Are The Green Bay Packers Super Bowl Pretenders Or Contenders?

Can Aaron Rodgers win another Super Bowl?

By: Andy Davies

Green Bay Packers: Super Bowl Pretenders or Contenders?

The Green Packers are back to winning ways after a terrible run of form, beating the Dallas Cowboys in overtime thanks to a Mason Crosby field goal.
 
Green Bay and Aaron Rodgers went into the London game against the New York Giants with a 3-1 record. Despite leading the game 10-3 after the first quarter and leading 20-10 at halftime, they ended up losing 27-22. Until Sunday, they had not won since.
 
They lost games that nobody would have predicted, including games against the New York Jets, Washington Commanders, and Detroit Lions.
 
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has struggled to recapture his form this season, after two back-to-back MVP-winning campaigns.
 
However, despite their 4-6 record at the time of writing,  they are still ninth in the NFC seeding and just one win away from the San Francisco 49ers who currently occupy the seventh seed.
 
So, are the Packers Super Bowl pretenders or contenders?

Learning From The Chiefs

If any team is to learn from another who overcame adversity and media scrutiny to make the playoffs, it is the 2021 Kansas City Chiefs.
 
Much like the Packers this year, the Chiefs went into last season as one of the Super Bowl favourites after two back-to-back appearances.
 
Despite winning their season opener, Kansas City lost three of their next four and after the conclusion of week seven, they were 3-4. They only went on to lose one more game and finished the season as the AFC West champions with a 12-5 record and would make it all the way to the AFC Conference Championship game.
 
A second-half collapse in the game prevented them from making a third straight Super Bowl and they should have been there at SoFi Stadium facing the Los Angeles Rams. They showed that you should not crown champions or announce teams to be dead to rights with only half the season game. After all, the New England Patriots often started slowly in Super Bowl-winning years.
 
This feels the same for Green Bay. Whilst the current 8-1 record of NFC North rivals the Minnesota Vikings means they are unlikely to make the postseason as division winners, a Wildcard Round spot does not appear out of the realms of possibility.
 
Rodgers snapped back-to-back games with an interception, cutting out ugly plays that was seen in the Lions loss. Rookie wideout Christian Watson finally showed what he could do with Rodgers and this is frightening for the rest of the league.
 
We all saw his connection with Davante Adams and it is clear Rodgers missed him. There is no better time for Watson to finally come into his own.

There is also the run game, which appeared to bring success against Dallas in Week Ten. The Packers had 39 carries as opposed to just 14 receptions. Aaron Jones led the way, with 138 rushing yards and one touchdown from 24 carries.

There appears to be a change of game plan from Head Coach Matt LaFleur, with Jones running for the most carries in any single game this season. Subsequently, this resulted in his second-highest yards total for any game in the 2022 campaign.

The flip to the run game, as a result, saw Rodgers throw for his lowest single-game completion this season, with just 20 attempted passes (14 completed) against Dallas. He has only thrown for less than 30 attempted passes this season, as seen in the Week Two 27-10 win over the Chicago Bears. Could the run game be the secret to success for any late Packers playoff run?

A Tough Schedule Still Remains

Their schedule is the one factor that could derail any late-season push in their search for a playoff appearance. The Tennessee Titans, Philadelphia Eagles, Los Angeles Rams, Miami Dolphins, and Minnesota still await.
 
The Packers have beaten both the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Cowboys. They will use this as inspiration for their upcoming opponents, but they need to be wary that any slip-up could burst the bubble of any hope of postseason football.

Pretenders or Contenders?

Right now, you would have to still say they are pretenders. After all, it is just one win. However, their game against Tennessee Titans on Thursday Night Football is the true test of whether last Sunday’s win over the Cowboys was a one-off.

Only four teams have allowed more rushing yards this season than the Packers (1,406) and they are seventh-worst in the league for rushing yards allowed per game (140.6). They will not welcome the prospect of playing Derrick Henry this week.

Henry is seen by many as the best running back in the league, and currently possesses the second-most rushing yards this season (923), and only Nick Chubb has more rushing touchdowns than Henry (9). If they can handle Henry and get the win at Lambeau Field, his could be the start of a remarkable run. If they lose, they will be sent straight back down to earth with a reality check.

Fantasy: 5 overrated RBs

Overrated RBs right now

By: Jake Rajala

The fantasy football action has only just begun. Heading into Week 6, there has certainly been a lot of fun running back performances. However, there are some RBs that have left fantasy owners scratching their heads. With that said, I’m going to outline five RBs that are honestly overrated right now.

