In this series, Jeremy Schwob and John Di Bari present the optimistic and pessimistic sides of significant changes in the dynasty landscape. Consider both sides, as the goal is to find somewhere in between.
The old adage that there are two sides to every coin could never be more true than when circumstances change for a player. That is especially true when surprising information is thrust upon us. Psychological difficulty and distress can be encountered when individuals hold rigid views that are strictly one-sided (i.e., split) or alternate drastically from one to the other.
A therapeutic concept called integration is a healthier structure for holding both sides together and tolerating the benefits and flaws simultaneously. Relationally, this could involve being frustrated or angry with them while at the same time being able to maintain that you care about them. Such emotional difficulties can parallel our view of players on dynasty rosters amidst changing circumstances.
The goal of this series is not to have you pick a side or a winner of the argument. Rather, it is to consider both sides and not select one entirely in the absence of the other.
Another off-season, another drama-filled-circus surrounding Aaron Rodgers and the never-ending, ‘will-he-or-won’t-he-return-to-the-Packers-or-the-NFL-as-a-whole’ media escapade. Eventually, we saw Rodgers decide to return to the NFL but seek a trade out of Green Bay. With several potential suitors, he ended up with the Jets.
The Jets’ landing spot was long-rumored to be his preferred choice, so should we be excited since he got what he wanted, or should we be concerned as we look at the multiple instances of statistical regression over the last few seasons? Only time will tell, but for our purposes here today, we will dig into things from both sides.
Although he had some success with rookie deep threat Christian Watson, the weapons for Rodgers consistently eroded away in recent years as he approaches 40. More importantly, he seemed checked out after Green Bay moved on from Davante Adams. A breath of fresh air will flow through Rodgers’ luscious locks as he joins breakout young receiver Garrett Wilson, entering his second season. He may not be Adams just yet, but after his 83-1,103-4 line in his rookie year, despite the collection of Zach Wilson, Joe Flacco, Mike White, and yes, Chris Streveler at quarterback, he will likely make a strong impression leading New York’s wide receiver corps.
Speaking of exciting second-year players, Breece Hall will be spearheading the backfield and is a competent piece in the receiving game as well. While coming off an ACL injury, the isolated nature of this, compared to those suffered by Javonte Williams or JK Dobbins, leads to significant optimism for him being a reliable piece this year.
Supporting these young pieces are familiar faces from Rodgers’ long tenure in Green Bay, including free agent signee Allen Lazard and veteran slot man Randall Cobb. Additional continuity exists with former Packers play-caller Nathaniel Hackett taking the Jets offensive coordinator job. Before you laugh, Hackett clearly couldn’t hack it running the show in Denver last season. Despite that disaster, at least the system will be incredibly familiar for Rodgers and a few of his supportive pieces. The receiving corps also possesses field stretcher Mecole Hardman, who should provide more depth alongside former top-five pick Corey Davis and tight ends Tyler Conklin and CJ Uzomah.
We are only one season removed from his back-to-back MVP seasons (2020 and 2021), where he threw for over 4,000 yards and 48 and 37 touchdowns, respectively. Playing in the difficult AFC East may initially seem to be problematic. Though, facing the likes of Josh Allen‘s Bills and Tua Tagovailoa‘s Dolphins will likely lead to some high-scoring shootout matchups.
Most 39-year-old quarterbacks (who turn 40 in the season) really take it to the next level when they change teams for the first time in their careers. Rodgers is coming off of a 2022 season where despite finishing as the league MVP once again, he had a down year by his lofty standards.
He completed 350 passes, his fewest since 2015 (not including his injury-shortened 2017 campaign). His 64.6 completion percentage was the lowest it’s been in three years. After tossing 85 touchdowns over the previous two seasons, Rodgers only threw 26 last year, his fewest since throwing 25 and 26 in 2018 and 2019, respectively. He also had the second-highest interception percentage of his career since he took over the starting job in 2008, with a 2.2% interception rate, while hurling double-digit interceptions for only the third time in his 18-year career.
Barring Rodgers’ duo of injury-shortened seasons, he has never thrown for fewer first-downs either. For only his second time as a starter, he saw his yards gained per pass attempt dip below seven, and his yards gained per completion was the lowest of his career too. He also had the lowest quarterback rating and QBR of his career in 2022.
That was all just a long way of explaining that Aaron Rodgers is on the decline. Not that he was known as a significant running threat, but he did give you a little something on the ground each year. Over the previous 14 seasons, Rodgers averaged 247 rushing yards, including the years that he only played seven and nine games. In the end, 2022 was the first year since he became a starter where he failed to amass 100 or more yards rushing.
When we think about Rodgers in dynasty terms, he is an asset with diminishing returns, and the Jets will not revitalize his career. We’ve become accustomed to ending each season wondering if he will return next year or not. When you look at Rodgers’ contract, there is an out built into it after this season, but it sure looks like he’ll only be in New York for two seasons and call it a career after 2024. As a dynasty asset, there simply isn’t much value for a declining, older QB who you KNOW is only playing another two seasons. You can see that reflected in his ADP as well. Looking at DLF’s ADP over time tool, as seen in the chart below, Rodgers is falling off the cliff in real time.
– Di Bari
Ultimately, you must make decisions in dynasty but confront those which do not fit your desired perspective. As uncomfortable as it is, it’s essential to work diligently to integrate the alternative into your overall concept to make more informed decisions.
As it pertains to Rodgers, he is likely the exception more than the rule when it comes to aging as an NFL quarterback. However, a seemingly long year plus away from his MVP season, paired with an elite defense, might lead to a consistent, solid, yet ceiling-capped performance from Rodgers. However, the fresh start and young weapons surrounding the new Jets signal caller suggest they may be cleared for takeoff for the long-embattled franchise.
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