It’s been 13 years since the Green Bay Packers have had to hire a new head coach. Former Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator, Matt LaFleur, has become the 15th head coach in Green Packers history. There is a lot of hope that LaFleur can bring some creativity and inject some different looks into the offense. LaFleur has worked with the likes of Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay, so the optimism is high for Packers fans.
We all know that the last couple seasons saw the Aaron Rodgers and Mike McCarthy relationship starting to crumble. So bringing in a head coach that can get on the same page as Rodgers was crucial. LaFleur will bring some experience as he has been an offensive coordinator or quarterbacks coach in the NFL for six years. He also has a proven track record in helping quarterbacks in this league. He was integral in helping Robert Griffin III win Rookie of the Year in 2012, Matt Ryan winning the Most Valuable Player award in 2016, and he helped turn Jared Goff’s career around for the Los Angeles Rams in 2017.
Now with all this optimism for the team, this also means that the optimism for fantasy owners is also rising. With McCarthy calling the shots, this offense was becoming stagnant and predictable. LaFleur coming into the fold now can bring some originality and imaginative plays to the offense. As mentioned, LaFleur has worked with offensive gurus like Shanahan and McVay. So there are chances that Packers players may rise on your draft boards come the 2019 fantasy season. There are some instances where players may drop on your draft boards because of the change in philosophy. Here is a quick fantasy outlook at each position to help you understand the potential for Packers players come the 2019 fantasy season.
Fantasy Focus: Head Coach Matt LaFleur Fantasy Impact On Green Bay Packers
Rodgers is always going to be a top fantasy option at quarterback. Now with former head coach, Mike McCarthy, Rodgers was slinging the ball around more than usual in his past three seasons. Attempts of 572, 610, and 597 in his last three full seasons shows this was a pass-first offense. Now you would think to be pass-first would be helpful when it comes to fantasy, but it made the offense one-dimensional. Let’s not also forget that the relationship between McCarthy and Rodgers was beginning to turn sour. So maybe there were more running plays called, but Rodgers audibled out of them. Reports have surfaced that Rodgers was prone to call his own plays simply because he didn’t like the play McCarthy called.
One thing that will help is that LaFleur has said that he wants to bring more balance to the offense. This may limit how many times they throw the ball in the game, but it may make those limited passes more effective. The quality over quantity approach should do wonders for the Packers offense. He can also bring some more creativity to the play calling, which can lead to Rodgers not having to worry about changing the play as often and just focus on playing football. This should be a good situation for fantasy owners and Rodgers will remain a top option at the quarterback position in next season’s fantasy draft.
Packers fans were clamoring for Aaron Jones to get more involved in the offense. He was showing some serious skills after his suspension at the beginning of the year. For some reason, the play calling went in the direction of more passing than running. The thing is, Jones was great at catching the football as well but he was not being used to the degree at which Green Bay fans would have liked. Now of course once we were shown the light to the degree of the rift between Rodgers and McCarthy, we can now have an idea as to why Jones’ number wasn’t called more often.
Insert LaFleur and new offensive coordinator, Nathaniel Hackett. If there is one thing that Hackett loves to do, it’s run the football. Now part of that is due to the fact that he didn’t have a quarterback to the level of Rodgers back in Jacksonville and Buffalo, but he still prefers to run the ball more. In four seasons as an offensive coordinator in the league, he has had a top-five rushing offense twice. This can spell wonders for Jones and also Jamaal Williams as they can become a formidable one-two punch in the Packers backfield.
As mentioned earlier, bringing more balance to the offense can help Rodgers become more effective and can keep opposing defenses guessing as to whether a run play is coming or a pass play. Before, the Packers offense would become predictable with very few run plays being called. In 2018, the Packers ran the ball on only 37.6% of their plays. Now with Hackett helping dictate the play calling with LaFleur, this offense should be more balanced and this can mean that Jones should be higher on your draft rankings going into the 2019 season.
Davante Adams enjoyed his best season as a pro, setting career highs in receptions, yards, and touchdowns. This led him to be the best fantasy wide receiver in the league being one of the few models of consistency over the course of the season. While he enjoyed a sensational season, he had little support from the rest of the receiving corps in Green Bay. Adams had more receiving touchdowns than every other player on the Green Bay offense combined.
With Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison sidelined with injuries a lot of the year, rookies were forced to step up and their inexperience showed. While it shows promise for the future, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown were often running wrong routes and causing the offense to stall. Even in a pass-first offense, the receivers just didn’t have enough chemistry with Rodgers to become solid producers every week.
LaFleur will have some work to do with this group. Adams is a polished piece and Allison is at the doorstep of putting it together as well. Cobb brings veteran leadership but the next steps for these now second-year receivers, in St. Brown and Valdes-Scantling, can really make the difference for the offense.
In Tennessee, he saw only Corey Davis being the primary target, but back in Los Angeles, he learned from Sean McVay to spread the ball and develop all receivers. Utilizing three-receiver sets was bread and butter for McVay and the offense in Los Angeles and the Packers offense can run a similar style offense with the talent they have. Also, making sure to use Jones out of the backfield similar to Todd Gurley back with the Rams can make the receivers that much more effective too. Adams is a sure-fire top pick at receiver and Allison will be a solid WR2, but we need to play the waiting game on St. Brown and Valdes-Scantling. Cobb, unfortunately, has lost the battle with Father Time and will be phased out of the offense soon.
Jimmy Graham is not quite the player he used to be. Through the course of the 2018 season, he had double-digit targets in only three games. While he was second on the team in receptions, yards, and touchdowns (tied), he was not effective every week. Clearly, the Packers have tried to bring in a solid tight end since Jermichael Finley back in 2013. Unfortunately, they have not been able to rely on a tight end to help their offense as much as they would like.
This may be a position that LaFleur may not be able to help out with. Graham may be a dependable option, but not on a weekly basis. LaFleur never utilized a tight end in his offense to make them fantasy relevant. In Los Angeles, Gerald Everett and Tyler Higbee were afterthoughts in that high-scoring offense. Coming to Tennessee in 2018, Delanie Walker was a big receiving target that was unfortunately lost to a season-ending injury in the season opener against the Dolphins. Regardless of if he was on the field or not, this offense was running more than passing and the tight end became a non-existent option when they did decide to throw. So the potential for Graham seems very low when you combine the offensive philosophy with the declining skills of Graham. A sleeper option coming into the 2018 fantasy season, Graham will more than likely go undrafted in 2019 fantasy drafts. Perhaps he becomes a waiver wire add, but the likelihood is not looking good.