It’s time we have a serious discussion about Jordan Love.
After an interview with Kenny Mayne on Monday, Aaron Rodgers’ stance on returning to the Green Bay Packers still seems murky. He did not say whether he wants to work through his qualms with the team and return, but nor did he pull a Julio and say that he’s outta here.
So, if Rodgers sits for the year—or is ultimately dealt to another team—that makes Love the starting quarterback in Green Bay and therefore a potential fantasy QB option.
Of course, we have zero NFL tape on Jordan Love or even a still of him on the sidelines during a game last year. The Packers are either didn’t want to throw Love out to the wolves if Rodgers got hurt in 2020 or they were trying to make sure his trade value remained unblemished. I’m not sure which I believe more, but either way both options suggest that Packers coaching brass didn’t think that Love gave the Packers a better chance to win than Tim Boyle did.
There are other caveats for Love’s absences last season that I think are worth noting for this discussion. A lot of what the Packers did last offseason suggested that they were preparing for a more difficult fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic altering preparation plans. The Packers 2020 free agents were less splashy than 2019, signing only low-risk FA’s at positions of need, though the salary cap affected those plans as well.
The next caveat is that there really wasn’t an opportunity that would provide Love a chance to display his talent other than kneel downs. Rodgers played at an MVP level and the offense line kept him cleaner than he’s ever been. Additionally, the Packers didn’t have any games off if they wanted to clinch the one seed and home field advantage. Going into Week 17, the only way the Packers could keep the one seed without winning was if the Saints won and the Seahawks didn’t. It was important that the Packers kept their foot on the gas.
Love’s 2019 season at Utah State, along with not seeing the field at all in 2020, has made people forget the kind of prospect he was after his sophomore year. Love is statuesque at 6’4”, 225 pounds, but he’s also a QB with great athleticism. He has undeniable arm strength and can throw from multiple platforms—something that’s been all the rage the past few years by experts. For what it’s worth, Chris Simms had Love as the #3 QB prospect last year, behind Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert but ahead of Tua Tagovailoa. Pro Football Network’s Brad Kelly had Love as the #3 QB as well, ahead of Herbert.
Obviously, rankings post draft doesn’t matter much, but it’s a good reminder that many believed Love was an intriguing prospect who some believed could go inside the top 10.
Given the Packers’ #1 ranked offense by DVOA last season, it’s fair to wonder if Love can slot in somewhere between the QB10 and QB12 spot. Rodgers finished as the QB3 last year, but his lack of work on the ground and rushing TDs held him back from being QB1 despite tossing 48 TDs with only five picks.
Love has the ability to create outside of the pocket and make gains with his feet and the list of top-10 fantasy QBs is full of guys who do just that. Half of the top ten gained at least 400 yards rushing, while only three other QBs outside of the top 10 had 400 yards on the ground — Cam Newton QB16, Daniel Jones QB24, and Taysom Hill QB29 — all with circumstances that Love can avoid.
What Jordan Love will need to do to become a good player and good fantasy prospect is keep his turnovers down. His jump from six interceptions in his sophomore season to 17 in his final year at Utah State is what makes him such a boom or bust prospect. He had a lack of talent surrounding him there and a coaching change that implemented a new offense, but his decision-making suggested a QB that relied too heavily on his arm talent and lapses in processing.
Still, the top-15 of fantasy QBs is littered with guys who threw double-digit picks last season. In fact, only six of the 15 didn’t. The difference will be if Love can keep that double-digit number closer to 10 than 15—which may be asking a lot.
Rodgers isn’t gone yet, but if the future has to be now, Jordan Love can still be just good enough. He has an entire (real) offseason this year and the Kyle Shanahan offense has even made guys like C.J. Beathard and Nick Mullens look like competent starters. In addition, he’ll have great weapons and an offense line that should buy him plenty of time.
There’ll be a lot of highs and lows with Love, but those highs look like they’re going to be wildly fun with his YOLO deep shots and off-platform throws. If Rodgers does retire or work his way out of Green Bay, don’t be scared to grab Love in your drafts this year as he should be able to give you top-15 production.