Just how good will the Jets’ cast of WRs be with Aaron Rodgers?

Will Aaron Rodgers have Jets WRs soaring in 2023?

When you remember that the New York Jets started quarterbacks Zach Wilson, Joe Flacco, and Mike White last season, it gets easier to justify the price they paid the Green Bay Packers for QB Aaron Rodgers, even though the future Hall of Famer turns 40 in December and carries a massive contract. Rodgers, who had a down year in 2022 while dealing with a broken thumb, will doubtless be motivated to prove wrong those doubting him, and few carry a grudge like the newly minted No. 8.

As has been well documented, Rodgers brought some friends along as wide receivers Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb both signed with the Jets after spending multiple seasons in Green Bay. In addition, former Kansas City Chiefs WR Mecole Hardman was added in free agency. Those three newcomers will join last year’s first-round pick, Garrett Wilson, and veteran Corey Davis to form what should be the top five wideouts in 2023, though former second-round pick WR Denzel Mims remains as well.

With the massive talent jump from Wilson and company to Rodgers, fantasy owners are sure to be more excited about the Jets’ receivers this season, so let’s look at who could deliver.

Will Romeo Doubs defy the odds to shine as a rookie?

Rookie WRs and Aaron Rodgers rarely mix well. Can Doubs buck that trend?

When we posted a list of the top late-round rookie receiver fliers last month, one of the names included on there was Green Bay Packers wide receiver Romeo Doubs, who had caught the attention of the team’s beat reporters with a string of impressive plays during OTAs and minicamp. The arrival of training camp hadn’t changed that tune one bit, and the rookie continues to draw praise from those who cover the club and those who play for it, including quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

In recent remarks, the future Hall of Famer talked up Doubs, saying he’d been making “wow” plays every single day in practice, and then added that others who had done that over the years belonged in the franchise’s top-10 receivers of all time. That’s high praise from Rodgers, who has tended to be measured in his remarks about younger talent in his later years. Others, such as veteran Randall Cobb, have added their voice as well, saying that “nobody knows his ceiling just yet.”

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We had our first look at Doubs this past Friday against the San Francisco 49ers, albeit with Jordan Love under center, when he was targeted seven times and finished with three receptions, 45 yards, and a touchdown (on a 33-yarder where he beat the defensive back off the line of scrimmage).

While many will remember the score, Doubs also had a pair of drops, including one that turned into an interception for the 49ers. That kind of stuff could short-circuit the rookie’s ascension as if there’s one thing Rodgers doesn’t tolerate on the football field it’s turnovers.

Despite the uneven performance, the Nevada alum was seen working with the first-team offense over the weekend opposite Allen Lazard, though whether the Packers would really start him ahead of a veteran like Sammy Watkins once Week 1 arrives is suspect. The importance of earning Rodgers’ trust is an annual storyline in Green Bay, and you have to think that the trio of Lazard, Watkins, and Cobb will fill the top three spots at least early on.

It’s also worth noting that fellow rookie Christian Watson (knee) and tight end Robert Tonyan (knee) were both activated from the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list on Sunday, Aug. 14. Although there’s no firm timetable for a return, the fact that they were activated suggests the team believes they’ll be ready to roll in September since remaining on the PUP when the 53-man roster is set requires the player to miss four games.

Fantasy football outlook

There are good reasons to be excited about Doubs’ future, and few things entice fantasy owners like the prospect of finding a breakout rookie in their draft. Still, Lazard should be the top receiver in Green Bay with the likes of Watkins, Cobb, Watson, and Doubs ebbing and flowing based on gameplan. If you’re going to roll the dice of Doubs, make sure it’s at the tail end of the draft.

Fantasy football mock draft series: July takeaways

Recapping a recent fantasy football industry draft to look for trends and more.

Fantasy football drafts are heating up as we enjoy summer weather and cold beverages. A recently hosted industry mock draft is the source for this recap. Out of respect for the hosts of this draft, no reference will be made to its identity so the content remains fresh on their end, nor will the entire draft results be published here.

The draft results will appear in a magazine as part of a larger evaluation of the draft. Before getting into my individual picks, here are a few observations from a 12-team, PPR draft.

