Aaron Rodgers Trade: Fantasy Impact for Jordan Love, Aaron Jones, Christian Watson, and Others

How does the Aaron Rodgers trade impact the fantasy values and outlooks of Jordan Love, Aaron Jones, Christian Watson, and others on the Packers?

What seemed inevitable has finally happened as Aaron Rodgers has reportedly agreed to be traded to the New York Jets, paving the way for a new era in Green Bay. With Jordan Love set to become the hopeful franchise QB after waiting in the wings, how will the Rodgers trade impact the fantasy football values and outlooks of key Packers like Aaron Jones, Christian Watson, and others?

Jordan Love Set To Take Over Following Aaron Rodgers’ Trade to the Jets

The worst-kept secret is finally over after what felt like months of speculation. Rodgers has played his final snap for the Packers and taken a page from his predecessor Brett Favre’s book, taking his talents to the Jets.

One of the greatest QBs to ever lace up a pair of cleats, the mark Rodgers has left on the franchise is undeniable. However, he did have his own set of struggles last season, which didn’t come as a massive surprise given the loss of Davante Adams. He threw only 26 touchdown passes, and his 12 interceptions were the most he’d thrown in a season since 2008.

MORE: Jimmy Garoppolo Signing — Fantasy Impact for Davante Adams, Darren Waller, and Josh Jacobs

As such, he finished as the QB13 overall and 21st in points per game among players with a minimum of 10 starts.

Rodgers still has it — that I am certain about –, but the expected move ushers in a new era for one of the NFL’s most storied franchises. After spending his career thus far on the bench, Green Bay is cashing in their hotly debated insurance policy in Jordan Love. Selected with the No. 26 overall pick in 2020, Love’s career has been the subject of much debate. After all, why would a team draft a QB when they needed weapons and lacked playmakers?

This is why. Green Bay played the long game, similar to what they did with Rodgers as he sat behind Favre. Love was very raw coming into the league after a disappointing fallback in his senior year at Nevada due to a lack of talent on offense and a change in coaching. While the sample size is small, there is reason to be bullish on Love from a fantasy perspective.

Despite a Small Sample, There Are Highlights on Love’s Tape for Fantasy

Love appeared in four games for the Packers in 2022 but didn’t start any of them. In total, Love threw 83 passes (three touchdowns, three interceptions) over 10 regular-season games (one start) during his first three seasons. But sprinkled in are some highlight-level plays that point to his upside, especially three throws against Philadelphia in Week 12.

He hit Christan Watson with perfect timing on a crosser off play action, which showed his anticipatory development at the top of the drop that went for a 63-yard TD. On another, he hit the hole shot to Watson vs. Cover 2. And lastly, Love sprinted right and threw a strike to Randall Cobb for what should have been a TD. I wonder where he learned that one from?

Throw in these two plays from a preseason game against the Saints (high-point TD to Romeo Doubs and evading pressure with perfect placement), and despite there not being a ton of tape, there is a high frequency of quality plays.

This is all projection, as we don’t have a body of work that is large enough to make concrete statements, but the Packers are all in based on recent comments.

“I think he’s ready to play, and I think he’s ready to be an NFL starting quarterback,” Packers GM Brian Gutekunst said. “Not every quarterback comes into this league ready to go out there and play. I think he needed a little time, but over the last year and a half or so, we’ve seen that’s the next step in his progression. He needs to go out and play.”

Love will be the enigma of 2023. From a fantasy standpoint, he is in the mid-to-low QB2 range, likely with Russell Wilson, Matthew Stafford, Kenny Pickett, Jared Goff, and Jimmy Garoppolo. He is not someone to draft in 1QB leagues, but it wouldn’t shock me if there were weeks where Love is a streaming option.

In Superflex formats, Love becomes a very intriguing QB2 for those looking to wait on their second starter. If the WRs develop or Green Bay adds a few more options, Love has upper-end QB2 potential but could also be Zach Wilson and unusable for fantasy. It’s going to be one or the other.

How Rodgers’ Trade Impacts the Fantasy Value of Aaron Jones, Christian Watson, and Others

Starting with the backfield, both Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon were already in an interesting spot. The fantasy community was divided coming into 2022 on who would be the higher-valued RB. In the end, both felt like disappointments.

Jones was boom or bust and relied on his PPR upside to carry the load. Recording a 52% rushing share, Jones carried the rock 213 times for 1,121 yards with only two TDs which continued a three-year trend of decreasing rushing scores after his league-leading 16 in 2019. Where Jones shined was in his receiving volume. Sitting second on the team in receptions (59), Jones saw a career-high 72 targets for 395 yards and five scores.

