The Good & Bad of Aaron Rodgers (2019 Fantasy Football)
Aaron Rodgers has finished in the top 12 among quarterbacks for fantasy PPG in every season that he has been the starter for Green Bay. His finishes from 2008-2018 are: second, first, second, first, second, fourth, first, 11th, first, sixth, ninth. He did all of this with Mike McCarthy as the head coach (more on this later).
Rodgers relies on his ability to scramble and buy receivers extra time to get open. Last year, he was hampered by a sprained MCL and tibial plateau fracture and did not have any mobility for a large portion of the season. When healthy, Rodgers is still without a doubt one of the most talented quarterbacks in the league and has a track record of eleven seasons to prove it.
Mike McCarthy Gone
McCarthy called a predictable, repetitive offense throughout his tenure in Green Bay. He never seemed to even think about adapting his play-calling or adjusting to what the defense was showing him throughout the game. This came to a crescendo in 2018 when Rodgers’ lack of mobility really showed how predictable this offense is. It was that mobility that covered up the many flaws over the last few years in that dated offensive scheme. We all saw what Patrick Mahomes did with excellent mobility in a well-run, versatile offense.
More Experienced Receivers
Rodgers has always been a quarterback who relies on timing with his receivers. After Geronimo Allison went down in the fourth game of 2018, Rodgers had to rely on a pair of rookie wide receivers to fill in the number two WR role in the offense. There were several communication issues with these two rookies, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown (thank you copy and paste). Rodgers actually recorded the highest number of throwaways in a season since 2006 with 59 passes thrown away, according to Pro Football Focus.
Davante Adams has turned into a top tier talent in the NFL. In 2018, Geronimo Allison averaged 70 yards and 0.5 touchdowns per game before being injured in Week 4 (this would equate to 1,120 receiving yards and eight touchdowns over a full season). Combine these two receivers with two high-upside, second-year wideouts, and all of a sudden, Rodgers’ weapons look a lot sharper in 2019 than they were in 2018.
The NFC North boasts two of the top defenses in the league. Rodgers averaged 16.3 fantasy points in the four games against the Vikings and Packers last year. The Lions added several pieces in free agency to a defense that already had some playmakers. Pair this with having to play the Broncos at home and the Chargers on the road, and you get a tough fantasy schedule.
Rodgers plays the Bears at home in Week 15 and the Vikings on the road for Week 16, so you may want to consider trading Rodgers before the playoffs if he is having a stellar season. If Rodgers had a softer schedule, I would draft him as early as the fourth round. The tough schedule knocks him back to a fifth-round pick, but he still holds the top quarterback spot for me.
Rodgers’ mobility is a double-edged sword for his fantasy outlook. It adds an extra element to his game as he is capable of running in touchdowns by himself or buying time to allow his receivers to get open. His mobility is also dangerous because, as we have seen in the past, mobile quarterbacks tend to get hurt more often. The extra hits Rodgers takes by running the ball or trying to extend plays could lead to another injury (Rodgers missed nine games in 2017 with a broken collarbone and played banged up all last year with a sprained MCL and tibial plateau fracture).
The New Coaching Staff
Matt LaFleur has never been a head coach at any level of football. He has been a quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator in the NFL for some successful offenses, but it is yet to be seen how he will handle lead duties. There has already been a back and forth in the media about whether or not Rodgers will have full autonomy to change plays at the line of scrimmage. Nathaniel Hackett is the new offensive coordinator. He held the same position for the Jags from 2016-2018 and the Bills from 2013-2014. Hackett turned a poor Jags offense in 2016 into a top-10 offense in 2017, helping to take them all the way to the AFC Championship game.
The Offensive Line
This offseason, the Packers drafted center Elgton Jenkins out of Mississippi State in the second round and signed right guard Billy Turner, formerly of the Broncos. Both players are versatile offensive lineman who are comfortable playing multiple positions, but both are expected to be used as guards this season. Last year, the Packers gave up 53 sacks, which was good for third-worst in the league. Rodgers has had near-50 sack seasons and still produced number one overall quarterback numbers, but he is much more likely to be successful if this line does a little better to protect their quarterback. We will have to see if the new lineman can gel with the holdovers and improve the Packers’ pass protection from last season.
Aaron Rodgers is still one of, if not the most talented quarterback in the league. He will get a fresh start without Mike McCarthy and the chemistry should be better between Rodgers and his pair of second-year wideouts. Rodgers has a tough schedule and always runs the risk of injury with the extra hits he takes from extending plays. There are some question marks with the new coaching staff and the offensive line, and we will start to see how these things gel in training camp and the preseason. With how deep the quarterback pool is this year, it makes a lot of sense to wait on quarterback, but if you can get a guy who has finished as a QB1 in PPG every year that he has been a starter, it makes sense to pull the trigger as early as the fifth round.
Steven Roy is a featured writer for FantasyPros. For more from Steven, follow him on Twitter @Rockhead_Roy.