Predicting Packers' Key Stat Leaders for 2021 NFL SeasonMay 19, 2021
Predicting Packers' Key Stat Leaders for 2021 NFL Season
Aaron Rodgers has four consecutive 4,000-yard passing seasons in years in which he played 16 regular-season games.
That run was broken up by a seven-game, injury-shortened 2017 campaign in which the Green Bay Packers went 7-9.
Even though Rodgers has been a model of consistency, he has not reached his career best of 4,643 passing yards that he set in 2011. He was 200 yards shy in 2018.
The NFL's expansion to a 17-game season gives Rodgers an opportunity to eclipse the mark that has stood for a decade.
Rodgers does not have an abundance of top receiving targets, as other top quarterbacks do, but he has three elite top-tier players at their positions.
Green Bay brought back Aaron Jones in free agency, Davante Adams is still in place as the No. 1 wideout, and Robert Tonyan seems poised to follow up on his breakout campaign.
If Rodgers and his top three targets connect as well as they did in 2020, a handful of career highs could be earned in Green Bay in 2021.
Since 2014, Rodgers attempted over 500 passes in every season in which he started every game.
Only the 2015 campaign featured fewer than 4,000 passing yards in seasons that qualify for that streak.
Although he has not set a new career best in passing yards, Rodgers did set a new high mark in touchdown passes in 2020 with 48.
Rodgers was also remarkably efficient in 2020, as he set a personal best with a 70.7 completion percentage and only threw five interceptions.
If he keeps that consistency up with Jones, Adams and Tonyan around him, Rodgers could go past his career best and challenge the 5,000-yard mark.
To achieve that, Rodgers needs to get off to a fast start. He has favorable matchups in Weeks 2 and 5 against the Detroit Lions and Cincinnati Bengals, respectively, but he faces the New Orleans Saints, San Francisco 49ers and Pittsburgh Steelers in Weeks 1, 3 and 4.
Rodgers began 2020 with 13 touchdowns in four games, but he reached the 300-yard mark on two occasions in that stretch.
Even with the extra regular-season game, Rodgers needs to best his career yards per game of 260.1 by a significant margin.
If he remains within 10 yards of that average, as he did in each of the last two seasons, he will not come close to the passing title, but he could still have a successful year because of his potential to hit 50 touchdowns.
Stat Prediction: 4,500 passing yards, 52 touchdowns, 8 interceptions
Green Bay invested heavily in Jones this offseason even though he is a 26-year-old running back with four years of high volume on his legs.
With $48 million over four years committed to Jones, he is expected to once again earn a high level of touches in both aspects of the offense.
Jones may even be on pace for larger totals in the major stat categories since Jamaal Williams moved on to the Detroit Lions.
Matt LaFleur's challenge in preseason and in September will be to find a second running back who provides a boost in the passing game alongside Jones.
In 2020, Jones and Williams combined for 78 receptions and had the fifth- and sixth-best receiving-yard totals on the team behind Adams, Tonyan, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Allen Lazard.
In the last two seasons, Jones had 96 catches on 131 targets and earned 437 carries that turned into back-to-back 1,000-yard campaigns.
If A.J. Dillon does not adapt to the passing game right away, Jones could have more targets than usual, which would lead to the potential for more end zone trips. He had 30 total touchdowns in 2019 and 2020.
If Dillon provides some relief in the passing game, Jones could focus more on achieving a third straight 1,000-yard season and potentially eclipsing his career high of 1,104 rushing yards.
Stat Prediction: 1,150 rushing yards, 11 touchdowns; 400 receiving yards, 4 touchdowns
Adams will likely challenge Stefon Diggs, Tyreek Hill and others to be the top wide receiver in 2021.
Adams should be a favorite early pick at wide receiver in fantasy football drafts after he put up 18 touchdowns in a 115-catch, 1,374-yard season.
It is hard for a wide receiver to keep up a pace of over one touchdown per game, but Adams is in a unique situation in which he could hold that over 17 games.
There was a significant drop off between Adams and the next two wideouts on the Green Bay depth chart: Valdes-Scantling and Lazard.
Adams came six yards shy of doubling Valdes-Scantling's 680 receiving yards, and he had twice as many end zone trips as the two players combined.
Tonyan was the only other Green Bay player to have a double-digit receiving touchdown total, but he did not cut into Adams' production. Tonyan had 52 catches on 59 targets. Adams earned 115 catches on 149 targets.
Adams has a chance to at least match his production from 2020, and if he takes full advantage of the extra game, he may post some eye-popping totals.
Stat Prediction: 120 catches, 1,400 yards, 20 touchdowns
Statistics obtained from Pro Football Reference.