2020 NFL Team Previews: Green Bay Packers

2020 NFL Team Previews: Green Bay Packers

This article is part of our Team Previews series.

Green Bay Packers

The Packers returned to the NFC Championship Game last season under first-year coach Matt LaFleur but were effectively run over by the 49ers. Despite a highly scrutinized offseason, nearly every key player is back in 2020, something the team is banking on to take the next step.

Offseason Moves

Key Acquisitions

The Packers hope to strike gold with the toolsy but untapped youngster.

  • RB AJ Dillon (Rd. 2, No. 62 – Boston College)

At 6-0, 247, he brings size/speed combo otherwise not seen in this backfield.

Missed nearly all of 2019 but should play a key role this year if healthy.

The Swiss Army knife is expected to line up all over the field.

Inherits the starting inside 'backer spot from Blake Martinez.

Set to step in at right tackle for the departed Bryan Bulaga.

Key Losses

Joins a division rival after being cut loose by Green Bay.

Played the second-most snaps on offense among Packers wideouts last season.

A Look Under the Hood

Head Coach: Matt LaFleur (Year 2)

Offensive Coordinator: Nathaniel Hackett (Year 2) - West Coast (wide/outside zone)

Defensive Coordinator: Mike Pettine (Year 3) - 4-3 scheme

2020 Vegas Projected Wins: 9 (T-9th)

   

2019 Record: 13-3

2019 Points Scored: 376 (15th)

2019 Points Allowed: 313 (9th)

2019 Point Differential: +63 (9th)

2019 Run-Play Rate: 40.2 percent (17th)

2019 Situation-Neutral Pace: 31.06 seconds per play (18th)

2019 Offensive Snaps: 1,020 (T-13th)

2019 PFF O-Line Ranking: No. 6

Full 2019 Team Stats

   

Projected 2020 Depth Chart

QB: Aaron Rodgers / Jordan Love

RB: Aaron Jones / Jamaal Williams / AJ Dillon / Tyler Ervin

FB: Josiah Deguara

WR1: Davante Adams / Marquez Valdes-Scantling / Jake Kumerow

WR2: Allen Lazard / Devin Funchess / Equanimeous St. Brown / Reggie Begelton

TE: Jace Sternberger / Marcedes Lewis / Robert Tonyan

O-Line: LT David Bakhtiari / LG Elgton Jenkins / C Corey Linsley / RG Billy Turner / RT Rick Wagner                (RotoWire Rank: No. 8)

Kicker: Mason Crosby

Full 2020 Depth Chart

Top Storylines

An Offense in Transition

As expected, the Packers transformed from a pass-heavy attack in 2018 to a more balanced approach under new coach Matt LaFleur. After leading the league in pass play percentage two years ago, the offense finished 16th in that department in 2019.

The Packers still threw the ball just under 60 percent of the time, but as a result Aaron Rodgers averaged the fewest fantasy points per game of his career, and Aaron Jones took off, piling up 1,558 yards from scrimmage and tying for the league lead with 19 touchdowns.

It's no secret LaFleur would prefer to run the ball even more. In fact, the decisions the Packers made in this year's draft – adding a power back and a versatile TE with their 2020-focused top picks – suggest they will do just that. It doesn't appear to be a bad strategy, as the three teams that ran the most last season – Baltimore, San Francisco and Tennessee – were the top seed in the AFC, reached the Super Bowl and played in the AFC title game, respectively.

LaFleur coordinated the Titans offense in 2018 and learned under 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan, so it's not hard to think he would like to run the ball closer to half the time like each of those teams did last year. With Jones, Jamaal Williams and rookie AJ Dillon, the Packers are as deep in the running back room as any in the league. Coincidence? We think not.

With a rookie second-rounder joining the backfield, Aaron Jones' ceiling is lower than a season ago.

Receiver Roulette

As one of the most productive pass catchers in the league, there's no doubt Davante Adams is the top option at wide receiver for the Packers. The team opted not to use significant resources on the position in the offseason, so like in 2019 the rest of the spots essentially are up for grabs. The names have changed a bit, though.

Allen Lazard jumped from the practice squad into the starting lineup by the end of last season, making him a favorite to grab the starting spot opposite Adams. Next on the list is Devin Funchess, who the Packers are hoping produces like the 2017 version of himself.

The next few options are familiar and unique names in Equanimeous St. Brown and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. The duo looked primed to play key 2019 roles, and MVS did for a bit, but the former missed the entire season with an injury and the latter was an afterthought by season's end. Rounding out the group are Jake Kumerow and wild card Reggie Begelton, who was one of the top receivers in the CFL a year ago.

The Packers offense no longer supports three WR that regularly hold down starting spots in fantasy lineups, but with Aaron Rodgers at the helm there should be room for two. As was proven last year, though, whoever breaks camp with the No. 2 job is not a lock to hold the spot, and the situation could be fluid.

What Does the Future Hold?

The biggest question about the Packers now centers on the quarterback position. Not in 2020, but over the course of the next several seasons. For over a decade, it's been the Aaron Rodgers show in Green Bay. However, as the song goes, the times they are a-changin'.

Rodgers played for a new head coach last year for the first time as a starter. Despite much speculation that their relationship would be troubled, the two seemed to mesh. With a new regime in charge, though, there's less incentive for the team to stick with the trusted signal-caller. With more emphasis on the run and the Packers not feeling the need to spend at receiver, Rodgers' role seemingly is becoming less important.

That was made even more apparent when the Packers traded up to select Love in the first round of this year's draft. Rodgers, who will turn 37 in December, is under contract for four more years, but it's no longer assumed he will retire as a Packer.

Rodgers certainly has plenty to say in the matter. If his skills stay sharp and Love doesn't push for the job like Rodgers himself did many years ago, the Packers will have a tough time moving on. If the opposite occurs, it's not hard to envision Matt LaFleur and GM Brian Gutenkunst cutting ties in two or three years to save money and give "their guy" a shot under center.

Barometer

⬆️ Rising: WR Allen Lazard

It was expected the Packers would draft a receiver in one of the early rounds, but they ultimately didn't pick one at all. That bodes well for Lazard's chances of earning and keeping the No. 2 WR job and making a fantasy impact in 2020.

⬇️ Falling: WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling

Valdes-Scantling was on pace for nearly 1,000 yards after Week 7 a year ago, but he fell out of favor and totaled just 36 yards the rest of the way, so there isn't much reason to be optimistic about his upcoming prospects.

😴 Sleeper: RB AJ Dillon

It's easy to envision the bruising Dillon getting the goal-line carries for the Packers. Should injury-risk Aaron Jones get banged up, Dillon would be a viable starter in many formats for a week or a few.

🌟 Pivotal Player: Aaron Rodgers

The Packers leaned on Rodgers less last year, but he's still the most important player on the roster. Rodgers' completion percentage, YPA and QB rating have ticked down, but his ball security and ability to make highlight-reel plays remain elite. If he can come through when needed most, it should be another quality year for both team and player.

The Packers may continue to rely less on Aaron Rodgers, but he still has the ability to win fantasy weeks himself.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kevin O'Brien
Kevin mans the Packers and Brewers beats and moonlights as RotoWire's Director of Operations.
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