2022 Green Bay Packers Team Outlook
With high-stakes fantasy football legend Shawn Childs anchoring Sports Illustrated's fantasy coverage, we decided to give our take on Shawn's Team Outlooks. While we won't always agree, Shawn's pedigree speaks for itself. Shawn has been a high-stakes Fantasy Football legend since 2004 when he had success in his first season (three titles and $25,000 in winnings). Childs has competed and won six-figures in all different formats – auctions, draft championships, main events, and high-dollar leagues. We dare you to find an expert who knows the NFL player pool better than Shawn Childs -- it can't be done!
The Green Bay Packers finally saw the light in the offseason, leading to them signing QB Aaron Rodgers to a four-year extension with $150.6 million in guaranteed. Unfortunately, they lost WR Davante Adams to the Raiders. The Packers need a wideout to step up to fill the void, but Green Bay doesn't have another elite option on the roster. Their run game remains an area of strength with two viable players (Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon). After going 39-10 over the past three years, the Packers appear to be trending down, but Mr. Rodgers knows how to win games and make the players around him better.
The Packers played well defensively last year, and they had the lead in most games. Even so, Green Bay finished with below-average rushing attempts (26.2) while not gaining an edge in passing yards (266 YPG). Their offense runs through Aaron Rodgers, especially in the red zone scoring.
Green Bay's running back finished with a similar opportunity in touches (488) as in 2020 (497), but they gained 201 fewer yards with a regression rushing touchdowns (10) and yards per carry (4.4 – 4.9 in 2020). On the positive side, their backs scored eight times in the passing game.
The wide receiver opportunity increased in each of the past two seasons. They set three-year highs in catches (244), receiving yards (3,107), and targets (367) while matching 2020 in touchdowns (27). Their wideouts gained 69% of the Packers' passing yards.
The Packers had a sharp decline in scoring (four touchdowns – 14 in 2020) from their tight ends last year, partly due to an injury to Robert Tonyan. Their targets (96, 101, and 95) have been in a tight range over the previous three seasons, with a floor of 63 catches and 700 receiving yards.
Matt LaFleur took over as the head coach of the Packers in 2019 after spending the previous two seasons running the Rams and the Titans offenses. Green Bay went 39-10 while winning the NFC North each year. Lafleur has six years of experience in the NFL as a quarterback coach. His best success came in 2016, helping Matt Ryan and the Falcons reach the Super Bowl.
Adam Stenavich earns his first offensive coordinator job after working in the Packers' system over the previous three seasons as their offensive line and run game coordinator. His other two years of experience came with the 49ers.
The Packers slipped to 10th in points scored (450) and yards allowed.
Joe Barry returns for a second season as Green Bay's defensive coordinator. Over the past three years, he worked in the Rams' system (assistant head coach and linebackers coach). In addition, Barry ran the Lions and Redskins' defense over four seasons while having 20 years of coaching experience in the NFL.
Their defense repeated their ranking in points allowed (371 – 13th) and yards allowed (9th).
Green Bay lost LB Za'Darius Smith, WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling, G Lucas Patrick, and LB Oren Burks to free agency for the mear some of $85 million. Their top additions were P Pat O'Donnell, DT Jarren Reed, and WR Sammy Watkins.
The Packers invested their two first-round picks in the 2022 NFL Draft on a pair of defensive players from Georgia (LB Quay Walker and DT Devonte Wyatt). They turned to their offensive with their following four selections – WR Christian Watson (2.2), OL Sean Rhyan (3.28), WR Romeo Doubs (4.27), and OL Zach Tom (4.35). Green Bay added OT Rasheed Walker and WR Samori Toure in the seventh round. The other three players (LB Kingsley Enagbare, S Tariq Carpenter, and DT Jonathan Ford) hopefully upgraded the depth in defense.
Green Bay averaged 4.3 yards per rush, leading to a drop to 18th in rushing yards (1,900) with 13 rushing touchdowns. The Packers averaged 26.2 rushes per game with seven carries over 20 yards.
The Packers inched up to 9th in passing yards (4,526) with 39 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. They gained 7.6 yards per pass attempt with 61 plays over 20 yards and 14 catches over 40 yards. Their offensive line allowed only 33 sacks.
