Aaron Rodgers Injury: Fantasy Implications for Packers' Top Stars

Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistNovember 6, 2013

GREEN BAY, WI - NOVEMBER 04: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers returns to the field after a colar bone injury which occurred in the first half of the game against the Chicago Bears during the game at Lambeau Field on November 04, 2013 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

When Aaron Rodgers went down early in Monday Night's game against the Chicago Bears, it wasn't just his fantasy owners—or Green Bay Packers fans in general, for that matter—who despaired. 

No, it was also Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Jarrett Boykin and, yes, even Eddie Lacy owners who also found themselves recoiling in terror. 

It looked a little like this:

And it's only getting worse, folks, as Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports tweeted an expected timeline for the star quarterback's return:

That means Green Bay is going to have to adjust to life with Seneca Wallace very quickly. Or it means the team will have to go out and sign another quarterback, though we can probably take Matt Flynn off that list, as he passed through waivers unclaimed.

Let's assume they stick with Wallace, the most likely scenario. There are two schools of thought as to how this will all play out. The first is "the system shall prevail" theory. The second is, "Wallace kills everyone else's value."

Subtle, right?

Defenders of the first theory note that Green Bay's various weapons should all retain fairly high fantasy value because the offensive system in place is strong enough to keep everyone involved. These folks point to Flynn's famous performance against the Detroit Lions in 2011, when he went 31-of-44 for 480 yards, six touchdowns and an interception. 

It was a game that made Flynn a very rich man. And it was a game that holds absolutely no relevance to the current predicament the Packers find themselves in.

Here, Flynn celebrates after one of six touchdown passes in 2011.
Here, Flynn celebrates after one of six touchdown passes in 2011.Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Why? Because that game came on the last day of the season, and both the Lions and Packers had already clinched playoff berths. Heck, the Packers had benched several of their key players, and neither team had a ton of motivation to win the game. 

In this case, the Packers now face the Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants, Minnesota Vikings, Detroit Lions, Atlanta Falcons and Dallas Cowboys in the next six weeks. Several of those teams have playoff hopes. There are two divisional rivals in the mix. There won't be any teams unmotivated to win.

Plus, Flynn was in his fourth season with the Packers when he tore the Lions to shreds. He knew the system like the back of his hand.

Contrast that to Wallace, who the Packers signed two months ago.

Besides, Wallace isn't a good quarterback, to put it bluntly. While he probably won't be worse than he was against the Bears—having a full week to prepare with the starters will certainly help—there's also a reason he's on his third team and has largely been a career backup.  

In 12- or 14-team leagues, you can consider Wallace a low-end, low-ceiling QB2. There is some potential value in his ability to scramble, but frankly, I'd stay away from him.

What about the rest of the Packers?

While it's always hard to predict which players will find chemistry with a new quarterback, it's hard to imagine Nelson's value completely nose-diving. He's been excellent thus far this season, and Wallace should know where his bread is buttered.

GREEN BAY, WI - NOVEMBER 04: Jordy Nelson #87 of the Green Bay Packers makes the catch and turns up field for some more yards during the first quarter against the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field on November 04, 2013 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Mike
Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

That being said, Nelson did manage just three catches for 40 yards once Rodgers left the game. It's time to consider him a high-end WR2. 

As for Jones and Boykin, it's harder to say. It's possible that Wallace could find chemistry with one of the pair, a la Nick Foles of the Philadelphia Eagles suddenly making Riley Cooper relevant. It's also possible both will sink into fantasy obscurity, as the pair combined for two catches and 32 receiving yards on Monday night.

It's impossible to know for sure, so for now, it's safe to consider both players as risky flex considerations and toss them in the WR3 pile.

Finally, we turn to Lacy. Some among you might think that the Packers will focus even more heavily on the running game with Wallace under center, and you're probably right. Lacy's touches should go up. 

But will his yardage? If teams don't fear Wallace beating them through the air, they'll stack the box and try to take away Green Bay's running game. That didn't matter against the miserable Bears run defense, but it might against better defenses. 

GREEN BAY, WI - NOVEMBER 04: Eddie Lacy #27 of the Green Bay Packers avoids the tackle from Chris Conte #47 of the Chicago Bears during the second half of play at Lambeau Field on November 04, 2013 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Im
Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

I still think Lacy is an RB1 based on how good he's been this year and how much of a commitment the Packers made to the running game before Rodgers went down to injury, but I wouldn't be shocked if Lacy has to battle through eight- or nine-man boxes the rest of the way.

Perhaps, I'm being a bit bleak, but the loss of Rodgers seems truly devastating for this offense. Maybe Wallace will shock us all and perform at a high level, but you should be prepared for your Green Bay fantasy stars to take a slight hit in value until Discount Double-Check returns to action.


Hit me up on Twitter—I'll answer your fantasy lineup and trade questions and commiserate with you if you owned a Packers star. I feel your pain, I really do.

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