2022 Packers Fantasy Football Preview: Can Aaron Rodgers keep rolling without Davante Adams?

The Packers are really going to test how good Aaron Rodgers can be without help at receiver after trading Davante Adams this offseason. Rodgers is coming off consecutive MVP seasons, but the degree of difficulty just keeps getting higher with Allen Lazard, Sammy Watkins, and Christian Watson set to be his top targets at wide receiver. 

2021 Review

Record: 13 – 4 (1)
PPG: 26.5 (10)
YPG: 365.6 (10)
Pass YPG: 253.8 (8)
Rush YPG: 111.8 (18)
PAPG: 34.9 (15)
RAPG: 26.2 (17)

2021 Fantasy finishes

QB: Aaron Rodgers QB8
RB: Aaron Jones RB11, AJ Dillon RB22
WR: Davante Adams* WR2, Allen Lazard WR47, 
TE: Josiah Deguara TE41, Robert Tonyan TE49
*No longer with team

Number to know: 27

Rodgers has averaged 27 points per game in seven without Davante Adams since the start of the 2019 season, when Matt LaFleur became the Packers head coach, compared to 23 per game with Adams active. So … great, nothing to worry about, right?

Well, no, not exactly. The sample size is very small, and spread over multiple seasons with different supporting casts, so you can’t just point to that and say Rodgers will be fine. He’s needed 8.7 yards per attempt and a whopping 7.9% touchdown rate in those seven games, and while Rodgers is arguably the most efficient passer in league history, you can’t just assume he’ll do something like that over a full season — he’s reached those twice in 14 seasons as a starter.

That’s not to say Rodgers will be bad without Adams, especially because the evidence suggests he won’t be. However, there’s a difference between making it work for a few games at a time knowing Adams will be back eventually vs. having to play a full season with Lazard and Watkins as your top options. 

That also highlights why it’s going to be tough to trust anyone from this passing game, at least early in the season. The hierarchy appears wide open to be Rodgers’ top target, but it’s not clear anyone has a lead right now. Maybe that will become clear at some point during training camp, perhaps, but right now, Lazard is a very underwhelming No. 1 option coming off a season with career-best marks of 60 targets, 40 catches, and 513 yards. Any one of Lazard, Watson, or Watkins (in that order) is a viable dart throw in the latter half of drafts, but you can’t go into the season expecting any of them to be a reliable Fantasy option until we see it in action. 

2021 Offseason

Draft Picks 

1. (22) Quay Walker, LB
1. (28) Devonte Wyatt, DT
2. (34) Christian Watson, WR
3. (92) Sean Rhyan, OL
4. (132) Romeo Doubs, WR
4. (140) Zach Tom, OL
5. (179) Kingsley Enagbare, DE
7. (228) Tariq Carpenter, DB
7. (234) Jonathan Ford, DT
7. (249) Rasheed Walker, OL
7. (258) Samori Toure, WR

Additions

DL Jarran Reed, 

Key losses

WR Davante Adams, LB Whitney Mercilus, CB Chandon Sullivan, WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling, G Lucas Patrick

Available Opportunity 

0 carries, 41 RB targets, 241 WR targets, 0 TE targets 

2022 Preview

Rankings

Chris Towers’ projections

QB Aaron Rodgers PA: 590, YD: 4309, TD: 35, INT: 9; RUSH — ATT: 31, YD: 110, TD: 1
RB Aaron Jones CAR: 202, YD: 908, TD: 8, TAR: 77, REC: 64, YD: 484, TD: 2
RB AJ Dillon CAR: 202, YD: 908, TD: 8, TAR: 41, REC: 38, YD: 285, TD: 1
WR Allen Lazard TAR: 106, REC: 62, YD: 832, TD: 6
WR Sammy Watkins TAR: 90, REC: 55, YD: 692, TD: 4
WR Christian Watson TAR: 89, REC: 49, YD: 668, TD: 4
WR Amari Rodgers TAR: 54, REC: 34, YD: 440, TD: 3
TE Robert Tonyan TAR: 83, REC: 51, YD: 581, TD: 3

Biggest Question

Do any of the wide receivers step up?

Allen Lazard, Sammy Watkins and rookie Christian Watson figure to be the starters for the Packers at wide receiver, which is a pretty uninspiring group. Lazard has shown some flashes but ultimately didn’t do much as the No. 1 option behind Adams the past few seasons. Watkins’ entire career has seemingly been defined by underwhelming production in seemingly good situations. Watson is massive and has draft capital on his side, but earning Rodgers’ trust is never easy for young wide receivers. There’s an opportunity here, but it’s entirely possible Rodgers just spreads the ball around and nobody is worth using for Fantasy. That’s what I’d bet on, in fact.

One sleeper, one breakout and one bust

Don’t forget about Rodgers, last year’s third-round pick, who stands out as perhaps a more natural short-area, catch-and-run target than any of the team’s bigger, more vertically oriented receivers. Rodgers barely saw the field on offense as a rookie but has been garnering some hype during OTAs after he dropped weight this offseason and has a chance to garner a solid role in that wide-open receiving corps. He’ll probably go undrafted in nearly all leagues, but a strong training camp could lock in a starting role for Rodgers, and would put him on Fantasy radars.

Could someone who has finished as a top-12 RB three straight seasons – including a No. 2 finish in 2019 – qualify as a breakout candidate? Seeing as Jones’ production has dipped in consecutive seasons, I’d say so, because he still has top-three upside in this offense, especially if his passing game role increases. And history suggests it might. In seven games without Adams active over the past three seasons, Jones is averaging 6.7 targets, 5.1 catches, and 55.4 receiving yards per game, compared to overall averages of 4.4, 3.3, and 27.1 in that span. Jones could be a terrific option in PPR formats even assuming he splits rushing work with A.J. Dillon again, and it could make him an excellent value for Fantasy even if you have to draft him as a borderline No. 1 RB.

Of course, a lot of the optimism around the Packers assumes that, despite the loss of Adams, the offense will continue to be one of the best in the NFL thanks to Rodgers’ individual brilliance, but we know it doesn’t have to be the case. The Packers ranked top 10 in scoring over the past two seasons, but they were 15th, 14th, and 21st in the previous three seasons, as Rodgers looked positively mortal over that stretch. I’m not expecting that kind of regression, necessarily, but it’s well within the realm of possibility. This could be a low-volume passing offense that struggles to convert in the red zone without Adams, in which case Rodgers is probably a pretty fringy Fantasy starter.