jones stole the job from his fellow rookie last year. In Week 5, with both Williams (knee) and Montgomery (ribs) sidelined, the UTEP product beasted for 134 total yards and a rushing score. He continued to impress until suffering an MCL sprain in Week 10.
From that point on, fans were subjected to watching Williams plod along, averaging 3.6 YPC over the last six weeks of the season. While healthy, Jones averaged 5.5 YPC. Yes, the sample size is small, but tape doesn’t lie. Despite being drafted a round after Williams, Jones is the superior athlete. As it turns out, he’s a pretty decent dude too.
FACT or FICTION: Aaron Rodgers is the indisputable No. 1 QB.
Liz – FACT. The collarbone does give me pause, but I can’t imagine putting anyone above Rodgers in my ranks. Over the past 10 seasons, since taking over for Brett Favre, the six-time Pro Bowler has produced top-ten numbers every year but two. For seven of those years he was a top-two asset. The two years he finished outside of the top-nine he missed significant time due to injury (2017, 2013). While on the field in those “lost” campaigns, however, he averaged the at least the fourth most fantasy points per game.
Sure, there are a lot of question marks in Green Bay. But if any QB has proven he can put the team on his back and slay, it’s Rodgers. From his ability to extend plays to his meticulous ball placement, Rodgers’ precision and processing speed make him the best QB in the NFL. Anything can happen in a season, but Rodgers’ unquestionable talent is a constant worth a whole lot of draft capital.
Brad – FICTION. To say Rodgers is the indisputable No. 1 fantasy QB is equal to picking a side in the raging, and generally pointless, LeBron vs. Jordan debate. There’s a strong argument for each camp. In other words, there’s no unequivocal right or wrong answer.
Undoubtedly, Rodgers is an inner-circle Hall of Famer with many elite football years remaining. He’s insanely accurate, owns sneaky productivity as a runner and is supremely intelligent. Those who sacrifice life and limb to acquire his services in the early rounds have every justification to do so. But he’s no tomahawk slam-dunk to finish atop the position. In fact, he’s captured the QB crown only four times since becoming a full-time starter in 2008.
This may instigate a riot, but Deshaun Watson is my numero uno fantasy passer. Seen without a brace at Houston’s mini-camp, he’s well ahead of schedule in his ACL recovery and is immersed in a fantastic, high-octane offense. Most promising, Bill O’Brien has no desire to change the personality of his dual threat despite the QB’s rebuilt knees.
Coming off a jaw-dropping seven-game stretch in which he trashed defenses to the tune of 24.7 fantasy points per game, he’s on the verge of an eruption. Even if his numbers from last season were reduced by 10 percent, he still would’ve bested Rodgers in per game output eight of the past 10 years. That’s how special he was. That’s how special he can be. And it’s why he won’t budge off my top line.
BONUS: Will Davante Adams go OVER or UNDER 9.5 touchdowns?
Brad – OVER. Adams has developed into one of the game’s premier red-zone targets. His ability to gain separation and climb the ladder on defenders in the end zone is nearly unmatched. To me, his current talent level resembles peak Dez Bryant. Last fall, in a forgettable season for the Packers, he impressively finished top-10 in total red-zone target percentage (WR1), contested catch rate (WR5) and fantasy points per route (WR10). Most notably, in seven games with Rodgers, he was the third-most valuable wide receiver in fantasy, totaling a 75-905-14 pace. Even with Graham in the mix, he should sail past the proposed number.
Liz – OVER. With Aaron Rodgers under center for the first six weeks of 2017, Adams nabbed 5 scores. He managed another 4 TDs in the seven games he played with Brett Hundley throwing the ball. In fact, half of Hundley’s touchdowns went to Adams. I understand that with Jordy Nelson *officially* off the squad, Adams could draw tougher coverage, but he’s proven himself since his drop-laden campaign back in 2015.
Having surpassed this line for two straight years, and earning WR1 numbers in back-to-back seasons, Adams has unlocked stud status. He’s garnered 23 red zone targets in 2016 and 2017. That number will go up if Rodgers stays healthy. Winning 65 percent of contested catches (#5) and racking up 359 yards after the catch (#13), the team’s former No. 2 is ready for a promotion. According to current ADP (23.80), he’s the eighth WR coming off of draft boards, which seems spot on.