Nobody knows what Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers plans on doing in 2021 other than Aaron Rodgers, and he has steadfastly refused to provide clarity on the situation.
It also seems that the Packers have no intention of trading him, affording the reigning MVP three choices: 1) sit out, accrue fines, forfeit salary and signing bonus money, and miss his age-37 season. 2) report, say everything was overblown and that he’s looking forward to the season. 3) Retire.
For the sake of argument, let’s say he goes with the first option, thrusting Jordan Love into the QB1 chair, and project what the ripple effect could look like.
QB Jordan Love
Perhaps the only thing more mysterious than Rodgers’ intentions is Love’s development after the 2020 preseason was cancelled and the rookie spent all 18 games inactive. Green Bay’s desire to mend fences with Rodgers has been viewed by some as an indictment of what Love has shown behind closed doors, but that’s pure speculation.
While scouting is an inexact science, it’s worth remembering that heading into last year’s draft Love was viewed as a rising prospect with elite arm strength. The knock, however, was that Love was raw, and he gained little experience behind Rodgers and Tim Boyle.
We should know a lot more about Love by the end of camp. Unless he looks completely lost, there would be some late-round backup appeal with him running a QB-friendly system in a talented offense.
RB Aaron Jones
Saddled with durability concerns early in his career, Jones has appeared in 30 of 32 games over the past two seasons, averaging 17.8 touches, 100.6 yards and 1 TD per contest. Jones is more big-play threat than grinder — he topped 20 touches in a game just once last year — and even if the Packers featured the ground attack with Love, don’t expect a major uptick in usage.
At 5-foot-9, 208 pounds, Jones isn’t a big back, and the team values his explosiveness. Defenses won’t fear Love the way they fear Rodgers, but it would remain fair to still consider Jones a borderline top-10 RB.
RB A.J. Dillon
Another 2020 pick taken with an eye on the future, Dillon steps into the RB2 role previously filled by Jamaal Williams. The 247-pounder played sparingly as a rookie, in part because he missed a month-plus after contracting COVID-19, but his work in Week 16 against Tennessee (21 carries, 124 yards, 2 TDs) opened some eyes.
If the Packers want to keep Jones’ workload largely status quo, Dillon could be the biggest beneficiary of a Love-led offense, creating top-30 value at the position.
WR Davante Adams
Adams is unique among Green Bay’s pass catchers in that he’s experienced life without Rodgers, posting a 46-543-5 line in eight games with Brett Hundley in 2017; that combo developed some real chemistry with Adams averaging 6.4 catches, 84.8 yards and 0.8 TDs per game over his final five, which equates to a 102-1,357-13 pace.
While I’d never suggest Adams would be more productive sans Rodgers, he’s about as airtight as it gets given his exceptional route running and ability to work anywhere on the field. Add in the extra incentive of a contract year, and gamers should be dissuaded to drop Adams out of the top five receivers, provided a current contract squabble doesn’t turn ugly.
WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling
Like Adams, MVS is entering a contract year. Unlike Adams, Valdes-Scantling is all over the place, looking like a WR2 one week and practice squader the next. His speed is legit, and he was arguably their best player in the NFC Championship Game, which could serve as a springboard.
Love’s deep-ball accuracy is one of many unknowns, though, and the already inconsistent MVS figures to be even more unreliable without Rodgers. He’d be late-round material, at best, even in the deepest of leagues.
WR Amari Rodgers
On paper, Rodgers looks like a nice fit for Green Bay’s offense, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him utilized in Tyler Ervin’s role from last season with a lot of pre-snap motion. That could position him as a safety valve for Love, who would be encouraged to make safer, high-percentage throws as he gains experience. How much fantasy appeal that would generate is debatable, which leaves Rodgers as a watch-list candidate outside of dynasty leagues.
TE Robert Tonyan
After combining for 14 receptions during his first two seasons, Tonyan emerged last year with a 52-586-11 line. Despite that, the jury remains out with many crediting the heretofore unknown’s success to No. 12’s brilliance.
It’s also worth noting that even during his breakout season, Tonyan rarely went for big yardage, topping 40 yards just five times and leaving his red-zone exploits as the primary source of his fantasy appeal. The Packers were historically efficient in the “gold zone” under Rodgers, and there’s no way Love would be able to match that success. That pushes Tonyan out of TE1 territory.