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NFL Team Preview: Rodgers' question marks hamper Packers' fantasy outlook

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We’re previewing every NFL team to get you ready for the 2021 season. Our analysts will tackle pressing fantasy questions and team win totals, in order from the squad with the least amount of fantasy relevancy all the way to the most talented team. Next up, the 3rd-ranked Green Bay Packers.

1. There have been rumors surrounding Aaron Rodgers either holding out or asking for a trade, yet as of right now, he remains the Packers starter. The reigning league MVP will be 38 in December. Is there another top-three finish in his range of outcomes, or are there too many talented, dual-threat, younger QBs in the 2021 field for him to surpass?

Scott: You never say never with Rodgers, but last year's MVP had Davante Adams having a Top 3 all-time season for a PPR wideout. Now Rodgers is a year closer to 40, unhappy, not working with teammates, and still tied to a flimsy wideout cast. I can't bet on this stock proactively.

Dalton: Rodgers is one of the best QBs ever, but he simply can’t be projected as a top-five fantasy QB right now given the many alternatives who run. It would take yet another historical season for him to even compete, and last season’s TD percentage is almost certain to regress. And it would become even tougher if Rodgers were traded to a new system this close to the start of the season.

Andy: I am not in the business of declaring that all-time talents can't do things. Rodgers was utterly unstoppable last season, every bit as great as he'd been a decade earlier. He pretty clearly isn't having a normal NFL offseason, but I'm not gonna say that a wizard of a passer coming off a 48-TD season can't possibly do it again.

Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers is an all-time great ... but will 2021 start his decline? (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

That said, I'm also not ranking No. 12 as a top-three fantasy quarterback, because he doesn't have the multiple scoring paths we get with the top dual-threat players. Kyler Murray amassed 147.9 fantasy points from his rushing exploits alone last year; Lamar Jackson produced 142.5. Those guys (and various others) don't need to approach Rodgers' passing stats in order to top him in terms of overall fantasy production.

2. Davante Adams is the fourth WR in our consensus rankings. This, even though he finished as the top wideout overall last season. Is this just an “if Rodgers gets traded” rank or is something else going on here? If Rodgers stays or goes, how does your rank change?

Dalton: Adams had 20 targets inside the 10-yard line last year over 14 games. No other receiver finished with even 15, so he’d easily be my No. 1 WR if Rodgers returned to Green Bay. But the drop off to Jordan Love would be significant enough to move him below at least a handful of other wideouts, and the threat of Rodgers not being with the Packers is real. However, the longer this situation drags out, the unlikelier a trade becomes. Adams is the biggest wild card in fantasy drafts right now.

Andy: Call me a crazily hopeful Bears fan if you will, but I can't help but think there's at least some chance Rodgers can make a departure happen. It's clear he wants out. So yes, my rank on Adams is simply a reflection of the ongoing Rodgers uncertainty. When Green Bay's quarterback situation is settled, Adams might very well return to the top spot in the ranks. He led the NFL in receiving touchdowns (18) and receiving yards per game (98.1) last season while catching an obnoxious 77.2 percent of his targets. He's still just 28 years old, not yet ready to decline, and his separation skills are elite.

Anyway, um ... here's hoping he's catching passes from Blake Bortles in 2021.

Scott: Between Rodgers' concern and good old-fashioned regression, I'm leery of drafting Adams this year. If Jordan Love needs to play, look out below. And don't miss the fact that Adams has missed time in four straight seasons; we bake injury assumptions into the game at running back and tight end, but we expect wideouts to be safer bets for 16 starts. That hasn't been the case here.

3. Aaron Jones is our 12th-ranked running back for 2021. What’s a more likely scenario for the Packers’ starter: Finishing as a top-five back, or outside the top-15?

Andy: If it's Rodgers at the controls of Green Bay's offense, then there's no question a top-five positional finish is in play for Jones. He's done it in back-to-back seasons. Jones has made 30 house calls in 30 games over the past two years, averaging 5.7 yards per touch. A.J. Dillon will take a share of the backfield work, but he's a less versatile player than Jamaal Williams, who's now out of the mix. 

Again, the key for Jones — and every other skill player tied to this offense — is the contentedness of Aaron Rodgers. With the reigning MVP, this team is a good bet to average 30-plus points and 380-plus total yards per game. Without Rodgers, Jones has little chance to return to top-five status. 

Scott: Outside the Top 15. Rodgers might not be playing, and even if he is, a major step back from an MVP season is likely. Green Bay doesn't want Jones handling a silly percentage of touches, either; A.J. Dillon is ready for an expanded role.

Dalton: Another player very dependent on Rodgers’ status, Jones is likelier to finish outside the top-15 than top-five in 2021. Jamaal Williams leaving certainly helps, but Green Bay has consistently used Jones in more of a committee, and A.J. Dillon is going to demand touches. Jones is a terrific real-life back, but he’s missed multiple games every year of his career but one, and he’d have a real uphill battle to finish as an RB1 if Love is the team’s quarterback.

Green Bay Packers projected 2021 fantasy contributors

QB: Aaron Rodgers

RB: Aaron Jones

WR: Davante Adams / Allen Lazard

TE: Robert Tonyan

Green Pay Packers -120 to win NFC North from BetMGM 

Scott: I'm fading Green Bay any way you can do it, be it the divisional odds or through its O/U. Rodgers was already facing a likely monster regression, and now, we're not even sure if he's going to play. Green Bay also had the easiest schedule in the league last year; good luck getting that to repeat. And don't expect an ordinary defense (17th in DVOA last year) to save Green Bay's bacon. Head back to the windows, take Minnesota to win the NFC North. 

Follow Scott: @scott_pianowski

Follow Dalton: @daltondeldon

Follow Andy: @andybehrens

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