U.S. Markets open in 9 hrs 29 mins

Packers Fantasy Preview

Evan Silva
Evan Silva unveils his 2018 fantasy preview for the Green Bay Packers

Packers 2014-2017 Offensive Profile Under Mike McCarthy

2014-2017 Pass Attempts Rank: 20th, 18th, 5th, 14th
2014-2017 Rush Attempts Rank: 14th, 12th, 29th, 27th
2014-2017 Play Volume Rank: 24th, 9th, 13th, 21st
2014-2017 Yards Per Play Rank: 1st, 29th, 9th, 25th
Unaccounted for Air Yards from 2017 (Rank): 1,480 (10th)
Unaccounted for Carries from 2017 (Rank): 0 (32nd)

Projected Starting Lineup

QB: Aaron Rodgers
RB: Jamaal Williams
WR: Davante Adams
WR: Randall Cobb
WR: Geronimo Allison
TE: Jimmy Graham
LT: David Bakhtiari
LG: Lane Taylor
C: Corey Linsley
RG: Justin McCray
RT: Bryan Bulaga

Passing Game Outlook

Aaron Rodgers enters 2018 with top-two fantasy finishes in seven of his last eight healthy seasons and an otherworldly 40:8 TD-to-INT ratio over his last 16 games. Rodgers’ sustained elevated touchdown rate (6.4%) is a strong statistical testament to his all-time greatness, dwarfing Peyton Manning (5.7%), Tom Brady (5.5%), and Drew Brees’ (5.3%) career rates. Rodgers sneakily pads his stats with 3.6 career rushing attempts per game. This offseason, the Packers paired Jimmy Graham with Davante Adams to give Rodgers last year’s red-zone target leader (Graham) and the NFL’s leader in touchdown catches over the past two seasons (Adams). On game tape, Rodgers is the most talented quarterback I’ve ever seen. He’s also the only signal caller I’d be willing to draft in start-one-quarterback leagues before the fifth round.

The Packers committed to Davante Adams as their clear-cut No. 1 wideout at the end of last season, making him the NFL’s seventh-highest-paid receiver on a four-year, $58 million deal, then showing Jordy Nelson the door. Still only 25, Adams set career highs in yards per route run (1.76), catch rate (63.2%), and passer rating when targeted (120.3) in 2017. Perhaps most impressively, Adams maintained a 92/1,086/10 receiving pace in overmatched Brett Hundley’s nine starts. Adams leads the league in red-zone targets (46) and touchdown catches (22) over the last two years. Although Josh Hermsmeyer’s Game Speed research shows Adams runs at a sub-par pace, Adams has compensated with elite post-reception and contested-catch metrics. RotoUnderworld’s game charters credited Adams with a top-five contested-catch conversion rate (65.0%) in 2017, and Adams finished top 15 in yards after catch in each of the last two years. Sometimes, fantasy football isn't hard. Simply being Rodgers’ No. 1 option gives Adams one of the highest floor-ceiling combinations among this year’s WR1s.

The Packers kept Randall Cobb over Nelson, even as cutting Cobb would have saved $9.5 million under the cap. 2017 was Cobb’s healthiest season in years, but his counting stats were torpedoed by Hundley. Cobb’s Rodgers-Hundley splits were stark, averaging an anemic 3.6/35.1/0.20 stat line when Hundley played most of games versus 6.0/60.4/0.40 in five full games with Rodgers. Cobb showed he could still get open, ranking No. 2 among wide receivers in Next Gen Stats’ average yards of separation at target (3.7). This will be Cobb’s eighth season, but only his age-28 campaign. Equipped with opportunity, elite quarterback play, and more remaining ability than most may think, Cobb is a value pick in the middle rounds.

Third-year UDFA Geronimo Allison is penciled in as Green Bay’s No. 3 receiver after showing versatility in his first two years with slot-route rates of 63% and 41%. Allison lacks standout size (6’3/196) and speed (4.67), however, and his Game Speed metrics show Allison moving at a below-average pace at most route depths. Allison’s primary competition will come from 2016 fifth-rounder Trevor Davis and rookies J’Mon Moore, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and Equanimeous St. Brown. Davis has shown little at receiver through two seasons, shining more on punt returns. Fourth-round pick Moore, fifth-rounder Valdes-Scantling, and hyped sixth-rounder St. Brown are all plus-sized deep threats who best project to the perimeter in the NFL. Green Bay’s preference is likely for a vertical threat to emerge on the outside to complement RAC/RZ/contested-catch maven Adams and slot man Cobb.

The Packers signed Jimmy Graham to a three-year, $30 million deal to create mismatches in the middle of the field and solidify Green Bay’s post-Jordy red-zone offense. Graham’s red flags include his dramatic yards-per-route-run slippage from 2016 (1.91) to 2017 (1.12) and last year’s stretch-run disappearance with a 17.8-yard average across Seattle’s final six games. Graham’s 2017 Game Speed also took a significant turn for the worse. Now teamed with Rodgers, Graham’s calling card is his ability to command the ball in scoring position; Graham led the NFL in both red-zone targets (26) and targets inside the ten (16) last year. In Rodgers’ last full season, the 2016 Packers passed on 67% of red-zone plays, third most in the league. Graham’s yardage ceiling may be limited at age 31/32, but his TD upside is among the highest in the league. I keep going back and forth between Graham and Greg Olsen as my No. 4 fantasy tight end behind Rob Gronkowski, Travis Kelce, and Zach Ertz.

Running Game Outlook

Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones both made strong rookie-year cases to lead Green Bay’s backfield. Williams did so through reliability and workhorse demonstration with zero fumbles, PFF’s top pass-blocking grade among Packers backs, and 20.4 touches per game over the final eight weeks, during which Williams was the RB8 in PPR leagues. Williams also ranked a respectable 14th among 47 qualified backs in Football Outsiders’ Success Rate. Whereas Williams is a throwback grinder, Jones showed more explosiveness with a 5.53 yards-per-carry average to Williams’ 3.63 and Game Speed vastly superior to both Williams and Ty Montgomery. Jones battled a recurring MCL injury, struggled as both a blocker and receiver, and was caught operating a vehicle with marijuana in his system last October. Jones’ ceiling is likely higher, but Williams’ bankable attributes will inevitably endear him to Mike McCarthy’s staff. As Williams and Jones are typically available in the middle rounds, I’ve been more than willing to draft both on the same fantasy teams.

Ty Montgomery opened 2017 as Green Bay’s feature back, only to last three games in the role before being struck by broken ribs and a debilitating wrist injury that ultimately sent Montgomery to I.R. A college wide receiver the Packers unsuccessfully tried to convert into an every-down back, Montgomery missed his opportunity and is now likely third in Green Bay’s backfield pecking order. McCarthy has spoken of using Montgomery as a hybrid-flex package player, which doesn’t sound like a role in which he’d log many snaps or fantasy points. Montgomery is purely a late-round bench stash at this point.

2018 Vegas Win Total

The Packers’ Win Total opened at 10.0 with -140 odds on the under. McCarthy’s club won ten games or more in seven of the last eight years in which Rodgers played 15-plus games, including four seasons of 11-plus wins. Working in Green Bay’s favor is Rodgers’ return, a schedule Warren Sharp rated eighth softest in football, and probable defensive improvement under new DC Mike Pettine after a decade of Dom Capers’ mediocrity. The Packers’ biggest obstacles are a moving-parts (but talented) secondary, suspect pass rush, and multiple offensive-line question marks. I think this is a 9-11 team and the 10.0 Win Total was set astutely. I’m taking the over on 10.0 wins in pursuit of a richer odds-based payout.