  • In last June’s iteration, Round 1 saw seven running backs and five receivers, including Cooper Kupp going at No. 2 and Justin Jefferson as the third selection. This version saw Kupp drafted fourth and Jefferson seventh with nine RBs making up the rest of the round.
  • Six RBs came off the board in Round 2 in 2021’s June draft, followed by one fewer receiver and solo tight end. This year’s June draft was no different. In the July edition, five backs, one tight end, and six wideouts were chosen.
  • The first QB, Josh Allen, was taken with the opening pick of Round 5 in June. Justin Herbert went just two picks later, and only a pair of passers came off the board in the next 31 selections (Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes). This time around, Allen was Pick 5:05, and Mahomes went with the very next spot. Herbert went with the eighth pick in the fifth round. Seven quarterbacks went in the first 75 choices this time. Quarterback remains quite deep with a viable starter often being available into the 13th round.
  • Tight end remains a little top-heavy, just like last year. Following the consensus top-six TEs — all of whom went in the first five rounds — the position gets really dicey. If you’re not comfortable playing the matchups, make sure to secure one of Mark Andrews, Travis Kelce, Kyle Pitts, George Kittle, Darren Waller or Dalton Schultz.
  • In the first 100 picks, nine QBs, 40 RBs, 43 WRs and eight TEs — no significant changes from the June version when eight quarterbacks, 38 RBs, 45 WRs and nine tight ends were chosen.
  • Pick 10 is an interesting spot this year. In the FSGA draft, which was a 14-teamer, it was brutal compared to a 12-squad setup. This draft having a dozen teams made me appreciate the slotting more than expected.

Here’s a snapshot of the first 10 rounds broken down by number of positional picks:

1st: 9 RBs, 3 WRs
2nd: 5 RBs, 6 WRs, 1 TE
3rd: 5 RBs, 5 WRs, 2 TEs
4th: 4 RBs, 6 WRs, 2 TEs
5th: 3 QBs, 3 RBs, 5 WRs, 1 TE
6th: 3 QBs, 3 RB, 6 WRs
7th: 1 QB, 4 RBs, 5 WRs, 2 TEs
8th: 1 QB, 4 RBs, 7 WRs
9th: 2 QBs, 5 RBs, 3 WRs, 2 TEs
10th: 3 QBs, 3 RBs, 6 WRs

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My roster

Pos Player Team Bye
QB Aaron Rodgers GB 14
RB James Conner ARI 13
RB JK Dobbins BAL 10
RB Rashaad Penny SEA 11
RB Miles Sanders PHI 7
RB Hassan Haskins TEN 6
WR Ja’Marr Chase CIN 10
WR Stefon Diggs BUF 7
WR Jerry Jeudy DEN 9
WR Allen Lazard GB 14
WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling KC 8
WR Jalen Tolbert DAL 9
TE Dalton Schultz DAL 9
TE Austin Hooper TEN 6
PK Matt Prater ARI 13
DT Los Angeles Chargers LAC 8

By round

Pick Rnd Player Tm Pos
10 1.1 Ja’Marr Chase CIN WR
15 2.3 Stefon Diggs BUF WR
34 3.1 James Conner ARI RB
39 4.3 J.K. Dobbins BAL RB
58 5.1 Dalton Schultz DAL TE
63 6.3 Jerry Jeudy DEN WR
82 7.1 Rashaad Penny SEA RB
87 8.3 Miles Sanders PHI RB
106 9.1 Allen Lazard GB WR
111 10.3 Aaron Rodgers GB QB
130 11.1 Marquez Valdes-Scantling KC WR
135 12.3 Hassan Haskins TEN RB
154 13.1 Austin Hooper TEN TE
159 14.3 Jalen Tolbert DAL WR
178 15.1 Los Angeles Chargers LAC Def/ST
183 16.3 Matt Prater ARI K

Keeping the previous iterations’ format alive, each pick gets a brief explanation of my draft thoughts:

Fantasy football preview: Green Bay Packers wide receivers

Post-Davante Adams, how will Green Bay’s receiving corps shake out?

For the past four seasons, the connection between Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and wide receiver Davante Adams was arguably the best in football. A year ago, it seemed that partnership might dissolve amid Rodgers’ drama with the team.

While those fences were mended, Adams was dealt to the Las Vegas Raiders this offseason after not coming to terms on a long-term pact. In addition, No. 2 receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling departed in free agency, signing with the Kansas City Chiefs.

With his longtime safety net and premier deep threat both gone, Rodgers will need to adjust on the fly to a group that’s primarily a mix unproven and past-their-prime options. The biggest additions are second-round pick Christian Watson, who rated as one of the best pure athletes at receiver in the past 30-plus years, and Sammy Watkins, the talented but oft injured veteran. Holdovers include Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb, and Amari Rodgers.

While it’s always possible that a second-year jump from Rodgers or unexpectedly quick ascension from someone like fourth-rounder Romeo Doubs could shake things up, for now we’ll focus on the quartet of Lazard, Watson, Cobb, and Watkins.

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Fantasy football PPR live draft review

A second PPR draft in mid-May showed a few different patterns emerge.

Much like with our May edition of the Mock Draft Series, out of respect for the hosts of this draft, no reference will be made to its identity so the content remains fresh on their end, nor will the entire draft results be published here.

The blurbs about my team below were provided to the draft host and will appear in a magazine as part of a larger evaluation of the draft. Before getting into my individual picks (we didn’t write up our final four), here are a few observations from an 18-round, 12-team, PPR draft.

