Every year we give our premium content members a team-by-team, player-by-player look at the NFL season that was. The coverage will be in-depth, but because the Dynasty Capsule series begins immediately after the regular season, we won’t use it to discuss free agency or the draft. Come see us in early May once Mr. Irrelevant is off the board for another 32-article series giving you the same detailed discussion you’ll see below.
Buckle up dynasty fans, because you’re about to be reminded why our motto is, “There is no off-season.”
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The man, the myth, the legend isn’t going anywhere this off-season. He was first in the NFL in passing touchdowns and fourth in both passing yards and completions. At 33 years of age, he appears locked in as the Packers starting quarterback for many years to come. Green Bay would be insane to consider any kind of replacement for Rodgers, especially for a player who led his team to close the regular season with six straight wins and posted 15 passing touchdowns with zero interceptions over that span. Rodgers then took the team deep into the playoffs and was a single win away from the Super Bowl. If anything, this kind of performance may warrant a contract extension seeing as how Rodgers’ contract only guarantees him money next season, after 2017 his contract is no longer guaranteed.
The fantasy value of Brett Hundley is inextricably tied to that of Aaron Rodgers. As I mentioned above, Rodgers isn’t going anywhere, but neither is Hundley in the near future. While it is unlikely the Packers view Hundley as the heir-apparent should Rodgers decide to retire out of the blue, Hundley does hold a degree of fantasy relevance in larger leagues or superflex leagues where value at the quarterback position is of high importance. As a clear handcuff to Rodgers and the back-up on a top five offensive team in the league, Hundley simply cannot be ignored in these formats.
If you would have told me at the start of the 2016 season that Lacy may not be with Green Bay to start the 2017 season I would have called you crazy but, here we are, the 2016 season is still warm and the possibility is not only real but likely. Lacy, it seems, may be headed to greener pastures. It seems unlikely that the Packers will shell out the money necessary to keep him in Green Bay following an injury shortened season, the emergence of a possible replacement, and Lacy’s often talked about weight issues.
Green Bay is projected to be ranked 15th in available cap space coming into 2017 and are likely to face plenty of stiff competition on the open market for Lacy’s services. Many of the teams with more available space than the Packers have serious question marks at the running back position but this draft class is fairly well stocked with young talent at the position as well. Not to mention the free agent market for running backs this off-season is slightly above average. Lacy might be seeking a big pay day but ultimately it might be Green Bay’s decision to make if Lacy is a cheesehead come this time next year.
Montgomery may have single-handedly saved the Packers season by emerging as a serious rushing option following Lacy’s injury midway through the 2016 season. The Packers appear to be comfortable with Montgomery taking on a bigger role next season with a rumored jersey number change occurring as well. Montgomery may have emerged at exactly the right time for his career to take off with Lacy becoming a free agent this off-season. He provides the Packers with a way to low-ball Lacy, get deeper at the running back position and provide a level of speed that they haven’t had in recent years. Expect Montgomery’s ADP to continue to improve in the off-season with RB2 value as his floor for the foreseeable future.
Starks appears to be nothing more than a contingency plan for Green Bay at this point. His yards per carry, rushes per game and snaps per game all decreased with the emergence of Montgomery. The Packers may see Starks as a potential veteran presence who can help bring Montgomery along while being able to step in should things get messy along the way. The Packers have Starks under contract for another season and at a very team-friendly price tag. Cutting him would achieve nothing as Starks has proven to be a dependable asset in the event of an injury. For dynasty fantasy purposes though, at 30 years of age, he would only be advisable as an add in the deepest of leagues and then only as purely a depth play.
From a pure production standpoint 2016 was, by far, Christine Michael’s best year in the NFL. He posted career highs in rush attempts, rush yards, rushing touchdowns, receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. That being said, even these career highs made him little more than an afterthought for much of the 2016 season as he bounced between Seattle and Green Bay. It is possible that the Packers consider re-signing him if Lacy is allowed to walk in free agency where he can serve as a short yardage specialist. However, don’t surprised if he find a new home elsewhere and still has problem establishing himself as a consistent fantasy presence.
Perennial early round pick Jordy Nelson isn’t going anywhere this off-season. He’s coming off a season where he was just shy of career highs in both receptions and receiving touchdowns. At 31 years of age he’s no spring chicken but it is easily possible that he plays another four to five season with his level of productivity staying at such a high level.
On the topic of productivity, Nelson had the second best season of his career in terms of statistical output. Some interesting statistics that stand out are that he was targeted on 15% of all snaps that he was on the field and his yards gained per snap was 1.24 yards/snap. This puts him above Allen Robinson (14.4%/.84) with an ADP of WR6 and DeAndre Hopkins (14%/.88) with an ADP of WR7 and makes him roughly the same, in terms of productivity, as Dez Bryant (15.1%/1.25) with an ADP of WR10. What’s Nelson’s ADP you ask? Oh, WR22. Might be a sneaky opportunity to obtain some value for you teams making your run this year.
