A broken collarbone to led to Aaron Rodgers missing nine games, which was too much to overcome for the Packers in 2017 with weak option filling in for him. Green Bay finished 7-9 with their first missed playoff appearance since 2008 ending an eight-year run. Brett Favre and Rodgers led the Packers to 19 trips to the playoffs over the last 24 seasons before 2017 with a 245-138-1 record and two Super Bowls. Mike McCarthy returns for his 13th season as head coach. He has 121-70-1 record with ten wins in the playoffs in 18 chances with a league championship trophy.
The Packers scored 112 points fewer than 2016 (432) leading to a 21st ranking in points scored (320) and 26th in offensive yards. Their failure led to Edgar Bennett losing his job. Green Bay brought in Joe Philbin who held the Packers’ offense coordinator job from 2007 to 2011. Philbin has 15 years of experience on the NFL with mixed results in his stint with the Dolphins (24-28). Joe helped Green Bay win a Super Bowl in 2010 and have the league’s number one offense in 2011 (560 points).
The defense remained in a weak area over the last two years. The Packers allowed 384 points (26th) while finishing 22nd in yards allowed. Mike Pettine takes over the defensive coordinator after sitting on the sidelines in 2016 and 2017. Pettine has five seasons of experience as a defensive coordinator, which earned him a head coaching job for the Browns in 2014 and 2015. Mike posted a 10-22 record in Cleveland. Overall, he has 14 seasons of experience in the NFL.
The Packers tend to stay in-house when building their franchise. They added to two excellent players in the offseason. TE Jimmy Graham gives Aaron Rodgers a genuine scoring threat in the red zone with an excellent career resume in the NFL. DE Muhammad Wilkerson upgrades the run defense for sure while having the talent and resume to be a difference maker in Green Bay. The other player added was CB Tramon Williams who played early in his career for the Packers. Williams will work as the third corner while being on the back side of his career.
Green Bay decided WR Jordy Nelson wasn’t worth his price tag after showing fade in 2017. Nelson has great hands and chemistry with Rodgers. They cut WR Jeff Janis as well. LB Morgan Burnett signed with the Steelers after showing decline in all areas in 2017.
The Packers had 11 picks in this year’s draft, which will help build their depth on both sides of the ball.
Over the first three rounds, Green focused on their defense with CB Jaire Alexander, CB Josh Jackson, and LB Oren Burks.
Alexander offers elite speed (4.38 forty) and short areas quickness. He plays with toughness and athletic ability while needing to get stronger in the upper body. Jaire plays with vision while expecting to be a playmaker. His plays well in a trail position where he can make up ground when the ball is in the air. Alexander needs to improve his tackling skills while needing to attack shallow routes.
Jackson comes with a physical style with a great feel for the ball. His speed (4.56) came up short at the 2018 NFL Combine, but he did show upside in his short area quickness. Josh will have value in press coverage over the short field while being a good feel for pass route development. Jackson has a brief resume of success, and his style may get exposed in the deep passing game.
Burks is an undersized linebacker (6’3’ and 233 lbs.) who brings a safety feel to the game. He’ll struggles when he fails to get a free run at RBs, but his game does project well in the pass coverage where his quickness is his edge. His feel for the game is a strength even with minimal experience. Oren should continue to improve while seeing more of his playing time on passing downs.
The first shot at improving the depth at WR came in the fourth round with J’mon Moore. He’s big WR (6’3″ and 207 lbs.) who offers strength and quickness. His speed (4.6) grades well below the top WRs in the game. Moore has a good release with power in his route running and value in the open field. J’mon needs to develop his game to cover the whole field with improvement in his hands. His play will improve with more experience.
With three picks in the fifth round, the Packers added OL Cole Madison, P J.K. Scott, and WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling.
Madison will bring quickness and athletic ability to the offensive line. His base has risk vs. power rushers while doing his best when on the move in space. Early in his NFL career, Cole should move to guard allowing his foundation to develop.