Aaron Jones

The Green Bay Packers veteran RB Aaron Jones may be averaging 6.3 YPC, but he has only mustered out two total touchdowns this season. It’s well-noted that the bowling ball AJ Dillon hasn’t been a friendly face to Jones, as well. Dillon has had 63 carries on the season thus far. It doesn’t appear that Jones’s all-around ability can help him return to the Pro Bowl.

Michael Carter

The New York Jets RB group is whole-heartedly led by former Iowa State legend Breece Hall, who set the franchise record for total yards (197) in a game by a Jets rookie last Sunday. Hall Meanwhile, the 2021 fourth-round draft pick Michael Carter hasn’t been a fabulous RB (158 rushing yds, 3.4 YPC, and 2 rushing TDs). Hall has 56 carries, while Carter has 47 so far.

Melvin Gordon

It seemed like the Broncos were in possession of a lethal 1-2 punch at RB after Melvin Gordon re-signed this off-season. Well, father time may be finally catching up to the former Wisconsin legend. Gordon has sadly run for one touchdown on the season and 193 rushing yards (while averaging 3.7 YPC). Javonte Williams will be out for the season, so perhaps Gordon can find a way to be more effective with a larger load.

Najee Harris

It’s hard to ignore the lack of positive direction from Najee Harris right now. He ran for 20 yards on 11 carries last week & he’s also accumulated 222 rushing yds on 69 rushes, too. Furthermore, he’s only notched 1 rushing TD. It doesn’t appear that he will return to being a 1,200+ yard runner & Pro Bowler soon.

Joe Mixon

The star RB for Cincy, Joe Mixon, hasn’t been his usual powerful self this season, to say the least. Mixon has merely run for 302 yards on 96 carries & 1 TD. His offensive line that added Alex Cappa and La’el Collins this prior summer hasn’t been a positive asset to his abilities, too. I hope the continuity between the Bengals OL can improve soon. Dynasty owners of Mixon may want to be bold with him, too.

What happens to the Packers skill players if Rodgers moves on?

Will Aaron Jones stay in Green Bay?

By: Andy Will

Superbowl champion and game MVP during the 2011 match-up with the Steelers, 3-time league MVP (2020,2014,2011), 9 pro bowl selections, 11th on the list of all-time passing yards (likely to overtake Elway if he does not retire) and 7th overall in passing touchdowns (likely to jump 2 spots in 2021 above Marino and Rivers if he plays again).

I could have continued with a list that would have taken up this whole piece, however, it is safe to say that if Aaron Rodgers does decide to a) move on or b) retire then the Packers find it almost impossible to replace him.

Jordan Love

This is the man that everyone expects to replace Rodgers as starting quarterback. The Packers moved up from 30 to 26 in the first round of the 2020 draft to take Love in a controversial selection. He did not play during his rookie season in the NFL with Rodgers ending the year as league MVP after a fantastic season. 

Key College Stats-

YearPassing YardsPassing TDs/INTSCarries/YardsRushing TDs
201716318/646/1652
2018356732/643/637
2019340220/1781/1750

Love had a fantastic 2018 season coming in with a great touchdown to interception ratio as we can see in the above table. From looking back on key highlights from that season a name he was drawn to on plenty of occasions -especially in the end zone- was Ron’quavion Tarver, a 6 ft 3 in wide receiver who could ‘go and get the ball’ in tight coverage situations. It was no surprise that once Tarver left, following the 2018 season the numerical difference between the touchdown total and interceptions became closer. 

Green Bay have an elite wide receiver as part of their team in Davante Adams who finished the year with an incredible 18 touchdowns throw by Rodgers. If Love was to take over he would (you’d imagine) lean on Adams to move the sticks. Similarly, with tight-end Robert Tonyan, he would be a ‘safety blanket’ in the early stages of Love’s NFL career. 

During the recent 2021 draft, the Packers selected Amari Rodgers in the 3rd round. Many see the rookie wide receiver as a Randall Cobb type player. Could this be enough to keep Aaron Rodgers around? Outside of Adams, the wide receiver group’s production was volatile over the last couple of seasons. If Love was to take over, the addition of Amari Rodgers will give whoever the starter is come the beginning of 2021 another offensive piece to work with.