In prior years Randall Cobb would always be mentioned right after Jordy Nelson in terms of value at the wide receiver position for Green Bay. Not any more, as Adams has emerged as the clear number two after collecting 75 receptions for 12 receiving touchdowns and was just three yards short of a 1,000 yard receiving season. Not too bad for a player that many had completely written off as a bust only a year ago. Adams seemed to figure it out this season, living up to his second round draft status, by boosting his average yards per reception by over three and a half yards and tripling the amount of touchdowns he had scored in his career prior to this season.
Adams was a huge reason why Green Bay was able to go on the winning streak they did, including 16 receptions for 217 yards and two touchdowns over three playoff games. The dynasty world has taken notice as well, with Adams’ ADP exploding from WR41 in January of 2016 to WR23 now, one full year later. That’s only one spot below his team’s number one wide receiver, Jordy Nelson, a role Adams may assume in the next season or two.
While Davante Adams may have been a nice surprise for dynasty and Green Bay fans, his rise appears to have come mostly at the expense of Randall Cobb. Cobb saw his targets decrease by nearly a third this season while his receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns all saw similar declines. Perhaps most telling is the decline in his yards per reception which was the lowest of his career at 10.2 yards. That’d not to say he wasn’t doing everything he could with the ball in his hands, because he was. Cobb actually posted his second best total of YAC per reception with a little over six yards gained after the catch on average. The problem is that his average target was only four yards beyond the line of scrimmage, nearly a full yard less that his previous worst season.
Cobb is being asked to do more with less, it’s not a pleasant situation to find yourself in but he’s done the best he can. The rise of Adams does eat into Cobb’s dynasty value going forward. The community seems to be pricing that in already as his ADP has dropped 14 spots, over a 100% decrease, over the course of this season, from WR15 a year ago to WR29 in the latest DLF ADP data. Hold Cobb if you have him but I wouldn’t advise looking to add him anywhere until things become a bit more clear.
After the big three in Green Bay it gets much tougher to place actionable values on the remaining receivers. However, the player who stood out the most at the next tier was Geronimo Allison. Allison was able to post three multi-reception games this season with two of those games being the final games of the regular season and the last coming in the playoffs. The timing of these games is particularly telling as it indicates that the Packers trust Allison enough to use him in critical situations. Green Bay traditionally brings their receivers along slowly so Allison may make for a nice long-term hold given the kind of situation he currently finds himself in.
You almost have to put Jeff Janis in any Packers article, as if you don’t someone is bound to ask you about him in the comments. Statistically speaking, Janis had his best season as a professional with more snaps, targets, receptions and receiving touchdowns than his previous two years combined. He fell just short of this same feat, by two yards, with his receiving yards as well. That being said, his performance this season doesn’t even make him a blip on the fantasy radar. Despite his career year, the dynasty community appears to have lost interest in Janis as his ADP has dropped from WR83 at this time last year, to WR101 this year. This might be a bit of an overreaction on the community’s part though as Janis’ career trajectory follows that of Jordy Nelson in a couple of ways. First, both were sparingly used through the first three seasons of their career, second, both saw a nice uptick in their usage by the third season. Now, am I saying Janis is going to explode onto the season like Nelson did in his fourth season? No, but he might not make a bad flier in the waning rounds of a dynasty draft either.
Coming off of a one-year “prove it” deal, Jared Cook may find himself back in the same boat. He did enough to prove he was worth the one-year, $2.75 million dollar deal but not much more. From a production standpoint he was roughly on par with how he performed last season, on a per game average. However, he accumulated the lowest number of yards and receiving touchdowns this season than at any point since his second season. It seems likely that Cook will re-sign with the Packers, maybe for a short-term deal, as it seems to be working for both sides. The Packers haven’t featured the tight end in a prominent role since Jermichael Finley circa 2011-2012. Meanwhile, Cook does just enough when asked to in order to warrant a couple more years in the Packers system. For fantasy purposes though, Cook isn’t an asset to pursue.
Prior to the 2016 season, Richard Rodgers looked poised to continue his statistical growth. He emerged as a viable weapon his rookie year and looked fully integrated in the Packers offense by his second season. However, with the signing of Cook, Rodgers took a back seat. His third season was only marginally better than his rookie season and it was clear to anyone paying attention, he was no longer the primary tight end in Green Bay. If Cook does land elsewhere in free agency then Richards might be a nice back-up tight end in deeper leagues but so much of his value appears to be based on what happens with Cook. At this point, until Cook’s situation is figured out, it might be best to avoid the whole Packers tight end corps.