Scott has a power leg that points to length and hang time while showing the ability to down the ball inside the ten-yard line. He can handle kickoffs as well if needed.
Valdes-Scantling is another big WR (6’4” and 206 lbs.) who will be a threat in the deep passing game thanks to his edge in speed (4.37). His route running is relatively raw while his deep value should offer higher upside with a more accurate QB throwing him the ball. Marquez has risk in his hands while needing to prove he can win jump balls.
The Packers made an effort to add size at WR with sixth-round pick Equanimeous St. Brown (6’5’and 214 lbs.) falling right into that profile. He brings NFL average speed (4.48) with an edge in strength. St. Brown comes with weakness in his hands and route running. He needs more fire and fight in his game to reach a higher level of play at the next level.
In the seventh round, Green Bay drafted DE James Looney, LS Hunter Bradley, and DE Kendall Donnerson.
Looney has a tweener skill set. He’s not big enough to be a run stopper on the inside, and he doesn’t have the pass rushing skill set to play on every down on the outside of a defensive line. His game appeared to be on a higher path after 2016, but he lost his way last year at Cal. James has strength, feel, and a good base foundation of skills to work his way on to the field on many downs. His failure tends to come against power players.
Bradley snaps with a spin on the ball.
Donnerson is a developmental player with pass rushing skills. He brings speed (4.48) and quickness to the Packers’ defense with risk vs. the run due to his lack of experience. For now, Kendall is a one-dimensional pass rusher who needs to improve his technique and football instincts.
The one positive from the Aaron Rodgers’ injury was the development of the Packers’ run game. They only finished 17th in rushing yards (1,724), but their ball carriers gained 4.5 yards per rush with 13 TDs. They scored 13 rushing TDs with 11 runs over 20 yards while averaging only 24.1 rushes per game.
The downgrade at QB led to a poor finish in passing yards (3,167 – 25th) with 25 TDs and 18 Ints. The Packers’ QBs gained only 6.3 yards per rush with 38 plays over 20 yards. Their offensive line allowed 51 sacks and 104 QB hits.
LT David Bakhtiari was one of the top players at his position in 2016 and 2017 with his best value coming in pass protection. Last year was his best season in the league, which was impressive with a weaker QB behind center. Green Bay drafted him in the fifth round in 2013. David improved in each season in the league.
LG Lane Taylor continues to struggle in the run game leading to a below average ranking in his overall game. He minimized the damage in the pass rush.
C Corey Linsley played well in first three seasons in the league after getting drafted in the fifth round in 2014, but his game lost value in 2017. He struggled in both run and pass blocking with both areas expected to get better Rodgers back behind center.
RG Justin McCray made eight starts last year after never seeing the field over his first three years in the league. McCray struggled in all areas forcing the Packers to find an upgrade at this position. C Kofi Amichia was the choice in the 6th round in 2017. He’ll offer a solid combination of power and speed for his job, but he has some questions with his size (6’4″ and 297 lbs.) after slimming down (280 pounds) for his pro day. After a year on Green Bay’s practice squad, Amichia may be ready to see a bump in playing time.
RT Bryan Bulaga has produced three strong seasons in 2011, 2014, and 2016 while coming up short in his other three years due to multiple injuries and a missed year. Last year he suffered a torn ACL, which puts his health to start 2018 at risk. Rookie Cole Madison should be top option off the bench with the best value coming in the run game.
Green Bay has a stud at left tackles plus center who should be better in 2018. The rest of the line is loaded with risk and question marks. Aaron Rodgers will cover some weakness with his quick release and decision making. This line projects to rank in the bottom third of the league.
The above data shows the strength of schedule as far as rushing attempts (RATT), rushing yards (YDS), yards per attempt rushing (YA), rushing touchdowns (TDs), completions (COMP), passing attempts (PATT), passing yards (YDS), yards per attempt passing (YA), and passing touchdowns (TDS).
This information is based on 2017, which will work as our starting point for 2018. We’ll look at all the changes on offense on each team in the NFL plus the upgrades and downgrades on each team on the defensive side. We’ll update this table when we finish the research on all 32 teams.