Davante Adams 

StandardHalf PPRFull PPRGames Played
202011114
201929242312
201833315
201713141414
201678916

Whichever quarterback starts for the Packers in 2021 Adams will currently still be the top target. He is coming off the back of finishing as the number 1 wide receiver in every format after a 1374 yard and 18 touchdown season. Even with Rodgers as a quarterback, these numbers (especially the touchdown total) are most likely unsustainable. I likely see Adams as an Allen Robinson type player who will have 100 plus targets and be the clear top target for his team. 

If Love was to take over I can still see Adams finishing as a top WR option in all formats with the numbers coming down. A mid to low-end WR1 would be my prediction assuming he manages to stay relatively injury-free.   

Aaron Jones

Fantasy Finishes

YearGames PlayedStandardHalf PPRFull PPR
202014555
201916322

Key Stats

YearCarriesRushing YardsTDsTargets/CatchesReceiving YardsTDs
20202011104963/473552
201923610841668/494743

To help Love adjust, having access to a top-level running back is of huge importance. In Aaron Jones, he certainly has that. Jones is already leaned upon heavily both in the receiving and rushing parts of the offence. He was a massive part of the success of the team, especially over the previous two seasons. With Jamaal Williams leaving the team in the off-season he will likely pick up more work, although AJ Dillon should be involved in some capacity. 

His previous two seasons were similar in many ways with the exception of rushing touchdowns which have moved back towards the mean. 

I would expect the offence to still run through a combination of Adams and Jones. He is currently being ranked as the consensus RB9 which is about right I feel. 

Robert Tonyan

Tonyan had a breakout season in 2020, finishing at TE3 across all formats. He scored 11 times during his 16 games -including 3 in week 4  against the Falcons-. As impressive as that is, his yardage totals were, at times, fairly low as he only hit 50 or more yards on four occasions throughout the season meaning he was touchdown dependant as is the case for many fantasy tight ends, 

What can we expect from him in 2021 if Love takes centre? Well, he could be a safety net for the young quarterback in short-yardage situations. He is currently being ranked as the consensus TE9 which seems high, especially if Love takes over. Tonyan scored on 21.1% of his catches which seems unsustainable. A low-level TE1 finish shouldn’t be too far out of the question, however, like with many of the Packers players we should plan for a slight drop off should Jordan Love take over from Aaron Rodgers. 

Three RB Targets For The Miami Dolphins

Who Will Help Tua Tagovailoa?

By: Euan Leith

By all accounts, the Miami Dolphins had a successful 2020 season. They leaped forward as a franchise to finish 10-6 and missed the playoffs on the regular season’s final day. Head Coach Robert Flores has a great thing going on in South Beach as they enter the new league year, but they could do with some upgrades on the offensive side of the ball.

Running back was a particular spot where the Fins lacked consistency. Five different ball carriers made a start in Miami’s backfield, and they had nary a single runner crack 600 yards on the ground or 1000 total yards.

Ryan Fitzpatrick and Tua Tagovailoa combined for five rushing scores last year. As a unit, the Dolphins running backs had 10. Adding a running back should be high on their list of priorities when free agency opens on March 17th, especially if the team wants to continue their current trajectory and make their first playoff appearance since 2016.

Aaron Jones

2020 team: Green Bay Packers

All signs are pointing towards Jones not playing for the cheeseheads when the 2021 season kicks off. Adding this type of three-down back to the Miami roster makes too much sense. There are ways to line this contract up to take advantage of Tagovailoa’s rookie deal without hamstringing the franchise’s cap space in the future.

Jones was a fifth-round pick in 2017 and will be looking to get paid in March. The former-UTEP product deserves a big payday after two elite seasons of production in the Green Bay backfield.

YearCarriesRush YardsCatchesRec. YardsTotal yardsTotal TDs
2019236108449474155819
2020201110447355145911

Wherever Jones plays next season, he will have the opportunity to produce just as impressive a statistical year. Miami is an ideal destination because they have a stable of complementary backs that could spell Jones as Jamaal Williams did for the two years.

Chris Carson

2020 team: Seattle Seahawks

This may be the most unlikely candidate to take his talents to South Beach because I believe Pete Carroll wants to get back to running the ball and I think he trusts Chris Carson. However, should a divorce be coming in the near future, I think the 26-year old would be an ideal candidate in Florida.

