2020 Preview: Green Bay Packers


Packers: Lombardi Ave staff predict Week 13 game vs. Cardinals

The 2020 NFL Season is nearly upon us, and in anticipation of the new season we’ll be previewing the action team-by-team, using the draft order from last season. The previews will kick off with the Bengals and run right through the reigning champion Chiefs. Come back each day to check out your favorite team. All ADP and Rankings reflect PPR scoring. 2020 Projections are based on a 12-team league (i.e. WR1 (Top 12), WR2 (13-24), WR3 (25-36)).

The Green Bay Packers exploded as they began the Matt LaFleur era. With a new coach and a new outlook, the Packers thrived. The team finished 13-3 and earned the second seed in the NFC Playoffs. In the playoffs, the Packers won their first game against the Seahawks but fell short to the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game. Still, it was a strong showing that left fans encouraged.

This off-season has been interesting. The Packers did little to bolster the weapons around star Aaron Rodgers, and now enter the 2020 season with some wondering what it will all look like and the clock ticking.

Off-Season Changes

The Packers, as is usually their custom, weren’t flashy players in the free agent market. Tight end Jimmy Graham left for the Bears, while receiver Geronimo Allison signed with the division rival Detroit Lions. The Packers also saw linebackers Blake Martinez and Kyle Fackrell sign with the Giants. Meanwhile the team added former Browns’ linebacker Christian Kirksey and former Panthers and Colts receiver Devin Funchess, who subsequently opted out of the 2020 season.

Conventional wisdom suggested the Packers would snag a receiver in the draft after not making much of a move in free agency. They didn’t. Instead, they took another running back in A.J. Dillon from Boston College. In three seasons, Dillon rushed for 4,382 yards and 38 TDs. He figures to be a powerful tandem with Aaron Jones. Meanwhile the Packers also surprisingly drafted a quarterback, spending their First Round pick on Jordan Love, out of Utah State. Love threw for 3,567 yards and 32 TDs in 2018 and added 3,402 yards and 20 TDs in 2019. He was regarded as a Top 5 prospect at the position, but his selection seems curious given Rodgers has four years left on his deal.

Fantasy Impact

Rodgers enters this season with a bit more competition behind him and father time creeping up in the rearview mirror. The team also didn’t do him many favors by doing nothing to improve his pass catchers in free agency or the draft. Last year he was QB10 in fantasy, but I think the passing volume might even come down in 2020 as the team seems committed to being a stout rushing team. Rodgers is great, but I see him as a QB2 in 2020.

The backfield looks strong with Jones leading the way. The Packers’ other Aaron finished as RB2 in 2019, largely thanks to his 19 touchdowns. Jones rushed for 1,084 yards and caught 49 passes for 474 yards. He figures to be a force on the ground and catching passes in 2020 again, and though I expect his TDs to come down, Jones is still an RB1 in 2020. Jamaal Williams was his running mate in 2019, but it seems like Dillon is more likely to assume that role in 2020. Dillon is an RB4 and could be a good touchdown bet with goalline carries thanks to his powerful frame.

The passing game is less settled. Davante Adams is the top receiver by far, and one of the best in the league. He managed 127 targets for 83 receptions, 997 yards and five TDs in only 12 games in 2019. He’s a WR1 with a decent chance at begin THE WR1 for 2020. Expect 150-180 targets. Behind him there’s a collection of players including Allen Lazard, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Jake Krumerow and Equanimeous St. Brown. Someone will have a decent season, but I don’t see any of the receivers being a reliable week-to-week starter outside of Adams. The one I’m stashing is MVS. At tight end, the Packers look to be turning to second-year player Jace Sternberger and veteran Mercedes Lewis. Sternberger has some TE2 appeal.

Prediction

The Packers were not quite as good as their record in 2019, and that seemed to come out in the playoffs. They are a solid team, and any team with Rodgers will be competitive. But I think they take a step back record-wise this year, while still sneaking into the playoffs as a Wild Card.

Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast, a proud member of the Drive-In Podcast Network.

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