In the last article of the NFC North fantasy football preview, we’ll finally take a look into the Green Bay Packers for players you should definitely pick up early and often this fantasy season. There’s a lot to love about the Packers offense this season now that Rodgers is back in the fold. This is where I get to gush about the possibility of the Packers outscoring opponents at an impressive clip.
Let’s get to the first obvious “must draft” player:
Aaron Rodgers, QB
Rodgers is the most talented quarterback in the league, full stop. There’s a slight narrative surrounding Rodgers that he’s injury prone because he broke his collarbone last season, but that’s hogwash. It’s not like Rodgers has issues with his knees or back. Broken bones happen in a sport where large men are colliding with other large men. And injuring himself in 2017 and then four years before that doesn’t exactly spell out injury prone in my eyes.
While the pecking order for targets hasn’t been fully fleshed out completely, we can look to Joe Philbin returning as a sign of explosive offensive potential. Last time he was the Packers OC in 2011, Rodgers threw for 4,643 yards, 45 TD’s, and rushed for another three which allowed him to get close to 500 fantasy points. Granted, the pass catchers were phenomenal that year, but getting close would be worth the high-round pick.
Right now, Rodgers is going in the late third round in PPR leagues while the next two QB’s—Deshaun Watson and Tom Brady— are going in the fifth round. There’s plenty of reason to wait on a quarterback this year, but if you draft your first two rounds well then there’s no reason not to draft one of the greatest red zone QB’s there has been.
Davante Adams, WR
Currently, Adams is the WR7 so I shouldn’t have to pull your leg here. Instead, I’ll use this space to tell you why Adams is going to take an additional step this year. Before Week 6 last season, Rodgers and Adams connected on 23 completions, 285 yards, and four touchdowns. While Adams did most of his receiving yards damage after the bye, his touchdown rate dropped from four in five games to five in eight games without Rodgers. It’s very possible with a healthy Rodgers, Adams could’ve sniffed 13-15 TD’s last season.
Adams played two fewer games last year than he did in 2016 and still managed to bring in nearly the same amount of receptions. His 63.2 yard average per game last season also suggests he would have not only topped his 2016 yard total, but topped 1,000 yards for the first time had he played a full 16. He only had eight 20+ yard receptions last season compared to 17 in 2016, but if you watched him in the first preseason game, he was making light work of the Titans’ $60 million corner.
Having Rodgers come back immediately increases Adams’ value and with his gradual improvements + a full season, Adams could be a top-5 receiver by year end.
Aaron Jones, RB
I made the case against Jamaal Williams because I prefer Jones’ upside. The UTEP alumnus will be missing the first two games thanks to a suspension, but that’s only helped his ADP value. Right now, he’s going in the 9th round and a full round later than Williams. It might hurt for the first quarter of the season, but if Jones comes back and recaptures the top spot, he’ll be borderline RB1 to RB2.
During his rookie season, we got a good four-game stretch out of Jones that included a couple of 120+ yard performances. His season was shortened though because of lingering injuries. He didn’t get double-digit rushing attempts after the bye week, but he had some games that showed his big play ability including three rushes for 47 yards against the Panthers and his game-winning 20-yard rush against the Buccaneers.
Jones put a focus on his lower-body strength this offseason in order for him to be a reliable pass blocker. We’ll hope that it will allow him to stay on the field in any situation. Great upside here.