Fantasy Football: The Aaron Rodgers Dilemma

Matt LechnerContributor IDecember 20, 2011

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 18:  Quarterback Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers passes during the game against the Kansas City Chiefs on December 18, 2011 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is having an MVP fantasy football season. He’s the top scorer in most leagues, he has 30 points more than Saints quarterback Drew Brees (and 53 more than Tom Brady) in standard scoring, and he’s scored 20 or more fantasy points in 14 of his 15 games this year.

For many fantasy teams, including my own, Rodgers is the reason we’re still chasing a championship. But this week we’re facing a dilemma that has some of us considering benching our star quarterback.

Wait, what?

Am I really thinking about benching Rodgers with the fantasy season at a crucial juncture?

Yes, the thought has crossed my mind.

Before you call me crazy, hear me out. The idea is not as far-fetched as it seems when you look at how Week 16 sets up.

Rodgers and the Packers host the Chicago Bears on Sunday night in a very favorable matchup for him. The Bears currently rank 26th against the pass, and Rodgers lit them up for 297 passing yards and three touchdowns in Week 3.

But the main issue facing Rodgers’ owners this week isn’t his opponent, it’s the schedule. When the Packers/Bears game kicks off on Sunday night, the Packers may not be playing for anything.

The NFL scheduled most of the Week 16 games on Saturday because Christmas falls on a Sunday this year. Included on Saturday slate of game is a 3:15 p.m. (CST) matchup between the San Francisco 49ers (11-3) and Seattle Seahawks (7-7). The game is intriguing to the Packers because with a Niners loss, the Packers would clinch the NFC’s top seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Do you see the dilemma? A Niners loss would make Sunday’s Packers/Bears game meaningless. Therefore, Rodgers may not play the entire game. The Packers might choose to protect him from injury and sit him, which isn’t a bad idea considering how banged up the Packers offensive line is right now.

A simple solution for Rodgers’ owners would be to bench Rodgers for his backup, Matt Flynn. The problem with that strategy is Rodgers will likely play at least half of the game, maybe more depending on the score and how often he’s getting hit. There are too many variables to go with starting Flynn.

The schedule makers also didn’t do Rodgers’ owners any favors when they scheduled the Niners game at 3:15 p.m. (CST). By the time that game ends, all 10 noon games will be long over, as will the two other games scheduled for 3:15. That leaves just two games remaining in Week 16: the Bears/Packers game on Sunday night and the Falcons/Saints game on Monday night.

I would venture a guess and say that if you own Rodgers, you probably don’t have Drew Brees or Matt Ryan. That leaves Caleb Hanie has the only other starting quarterback option if Rodgers and the Packers aren’t playing for anything Sunday night.

I cannot in good conscience recommend that you start Hanie in your league championship. I don’t care how bad the Packers pass defense is right now.

So, with all that said, we’re back to our original dilemma: Should you start Aaron Rodgers this week?

Unless you have a backup quarterback who’s a top-10 fantasy scorer, absolutely you start Rodgers this weekend.

Rodgers playing just a portion of a game is still better than most fantasy quarterbacks who play an entire game.

Good luck and go Niners!