2020 Fantasy Outlook: Greenbay Packers
Green Bay put an expiration date on Aaron Rodgers when they spent a 1st round draft pick on Utah State’s Jordan Love, they also opted not to draft a Wide Receiver. Those two decisions have been heavily publicized but there hasn’t been much chatter about The Pack of players that will actually be on the field in 2020. Let’s dive into this fantasy breakdown of the Green Bay Packers.
Offseason additions: WR Devin Funchess,
QB Jordan Love (R), RB A.J. Dillon (R),
TE Josiah Deguara (R).
Offseason subtractions: WR Geronimo Allison, TE Jimmy Graham, FB Dan Vitale
Quarterback: I never thought I’d say this, but Aaron Rodgers is kind of underrated. His current ADP is #79 and a consensus of 61 fantasy experts have him ranked as the QB #12. Yeah his numbers have dropped a little but he’s still one of the better, more consistent, performers. The aging QB has played in all 16 games for Green Bay in 5 of the last 6 seasons, in those seasons he’s finished as the QB #1, #7, #1, #6, and #10. Finishing in the top 10 of your position is usually a great thing for fantasy but that 10th place finish was a good indicator for some fantasy owners that Rodgers is no longer a fantasy stud. In the last two seasons A-Rod has thrown the ball a whopping 1,166 times for 8,444 yards and a ridiculous 51/6 touchdown to interception ratio. I haven’t come across someone who dislikes Rodgers as much as I do and even I am high on the eight time pro bowler for this season. If he can get close to or surpass his production from last season he could be a great value pick. Rookie 1st round draft pick Jordan Love is the heir to the throne and is obviously in the Dynasty conversation.
Running Back: Starting RB Aaron Jones broke out big time last season with 1,558 yards from scrimmage on only 285 touches to go along with an insane 19 touchdowns. Jones finished as the RB #2 in 2019 behind only the unrivaled 1st overall pick for 2020 fantasy drafts in Panthers workhorse Christian McCaffrey. Usually the RB #2 would look like quite a bargain with an ADP of #16 but he is almost certain to regress from last season. Anytime a player gets that many TDs you shouldn’t count on it the following year. Fellow RB Jamaal Williams is a very capable back and had a decent year in his own right with 713 scrimmage yards on 146 touches and 6 TDs in 14 games. Jones is a low end RB #1 with some nice upside and should be a pretty safe pick near his ADP. It would be ideal for Jones owners to snatch up Williams as a high end handcuff and if you get desperate he has some stand-alone value in PPR leagues. Big bodied A.J. Dillon who was selected in the 2nd round of April’s draft out of Boston College shouldn’t be too much of a factor barring any injuries to Jones or Williams. Dillon should be just a change of pace back who could possibly vulture some touchdowns. Fair warning: touchdown regression is coming for Aaron Jones
Wide Receiver: Davante Adams has been spectacular for his fantasy owners for the most part, earning an ADP of #8 and usually the rank of WR #2 behind New Orleans star receiver Michael Thomas. Adams had a down year due to missing four games with turf toe but still was targeted 127 times (14th among WRs) and put up some solid numbers 83/997/5. If he can stay on the field I fully expect him to get near his 2018 production that was good for a WR #2 finish even though he missed a game 111/1,386/13 on 169 targets. Draft Adams with confidence as he’s scored 16+ PPR points in 23 of his last 27 games. The rest of this receiving core is a big question mark. Veteran newcomer Devin Funchess joined the fray on a one year deal. Marquez Valdes-Scantling has a terrible career catch rate of 49.6% but has been trusted with 129 targets in his first two seasons. Former undrafted WR Allen Lazard had a decent season with 35/477/3 on 52 targets. Equanimeous St. Brown seems to be more than just a spelling nightmare as he was trusted with 7 starts in 12 games as a rookie in 2018. St. Brown was showing promise while making strides and developing chemistry with Rodgers near the end of his rookie season. Unfortunately an ankle injury ended his sophomore year before it even began. His preseason injury ended up landing him on IR causing him to miss the entire season. This squad behind Adams has lots of potential but are still just late round fliers.
Tight End: With veteran Jimmy Graham out of the picture the Pack desperately need someone to step up. Jimmy Grahampa only managed 100 PPR points in 2019 so it’s not like there’s big shoes to fill. Rodgers is more than capable of spreading the ball around and rookie 3rd round pick Josiah Deguara and Sophomore 3rd round pick Jace Sternberger should lead the way. Sternberger injured his ankle in last season’s preseason finale landing him on IR. He was reactivated playing in six regular season games and starting one. He received only one target and dropped it. Sternberger found some success in the playoffs, catching a touchdown and all three of his targets. Veteran Marcedes Lewis started 11 games last season but caught only 15 passes. There’s potential here but we’re looking at waiver wire pickups not draftable sleepers.
Defense: Green Bay was middle of the pack (no pun intended) last season finishing as the D/ST #16 and averaging an unimpressive 6.8 PPG. Losing starting Linebacker Blake Martinez is definitely a concern but they did sign veteran LB Christian Kirksey. They can put up big numbers when they have the right matchup. They’re definitely a good streaming option and can be used more regularly in deeper leagues.
This is an odd bunch to look at as a whole. We’re looking at either fantasy stars or almost complete unknowns. In my opinion, the stars are nearly bust proof and there’s so much opportunity for the young guys that a few of them are bound to be breakout steals.
Overview from a fan:
My views as a Green Bay Packer fan coincide nicely with Zach’s views, in fact I cannot find one player he discussed, that I disagree with, from a fantasy perspective.
