Capping off a 12-month period filled with more drama than a daytime
soap, Rodgers finally signed the mega-deal with the Packers that
will likely be the last of his career. This comes off the heels
of another disappointing playoff exit, and the loss of one of
the best receivers in the NFL. While much can be said and written
about the drama Rodgers has caused and endured over the last few
years, the loss of Adams is either going to deal a mighty blow,
or be another chip on his mighty shoulders.
Swapping Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling for a fading Sammy
Watkins and a 2nd round rookie from North Dakota State doesnít
exactly seem like a boon to Rodgersís fantasy stock. Though he
might not have been as locked in with his star receiver off the
field as we thought, there is no doubt about the magic they had
on the field. Short term, losing Adams hasnít seemed to be a problem
for Rodgers, as over the last two seasons heís continued to rake
with a 3-0 record and a 9-0 touchdown to interception ratio in
the games Adams has missed. But a look back to the 2019 season,
when Adams missed six games paints a much bleaker picture. Despite
attempting the 3rd most passes in a season in his career (569),
his yardage (4,002) and passing touchdown total (26) were well
below his career averages for a full season.
The loss of Adams is going to be felt the most in the red zone
where this duo was nearly unstoppable, and thus I expect a modest
touchdown regression, and decrease in overall efficiency. Rodgers
can spin the ball like few others even though heís tickling
his 40ís, but that also means he offers much less value
as a runner, as his scrambling numbers have declined several years
in a row. His 101 yards on the ground last year are a career low
since he became a starter in 2008. All-in-all Rodgers is still
one of the best to ever sling it, but this season is going to
be a true test. With less chemistry and reliability from his receivers,
and with little upside as a runner, A-Rod falls to a low-end QB1.
Sunny Skies: Jones, as the most trustworthy pass receiver on
the team, soaks up targets from Rodgers and balances the loss
of snaps to AJ Dillon by catching a career high number of passes.
Gloom and Doom - Dillon continues to eat into his touch share
with the offense becoming more conservative and ground based,
and Jones becomes more of a RB2. These two possible roller coaster
scenarios make Jones one of the more polarizing fantasy players
Basically, it comes down to the league you are in. PPR? I think
Jones easily sets career highs in receptions and yardage. Standard?
Well, youíre going to be glum chasing his ground numbers
from 2019 and 2020, as anything close to 200 carries is unlikely
given the presence of Dillon. Whichever way your league scores,
Jones is right in that RB1/2 range, as what he might lack in raw
opportunity and upside, he can make up for with a strong floor.
2021 was the coming out party for Dillon. He led the Packers
ground game with a team leading 187 rushes, 803 yards, and 5 touchdowns.
He also displayed deft pass catching ability with 34 receptions
for 313 yards. If the ascension to 1A status in the backfield
seemed impossible after his rookie year, itís now a reality
entering year 3. With the Packers entering a transition period
on offense this season, I expect things to start out on a conservative
slant. Itís crazy to think about the fantasy value this
duo produced last year, but there lies the problem. The presence
of Jones caps Dillonís value (and vice-versa), making it
highly unlikely he can significantly improve on 2021ís numbers.
While the upside is murky for Dillon, whatís crystal clear
is that heís much more than just a handcuff for Jones. Heís
going to offer standalone RB2 value, with possible elite production
should Jones go down.
With Adams off to Vegas, it falls on newly signed Sammy Watkins
to be the backbone of the passing game, and frankly thatís
a scary position for Green Bay. Four teams, and seven years stands
between now and the last time Watkins was a true difference maker
on the field. Injuries and inconsistency led to flame outs in
Buffalo, LA, Kansas City, and most recently Baltimore, so the
chances Watkins suddenly returns to the dominant form he displayed
in 2015 is highly unlikely. Fortunately for Watkins, the reality
is that Green Bay lost over 220 receiver targets from last year
and those have to be funneled somewhere. As the receiver with
the most pedigree and experience in the room, IF Watkins can stay
on the roster and eventually the field, he has a chance to return
some tremendous fantasy value by leading this team in receptions.
Outside of Randall Cobb, Lazard has the most experience playing
with Rodgers and if his three-game stretch to end the 2021 regular
season is any indication, he could go a long way to filling in
for Adams in the touchdown scoring department. Lazardís
8 touchdowns on 40 receptions in 2021 is obviously unsustainable,
but his frame 6í4Ē, 227 gives him a huge advantage
in the red zone. The days of this offense funneling 170 passes
to one receiver are over, but #12 is still slinging it, and Lazard
has as good of a claim as any to a chunk of those targets. There
likely wonít be enough to make him a PPR asset, but in standard,
or touchdown heavy leagues, Lazard is someone I wonít be
afraid to go after.
Few can match the size (6í4Ē) speed (4.36 40-yard dash) combination
of 2nd round rookie Christian Watson. Even if the production at
North Dakota State doesnít pop, the measurables that Watson brings
to the Packer offense do. Combine the physical traits with a strong
work ethic, and serious opportunity, and you have a rookie receiver
worth keeping an eye on. Can Green Bay rely on the vets to hold
down the passing game, or will Watson be thrust into a prominent
role early? Look for Watson to provide some early season sizzle
as a deep threat. If he proves to be a quick learner as an NFL
route runner, and become someone Rodgers can trust, he has the
physical traits to dominate and become a fantasy asset down the
stretch. With the most raw upside of any receiver on this offense,
donít be afraid to reach for Watson in your drafts.
Tonyan had his 2021 season detailed by a torn ACL in Week 8,
but even before getting hurt it was extremely unlikely, he was
going to match the numbers from his breakout 2020 season with
only 18 receptions up to that point. Like several other pass catchers
on this roster, what Tonyan lacks in pure talent he makes up for
with technical skill, and familiarity with his fickle quarterback.
Unfortunately, that’s the best I can offer for his outlook.
The ball is going to be spread far and wide in this offense, and
combined with the return from a serious knee injury, Tonyan is
looking like a mid-tier TE2 at best.