LT David Bakhtiari ended up playing only one game last season after a slow recovery from a torn ACL in his left knee. When healthy, he has been one of the better players at his position, with his best value coming in pass protection. Green Bay needs improved play at the guard position, which may come from multiple players. C Josh Myers missed 11 games in his rookie season with a knee injury. RT Elgton Jenkins filled in at left tackle for eight games in 2021 while also tearing his ACL in late November.
This offensive line has a risk/reward feel due to the number of players coming off injuries. This season, Aaron Rodgers needs a longer passing window to improve his passing potential.
Green Bay bumped to 11th in rushing yards allowed (1,855) with 13 touchdowns and eight runs over 20 yards. Ball carriers gained 4.7 yards per rush, with 23.2 rushing attempts per game.
The Packers dipped to 10th in passing yards allowed (3,724) while allowing 31 touchdowns with interceptions (18). Quarterbacks gained 6.7 yards per pass attempt with 15 completions over 40 yards. Their defense picked up 39 sacks.
Their top cornerback (Jaire Alexander) missed 13 games in 2021 with a shoulder issue, giving Green Bay three assets in the secondary. Quay Walker and Rashan Gary offer the highest ceiling at linebacker. DT Kenny Clark lost his way defending the run last year, an area of strength in past seasons. The Packers need DE Devonte Wyatt to hit the ground running in his rookie year.
Green Bay has coverage talent, but they need to improve against the run and replace some lost sacks. They have enough pieces to their defense to rank in the top 12 in 2022.
QB Jordan Love, GB - Not Draft Worthy
Love came to the NFL with size (6'4" and 225 lbs.) and a strong arm. He'll make easy deep throws with a flick of his wrist. Love sometimes has a looker feel as he waits for a player to break open. I expect him to succeed if given time to throw and surrounded by talented receivers. His decision-making and reads need improvement while having some concern with his accuracy.
I don't like how he slides in the pocket on some rollout passes, leading to a longer transition time to unload the ball. Love will struggle to break free from a tight pocket under pressure while lacking the release to get the ball out quickly and on time.
Based on 2019, Love didn't belong in the top college QB conversation. He passed for 3,402 yards with 20 touchdowns, but 17 of his throws ended up in the hands of his opponents. Love also rushed for 175 yards on 81 carries while failing to score on the ground.
His stock was trending up after his sophomore season (3,567 passing yards and 39 combined touchdowns). However, Love saw his yards per pass attempt fall from 8.6 to 7.2 in 2019.
In his first chance to see game action in 2021, Love brought a dull feel, leading to 411 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions on his 62 pass attempts. He gained 6.6 yards per pass attempt. As a result, Love moved to the back burner in the Packers' quarterback plans after signing Aaron Rodgers to an extension.
Other Options: Danny Etling
QB Aaron Rodgers, NYJ - Bust (overvalued)
Over his 206 career starts, Rodgers has a 139-66-1 record with one Super Bowl title (2010). Unfortunately, he lost seven of his last nine games in the postseason. Only once in his 14-year career has Rodgers passed for more than 4,500 yards (4,643 in 2011) or attempted more than 600 passes in a season (610 in 2016). The best part of his resume continues to be touchdown passes (449) and minimal damage in interceptions (93).
Last season Rodgers passed for over 300 yards in four matchups and nine games with at least three touchdowns. Over his final seven starts, he had 21 scores and no interceptions. However, his value in the run game (33/101/3) regressed in each of the past three years. Rodgers had 91 touchdowns and only nine interceptions over the previous two seasons.
Fantasy outlook: Not good. Davante Adams caught 238 passes for 2,927 yards and 29 touchdowns in 2020 and 2021, 32.2% of Rodgers' competitions, 34.7% of his passing yards, and 34.1% of his passing touchdowns. Green Bay will have regression in yards per pass attempt. Rodgers will find a way to pass for 4,000 yards, but I don't expect impact touchdowns (about two per game). He ranks 11th at quarterback in the Fantasy Football World Championship in June. I won't fight for Rodgers on draft day, but I won't dismiss if he is discounted as an upside QB2.