He is one of five players all-time (and the first since 1996) to be drafted in the seventh round or later and produce multiple seasons of 1300 yards from scrimmage with nine touchdowns. Those kinds of hidden gems don’t just grow on trees. Miami is looking for something special in their backfield, and I believe Carson fits that mold.

There seems to be a popular narrative that he is solely a runner, but that is false. He’s one of nine running backs in the league to catch at least 37 passes each of the last two years and one of six that achieved that plus ran for at least 500 yards both years.

What I’m getting at is Carson probably doesn’t have the name value or national popularity that Aaron Jones has, but he can be a Jones-lite version. Plus, it will allow the Dolphins to save some extra cap money and still utilize the talent they found in 2020 with Salvon Ahmed and Myles Gaskin to rotate with Carson when needed.

Mike Davis

2020 team: Carolina Panthers

Davis is my favorite running back to add to this backfield. Although it would drive all the fantasy football managers in the world insane, having Davis in Miami makes a lot of sense. Kyle Shanahan has shown how rostering and consistently playing multiple running backs is a formula for success.

Davis, Gaskin, and Ahmed could become a lethal rotation of backs in today’s NFL. They can all run and catch the ball effectively, and it would magnificently disguise the Dolphin’s offense from a player personnel standpoint.

Pro Football Focus projects Mike Davis to receive a two-year deal for about $4 million per season. If you’re telling me that I can get a back for two years with his talent and then spend those savings on the rest of the roster, then it’s a done deal.

Conclusion

Miami has the luxury of going in several directions this offseason. If they want to go big at the running back position, several candidates can fill that void. However, if they want to discount shop, there will be plenty of running backs available to pair with the two young ball-carriers they already have on their roster.

My final prediction is they come over the top and offer Aaron Jones a big check to make him one of the faces of their offense for the next few seasons. A legitimate running game with Jones will immensely help Tua Tagovailoa by taking the pressure off to deliver the goods immediately.

Dynasty: Why You Should Be Targeting Aaron Jones and Allen Robinson

Target Packers RB Aaron Jones and Bears WR Allen Robinson in dynasty

Ben Cunningham @benc1357

What is your last memory of Aaron Jones? A fumble and an injury that held him out of the rest of the NFL Championship. What about Allen Robinson? Sneaking into the playoffs on a poor team and having a below-average game in a loss in the “Super” Wild Card round. Two players with negative vibes to start the dynasty offseason filled with uncertainty about their futures due to potential free agency. This is when the value of a player can sink below their actual value to a dynasty team, and we should consider being buyers at the right price. Most dynasty players love certainty, and upcoming free agents provide enough uncertainty that savvy players can swoop in and take advantage.

If dynasty football had a Human Resources department there would be constant allegations of age discrimination. NFL players would have legitimate complaints of being dismissed for younger, and cheaper, employees. While the “age cliff” is a real concern there are values to be found in veteran players, especially if you can acquire them at the right cost in startup drafts or through trades. There is a strong emphasis here on acquiring them at the right cost, we should not overpay for aging veterans. Jones will be 26 during the 2021 season and Robinson turns 28 just before the season starts, these ages often scare many dynasty players away and rightfully so. However, let’s explore these aging studs to see if we should be investing in them as they search for new teams in the coming free agency period.

Aaron Jones

Aaron Jones’ career got off to a slow start, after being drafted in the 5th round out of UTEP he took a while to get going due to injuries in his first and second seasons. Over the past two seasons Aaron Jones has been a league winner. 2019 was his banner year with 19 touchdowns to go with 1,558 yards from scrimmage and 49 receptions, good enough to finish as the RB2 behind the historic season by Christian McCaffrey. He followed that performance with a RB5 finish in this past season, again missing some time to injury and conceding volume to Jamaal Williams and rookie AJ Dillon. And then, that fumble happened.

Why is this important? Dynasty players have a tendency to over react, and that is putting it lightly. The best players have long memories and good patience, but many over react. When thinking of Jones many players will think of constant nagging injuries, uncertainty around where he will play in 2021, and the fumble that ended his season. Those negative thoughts could lead players to draft him later or be more willing than they were just a month ago to trade the soon to be free agent. One could argue, and I would, that Jones is the top free agent running back this season and should be a top target for dynasty players.

The Green Bay Packers currently have the fourth least projected salary cap space in the NFL in the upcoming season. This means some tough decisions are coming for a team that has gone all in only to lose two NFC Championship games in a row. They have an aging QB that consumes 21% of their salary cap and a certain stud WR that needs a new contract. While decisions and creativity around Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams’ contracts could create some cap relief, teams in situations like this are usually best served not investing heavily at RB. Combine the above with the team drafting AJ Dillon in the second round of the 2020 draft and it appears Jones has played his last game on the Frozen Tundra.

