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Aaron Rodgers: 2022 Fantasy Football Draft Sleeper and Undervalued Quarterback

Aaron Rodgers - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Targets, NFL Injury News

If you want to win your fantasy league, you have to hit on the right sleepers. Every year, players get identified as mid/late round picks that you HAVE to draft. You've probably seen 15 different Twitter threads just today about sleepers. But some of these sleepers wind up being bad. You have to make sure you can sort through the noise and find the right sleepers.

And boy, oh boy—do I have a fun sleeper for y'all today: Aaron Rodgers.

"Wait," you're probably thinking. "Did this writer just call Aaron Rodgers a sleeper?" Yes. Yes, I did. The events of this offseason have knocked Rodgers' fantasy price way, way down, to the point where he's being way undervalued and has become a sleeper. Let's talk about why drafting Rodgers at his ADP is a smart move.

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2022 Fantasy Football Sleeper: Aaron Rodgers

Unless this is your first year playing fantasy football and also watching football and also being on the Internet, you know who Aaron Rodgers is. But I'm going to give you some background on him anyway.

Aaron Rodgers is a four-time NFL MVP, with two of those MVP awards coming in the last two seasons. He's led the NFL in passing touchdowns twice, most recently in 2020 when he threw 48 touchdowns. He's led the NFL in touchdown rate four times—usually, I think of touchdown rate as being a pretty fluky number, but leading the league in it four times doesn't necessarily feel fluky, right?

Rodgers also has forgotten how to throw interceptions. He's had the league's lowest interception rate for four consecutive seasons.

To put it simply, Aaron Rodgers is really, really good. We're talking about a generational talent. One of the best quarterbacks in the history of this league. The two-time defending MVP, which is something I've already said but that bears repeating because of how absurd the next thing I'm going to say will sound.

Despite all these accolades. Despite his recent success. Despite everything we know about Rodgers, he's being drafted around the QB12 spot. FantasyPros shows that as recently as July 6th, Rodgers was being drafted on average at the 77th pick in fantasy, but now that's dropped to the 93rd pick. There are people with Rodgers ranked as low as QB18.

Just looking through FantasyPros' expert rankings, we see a lot of respected names who are low on Rodgers, including names that RotoBaller readers are familiar with. Our NFL editor Pierre Camus had Rodgers at QB15, which is also where former RotoBaller writer Frank Ammirante has Rodgers.

And look, I understand the reasons why Rodgers is ranked so low. But at some point, we've got to zoom out and really think about what we're doing here.

 

Why's Everyone Low on Aaron Rodgers for Fantasy Football?

The reason that everyone is suddenly out on Rodgers this year is pretty apparent: the Packers traded away Davante Adams. Any time you lose a 1,500-yard receiver and you replace him with Sammy Watkins, people are bound to think you've made a grand mistake and have killed your franchise quarterback's ability to succeed.

And hey—I get it. From a real-life perspective, trading away Adams is bad. The Packers' offense losing that kind of player will make it much easier to defend against this team. Aaron Rodgers is 100% in a worse spot than he was last year.

But is it so much worse that we'd think of him as a fringe QB1 in fantasy? I don't think so.

Rodgers was the overall QB6 in fantasy last year, and the QB8 if we go by points per game. In every season that Rodgers has played at least 15 games, he's finished as a top-10 fantasy quarterback, and he's rarely finished outside of the top-five.

Sure, his weapons take a huge hit this year. Replacing Adams with Watkins is like replacing LeBron James with Anthony Bennett. It's like you really wanted to have dinner at the nice Italian place in town but you forgot to get reservations so you ended up at Fazoli's. There's no realm in which Watkins replicates anything close to what Adams does.

But here's the thing: he doesn't have to.

Aaron Rodgers can still be good without that dominant No. 1 receiver.

 

Digging Into The Numbers and Projecting Fantasy Production

Let's establish 2016 as the year that Adams became Adams, as that was his first season with double-digit touchdown receptions. I decided to head over to RotoViz and use their Game Splits app and see how Rodgers has performed since 2016 with and without Adams in the lineup.

In the 92 games that Adams played, Rodgers averaged 23.62 fantasy points per game.

In the 11 games that Adams didn't play, Rodgers averaged 22.8 fantasy points per game.

Technically, that's a drop in production. If we extrapolate the numbers over a full season pace, Rodgers' numbers without Adams look fairly comparable to his numbers with Adams. In both scenarios, he averages 37 touchdown passes per game, though his full-season pace for yards drops from 4,434 yards with Adams to 4,320 without Adams.

Obviously, we can't just say "this 11-game sample is proof that Aaron Rodgers will be elite in fantasy without Adams," but it's still some really interesting data. The 22.8 fantasy points per game that Rodgers has averaged without Adams since 2016 would rank as QB3 in fantasy points per game last season.

I do think you can argue that he had better non-Adams weapons in the past than he does now though, which will matter. But it's not like the team had a ton of weapons in 2019 when Adams missed four games. Aaron Jones was second on that team in targets. When Adams was out, Rodgers was doing things like "targeting Geronimo Allison six times against Dallas," and the Packers went 4-0 in that stretch.

Which is why I just don't think weapons really matter with Rodgers. He's just such an accurate passer who can find openings. Heck, Rodgers can probably make Randall Cobb a viable fantasy option this season, somehow.

 

Aaron Rodgers 2022 Fantasy Football Outlook

At some point, Rodgers will fall off, but that's also what we used to say about Tom Brady. Rodgers is 38 now, but I don't see a guy who threw for 4,115 yards and 37 touchdowns last season falling off a cliff or anything, even with Adams gone.

If you can draft Aaron Rodgers around where his value is now, do it. He's being drafted at his floor right now and while there's a good reason behind that, I can't ignore years of evidence that suggest Rodgers is an elite quarterback who will throw for over 4,000 yards and finish as a top-10 fantasy quarterback.

And yeah, Rodgers is getting up there in age and just ran for his fewest yards since he took over as Green Bay's starter, but it's not like Rodgers has ever really been a huge runner. The most rushing yards he's had in a season was 356, and even with his carries going down, he's still running in the red zone, with six touchdown runs over the last two seasons, twice as many as he had from 2017 to 2019.



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