Green Bay Packers July Scouting Report
There is not a lot different to report this month. So I will start with a former WR Jordy Nelson comment. Then I will put the offense under the microscope a little more. Information in a packers.com article got me thinking about how the Packer offense might be viewed this year from a fantasy perspective.
This comes from former Packer WR Jordy Nelson. "We're not coming back," Nelson said. "There's no doubt about that. We're done... When you first get in the NFL and you're performing very well, you're underpaid, and then when you sign a big contract, you become overpaid. When you're towards the end of your career, you get released and people say you're too slow, you've lost a step, you can't play anymore; and then apparently when you retire, everyone wants you to come back... I'm confused on what I need to do, so I'll just stay at home. No one's ever satisfied." I thought I would include this because all the attention black players are getting now, white guys have some concerns too. And in Jordy’s case it caused him to walk away from the game. We fans need to put things into perspective better. The only time I will overtly comment on a player’s wage – which is really between the team and the player – is when the money doesn’t fit the job description or when I take a look at the teams financial picture and then try to guess at which free agents will be re-signed (or not). A good example is OG Lane Taylor getting starter money when he is now a backup. The Packers have recently restructured his contract so that this year he will get about half of what he got last year. I thought cutting him might be a way of getting some cap room back. I try to stay away from saying things like "with play like that he should give money back", or some such thing. Those players (black or white) have feelings too. With that done, let’s get to fantasy football.
I have already said that the Matt LaFleur Packer offense is not the same as the one former HC Mike McCarthy had - as evidenced by 42% of the offensive snaps were running plays vs. 34% for McCarthy in his last year. If I am reading things correctly, MLF wants that number to be closer to (if not) 50%. That is another 8% of plays that neither the tight ends nor the wide receivers see – about 5 to 6 plays per game or about 80 to 90 plays per season. The benefactors are primarily RB Aaron Jones, RB Jamaal Williams, RB AJ Dillion, and RB Tyler Ervin if he gets snaps from scrimmage. I have changed my tune on Jamaal Williams being traded for now. It sounds as if he is in the plans for the coming year as well. In the rushing department last year Jones and Williams combined for 1544 yards and 17 touchdowns. In the passing game last year Jones and Williams combined for 88 receptions for 727 yards and 8 touchdowns. With Dillion in the mix now, likely more production could be distributed over three guys instead of two – not good for fantasy teams considering just the running back position. There are four other reasons that give me reasons to think the running game will play a bigger role in the 2020 Packer offense. The first is that MLF said so at the combine – before the draft. The second is that the Packers have added two guys who potentially add flexibility and blocking. These are draft pick TE Josiah Deguara from Cincinnati and FB Jordan Jones from Prairie View A&M. They both played essentially the same role in their respective college team’s offense – they; block, line up in multiple positions, catch passes, and run the ball. Likely they keep just one (the betting favorite is Deguara) but the guy will help facilitate a better running game and promote play action passing. Reason number three is that TE Jace Sternberger and TE Mercedes Lewis, are better blockers than TE Jimmy Graham was. Reason number four is that the three offensive line
draft picks are good run blockers coming in. So what does this mean for the passing game – running backs, tight ends, and wide receivers included? First, it depends on how the running game does early in the season. I am sure MLF will prefer a win if it takes more passing to get there. I would expect that the receiving yards among the running backs could be split between Jones, Williams, and now Dillion. I would expect Sternberger to get more of the tight end passes until Deguara learns the offense. Then after that your guess is as good as mine right now. As for the wide receivers, at least initially, look no further than WR Davante Adams and WR Allen Lazard – with whom Rodgers has experience with and trusts. Even if the number of passes is reduced some, Adams at least will get his catches. Will Rodgers get to 4000 yards and or 30 touchdowns passing again? That is a good question. There will be a few things to factor in. I have already mentioned the potentially reduced number of plays. The development of the receivers as a group (route running so Rodgers will know where they are and reading the same defense Rodgers is), how efficient the offense will be with passing opportunities afforded to them (yards per catch and yards after the catch primarily), and the little things like eliminating the drops will go a long way toward answering that question. If it sounds as if there are a lot of unknowns, it is because, fantasy wise, there are right now. However, as for the season, Packer CEO Mark Murphy said recently "As we near the start of training camp …. Time is no longer on our side." – A warning that some decisions must be made very soon if not immediately. Hopefully there is a NFL and corresponding fantasy league season. Until we know more the preferred Packer fantasy players are; QB Aaron Rodgers, RB Aaron Jones, WR Davante Adams, TE Jace Sternberger if you need a tight end, – and depending on how you view it, K Mason Crosby, and the Packer Defense. Unless some real Packer news happens, I will be open to suggestions for what to report on for August if training camp is not happening. The main thing is to only go to the store for the necessities – like snacks and meat to grill so you have appropriate munchies for watching Packer reruns if that becomes fact. Stay safe until next month.
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Sunday, September 13th, 2020
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