  • This group was hyper-aggressive with selecting wide receivers early in the first round, especially atop the draft. Four of the first seven selections were wideouts, including Cooper Kupp going No. 3 overall. Detroit running back D’Andre Swift going 12th was the only thing close to a surprise in the opening round. Three tight ends and six receivers went in the second round. The rest were running backs.
  • The first QB came off the board was Josh Allen was taken with the fifth selection of Round 3, which is the earliest any quarterback has gone in the first three drafts of this series. Justin Herbert went with the final pick in Round 6, followed two spots later by Patrick Mahomes. Only Lamar Jackson (Pick 8:09) would go over the next 24 choices.
  • In the first 100 picks, 5 QBs, 42 RBs, 44 WRs and 9 TEs were taken. During the PPR draft a week prior, we watched 6 QBs, 39 RBs, 45 WRs and 10 tight ends.

Here’s a snapshot of the first 10 rounds broken down by number of positional picks:

1st: 8 RBs, 4 WRs
2nd: 3 RBs, 6 WRs, 3 TEs
3rd: 1 QB, 5 RBs, 4 WRs, 2 TEs
4th: 6 RBs, 6 WRs
5th: 3 RBs, 8 WRs, 1 TE
6th: 1 QB, 4 RBs, 6 WRs, 1 TE
7th: 1 QB, 5 RBs, 6 WRs
8th: 1 QB, 6 RBs, 4 WRs, 1 TE
9th: 5 QBs, 2 RBs, 2 WRs, 3 TEs
10th: 1 QB, 4 RBs, 6 WRs, 1 TE

My team

We were asked to write 35 words per pick to give a little insight as to our draft thoughts:

1:02) RB Austin Ekeler, Las Angeles Chargers: It came down to Derrick Henry being dominant one more time, Cooper Kupp as the safest pick here, or Ekeler remaining healthy. I was most concerned about not having a strong enough RB1 if I chose the wideout.

2:11) WR Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Knowing the drafter at the turn had an elite RB and presuming WR-WR was in play, I went with Evans before another back. It played out as expected. Evans and Keenan Allen were the best remaining WR1s.

3:02) RB Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns: I hoped Chubb would survive the turn, and my Round 2 decision paid off. Injuries and time-sharing concerns are real, but Chubb is a TD machine and gives me a legit RB1 as my second back.

4:11) WR Terry McLaurin, Washington Commanders: The debate was McLaurin and Courtland Sutton, who went with the very next pick. McLaurin has proven to be mostly QB-proof and makes for a quality WR2, even with Carson Wentz under center.

5:02) RB Damien Harris, New England Patriots: Three drafts, three Harris selections … it’s not that I’m necessarily a huge fan, but he’s a tremendous RB3. Thanks to Harris’ scoring prowess, none of the remaining backs were definitively better options at this stage.

6:11) WR DeAndre Hopkins, Arizona Cardinals: A strong draft start afforded this gamble. Hopkins will miss six games, sure, but he’s a borderline WR1 lock in PPR upon his return. It’s not too often you can plug that kind of talent into your WR3 slot.

7:02) QB Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs: Securing my third-ranked passer in Round 7 ahead of the long end of my wait, Mahomes was tough to let pass. While the WR talent regressed, he makes players around him better and will be fine.

8:11) WR Allen Lazard, Green Bay Packers: Lazard may emerge as the top fantasy receiver in Green Bay after the Davante Adams trade. It’s worth a late-round wager to find out. At a minimum, he’s adequate depth for me while Hopkins is out.

9:02) TE Austin Hooper, Tennessee Titans: I’m much higher on Hooper’s rebound than most, and since I tend to wait on TEs, this one was a no-brainer. Tennessee’s WR situation is shaky, at best, and Hooper is an ideal fit for the system.

10:11) WR Kenny Golladay, New York Giants: Can the talented Golladay stay on the field? His quarterback situation could hold him back, but I’m willing to bank on Brian Daboll getting the most out of Daniel Jones. The rest is up to Golladay.

11:02) RB Marlon Mack, Houston Texans: I should’ve taken Tyler Allgeier over Golladay. The rookie went at the turn, forcing a pivot to Mack. A whole lotta “meh,” but he has a chance, which is all one can ask for this late.

12:11) TE Cole Kmet, Chicago Bears: Kmet is one of my favorites for a breakout season, and the third-year tight end covers my backside if the Hooper gamble doesn’t pan out. There’s legit TE1 potential in Chicago’s new offense.

13:02) RB Jamaal Williams, Detroit Lions: Since the Mack pick could go either way, a safe, reliable veteran was the target, and Williams fits the bill. Plus, D’Andre Swift has proven to be less than a model of health thus far.

14:11) WR Jamison Crowder, Buffalo Bills: In three years with Buffalo, Cole Beasley was a PPR powerhouse out of the slot, and Crowder should have little trouble assuming the role in this pass-heavy system. He provides excellent value-to-upside ratio.

Rounding out the draft: Arizona Cardinals RB Keaontay Ingram (Round 15), PK Daniel Carlson (Round 16), QB Jameis Winston (Round 17) and Miami Dolphins defense/special teams (Round 18).