Early projections from many rookie draft experts suggest that 2021 may be a lean year for rookie RB talent. Add this to the list of NFL teams with the salary cap space to afford a veteran RB salary and a few potential destinations for Jones emerge. The Jaguars, Jets, Buccaneers, Dolphins, Broncos, 49ers, and Cardinals all stand out as teams that could use a RB upgrade and will have the resources to consider signing a player like Jones. Any potential landing spot is likely to be a downgrade in overall offense compared to the Packers thus limiting touchdown upside, however if the new team commits to true workhorse volume (unlike the maddening committee approach in Green Bay) Jones could still finish as a RB1. Many players are concerned about RBs entering their late 20s, however at 782 career touches Jones is relatively lightly used leading a new team to potentially run him into the ground over the next couple of seasons. That high volume, while not great for Jones’ health long term could be a gold mine for dynasty players who like to see their RBs do things like this.

Given all of these circumstances targeting Jones in the late 3rd or early 4th round of a startup could be a winning strategy if he falls that far. In terms of trade value a middle or late 1st round rookie pick should get the deal done if you feel your team is one RB away from glory and the other player is looking to sell. If the pieces fall in place to acquire Aaron Jones dynasty players should seriously consider doing so.

Allen Robinson

Would most dynasty players be able to tell you that Allen Robinson was the WR9 in PPR scoring in 2020? Surrounded by sexy names like DK Metcalf and Justin Jefferson it is no surprise that a veteran player on an average team with a perceived bad offense would be easily forgotten. Yet after the Bears week 11 bye Robinson’s output improved and he was the WR5 through the end of the fantasy playoffs. In the coming offseason Robinson will likely be looking for the third team of his career after up and down stints with Jacksonville and Chicago.

An unfortunate truth about Robinson’s career is that he has never had a good quarterback throwing him the ball. A vast majority of the targets in his career have come from Blake Bortles and Mitch Trubisky, hardly future Hall of Famers. Yet Robinson has continued to produce WR1 levels nearly every season, a testament to just how elite he is and how great he could be with competent quarterback play. Because his name is not in lights each week this can create a lack of perceived value by dynasty players that don’t realize what they have. In case they forgot, here is a reminder.

There is a chance that Robinson is retained by the Bears. The team is middle of the road in terms of available salary cap space and behind him there are no dominant WRs ready to assume the WR1 role (Darrell Mooney is a name to keep track of though). Robinson had the second highest salary cap hit in 2020 behind Khalil Mack, so the money could be there to work something out. However, one would not blame him for testing free agency to see if he can find a landing spot with a better quarterback and chance to win. 

In free agency many teams with cap space to burn could use a stud WR. Depending on what the Colts decide to do at quarterback that could be a good situation, imagine Matthew Stafford and Robinson meeting up in Indy. With Chris Godwin an upcoming free agent Tampa Bay is another interesting possibility. A dream scenario, though highly unlikely due to cap space, would be replacing Sammy Watkins in Kansas City to match with Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. Given Robinson’s consistent production and the likelihood that his quarterback support can only improve he should be poised for at least 2-3 more years of WR1 production for your dynasty team.

When doing a startup dynasty draft most players tend to target young assets with their picks, which is understandable. However after drafting early youth Allen Robinson would make a nice target in the 5th or 6th round if he is still available. There are two approaches in trading for Robinson that players should consider. He likely can be acquired for a mid first round rookie pick, some may even move him for a late first round pick if you are on the clock and rookie fever sets in. Another approach to consider is trading a 2020 rookie WR that you have lost confidence in. Maybe you didn’t like what you saw from Henry Ruggs or Jerry Jeudy, yet some players may be enticed by making their roster younger and be willing to move Robinson for them. You may have to add a smaller piece to get that deal done, so remember to always be willing to throw in a late round rookie pick to seal the deal.

In conclusion, there appears to be a decent chance that both Aaron Jones and Allen Robinson will be on new teams that will offer similar or improved fantasy scoring opportunities in 2021. However, due to the uncertainty of their futures and some questions from their pasts, their value may be depressed enough that a sharp player can take advantage. Go send an offer to your opponent that is rostering these two studs and see what you can accomplish.

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