The 2019 Packers found intense touchdown success, leading them out of the .500 doldrums to a 13-3 record. Per Sharp Football’s 2020 Football Preview, history indicates that a team whose record improves so drastically—which won eight of its nine one-score games—will come cratering back to the land of mediocrity). The book also notes the junior varsity stature of opposing quarterbacks (Mitchell Trubisky, Kyle Allen, Joe Flacco, Derek Carr, Dwayne Haskins, David Blough to name a few) that the defense feasted on all season long, that consistently gave the offense excellent field position to start their drives. This season’s slate of opposing QBs is far less charitable. It’s also worth noting that Green Bay’s offensive production decreased, both during a given game’s progression as well as the second time the Packers played a team they’d played earlier in 2019—an indication that LeFleur’s play-calling was taking on a Pete Carroll style of predictability. Expecting an offensive output like 2019 is a fool’s errand.
A fantasy bright spot for the 2020 Packers is that they’re set to face a stout slate of opposing passing offenses, which should force donkey HC Matt LeFleur into a higher passing volume than he’d like. Unfortunately, for QB Aaron Rodgers, the only reliable passing game options he has are wide receiver Davante Adams and running back Aaron Jones. The latter option, LeFleur only seems to dial up heavy passing game work for when Adams is injured. Still though, those two names are likely worth rostering—to some degree—given that narrow touch-trees are typically fantasy friendly.
Sharp Football’s Strength of Schedule:
- Mid-tier schedule overall
- 9th toughest in terms of the opponent’s overall defensive efficiency
- Mid-tier blend of pass defenses
- 12th toughest in terms of the opponent’s pass defense efficiency
- 6th toughest blend of run defenses
- 4th toughest in terms of the opponent’s run defense efficiency
- Mid-tier in terms of the opponent’s overall offensive efficiency
- 8th toughest in terms of the opponent’s offensive pass efficiency
- 10th softest in terms of the opponent’s offensive rush efficiency
Green Bay’s front office drafted Aaron Rodgers’ replacement this year (Jordan Love) instead of taking a 1st Round wide receiver in what looked like the strongest wide receiver class we’ve seen in decades. Making that decision with the Packers’ barren wide receiver depth chart (behind Davante Adams) is criminal. The front office then doubled down on their commitment to rushing, spending their next two picks on a bruising running back with significant tread on the tires (A.J. Dillon) and the supposed Kyle Juszczyck 2.0 (Josiah Deguara)—a tight end who will be asked to learn the fullback position. Matt LeFleur is dedicated to establishing the run and drafters should not fool themselves into thinking that Aaron Rodgers is a rosterable fantasy option. Rodgers’ .5PPR ADP of 7.02, QB11 is hands down one of the worst draft picks of 2020.
Backup rookie QB Jordan Love is correctly going undrafted. His training camp reports are not promising.
Aaron Jones turned in a .5PPR overall RB3 performance in 2019, cruising to 19 total touchdowns. As mentioned before, scoring in Green Bay is set to drop—the extent to which may still be understated. In Sharp Football’s 2020 Football Preview, Jones’ touchdown rate is revealed to be the 11th highest among running backs since 1990. The average loss of touchdowns in the following season of the running backs in his scoring-rate company was 10.9(!). Factoring in GB’s drafting of A.J. Dillion, a hyper athletic 6 foot, 247 pound bruiser, one can see how Jones’ scoring is likely to plummet as Dillon will be a candidate for goal line carries.
Another field of concern, Jones’ pass catching usage in 2019 was supremely subpar. The exceptionally talented pass catching back was only regularly targeted during Davante Adams’ Weeks 5-8 injury absence. Jones immediately produced, with a high point in the Week 8 showdown against Kansas City where he caught seven of his eight targets for 159 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns. There’s also the matter of pass protecting specialist, running back Jamaal Williams. Williams brings little in terms of rushing and pass catching skills but his pass protection abilities force a sizable amount of snaps away from Aaron Jones. That said, Aaron Jones is not being drafted as the RB3. Instead, he’s leaving the board as the final pick of the 2nd round as the RB12. The drafting error here is, of course, that he’s going one spot ahead of Miles Sanders—an unacceptable mistake. However, selecting Jones as a back-end RB1 at the 2nd/3rd Round turn is a reasonable ADP.
Jamaal Williams offers little upside and should only be rostered as an unsexy floor-play should Jones get hurt.
The COVID-stunted training camp nerfs A.J. Dillon’s ability to absorb the play book. Given his touchdown upside though, he is a Hail Mary option as the final pick in a draft.
Update 9/2/20: Bill Huber of Sports Illustrated reported that Marques Valdez-Scantling has had a great camp. MVS has now entered late-round-flyer territory, somewhat hurting Allen Lazard’s presumed target share.
The wide receiver group behind ultra-talented WR Davante Adams features Rodgers’ favorite and possible-NFL-starter Allen Lazard, Equanimeous St. Brown (who does not believe in stretching), Marqeuz Valdes-Scantling (often in Rodgers’ doghouse and often deservedly so), and Jake Kumerow. Adams will unquestionably challenge Michael Thomas as the most-targeted player in the league—he finished 2nd in the league in 2018 but missed time in 2019, knocking his target total down. He’s as safe as it gets to finish as a top three WR. The shallowness of the running back position does make his .5PPR 1.08, WR2 ADP a tad early though. One wouldn’t be sorry having him on their roster but 1.08 may be better spent nabbing a difference-making bellcow RB.
Of the remainders, Aaron Rodgers’ professed love of Allen Lazard makes Lazard a fine final pick in drafts. Lazard’s possible target volume bests any other at his current ADP.
Second-year TE Jace Sternberger was long thought of a breakout candidate for 2020. But recent reports indicate that third-year TE Robert Tonyan Jr.’s strong camp has put him in contention to take the starting job. TE platoons are an absolute no-go in fantasy. Do not draft either of them.
Mason Crosby is a streaming option-only. Given the severe reduction in scoring that is likely to come, Crosby is best used only in obviously strong matchups.
Green Bay’s D/ST is a talented unit but their schedule is far more difficult than it was last season. Add them via the waiver wire for plus matchups.