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Aaron Rodgers Traded to Jets: Fantasy Football Impact (2023 NFL Free Agency)

Aaron Rodgers Traded to Jets: Fantasy Football Impact (2023 NFL Free Agency)

There have been reports for weeks that the Packers and Jets were on the verge of a trade that would send Aaron Rodgers to New York. That deal finally became official on Monday, with the Jets getting Rodgers, the No. 15 pick in this year’s draft and a 2025 fifth-round selection. The Packers get the No. 13 pick in this year’s draft, the Jets’ 2023 second-round pick, a 2023 sixth round pick, and a conditional 2024 second-round pick that becomes a first-rounder if Rodgers plays 65% of the Jets’ offensive snaps this season.

Here’s what we think this trade will mean for the players and teams involved.

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Jets Trade for Aaron Rodgers

Effect on Rodgers for 2023

Aaron Rodgers is far from washed as a real-life NFL quarterback, but his days of delivering for fantasy on his own are long gone. In 2022, Rodgers took a massive step backward, finishing the year as QB27 in points per game (15.0) as the QB13 overall. He had one top-10 fantasy finish while posting nine finishes between QB13 and QB15. Losing Davante Adams killed Rodgers’ 2022 upside. He produced his lowest TD total since 2019 — the last time he was forced to play games without Adams.

Having second-year wide receiver Garrett Wilson and veteran Allen Lazard will definitely help Rodgers in New York, but it’s hard to envision him cracking the fantasy QB1 conversation with his rushing numbers all but nonexistent at this point.

Effect on Love for 2023

Jordan Love is slated to start for the Green Bay Packers in 2023 after sitting on the bench behind Rodgers for the past three seasons. Love was viewed as a raw prospect — a poor man’s Patrick Mahomes because of his traits and ability to make off-script plays — who needed time to marinate entering the league, so there’s reason to be cautiously optimistic about his prospects this season and beyond. Love played well in limited action in 2022 — 6-for-9 for 113 yards and 1 TD versus the Eagles in Week 12 — and possesses athletic traits that could translate to rushing production.

The weapons in Green Bay aren’t exactly elite, but there’s room for this offense to be a surprise if second-year wide receivers like Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs take another step in Year 2. Both guys can deliver downfield splash plays, which Rodgers didn’t necessarily take full advantage of last season. He went deep at the seventh-highest rate last season but finished below average in adjusted completion percentage, PFF passing grade and yards per attempt on throws 20-plus yards downfield.

Effect on Jets skill players

Say it with me: Garrett Wilson to the moon. In games not started by Zach Wilson last season, the former Ohio State receiver averaged over 17 fantasy points, 6 catches, 11 targets and 82 receiving yards per game. Top-10 fantasy WR numbers. All Rodgers needs to be is accurate delivering the ball and Wilson will crush it in 2023. No Jets QB completed more than 60% of their passes last season. Rodgers completed 64.6% of his passes last season, which was close to his career average (65.3%).

Wilson has risen to my WR5 in my 2023 early draft rankings.

Rodgers’ presence also might inject some life into some of the Jets’ ancillary pass catchers, including Lazard and Tyler Conklin. Conklin finished ninth in route participation among TEs last season, hinting that he has late-round appeal with a top-10 role and a QB upgrade. I broke down Lazard’s fantasy potential here.

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Effect on Packers skill players

Rodgers wasn’t particularly great last season, so I am not so sure that his departure tanks the values of Green Bay’s skill players. They were an average offense in both scoring (14th) and yards (17th). But guys like Aaron Jones were still fine. The risk is that without Rodgers every Packer sees his floor drop dramatically in the case of an ultimate Love faceplant. A.J. Dillon will likely still be TD-dependent, making him a high-variance running back. Christian Watson could also experience a sophomore slump if Love can’t deliver. But I’d remain a buyer in Watson regardless, especially when his ADP dips after the Rodgers news hits the draft streets.

Watson was absolutely dynamite as a rookie. His 25% target rate per route run is nothing but impressive — 14th among all WRs with at least 60 targets. And in a must-win Week 18 contest vs. the Lions, he was once again the target leader (23% target share), going for 104 receiving yards on a team-high five catches. From Week 10 on, Watson ranked third in yards per route run (2.58). In weeks 10-18, Watson was the WR9 in both total points and on a per-game basis in PPR.

If Watson takes over the downfield looks in 2023 that Lazard saw the majority of in 2022, prepare for a massive second-year leap for Watson. On 21 Love pass attempts in 2022, Watson commanded four targets, catching three for 103 yards and one TD.

Effect on Rodgers’ and Love’s dynasty value

Rodgers is entering his age-40 season, so the end is near. With Rodgers contemplating retirement every offseason (including this year), there’s no guarantee with his long-term dynasty outlook. He’s likely not worth trying to trade away after a subpar season unless a contender in a 2QB league is looking to bolster their QB2 slot.

Meanwhile, Love is a screaming buy, in my opinion, even though many have already written him off after he’s done nothing for the last three years. But let’s be real here. Love never had a chance to play considering that in his first two seasons, Rodgers won the MVP award. And when Rodgers didn’t win the award in 2022, the team seemed more than happy to move on from him with Love at the forefront of their plans in 2023.

