2022 NFC North Preview: Fantasy Football Outlook, Sleepers, and Busts

Benjamin Haller breaks down the NFC North from a fantasy football perspective.

2021 Review

 

Points per Game 26.5 10th
Offensive Snaps 1114 7th
2021 Record 13-4 1st
2022 Vegas Win Projection 11

 

Taylor Swift released a song with Bon Iver last year called Exile. The lyrics perfectly sum up the Packers ever since Matt LaFleur has taken the reins as Head Coach – “I think I’ve seen this film before, but I didn’t like the ending.” So it goes, with Aaron Rodgers leading Green Bay to another sensational in-season record (13-4) but falling hard in the playoffs – a derisory all-systems shutdown in the torrid 13-10 defeat to the 49ers at Lambeau Field in the Divisional Round left Packers fans distraught once again. Rodgers walked away with yet another MVP accolade but that means little to the fans at this stage. He will be staying with the Packers after signing a lucrative extension, thus the Super Bowl window remains in play despite trading Davante Adams to the Raiders.

Brian Gutekunst finally made a splash in the draft by moving up in the second round to select exciting receiver Christian Watson out of North Dakota State. Alongside fourth-round camp standout Romeo Doubs, Rodgers suddenly has a receiving room with versatility and depth – Allen Lazard is in line for a significantly increased role and old favorite Randall Cobb will handle slot duties. Concerns remain about an offensive line that has lost key pieces over a number of years now, with regulars David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins both struggling to return off nasty knee injuries. The front office brought in three new linemen in the draft and hope a couple of them learn quickly.

The defense is loaded. Georgia duo Quay Walker and Devonte Wyatt were added in the first round of the draft and immediately offer playmaking skills up front. Jaire Alexander and 2021 first-round selection Eric Stokes lead a secondary that could be the best in all of football this year.

Now, to do it in January when it matters is the key question.

 

Passing Game

 

Passing Yards per Game 253.8 8th
Passing Touchdowns per Game 2.3 4th
Pass Attempts per Game 34.9 16th

 

No Davante Adams. It’s huge and cannot be understated. Adams leaves behind 169 targets, 123 catches, 1,553 yards in the air, and 11 touchdowns from 2021 and there is no way this receiving corps can match that. However, where there is opportunity there is promise. But it will require both Rodgers and the coaching staff to be creative and ruthless in committing to developing young wideouts like Amari Rodgers and Christian Watson, whilst also leaning on veteran experience to keep the ball moving on the field. Lazard and Cobb are instrumental if the Packers are to reach another post-season. Tight end Robert Tonyan crashed back down to earth in 2021 after tearing his ACL on the back of a sensational breakout in 2020. Tonyan has little competition for targets from the position and should thrive once again if he can stay healthy.

 

Running Game

 

Rushing Yard per Game 111.8 18th
Rushing Touchdowns per Game 0.76 T-19th
Rushing Plays per Game 26.24 17th

 

Remarkably, the Packers ran the ball only 39% of the time last season. That is almost criminal when you consider they have arguably one of the best 1-2 punches in football with Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon. Jones is excellent in outside-zone rushing and can be elusive catching passes out the backfield; Dillon is a bull between the tackles and a true tough cookie when the game gets gritty. They are the perfect combination and both hold significant fantasy value. The only thing holding them back is potentially Rodgers and his ego to be the match-winner. Just run the damn ball, Mr. LaFleur.

 

Gotta Have Him

 

Aaron Rodgers, QB

The three-peat for MVP is as possible as any other contender right now. Rodgers has proved time again that he will put up the numbers with or without his best supporting cast. His value in drafts has never been better and fantasy managers should not hesitate. It’s not even the consistency, it is also the intangibles.

 

Sleeper

 

Allen Lazard, WR

Someone has to step into Adams’ shoes and the hot favorite is the four-year veteran out of Iowa State. Never blessed with top speed, Lazard has always been under the radar in Green Bay due to the flashy names ahead of him. Quietly, however, he has made a name for himself inside and now outside of Green Bay. Lazard is a battler and never gives in, and it’s probably why Rodgers loves him so much and probably why he will go off in 2022.

 

Rookie To Watch

 

Romeo Dubbs, WR

All the talk out of camp has been about the fourth-round rookie out of Nevada. One-on-one, he is lethal and his early touchdown in the first preseason hit out showed everything he could be in the NFL. He’ll need to step up in terms of route-running and when corners get physical with him, but if LaFleur gives him enough opportunities in space, he’ll do damage. He is slated to see the field in three-receiver sets right from the off with fellow rookie Watson rehabbing from an injury.

 

 

 

Feature image by Michael Packard (@CollectingPack on Twitter) / Photography by Ian Johnson, Robin Alam, Larry Radloff & Rich von Biberstein / Icon Sportswire

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