Packers Fantasy Preview 2019: Aaron Rodgers’ bounce-back is imminent

After the past two seasons, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers hasn’t quite been his MVP-caliber self and his fantasy football output has reflected that.

Injuries are a clear area to point to when trying to explain the production, or lack thereof, for the Cal product who will turn 36 this December. He missed all but seven games in 2017 and was playing on a broken leg for all of 2018. The leg injury limited his mobility and forced him to take fewer chances — and who could blame him for feeling a little uncomfortable in the pocket, even as QBs are becoming more protected by the rules?

Going into the season with better health and a more experienced receiving corps points to a more product fantasy season for Rodgers.

Looking at Rodgers’ schedule this coming season, the Packers have two games against the Bears, two against the Vikings, then one each against the Broncos, Chargers, and Cowboys. Those teams ranked first, fourth, fifth, eighth, and ninth in defensive DVOA in 2018, respectively. Now if those rankings hold, that’s seven games against top-ten defenses, but Rodgers did perfectly fine against the Vikings and Bears last season and the remaining 10 games on the schedule all come against teams that were 20th or lower on the 2018 DVOA ranking.

In four games against Minnesota and Chicago last fall, Rodgers had a 65 percent completion percentage, 1,039 passing yards, five touchdowns, one interception, and 7.3 yards per completion. That is not exactly lighting them on fire, but those are still high-quality showings against two of the best defensive teams in the league. It’s good to keep in mind that great defenses are hard to carry over season-to-season and losing Vic Fangio from the Chicago coaching staff is interesting for opposing offenses.

Rodgers’ current fantasy average draft position (ADP) is in the late fifth round. He’s the third quarterback off the board in redraft leagues, after Andrew Luck in the early fifth and before Deshaun Watson even later in the fifth. Per fantasyfootballcalculator.com, Rodgers is going behind players like Sony Michel, Cooper Kupp, and Tyler Lockett, which is a little ridiculous. Unless you play with some die-hard Packer fans, I would say it’s safe to grab Rodgers in the fourth. His fantasy stock has taken a hit, but his ceiling is higher than Luck’s in fantasy scoring.

The weapons around Rodgers will be much better this season than last year. Davante Adams was a stud last season, and there are plenty of signs from Packers brass that Marquez Valdes-Scantling will continue his upward trajectory. Geronimo Allison will also be back at full speed and with a new offensive system, Aaron Jones should provide both passing game relief and as an extra weapon.

New head coach Matt LaFleur will be instituting a new offense that Rodgers should thrive in, being able to throw in an offense that schemes players open through innovative design. If the young defense makes a jump, that will also benefit Rodgers by allowing him to get back to the way he plays best: by taking some chances on deep balls. Without the burden of winning every game on Aaron’s shoulder pads, he could be more inclined to take chances down the field and in tight windows. A strong — or let’s face it, even average — defense will have cascading effects for the offense in the best way.

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