Love’s dynasty trade value is the QB27, according to the FantasyPros Dynasty Trade Value Chart — which I think is egregiously underpriced for a former first-round pick who still isn’t 25 years old yet. He is wedged between guys like Kenny Pickett and Hendon Hooker. Hooker is a rookie who is already older than Love. The former Utah State quarterback has the chance to thrive in the Packers’ run-pass option (RPO) offense after so much time spent learning the system.
– Andrew Erickson

Rodgers’ potential impact on the Jets

Aaron Rodgers should be revitalized with a move to New York. While Nathaniel Hackett jokes still inspire rib pain and knee-slapping, Rodgers enjoyed some of the best football of his career in Hackett’s offensive system. In 2020 and 2021, Rodgers was the QB4 and QB8 in fantasy points per game while securing back-to-back MVP awards. Hackett designed a passing offense built upon play-action looks and screens. The lynchpin of this offensive design is the ability of receivers to produce YAC.

Year Play-action rate rank PFF play-action passing grade rank Play-action adjusted completion rate Screen rate rank
2019 17th 7th 14th 4th
2020 13th 1st 4th 4th
2021 19th 19th 4th 2nd

*minimum 150 dropbacks*

From 2019 to 2021, Rodgers and Hackett presided over an offense that ranked dead last in the NFL in neutral pace and 11th in neutral passing rate. The sloth-like pace will be locked in, so don’t expect Rodgers to finish top 3-5 in passing attempts, but the neutral passing rate should keep him comfortably in the top 10. In his three seasons with Hackett as his OC, Rodgers ranked eighth, seventh and 10th in passing attempts, so the passing volume should be there for Rodgers’ receiving weapons to produce. Last year, Rodgers ranked 10th in PFF passing grade and fourth in big-time throw rate, so any concerns about a decline in ability should be put to rest. Rodgers should be considered a low-end QB1 for 2023, with the ceiling for more.

The Jets’ fantasy outlook with Rodgers

Breece Hall looked primed for a monster rookie season before having it derailed by a torn ACL. In Weeks 4-6, he played 66%-69% of the snaps, averaging 20.3 touches and 132 total yards per game. In this three-game stretch, he was seventh in high-value touches, 20th in route per dropback rate and second in yards per route run among running backs. Assuming he’s ready to rock and 100% this upcoming season, Hall should enjoy plenty of scoring opportunities and soft boxes to boost his fantasy stock as a three-down workhorse. Last year, the Jets ranked 26th in red zone scoring attempts per game. During Rodgers’ three-year tenure with Hackett, the Packers never ranked lower than 20th in this metric (20th, fifth, sixth). Add the fact that Green Bay was 13th in red zone rushing rate in that span, and Hall’s touchdown equity is primed for a big boost. He should also enjoy plenty of running room against lighter boxes. From 2019 to 2021, the average number of defenders in the box that Aaron Jones faced ranged from 6.1 to 6.8. If Hall’s health complies, he has top-10 upside in 2023.

Garrett Wilson’s buzz heading into his sophomore season was already palpable, and for good reason. Last year, Wilson was ninth in PFF receiving grade and 25th in yards per route run (minimum 50 targets). He was also 13th in open rate (per ESPN analytics), immediately ahead of fellow second-year wide receiver and former Rodgers teammate Christian Watson. Wilson’s skill set meshes perfectly with Hackett’s offense, as he was 23rd in YAC per reception and 25th in missed tackles forced (per PFF). Wilson was 21st in target per route run rate and target share last year, so his ability to earn targets at a tremendous rate is absolutely real. Wilson has top-12 upside this year with Rodgers at the helm.

If Corey Davis remains a starter in two-WR sets, he could be a sleeping value pick in this offense. Last year, Davis struggled with injury and bad quarterback play, ranking 51st in PFF receiving grade and 56th in yards per route run (minimum 50 targets). He was also tied for dead last among 81 qualifying wide receivers in open rate (per ESPN analytics). His 2021 numbers offer more hope for his 2023 outlook, as he ranked 36th in yards per route run, 31st in deep yards per route run, and fifth in passer rating when targeted at least 20 yards downfield (per PFF, minimum 50 targets, 20 deep targets). Davis might not be a high target-share earner, but his potential as a WR3 with spike weeks is present.

The same can be said for Lazard, the new Jet. Lazard failed to live up to the high standards that many in the fantasy industry set for him last year, but he still finished as the WR34 in fantasy points per game, drawing a 21.1% target share (33rd) and 16 red zone targets (12th-most). Lazard will never be a target hog (22.7% target per route run rate last year, 40th), but he could also land in the WR3 bucket along with Davis, with red-zone looks from Rodgers boosting his stock. I also have to mention here that Davis could be on the chopping block, as the Jets can save 10.5 million against the cap by cutting him.