2017 LG Average = the league average of all stats from all 32 teams in 2017.
2017 Results = this is the results for each team in the NFL.
2017 Adjustment is based on the 2017 league average and the 2017 results for each team, this number will show if each team is above or below the league average in each stat category and the basis for the strength of schedule.
The Packers have three tough games (ARI and MIN X 2) for their rushing offense plus one game (WAS) that grades well. Overall, Green Bay has about a league average run schedule.
Green Bay has two bad contests against the Vikings for their passing attack plus three other mid-tier games (SEA and CHI X 2). Their best success based on last year’s stats should come in two games vs. the Lions.
The overall stats for the Packers’ offense in 2017 were well below expected value with Aaron Rodgers out for more than half the season. The biggest failure came in plays (948), which ranked 23rd in the league. Green Bay tends to have league average passing attempts with Rodgers placing at the top end in yards per pass attempt. The run game did show a spark last year, but I don’t expect a massive jump in rushing chances.
QB Aaron Rodgers – Over ten seasons as the starting QB for the Packers, Aaron has 94-48 record with one Super Bowl title. He set career highs in completions (401) and passing attempts (610) in 2016 while delivering the second season of his career with 40 TDs or more. Only once in his career has Rodgers passed for over 4,500 yards (2011 – 4,643). Aaron has a great TD to Int ratio (226:46) over the past seven years. Last year Aaron was one pace for only 4,418 passing yards and 43 TDs. During the previous three seasons, Rodgers needed to settle for too many short passes leading to weaker results in his yards per pass attempt (2015 – 6.7, 2016 – 7.3, and 2017 – 7.0), which was well below his previous success (8.2, 8.3, 9.2, 7.8, 8.7, and 8.4). In 2018, his depth at WR behind his top two options will be a work in progress while adding viable top TE in Jimmy Graham. Aaron has a floor of 4,500 yards and 35 TDs while adding some value with his legs. Rodgers should be top QB drafted again in almost all leagues in 2018.
QB DeShone Kizer – Over two seasons at Notre Dame, Kizer threw for 5,805 yards with 47 TDs and 19 Ints. His completion rate (60.7) didn’t offer an edge, and he had a regression in his junior season (58.7). DeShone was active as a runner (264/997/18), which adds a dimension to his game that the other two QBs don’t have. He made a lot of tight throws in college downfield with flashing a solid pump fake. In his rookie season, Kizer 0-15 with 2,894 yards with 11 TDs and 22 Ints. His legs offered upside (77/419/5). The bottom line with DeShone was his decision making in the red zone. His timing and decision making was late on too many plays leading to the huge total in Ints. A couple of seasons behind Aaron Rodgers will help improve his overall game.
Update: 8/17/2018 > DeShone Kizer played much better than he did in Cleveland in 2017 for the second straight week. Kizer completed seven of his 12 passes for 149 yards and two TDs. Brett Hundley made a play in the run game (two rushes for 12 yards with a TD) with decent success throwing the ball (6/9 for 77 yards). Kizer should emerge as the backup QB in Green Bay.
Other options: Brett Hundley, Tim Boyle
RB Aaron Jones – Over four seasons at UTEP, Aaron rushed for 4,114 yards with 40 TDs and 646 yards receiving yards with 71 catches. He dominated in his senior season (2,006 combined yards with 20 TDs and 28 catches) while gaining 7.7 yards per rush. Jones had a run of 40+ yards in eight different games with his best value coming in his short area quickness. Aaron likes to lull defenders into the center of the field at the line of scrimmage before using his lateral quickness to gain his edge. His style has more excitement and creativity than Williams. He needs to prove himself in pass protection to win any value in the passing game. Aaron gained 470 yards on 90 touches in 2017 with four TDs and nine catches. He had six runs over 20 yards with one earning more than 40 yards. With starting snaps in Week 5 and Week 7, Jones finished with 272 combined yards with two TDs and four catches. A knee injury led to minimal playing time over the last nine games of the season. His explosiveness should lead to him earning the most touches on early downs. Possible 225 touches for 1,100+ yards with five to seven TDs. I don’t expect growth in the passing game with his risk in pass protection and Ty Montgomery having the best skill set in the passing game.
