3-Point Stance: Rodgers-Jordy-Montgomery a league-winning trio
As the mercury rises, Brad Evans and Liz Loza will tackle pressing fantasy questions tied to every NFL team. Read, ponder and get a jump on your offseason research. Friday’s topic: The Green Bay Packers
Ty Montgomery transitioned full-time to RB last season, a position switch that stirred the pot of controversy across the fantasy universe. Though he routinely received 10-13 touches per game a year ago, the Swiss Army Knife enters camp atop the RB depth chart. At his 50.1 ADP (RB18), will Montgomery BOOM or BUST this fall?
Liz – BUST. The source of much debate in 2016, Montgomery continues to exist as a powder keg for fantasy enthusiasts. Wowing after contact, the RB/WR racked up the second best breakaway run rate of the season with an impressive 9.1 percent. While that’s an eye-popping stat, he also faced a light front nearly 90 percent of the time. Yeah, having Aaron Rodgers as a QB certainly has its perks.
But I still don’t see a clear path to touches for Montgomery. Sure, he was promoted to the top of the depth chart after Eddie Lacy went down. But from Weeks 7 through 17 he averaged fewer than 10 total touches per game. And if the team were confident in his abilities to carry the load, they wouldn’t have added Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones via the draft. Furthermore, Montgomery’s struggles in pass protection may keep him off the field. He’s a fine athlete, but you won’t find me overpaying for last year’s darling.
Brad – BOOM. Ty one on in the middle rounds of your draft. And, no, that doesn’t mean you chug a bottle of Jack Daniels and pull a LaVar Ball .
Whether you’re a ZeroRB enthusiast or a standard value-based subscriber Montgomery is a must-target at his current ADP. Naysayers argue Jamaal Williams is a viable threat, but all indications from local beat writers and Mike McCarthy arrow to the converted wide receiver starting the year as the primary carrier. Apropos. He is far and away the best option on roster. Advanced data supports the notion. Last year, Monty ranked top-five among running backs in juke rate (RB3) – he forced 17 missed tackles alone against Chicago Week 15 – yards after contact per attempt (2.8, RB1) and breakaway run percentage (RB2). And he accomplished that level of production “acting on instincts.” With a full offseason to prepare, the sky’s the limit.
Montgomery’s pass protection skills need to be honed, but the bulked up back is the clear frontrunner entering training camp. Though the Green Bay offensive line is a work in progress (No. 30 in power run-blocking in ’16), he’s attached to a spectacular offense commanded by a future HOF passer. Hello, exploitable opportunities. Recall last year, he benefited from light defensive fronts a drop-jaw 89.6 percent of the time, averaging 6.6 yards per carry in those situations. Oh the upside of three-WR sets.
If he keeps Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones at bay, he’ll flirt with borderline RB1 numbers, particularly in PPR-heavy formats.
BELIEVE OR MAKE BELIEVE. Aaron Rodgers (29.7 ADP, QB1), post-Olivia Munn breakup, is the indisputable No. 1 QB in fantasy leagues this season.
Brad – BELIEVE. Before Patriots backers start lobbing expletives in my general direction understand placing Rodgers on the top line isn’t an indictment on Tom Brady. The Mattress King is very much in the conversation. The reason why the Packer sits in the catbird seat: Rushing production. Rodgers averaged 327.3 rush yards per season and totaled seven ground scores 2014-2016. That extra 50 or so fantasy points normally generated combined with an expected 4,300 yards and 35-plus pass TDs explain why he should be the first signal caller taken. He’s the stud of studs.
Liz – BELIEVE. The most productive QB in fantasy last year, Rodgers averaged nearly 25 fantasy points per week in 2016. Attempting to compensate for the team’s defensive deficiencies, A-Rod chucked the ball a whopping 38 times per contest, which was fourth among league signal callers.