RB Aaron Jones, GB - Stud (low risk)
The Packers had Jones on the field for 620 plays (57.6%) over his 15 games, compared to 410 snaps by A.J. Dillon. He finished with a career-high in catches (52) with 391 receiving yards and six touchdowns. On the downside, Jones averaged only 11.4 rushing attempts, leading to a step back in rushing yards (799) and rushing touchdowns (4).
After a short game in Week 1 (22 combined yards with two catches), he played well over the following five weeks (529 combined yards with six touchdowns and 19 catches on 97 touches). However, his play and opportunity (119 touches) regressed over his final nine games (639 combined yards with four touchdowns and 31 catches) while missing two matchups with a knee issue.
Fantasy outlook: Jones remains an explosive player with the ball in his hands, but he appears to have a diminished role. In the early draft season in the FFWC, Jones ranks 12th at running back with an ADP of 24. At a minimum, he should gain 1,300 combined yards with double-digit touchdowns and 50 catches. Jones is an intriguing player, and his role in the passing game could spike with Davante Adams no longer on the roster.
RB AJ Dillon, GB - Quality Backup
Despite an RB2 role for the Packers, Dillion gained 1,116 combined yards with seven touchdowns and 34 catches on 221 touches (13 per game). Green Bay gave him the best opportunity (65 touches) from Week 10 to Week 12 (315 combined yards with three touchdowns and 13 catches) while gaining only 3.6 yards per carry. Dillon scored seven of his eight touchdowns over his final nine matchups (including the postseason). He finished with better than expected results in the passing game (34/313/2).
Dillon has a fullback's body (6'0" and 245 lbs.) and the speed (4.53 40-yard dash) of a running back. His game is all about power. When asked to run up the middle, he drifts and weaves rather than drives and accelerates after the snap if faced with tight quarters. Dillion needs almost two full strides to hit top speed in the open field. If given daylight, his game plays well, gaining more yards after breaking arm tackles.
He shined in his freshman season (300/1589/14) at Boston College while losing some value in 2018 (1,149 combined yards with 10 touchdowns and eight catches on 235 touches. Dillon matched his early success (318/1685/14) in the run game while adding a few catches (13/195/1) in 2019.
Fantasy outlook: Dillon ranked 23rd in running back scoring (186.60) in PPR leagues while scoring 20.00 fantasy points or more in three matchups (26.80, 20.00, and 22.30). On his down days, he scored fewer than 9.00 fantasy points in nine games. Based on this, Dillon should naturally have a higher ceiling. With 250 touches, I expect him to gain 1,200 yards with a push to 10 scores with a floor of 25 catches. If Jones has an issue, Dillon moves to RB1 status. His ADP (71) ranks him as the 25th running back in the FFWC. He should be an excellent cheat RB2 in 2022.
RB Kylin Hill, --- - Not Draft Worthy
After a breakout season in 2019 (1,530 combined yards with 11 touchdowns and 18 catches) at Mississippi State, Hill opted out in 2020 after three games. His season started slow on early downs (15/58), but he was more active in the passing game (23/237/1).
Last year with the Packers, he blew out his right knee (torn ACL) last October while offering no value in his eight games (39 combined yards with one catch on 11 touches).
Other Options: Patrick Taylor, Tyler Goodson, B.J. Baylor
WR Christian Watson, GB - Super Sleeper (high risk/potential)
Over four seasonscame in 2021 (43/801/7), highlighted by two matchups (5/163/1 and 4/106/1).
Watson earns his trip into the NFL by offering an excellent combination of size (6'5" and 210 lbs.) and speed (4.36 – 40-yard dash). He is a hard worker, but much of his resume comes from big plays vs. weaker competition. His route running needs to improve to be more fantasy and pro-relevant early in his career. Watson does have an explosive gear with the ball in his hands.
Fantasy outlook: A deep threat with size can also become a viable scoring option in the red zone, giving Watson a high ceiling. The Packers should use him in a role similar to Marquez Vales-Scantling over the past few years. He ranks 59th at wide receiver in the FFWC with an ADP of 155. At best, 40 catches for 600 yards with five scores, making Watson a challenging week-to-week start in fantasy leagues.
Our Take: The fact he has such a high pedigree coming in with no opportunity to practice with the team due to injury is eerily similar to the way Odell Beckham Jr. came into the league. No hype due to a lingering injury, no games for the first half the season, then bam. Dynamite. It could happen.