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32 Teams in 32 Days: Green Bay Packers

The Green Bay Packers have been known as a perennial powerhouse, thanks largely in part to their high-flying offense, led by Aaron Rodgers.  This has certainly changed in recent years, due to several factors, including ineptitude of upper management and coaching, poor player retention, lack of free agent acquisitions, and injuries galore.  Rodgers missed much of 2017, and played injured through most of 2018. With huge coaching changes this off-season, and Aaron’s health back to 100%, hopes are high that the Packers can correct the ship and return to their powerful offensive ways.  

Studs

Aaron Rodgers:  Injuries have told Aaron’s story on the field for the last few seasons.  Broken collarbones, pulled hamstrings and calves, small leg fractures, etc have all taken a toll on Rodgers.  Meanwhile, controversy has told his story off the field.  Rodgers, for better or worse, believes he knows what’s best when the ball is in his hands.  He has managed to piss off plenty of coaches, and players as well. It’s his way or the highway.  With the hiring of new head coach Matt LaFleur, reports of headbutting between the two have already surfaced.  Rodgers is a transcendent talent. He will perform well if healthy. But I believe his efficiency increases if he plays nice with LaFleur and buys into the system that will involve heavy play action, and a more balanced run approach.  

Aaron Jones:  Speaking of controversy, you couldn’t set foot on social media last season without seeing plenty of people (including myself) begging, PLEADING, screaming, for Aaron Jones to get more carries.  Many believe former head coach Mike McCarthy’s stubbornness regarding Jones’ playing time was a factor in his firing.  It’s hard to argue with 5.5 YPC, which is what Jones has averaged in consecutive seasons. This kid is explosive. His shortcomings are in the more technical aspects of the running game, including pass protection.  But his pros far outweigh his cons. I expect him to be fully capable of producing 1,500 total yards and 10+ TDs this season, especially in a new offensive scheme with a renewed focus on the running game.

Davante Adams:  What’s not to love about Davante?  Tethered to one of the best QBs to ever play the game, Adams has proven himself as Rodgers’ undisputed favorite target, so there’s no telling how high the ceiling can go for Adams.  Rodgers has already stated that he wants to throw MORE to Adams this year. 169 targets in 2018 yielded 1,386 yards and 13 TDs. If his targets get bumped closer to an ungodly 200, we could easily be looking at a 1,500/15 type of season.  Adams is undeniably a top-3 fantasy WR, and he’s being drafted as such (7th overall, WR3 overall).  

Duds

Jamaal Williams:  I liked Williams in college, but he was who we thought he was:  A jack of all trades, master of none. While his pass protection is superior to that of Aaron Jones, everything else takes a backseat.  With the addition of Dexter Williams, who is a more athletic player than Jamaal, the fantasy upside of Jamaal Williams takes a serious hit.  While still rosterable in deeper leagues, the majority of his upside comes in the form of goal line/short yardage carries, barring positional carnage via multiple injuries.

Jimmy Graham:  It’s sad when guys like Graham crest the hill and never return.  Unfortunately, I don’t think we’ll ever see Jimmy Graham, as we knew him, again.  His body is broken, his athleticism is failing, and he’s surrounded by so many capable, big-bodied pass catchers, his upside has shrunk to almost nothing.  I expect Graham to finish as a mid-range TE 2 for 2019.  

Breakouts

Marquez Valdes-Scantling:  The 6’4”, 206 lb MVS is poised to grab the #2 WR spot by the horns.  His combination of size and speed (4.37 40) is eye popping. Out of the 3 WRs drafted by the Packers in 2018, he grasped the playbook the quickest and performed admirably in an otherwise uninspired season.  By all accounts, he’s had a great spring already and has set the bar for the other WRs vying for snaps. Expect MVS to move seamlessly between outside receiver and slot this season, and look for him to take advantage of matchups up and down the field.  

Geronimo Allison:  Allison was on pace for close to 1,000 yards last season, before an injury bug bit and didn’t let go.  At 6’3”, 202 lbs, he’s another good-sized pass catcher for this team to utilize in the red zone, and as a big slot receiver.  He is Rodgers’ most trusted target (outside of Adams), and Aaron will throw to him anytime, anywhere. If he can stay healthy, expect Allison to be on the field for nearly all 3-wide sets. Allison will also be in the thick of the battle with MVS for the #2 spot on this Packers offense. 

Stashes

Jace Sternberger:  Sternberger was a great grab for the Packers in the mid third round of this year’s draft.  He is a gifted route runner and pass catcher out of Texas A&M. With Graham aging out of usefulness, Sternberger could soon jump into a move TE role quite nicely.  His blocking is poor (to put it nicely), but that isn’t what the Packers drafted him for. His usage will be as a chain mover and red-zone weapon. For 2019, Graham will get first crack at the job while Jace learns and adjusts to the NFL, but don’t be surprised to see Sternberger hit the field often enough to flash his ability.  

Equanimeous St. Brown:   6’5”, 214 lbs, 4.4 speed.  Those are the measurements people dream about in relation to a WR.  St. Brown was a very raw prospect coming out of college, but even so, he managed to get on the field towards the end of the season and flash some real ability.  He has a little bit of a knucklehead factor, stating that he did not want to play special teams during the draft interview process. This almost certainly knocked him all the way to the 6th round in 2018.  Regardless, his upside is huge, and he’s playing with a great QB. Roster him for cheap, and hope for the best.  

Jake Kumerow:  Kumerow is yet another 6’4”, 209 lb WR in Green Bay.  Aaron Rodgers seems to love this guy. Kumerow is a hard worker, and he has the athletic traits to find success. But will he be able to overcome a lack of draft capital and force his way onto the field?  The bottom line is that if any of these guys get into the good graces of the QB and coach, they will find fantasy relevance, and there’s nothing I love more than profiting off players I can acquire for virtually nothing.  Be sure to stash Kumerow if you have the roster space.  

The Green Bay Packers have a chance to return to relevance this season, not just in the NFL, but also on the fantasy front.  While Davante Adams has solidified himself as a top-tier option, Aaron Jones is making a play to be considered as such in the world of fantasy running backs.  With Rodgers entering his 13th NFL season and turning 36 in December, nothing is a given anymore. But the team has many 2nd-and-3rd-year players anxious to take the next step in their careers.  Expect the Packers to put it all on the line and leave everything on the field in 2019, with a rejuvenated outlook from a new, younger coaching staff.

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