Update: 7/27/18 > The NFL suspended Aaron Jones for the first two games in 2018 for failing a drug test. His missed time will open a small window for Jamaal Williams to gain early-down snaps. Jones will be discounted in drafts due to his missed games creating a possible buying opportunity.
RB Ty Montgomery – In his second season in the league, Ty had rushed for 457 yards on 77 carries with three TDs while securing 44 catches for 348 yards, but he failed to stay healthy in 2017 leading to 446 combined yards with four TDs and 23 catches over eight games. He averaged 5.9 yards per rush and 7.9 yards per catch in 2016 while showing regression in both areas last year (3.8 and 7.5). His size (6’0” and 216 lbs.) gives a fighter’s chance at regaining the lead role this year, but Montgomery needs to improve as a short yardage runner. Over four seasons at Stanford, Ty caught 172 passes for 2,125 with 15 TDs highlighted by his junior year (61/958/10). This season Montgomery should be the top option in the passing game while offering a change of pace value in early down. If he stays healthy, Ty could catch 60+ balls with a chance at 75 to 100 runs on early downs leading to about 1,000 combined yards. Heading into the summer, Montgomery is the third best WR on the roster.
RB Jamaal Williams – Williams had an up and down career over five seasons at BYU. As a part-time runner in his freshmen year, Jamaal had 1,090 combined yards with 13 TDs and a career-high 27 catches. His role expanded slightly the next season (1,358 combined yards with seven TDs and 18 catches). A knee issue and a suspension led to a short junior year (635 combined yards and four TDs and eight catches) and a missed 2015 season to get his head back on straight. In rotational role last year, Williams had a career-high 1,455 combined yards with 12 TDs and seven catches. He runs hard with a spin move and stiff arm, but his speed isn’t strong enough to finish a long run and his quickness only last until the second level of the defense. He’ll do his damage between the tackles with enough wiggle hit the corner when the play breaks right. In his rookie season, Jamaal gained 818 combined yards with six TDs and 25 catches highlighted by three straight strong starts (376 combined yards with five TDs and 13 catches). Over the last eight games of the season, Williams gained only 3.7 yards per touch with surprising value in the passing game (21/224/2). Grinder type back who will need an injury or two to deliver starting stats. Williams may emerge as the goal line back. Overall, he may have the highest upside due to his ability to play on all three downs.
Update: 7/27/28 > With Aaron Jones on the sidelines for the first two games, Williams slips into the RB1 slot in Green Bay. He should split time with Ty Montgomery out of the gate. Most Fantasy owners have Jamaal listed as the top RB to own on the Packers in 2018 based on his early ADP.
Update: 8/17/2018 > Green Bay lost Jamaal Williams to an ankle injury in their second preseason game, but it looks to be minor.
Other Options: Devante Mays, Joel Bouagnon
WR Davante Adams – The goal of a Fantasy owner early in any draft should be finding the players with the best opportunity while understanding each player upside in scoring. Aaron Rodgers is one of the top QBs in the game which produces plenty of TDs to WRs. With Jordy Nelson no longer on the team, Adam should naturally take over his role and opportunity in the Packers’ passing attack. Over the last two seasons, Davante has two strong years (75/997/12 and 74/885/10) highlighted by his ability to deliver TDs. I expect at a minimum a 20 percent growth in chances setting the stage for 90+ catches for 1,200+ yards and a chance at 15+ TDs. Just think of the success of Jordy Nelson in 2014 (98/1519/13) and 2015 (97/1257/14) with much younger and fresher legs. I’ll rank him higher than most out of the gate, which should tell you he’s a great value early in the 2018 draft season.
