2021 Fantasy Football Green Bay Packers Preview

by Richard Savill

Were it not for this one single problem in Green Bay, we could just sail along into 2021 with the Packers more or less as we always have since Brett Favre left the team in 2008. Unfortunately, this 2021 Fantasy Football Green Bay Packers Preview isn’t so simple!

Green Bay fans remember the tumult regarding Brett Favre back then. Favre announced retirement in March of 2008, then gain reinstatement that July only to have the Packers trade him to the Jets. There’s plenty of extra story to paint in about all that, but we find ourselves essentially in a similar situation more than a decade later with Favre’s successor.

Franchise quarterbacks, especially those of the master class, gain a certain entitlement to their position of command on the team. Or at least feel that way. Eventually, time and tide require the new recruit.

Normally, this isn’t a problem for the veteran. They know as well as anyone that football lasts for only a brief period of their life. It’s how the team deals with the quarterback transition without pushing the old tried and true master into a mere spectator.

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2021 Fantasy Football Green Bay Packers Preview

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The drafting of Jordan Love in 2020 turned heads. As some of you may remember, the Packers actually traded up to get him in the first round. This was at a time where the team needs on offense were clearly finding a compliment to Davante Adams at wide receiver.

Aaron Rodgers fumed. If anything happened to Adams during the season, there really wasn’t much depth of talent for him to throw to after. So that cloud never went away concerning the Jordan Love acquisition in the draft.

Bringing matters closer to the present and where things stand. As of June 8, Rodgers held himself out of compulsory mini-camp.

Now, this might seem devastating to Fantasy, but there is a bright side. Without Rodgers around, the Packers can get a complete evaluation of Jordan Love and work on his strengths and weaknesses. Just the same, without a preseason in 2020, Love has almost impossible ground to make up.

The last time we didn’t have Aaron Rodgers around for any length of time was an injury season in 2017 when Brett Hundley ran the offense. Jordy Nelson tanked (88t-53r-482y-6z); who was at the time a Fantasy stud. Davante Adams faired far better (117t-74r-885y-10z) and became the number one receiver on the team and ever since.

Despite expectations of a decline, Rodgers ended as QB2 of Fantasy in 2020 – second only to Josh Allen of the Bills. Since helming the Packers from 2008, Rodgers finished either 1st or 2nd in seven out of eleven uninjured seasons. He has not once finished outside the top-10.

Can Jordan Love deliver enough in the passing game? And on a team where literally everything on offense ties together from the position of quarterback?

Yeah, we’re nervous about the answers.

Running Backs

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Of course, everything from here on in depends heavily on the above quarterback situation.

The basic rule is simple. If Aaron Rodgers returns and leads the Packers, the supporting cast maintains their draft targetability. How’s that for a neologism?

As for Aaron Jones, his contribution to the Packers’ offense remains tight whether Rodgers returns or not. Despite missing two games in 2020, Jones still went over 1000 yards. As expected, the touchdown regression went from 16 (2019) down to nine (2020). Jones remains capable of double-digits again, but that depends on if the Packers can move the ball enough to score.

That’s why Aaron Rodgers is so important in the conversation. The Packers were the highest-scoring team in total points in 2020. However, in the scoring which matters most in Fantasy, touchdowns, they scored 48 passing (1st) and just 16 rushing (t-15th). So a 3-1 ratio in 2020 and a 1.63-1 ratio in 2019 (26 vs 18); this puts the happy medium at around 32 TDs passing vs 14 TDs rushing.

In 2019, Aaron Jones hogged 16/18 of the rushing TDs. In 2020, just 9/16. Again, the happy medium is 10 touchdowns for Aaron Jones in 2021.

Warning. Do not hug this stat – even if the Packers can lure Aaron Rodgers back with incentive. And especially if Jordan Love or Blake Bortles runs the show.

AJ Dillon likely is the 2a running back. Whereas in recent seasons, Jamaal Williams‘ portion in the rushing offense seemed closer to a 1b role. AJ Dillon, as a big back (6’0, 247), could be a goal-to-goal nightmare for Fantasy owners of Jones.

The immediate injury replacement to Aaron Jones is either Dexter Williams or rookie Kylin Hill depending on training camp evaluations and the 53 man cut. In this scenario, however, Dillon would be odds on to lead the next pairing in touches with an uncertain split.

Keep a close eye on ADP fluctuations concerning Aaron Jones. I doubt he falls enough for bargain levels, but keep him definitely out of any reach consideration unless the situation appears it’s about to change.

Wide Receivers

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It’s no secret what happens to the top wide receiver on the Packers when Aaron Rodgers stops being their quarterback. We saw what happened to Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson. Both had multiple 1000+ yard seasons with the Pack, but after moving on from the team – decline and retirement.

Davante Adams remains at the top of his game. I think we should expect Jordan Love to better than Brett Hundley should Aaron Rodgers remain on the golf course for 2021. Out of interest, Adams averaged 98 yards in his 14 active games. With eight games with Hundley in 2017, he averaged 75 – he also scored six times in that span.

So matters might not be so bad. However, there is no escaping the fact that Adams is right now the team WR1 with the highest risk in Fantasy.

There’s another problem. Adams is in a contract year and so far the issue has a low temperature between him and the team. That could change very easily as we all know.

In discussing contracts on the positive side, Devin Funchess agreed to a team-friendly pay cut to remain in Green Bay. He was one of the pandemic holdouts in 2020.

But Funchess, Lazard, MVS and the rookie Amari Rodgers are all down the list as late-draft pickups. Even with Rodgers, you still need time to see if a viable Fantasy number two on the Packers actually exists. If an injury were to occur with Adams, then the waiver rush likely leans toward Lazard.

Tight Ends

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Rhymes with “Onion.”

He currently sits as my TE16, but he’d be closer to the top-ten of tight ends if… well, you’re already sick of hearing that.

Tonyan essentially came out of nowhere in 2020 and ahead of the expected Jace Sternberger to be the top receiving tight end on the team.

Touchdowns are basically what we hope for from downlist tight ends in Fantasy. Tonyan is in the upper class. He scored 11; tied with Travis Kelce!

Given the current circumstances, for Tonyan to approach that number again seems distant. However, Tonyan remains a draftable target for those wishing to hold off and/or stream the position.

Final Verdict

Unfortunately, we’ll remain forced to gauge the Packers within this imprecise situation right up until September.

I think the true breaking point toward collapse between Aaron Rodgers and the Packers began during the NFC championship. If LaFleur let Rodgers go for the 4th down at the critical moment of that game, things might be different today. LaFleur took away that opportunity from Aaron Rodgers for a shot at the Super Bowl.

From there, Rodgers’ relationship with GM Brian Gutekunst and CEO Mark Murphy steadily deteriorated. He really does not want to play for the Packers anymore.

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If he comes back in time for training camp and the season, it’s for love of football first and the team second. And not both intertwined as one.

Visit the F6P Fantasy Football page for more advice to get you prepared for the 2021 season.

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