One of the least efficient units in the NFL, the Dom Campers-coached defense earned a bottom-nine DVOA ranking from metrics mavens at Football Outsiders. The team attempted to fill defensive holes via the draft, adding size and speed in second round picks Kevin King and Josh Jones. Heading into 2017, however, a total turnaround of the defense is unlikely, which means Rodgers should keep throwing. A proven commodity who is still under 40-years-old, Rodgers is a rock solid No. 1 pick… regardless of whom he’s dating.
Liz – PROPERLY VALUED. Don’t call it a comeback. Aaron Rodgers’ favorite target rebounded in a big way last season, posting a 97-1,257-14 stat line. Fully recovered from an ACL tear and back in lock-step with his QB, the nine-year vet led all receivers in fantasy production and TDs. At 32-years-old and on a team with emerging talents like Davante Adams, however, it’s unlikely Nelson will be able to top his 2016 stats. He’s a top-eight pick in 2017. FF: 92-1,150-11
PROPERLY VALUED. After recording 10 drops and underwhelming in numerous other categories in 2015, Adams surprised the following season. Second in team targets with 118 looks, the Fresno State product received twenty-three opportunities in the red area of the field. Most impressively, he dominated after the catch, recording the tenth most yards (408) for the statistical grouping. Finding his sea legs and healthy in 2016, Adams proved he could excel as Green Bay’s No. 2 WR. His 2017 outlook is rosy, which is why he’s ranked among my top-twenty fantasy prospects at the position. FF: 71-926-9
PROPERLY VALUED. Since his 91-1,287-12 effort two seasons ago, Cobb’s numbers have been in decline. Negatively affected by nagging injuries and the emergence of other receiving talent, the 5-foot-10 and 192 pound WR has fallen outside of the top-thirty producers at the position for back-to-back campaigns.
While Mike McCarthy may claim to lay awake at night brainstorming ways to get Cobb the ball more, the fact remains that the 27-year-old has lost a step. As evidenced by the dip in his YAC and Contested Catch Rate, Cobb has struggled to separate with the same zeal that he did in 2014. With Martellus Bennett added to the roster, his volume and subsequent production aren’t likely to rebound. FF: 67-737-5
Brad – SLIGHTLY UNDERVALUED. As your mom can attest, Jordache jeans are downright comfortable. So is owning Nelson in fantasy leagues, whether PPR or standard. He eased all worries about his surgically-repaired knee almost immediately last year, racing out of the gate with the eighth-best effort Weeks 1-5. Stockpiling gold bricks over the season’s second half (WR1 Weeks 8-17), he wound up No. 1 in Yahoo leagues in accumulated fantasy points among WRs. His rigorous workload (152 targets in ’16), red-zone prominence (28.1% RZ targets share) and general steadiness in a powerful offense suggest a very high floor. He’s my WR5.
OVERVALUED. Drafting a TD-dependent wide receiver, coming off a career year, inside the top-40 ranks up there on the ‘wise move’ list with marrying the love of your life at Taco Bell . Cheesy fiesta potatoes for everyone! His TD percentage is completely unsustainable. Unless Adams sees a major uptick in overall targets, which is unlikely with Jordy, a healthy Cobb and Martellus Bennett in the mix, he’ll fall short of the 10 total TD line. Understand he scored 12 times with the 36th-best red-zone target percentage. Efficient? Yes. Anomalous? More so. Alshon Jeffery, Tyreek Hill and Terrelle Pryor are smarter picks at almost the same price point.
UNDERVALUED. Last year, Cobb’s fantasy value went through the sauerkraut shredder. The veteran’s free fall from reliable PPR asset to matchup-only play was shocking. After his benchmark campaign in 2014 (91-1287-12), he finished WR31 and WR58 in subsequent campaigns. Still, there’s hope for a turnaround. He may be at a career crossroads, but he’s still only 26 and has the backing of head coach Mike McCarthy who wants to get him more involved. If he can remain healthy, a problem last year, he should turn a profit. Remember, his 71.4 catch percentage ranked No. 14 at the position. Enticing targets will be no simple chore, but a final output around 75-850-6 is very possible.