There has been much speculation on what the Packers look like this upcoming season. The drama that has unfolded in Green Bay with the Aaron Rodgers situation is definitely something you don’t want to deal with as training camps start to get underway. As we rewind to the 2020 season, the Packers were right in the middle of the pack, no pun intended, for their defense. The biggest loss the Packers felt was the free-agent departure of long-time inside linebacker Blake Martinez. The Packers added oft-injured Christian Kirksey as a replacement which didn’t pan out, due to another injury from the veteran. Krys Barnes and Kamal Martin stepped in and helped fill the void. As the 2021 season gets closer, there are questions on both sides of the ball. Let us dig into the IDP side of things.
His 2019 was off the charts, finishing with 13.5 sacks and the big-name for EDGE rushers in fantasy drafts. Za’Darius Smith couldn’t top his sack total from 2019 but still manage to rack up 12.5 sacks. He finished in the top 60 in scoring for IDP, top 30 in linebackers. If your league has stats such as quarterback hits and/or hurries, Smith has 60 hits over the past two seasons. He is a solid source of hurries as well. Smith is in line for another solid season with him penciled in as the starting outside linebacker.
When it comes to start-up fantasy drafts, Smith is coming off the board as DL19, which is really low for a guy that can rack up sacks and hurries. He is coming off after players like Romeo Okwara, Sam Hubbard, and rookie Jaelan Phillips. At 28 years old, Smith is overlooked and can produce at a high level. If you can get Smith in the 16th round or later with his production, be very happy.
Gary was selected as the 12th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. Up to this point, he has not lived up to those expectations as a first-round pick. Although Rashan Gary has been active for 31 for 32 games in his career, he has only started four. From 2019 to 2020, Gary has seen his playing time almost double what it was. He was able to rack up five sacks to go along with 35 tackles and 11 quarterback hits. Gary is penciled in as the starter at outside linebacker ahead of Preston Smith, who had a down 2019 season.
Heading into draft season, Gary is currently undrafted. In dynasty leagues, Gary could be a steal for the 2021 season and beyond. He showed what he was capable of in limited action and could surprise many with a full campaign at outside linebacker. Gary is still only 23 years old and is worthy of taking a gamble on him late in drafts.
Is the Packers’ middle linebacker position a revolving door? Maybe so. Blake Martinez left in 2019 and Christian Kirksey only played in one injury-plagued season before signing with the Houston Texans. Penciled in as the backup to Za’Darius Smith, Campbell has a very good chance at snagging one of the inside linebacker spots from Martin or Barnes. Campbell spent one year with the Falcons and racked up 99 tackles and seven tackles for a loss. He has four straight years with 92+ tackles and has a very good chance at making it five in a row.
According to IDPGuys.com ADP, Campbell is currently coming off the board at LB45 behind players such as rookies Pete Werner and Nick Bolton and veterans like Cory Littleton, Neville Hewitt, and Jordan Hicks. Campbell has a very good opportunity to finish as a top 30 LB and is a steal in the 26th round! He turned 28 years old in July and has plenty of treads left on his tires.
The undrafted rookie linebacker from UCLA started right out the gate for the Packers. Barnes started ten games for the Packers and was able to hold his own. Three of the games he spent on the COVID list. Barnes made 80 tackles and five tackles for a loss. He is looking like a starter at one of the inside linebacker slots for the Packers.
Barnes is going undrafted right now as drafts start to pick up. If you are looking for a late-round guy in a deep league, Barnes is your guy. Playing beside Smith and Campbell should free up some tackles for him in the second level. Barnes doesn’t get the name recognition but don’t let that deter you from taking the sophomore linebacker.
ADRIAN AMOS / DARNELL SAVAGE
You can’t go wrong with either of these guys playing back deep for the Packers. Amos and Savage combined for 158 tackles, six interceptions, 21 pass deflections, and three sacks in 2020. Both of these guys played in every game last season and showed their durability and are worthy of being rostered in fantasy. Savage and Amos finished inside the top 30 for defensive backs last season.
Savage is coming off the draft boards as DB30 and Amos as DB59, showing you can wait on drafting safties until later in drafts. Both safeties are a good source of tackles and pass deflections. Grab those top defensive ends/EDGE players first, then dig deep into the safeties.
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed the article. You can find me on Twitter @ejh1528IDP. Feel free to shoot me any draft, IDP (NFL or Devy) questions you may have. You can check out my NFL Draft Content here and my previous Dynasty Nerds articles here. Are you a #NerdHerd member yet? For just $2.99/month, you get access to rankings, extra podcasts, the buy/sell tool, and more on the way.