Quarterback: Aaron Rodgers is currently undervalued as a fantasy QB, shocking considering in the last two years he threw for over 4,000 yards in both seasons and had a TD to INT ratio of 51 to 6. In real life, it makes him one of the safest QB bets on the field and a strong fantasy QB as well, especially if your league penalizes interceptions more then normal PPR scoring formats. It also isn’t beyond the realm of possibility to expect similar production from Rodgers’ in 2020, his receiving and running back corps are very similar and even with only two or three strong receiving targets Rodgers still managed 26 touchdowns to 4 interceptions and with a full year under a new head coach I can’t see the current consistency falling off much this year and possibly might even go up a bit.
The selection of Jordan Love puts some damper on Rodgers long term outlook in dynasty leagues but as far as redraft goes Rodgers is still a great value at his current ADP, just don’t expect eye-popping fantasy numbers, you will get consistent numbers but nothing that puts your team over the top most of the time.
Running Back: What can I say that hasn’t already been said about Aaron Jones. Many fans had been begging to start feeding Jones the ball since Mike McCarthy had been head coach. Some of this was fueled by the complete ineffectiveness of Ty Montgomery but when Matt LaFleur finally stopped trying to rotate a 3 back system both Jones and Jamaal Williams benefitted from the change. Jones is an excellent receiver and running back and while regression is to be expected from him, over 1,500 all purpose yards and 19 touchdowns last year mean much of the offense this year will still be centered around him, Davante Adams, and Jamaal Williams. Williams is also a good handcuff to grab for Jones or a nice late round stash player but he doesn’t get nearly the same amount of work as Jones and I don’t see that changing very much under LaFleur going forward.
AJ Dillion, the rookie 2nd round pick is more valuable as a dynasty player then as a legitimate starter unless Jones or Williams get injured, while that is always a possibility with running backs both Jones and Williams have each played 12 plus games, every year, in their first 3 years at Green Bay, they don’t get injured very often and generally when they do get injured it is not conducive for fantasy football, for example Jones was injured in week 15 in 2018, one week before most fantasy football championships would have been played so his injury had little bearing for most fantasy football players that season.
Wide Receivers: As Zach already mentioned Davante Adams is the key receiver in the Green Bay offense. Despite only playing in 12 games last season Adams was still a top 25 wide receiver and had 212.7 fantasy points in PPR and an average of 17.7 per game, if he stays healthy those numbers should improve this season since the rest of the receiving corps is either relatively inexperienced or coming off a season ending injury. Basically the rest of wide receivers in Green Bay are either late round fliers or waiver wire pick up. Devin Funchess has a one year deal and while perhaps a more polished route runner he hasn’t played since breaking his collarbone in 2019 with the Colts. Marquez Valdes-Scantling in my opinion should be ignored entirely and be left on waivers unless he suddenly starts improving. Allen Lazard showed some potential late last season and could become a valuable late round flier if his chemistry with Rodgers remains intact but he could also be pushed off the depth chart by either MVS or Equanimeous St. Brown, who lost much of last season to an injury. In addition, the one other receiver not mentioned by Zach but should be is Reggie Begelton, a Canadian Football League receiver who won the Grey Cup with Calgary Stampeders in 2018 and was the unanimous selection for their Most Outstanding Player in 2019. His stats in Canada may not translate to the NFL but his stats might be the best explanation for why Green Bay didn’t draft a receiver this year. In 2019 Begelton, in 17 games, had 102 receptions on 144 attempts for 1,444 yards, 10 touchdowns and a 14.2 yard average. He has an excellent chance to emerge as a starter in Green Bay and could easily be a deep sleeper or pre-season waiver wire grab who might pay huge dividends.
Tight End: The tight end position is very much neglected in Green Bay, by both Aaron Rodgers and the coaching staff as a whole. They are simply not the major targets in the red-zone when Rodgers can still beat defenses on the ground and in the air and with players like Jones, Williams, and Adams around, the tight ends simply don’t get their due in the Green Bay offense. That being said Jace Sternberger is not a terrible back-up tight end to grab late and could potentially pay off, he had one receiving touchdown and caught all 3 of his targets against the 49ers in the NFC Championship game last year. Rookie tight end Josiah Deguara, veteran Marcedes Lewis, and Robert Tonyan can all be safely left on waivers and it’s unlikely any would be fantasy relevant except in the very deepest of leagues, (and probably not even then).
Defense: Everything Zach said is accurate, Green Bay’s defense was sometimes great last year and sometimes down right abysmal. Younger players like free safety Darnell Savage and Jaire Alexander, stepped up big last year in Green Bay’s pass defense while veterans like Adrian Amos, Za’Darius Smith, and Preston Smith made the defense look quite impressive at times. That being said, the defense did a terrible job against stopping the run, something that needs to be addressed this offseason and the hope is a player like Rashan Gary will improve enough to help apply pressure and reduce the number of lanes opposing running backs can use. Again this is an okay streaming defense and with the right matchup can do a lot but that is true of most middle of the pack defenses.
As Zach already put it the fantasy outlook of Green Bay’s top players is about as safe as you can get. A top wide receiver in Adams, a top running back in Jones, and a reliable and safe mid-round QB with Aaron Rodgers are basically the three safest plays and getting any of those three on your roster are almost a “set it and forget it” play. Outside of them you have a lot of potential players who might break out but most are only worth deep round fliers or waiver wire pick-ups and there is no reason to chase most of them in drafts.