WR Randall Cobb – Cobb is going to be an interesting Fantasy player in 2018. Fantasy owners will draft him as an upside WR2 in the Packers’ offense while dismissing his fade over the last three years. Randall played great in 2014 (91/1287/12), which paints an exciting ceiling. Unfortunately, separation has been an issue over his last three seasons. Over this span, Cobb has 205 catches for 2,092 yards and 14 TDs or 4.7 catches for 47.5 yards and 0.32 TDs per game. His catch rate (67.2) remains strong over the last three years while gaining only 10.2 yards per catch. Last season he didn’t have one game with over 85 yards receiving. Even with fade in 2017, his lack of production falls more in the poor play of Brett Hundley. I’ll set his value at 80+ catches for 1,000 yards with acceptable value in TDs. Randall should be drafted as WR2 in PPR leagues.
WR J’mon Moore – Over the last two seasons at Missouri, Moore caught 127 passes for 2,094 yards and 18 TDs. Most of his highlighted showed him working the outside of the field on screens, speed routes, or fades. J’mon didn’t post an elite time (4.6) at the 2018 NFL Combine in the 40-yard dash, but his play speed looks deceiving to defenders. Drops can be a problem and one that will earn him a bench role early in his career. His game is what Green Bay lacks at WR on the outside (big play and scoring ability). A possible flash player in 2018 while working as a deep threat in the passing game.
WR Equanimeous St. Brown – Over the last two years, St. Brown caught 91 passes for 1,476 yards and 13 TDs. His game is built more to use the middle of the field on crossing routes while showing the ability to play out of the slot or on the outside. His stats look boring in college, but he didn’t have the best talent throwing him the ball. Equanimeous needs to improve his route running and his in-game motor. His release and strength him a chance to surprise in the right role in his rookie season.
WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling – Over four seasons in college, Valdes-Scantling caught 119 passes for 1,832 yards and 12 TDs with his best success coming in his senior year in 2017 (53/879/6). Marquez has elite speed (4.37) while being a hands catcher. He adjusts to the ball well in the deep passing game while showing the ability to create easy throws when defenders give him too much cushion off the line of scrimmage. Valdes-Scantling needs to prove he can win tightly contested balls in the NFL and beat press coverage. I expect him to be a matchup problem in four WR sets for the Packers.
WR Geronimo Allison – In his first two seasons in the NFL, Allison has 35 catches for 455 yards and two TDs on 61 targets. He has two games strong games (4/91/1 and 6/122) in his 25 games career. Last season Geronimo saw minimal playing time from Week 4 to Week 13 (two catches for 21 yards on eight targets). If the Packers thought more of his upside, they wouldn’t have added three WRs in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Other Options: Trevor Davis, Michael Clark, DeAngelo Yancey, Jake Kumerow
TE Jimmy Graham – Graham regained his scoring ability (10 TDs) in 2017, but he had a career-low catch rate (59.4) while only gaining 9.1 yards per catch. Over his three seasons in Seattle, Jimmy caught 170 passes for 2,048 yards and 18 TDs on 265 targets. His opportunity was at least 50 percent lower than his best years in New Orleans. Graham has 64 TDs over his last 84 games, which will undoubtedly upgrade the scoring ability by the TE position in Green Bay. Last season the Packers completed 56 passes for 627 yards and two TDs on 94 targets to the TE position. Jimmy will be a top two scoring receiver for the Packers in 2018. At a minimum, Graham should catch 60+ balls for 750+ yards and eight to ten TDs with more upside if he regains some of his big-play ability and chemistry with Aaron Rodgers. Last year he played through an ankle injury for most of the season.
Other Options: Marcedes Lewis, Lance Kendrick, Emanuel Byrd, Robert Tonyan, Kevin Radar
K Mason Crosby – Crosby was at his best from 2013 to 2016 when he made 85.9 percent of his 128 field goal tries. Over this span, he made 14 of his 21 kicks from 50 yards or longer. Last season Mason reverted to his early career form. He made only 15 of his 19 field goals with one of three chances crossing the goal post from 50 yards or longer. Over the last three seasons, Crosby missed five of his 118 extra point opportunities. Green Bay tends to score TDs in the red zone leading to Mason finishing with less than impactful field goal tries. Possible top 12 kicker, but he’ll kick extra points in many games.