Tyler Conklin had moments of fantasy relevance last year, but sadly, the arrival of Rodgers doesn’t do much to boost his TE2 stock. Conklin was the TE21 in fantasy points per game last year, ranking 15th in target share and 22nd in target per route run rate at the position. The issue for Conklin is his lack of a red zone role and remaining inefficiency. He was also 29th in yards per route run, drawing only four red zone targets (43rd among tight ends). If the Jets turn into a high-scoring machine, could Conklin surprise in fantasy based on touchdowns? Sure, but that’s not a bet I will make in 2023.
– Derek Brown

Love’s potential fantasy impact in Green Bay

There’s precious little to go on when trying to predict how Love might fare in a full season as the Packers’ starter. He’s appeared in 10 games over his three seasons in Green Bay, mostly as a mop-up man at the end of lopsided games. He’s made only one start, quarterbacking the Packers against the Chiefs in Week 9 of 2021 when Rodgers tested positive for COVID-19. Love was ineffective that day, completing 19-of-34 passes for 190 yards with one touchdown and one interception in a 13-7 Packers loss. He also had five carries for 23 yards.

The book on Love coming out of Utah State was that he had an NFL-caliber arm and good mobility, but he wasn’t an anticipatory thrower and was prone to bad decisions. Love was terrific as a sophomore in 2018, completing 64.0% of his passes and averaging 8.6 yards per attempt, with 32 touchdowns and six interceptions. He regressed in 2019, his final college season, completing 61.9% of his passes and averaging 7.2 yards per attempt, with 20 touchdowns and an FBS-high 17 interceptions. He had six multiple-interception games that year, and three of his interceptions were returned for TDs.

We’re flying blind in attempting to rank Love with so little to go on. I’m inclined to rank him as a low-end QB2 or high-end QB3, and I’ll probably slot him right behind Kenny Pickett. In fact, Pickett might be a relevant comp for Love. They both have good size, good arms and enough mobility to add fantasy value with their legs. They’re both 24. Pickett has more NFL game experience, but Love has been in the league longer. Love’s first season as a starter could look a lot like Pickett’s first go-round as a starter — mediocre passing numbers and a little bit of rushing value.

The Packers’ fantasy outlook with Rodgers

Love is tasked with replacing a walk-in Hall-of-Famer. Granted, Rodgers didn’t play at a Hall-of-Fame level in 2022, but it’s still reasonable to expect some offensive slippage for the Packers as they transition to a new, inexperienced quarterback. Green Bay averaged 21.8 points and 337.9 yards per game last year, ranking 14th and 17th, respectively, in those categories. The Packers averaged 213.3 passing yards per game, which ranked 17th. This was an utterly average offense.

Expect at least a slight downturn in yardage and scoring for the Green Bay offense. That might mean a slight devaluation of RBs Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon. It’s possible that Packers head coach Matt LaFleur will lean heavier on the running game with a green QB getting his first extensive NFL action, but the Packers were already dedicated to the running game, ranking 14th in percentage of running plays last season.

Christian Watson was impactful as a rookie, scoring nine touchdowns in 14 games. One of those touchdowns was a 63-yarder from Love late in the Packers’ Week 9 loss to the Eagles. Watson may well be Green Bay’s alpha receiver in 2023. If so, a 1,000-yard, 10-TD, low-end WR1 season is within the realm of possibility for Watson, assuming competence from Love and good health for both players. But unless Love shocks us with a jaw-droppingly great season, a median outcome for Watson is probably a midrange or low-end WR2 finish. If Watson has a WR1 season up his sleeve, it will probably be a big TD total that gets him there rather than some sort of volume-driven, 100-catch, 1,400-yard campaign.

Green Bay has bare cupboards at wide receiver and tight end, so the only other pass catcher worth talking about is another second-year man, Romeo Doubs, who had a solid rookie season, with 42-425-3 in 13 games. After getting some training camp buzz, Doubs had an average draft position of WR58 last year, according to FantasyPros ADP data. Doubs’ expert consensus ranking for 2023 is WR63. That’s a reasonable expectation for a fourth-round draft pick entering his second season. Expect something like 50 catches for 600 yards for Doubs, making him rosterable but not startable.
– Pat Fitzmaurice

Rodgers’ dynasty outlook

A move to the Big Apple could help stabilize Aaron Rodgers’ two-year dynasty outlook. While it’s possible that he could retire after any season, it’s not hard to believe that with New York making this franchise-changing move, Rodgers offered some reassurances that he will be the starting quarterback for the Jets past this season (i.e., the next 2-3 seasons). Rodgers has an ascending alpha in Garrett Wilson, a stud workhorse running back in Breece Hall and a solid supporting cast. Rodgers remains at QB2 in dynasty. I currently have him ranked as QB17.
– Derek Brown

Love’s dynasty outlook

If Love is impressive this season and cements his status as the Packers’ quarterback of the present and future, he’ll probably be considered a top-15 dynasty quarterback a year from now. If Love lays an egg this year, the Packers will replace him, and his dynasty value will completely crater. Since it’s hard to tell which of these outcomes is more likely, it’s probably wise to seek out middle ground with Love’s dynasty ranking. I have him at QB26, right behind Mac Jones, another young QB whose career is coming to a crossroads.
– Pat Fitzmaurice

Check out these other breakdowns of major moves:

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