The Green Bay Packers sit at 3-1 through the first quarter of the NFL season and — despite a weird loss to the Eagles — if you told me they’d have the record in the first four games, I’d be elated. There’s plenty that could have gone wrong for the green-and-gold introducing a new head coach.
Currently, first-year rookie Head Coaches are a combined 5-18. Matt LaFleur has three of those five wins.
There’s still a long season ahead, but we’re taking a minute here to reflect on the superlatives for the Packers’ fantasy value. There have been ups and downs, but I feel confident in saying that there will be plenty of “ups” for the Packers offense and fantasy owners alike moving forward. To recap how each superlative is defined, refer back here.
The Big Cheese: Packers Defense
Despite a tough outing against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 4, the Packers defense wins the Big Cheese award because they’ve exceeded all expectations when it came to fantasy scoring. They’re currently the eighth ranked fantasy defense without actually having scored a defensive or special teams touchdown. The new additions of this defense have given them a breath of life that Packers fans haven’t seen in quite some time and we’re slowly seeing the emergence of Jaire Alexander as a top shutdown corner in the league.
Alexander has helped the passing defense reach fifth in defensive DVOA four weeks into the season. Per PFF, he leads all defensive backs targeted 15 or more times in coverage grade (88.3) and forced incompletion percentage (33.3%).
Rough outings against the Vikings’ and Eagles’ running game have slowed the defense’s progress, however. They’re currently 27th in run defense DVOA and have future games against Ezekiel Elliott, Christian McCaffrey, Saquon Barkley, and Dalvin Cook one more time. Having a healthy Montravius Adams and Oren Burks can help improve this area, but they also have to do a better job of executing their assignments. Philadelphia had huge holes to run through because of several instances in which a Packers defender wasn’t where he was supposed to be. With more reps, this can change.
For now, The Big Cheese defense has plenty to be thankful for including Alexander, Darnell Savage developing quicker than expected, and Kevin King being a menace in Week 4.
Honorable Mention: Davante Adams (PFF First-Team All-Pro through four weeks, zero drops this season); Aaron Jones (fantasy RB11, 15.7 PPR PPG); Aaron Rodgers (QB16, 6:1 TD:INT ratio and that one pick was tipped).
Number One Boy: Aaron Rodgers, QB
Rodgers wins this designation because he is only the 16th ranked fantasy quarterback and averaging a mere 16.5 fantasy PPG. What’s particularly noticeable is the difference in halves for Rodgers, when it’s assumed that the plays in the first few offensive series are scripted out.
In the first half of games so far this year, Rodgers is averaging a 67.9% completion percentage and 8.6 yards per attempt, and has five touchdowns to zero interceptions.
In the second half of games this year, Rodgers is averaging a 55.9% completion percentage, with 5.9 yards per attempt, and has one TD and one interception. His passer rating also slowly declines from first to fourth quarter: starting at 141.4 in the first quarter, it drops to 96.1 in the second, 77.5 in the third, and 67.7 in the fourth.
This superlative, however, is named so because it’s someone who has caused disappointment, but we won’t give up on. And there’s plenty of reasons to be optimistic. Taking a walk down narrative street, there’s an argument to be made that playing zero live snaps in the preseason with this new offense means that Rodgers is still figuring out his groove in the offense. The scripted starts and slow third and fourth quarters should veer more towards better full games. We’ve already seen signs of this.
In his past two games, Rodgers’ average yards per attempt over full games ticked up to 8.1 and 8.0 compared to 6.8 and 6.1 in Weeks 1 and 2, respectively. Facing three formidable pass rushes in the first quarter of the season, Rodgers has taken eight sacks total, but only one in the past two games.
Rookie Elgton Jenkins has been graded statistically high for his pass blocking skills. David Bakhtiari hasn’t been as solid as he should be, but lingering injuries could be slowing him down. The issues come from the right side, after Bryan Bulaga went down following a solid start to the season. Despite all this, the line should only get better with more reps to keep our Number One Boy upright.
Per NFL Research, Rodgers likes to heat up in October with an average passer rating of 107.8 and 281.2 yards per game in the this month over his career.
Honorable Mentions: Davante Adams & Marquez Valdes-Scantling
The Big Short: Geronimo Allison, WR
Geronimo hasn’t been as effective as a third option in the passing game, and Jimmy Graham might actually be Rodgers’ more preferred target this season when he can’t hit Adams or MVS.
Allison’s fantasy output has been a little bit of fool’s gold since he has logged two touchdowns. That can be helpful, but a TD dependent WR in fantasy can be a frustrating proposition. He’s averaging just over 3.5 targets per game and his touchdown from Week 4 might not even have been aimed at him.
Despite possibly earning some trust points on his 3rd-and-6 catch during the second quarter of the Eagles game, there are more valuable lineup choices in the flex spot — including the Packers’ No.2 running back who looks like even he’ll get his number called more once he’s healthy again.