Green Bay has five games (WAS, MIA, ARI, and DET X 2) against teams that struggled to run the ball last year. The Cardinals will present more of a problem in 2018 with David Johnson back on the field. The Packers only face four teams (BUF, LAR, and MIN X 2) that have upside running the ball. The Bills no longer have rushing QB, so I expect regression on the ground this year.
Their pass defense will be challenged in four games (NE, ATL, and DET X 2) with the 49ers and the Rams expecting to have success passing the ball. Green Bay’s defense will have an edge in four games (BUF, NYJ, and CHI X 2).
Green Bay finished 17th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed (1,793) with ten TDs and 11 runs over 20 yards. Ball carriers gained 3.9 yards per rush with 29 attempts per game.
The Packers slipped to 23rd in passing yards allowed (3,789) with 30 TDs and 11 Ints. QBs gained 7.9 yards per pass attempts with 55 completions over 20 yards. Their defense picked up 37 sacks.
DE Muhammad Wilkerson could only manage a one-year $5 million contract in the offseason after ranking as one of the top run defenders for most of his career. The Jets drafted him in the first round in 2011. Last season Wilkerson had 46 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and four defended passes while missing three games. DE Mike Daniels played at a high level in all areas over the last five seasons. In 2017, he had 49 tackles and five sacks.
DT Kenny Clark did a nice job in his second year in the NFL after the Packers drafted him in the first round in 2016. Clark played at a high level against the run with 55 tackles and 4.5 tackles.
LB Clay Matthews remains a steady edge player at his position. Over the last two years, Clay missed six games. He had 43 tackles and 7.5 sacks in 2017. Matthews can struggle in pass protection. LB Nick Perry has 18 sacks and 90 combined tackles over the last two seasons with success against the run. LB Blake Martinez was a tackling machine in 2017 (144) with one sack, eight defended passes, and one Int. His game is built to stop the run with minimal value in the pass rush and coverage. LB Jake Ryan helped as well in the run game with league average value in coverage. Ryan had over 80 tackles in each of the last two seasons.
S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix has 352 tackles over his first four years in the NFL. Last year he had six defended passes and three Ints. Clinton-Dix plays well against the run, but he did regress slightly over the previous two years in coverage. S Josh Jones had 71 tackles, two sacks, five defended passes, and one Int in his rookie season after getting drafted in the second. Even with success in stats, he did have failure on many plays. Jones lit up the combine in 2017 as well with plus strength and speed (4.41). Josh has an aggressive playmaking style, which worked well when he an edge over his opponent. He needs to understand his role and play more within the system in the NFL. Jones has instincts, but a seasoned QB can trap him.
CB Kevin King missed seven games in his rookie season with a shoulder injury that required surgery. King is a big corner (6’3” and 200 lbs.) with plus speed (4.43 40-yard dash) and elite quickness leading to him earning multiple stars at last year’s combine. Surprisingly, his biggest weakness came in his strength (11 reps in the bench press). Kevin needs to improve his reads and his technique, which leads to him playing slower than his ability. King struggled in his limited playing time last year in coverage. Jaire Alexander may start at the other CB position after getting drafted in the first round. He’s another player with plus speed with playmaking ability. Alexander needs to get stronger as well. CB Josh Jackson has the skill set to help in press coverage with a playmaking skill set. His top end speed has risk in the deep passing game.
Very interesting structure to the Packers’ defense. This team is built to be good against the run with speed in the secondary. The linebacking core will have risk in coverage while playing well against the run. The biggest questions come at CB, but Green Bay has a nice balance of veteran player with speedy young corners that need to get stronger. Real sneaky Fantasy defense as the Packers will play from the league in many games while making many teams one dimensional on offense. I’d love to roster Green Bay as my second defense with the mindset to play them in matchups.
2018 NFL Team Outlooks