While he did finish as the RB9 and RB12 in points per game (14.6 PPR), he was an RB3 or worse in 47% of his games with 10.5 PPR or less in eight games. Part of this was the lack of touchdown upside due to Dillon. While Dillon was not the value hog many pegged him to be over the summer, he did have an impact on Jones.

Dillon was more involved in the second half of the season, especially in the red zone. From Week 9 and on, Dillon out-carried Jones inside the 10-yard line 14 to 5 while also splitting the snaps at an even 50/50 rate.

Making matters worse, the Packers only had 12 RB rushing attempts from inside the 5-yard line. Dillon had 10 of them. From inside the 10-yard line, Dillion led 17 to 9. The disparity would have been more apparent if Green Bay had been more efficient with drives getting in goal-to-go situations and using their RBs.

Between Weeks 11 and 17, when Dillon was more involved and Rodgers was still struggling with his thumb injury, Dillon and Jones were dead even at 12.9 PPR/g. Of the two backs, Rodgers leaving impacts Jones more due to his utilization in the passing game, as it has been what has carried his value.

If Green Bay does struggle more as an offense, which should be expected, I wouldn’t be expecting the touchdowns to come back either and go toward Dillon when the opportunity arises.

Rather than a low-end RB1, Jones is a mid RB2 for PPR fantasy formats in 2023, as I have a hard time seeing any of his stats improving in his age-28 season with a QB making his first starts in the league at the helm.

As for Dillon, he is one of the highest-valued handcuff RBs for 2023 that will carry standalone value in the upper-to-mid RB3 range with touchdown upside. While Jones has a higher ceiling, Dillon should be a valuable asset, too.

Can Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs Shine for Fantasy Football in 2023 With Jordan Love?

Where the bigger impact of Rodgers’ trade to the Jets will be felt is at receiver. Christian Watson was the biggest riser of the last season’s draft cycle following his domination at the Senior Bowl and testing at the NFL Combine. Watson went from a relative unknown from the North Dakota State powerhouse to the No. 34 overall pick.

However, nagging injuries slowed down Watson in the beginning, but once confidence was gained in himself and from Rodgers, he shined and set the stage for a busy 2023 season. Watson burst onto the scene in Week 10, catching four of his eight targets for 107 yards and three touchdowns. He went on to score four more touchdowns in the next three weeks.

Watson recorded 41 catches on 66 targets for 611 yards and seven TDs in 14 games. He was No. 12 in YPRR and third in fantasy points per route run, and from Week 10 on, Watson was the overall WR9 and WR8 in points per game at 17.2 PPR with a 22% target share and a 35% WR target share.

Those are elite numbers for one of the league’s top athletes at his position. Watson has already found some chemistry with Love under center, and I expect him to be the No. 1 target for the Packers, who have Allen Lazard hitting free agency.

Given some of the questions and overall depth of the WR class, I am conservatively ranking Watson as the WR28. Having said that, Watson could be one of the best values in 2023 drafts and play more as a mid WR2 than a mid WR3 as currently ranked.

MORE: 2023 Dynasty Superflex Rankings

Romeo Doubs is the biggest question at receiver for Green Bay. The rookie out of Nevada started the season strong, serving as the No. 2 WR to Lazard while playing between 82% and 96% of the snaps from Weeks 3-6.

In his first six games, Doubs caught 26 of his 38 targets for 234 yards and two touchdowns as the WR39 overall (WR51 in PPG with 10.1 PPR). Then he got hurt, and when he returned, he was the third fiddle behind Watson and Lazard.

Personally, while there are certain highlights in Love’s film, I am not convinced as he can sustain multiple fantasy-relevant receivers, especially if Green Bay leans on the rushing game to ease him into the starting role.

I am also not convinced the Packers won’t add another receiver (or two), and while Doubs did look promising in his small sample size, he is a Day 3 receiver (No. 132 overall) at the end of the day.

Doubs is currently the WR68, which is more of a placeholder in way-too-early 2023 fantasy rankings, and we are in the infancy of the 2023 offseason season. Should Doubs look to be in line for the No. 2 role, he will move up into the high-end WR5 range, making him a worthwhile dart throw if you are bullish on Love as a QB. But of the two, Watson certainly has a wide margin on Doubs as we head into the 2023 season.

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