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“Off the Matt” 2016 Packers Preview

Vegas is usually right.

That is good news for Packers fans.  The over/under on their win total for the upcoming season has been set at 10.5, which is tied with three other teams for the most in the league.   Additionally, they are the betting favorites against the spread in every game except their Week 2 trip to Minnesota.  Winning double-digit games isn’t anything new for the Packers.  They have done so in seven of their last nine seasons.  In 2016 they will be returning all the critical pieces of the team’s framework.  Another 10+ win season will be the expectation from the Green Bay faithful.


When you have the best quarterback in football, expectations are going to be high.  In my humble opinion, that is exactly what the Packers have in Aaron Rodgers.  He can beat defenses in a variety of ways.  If the defense wants play coverage, he will pick them apart with his pinpoint accuracy.


If they decide to bring pressure, that is when he can really hurt an opposing defense.  Defensive coordinators stress the importance of keeping him in the pocket, because when he gets out…


He excels at extending plays.  Defenses can only cover for so long.  When he scrambles outside of the pocket, he is scrambling to throw.  Having a quarterback with the strongest arm in the league, with his ability to extend plays outside of the pocket makes for a dangerous combination.

There are a ton of stats and numbers that support Rodgers as being the best quarterback in the league, but my favorite is that he could throw 16 straight interceptions and still hold the best touchdown/interception ratio in NFL history.

daAs good as Rodgers is, 2015 was a down year for him statistically.  Opinions will vary on what the issue was, but I am pointing the finger at the receiving corp for the overall drop in production.  Jordy Nelson going down in the preseason was a huge loss, but I don’t think people realized just how much it would negatively impact the passing game.  James Jones was brought back to Green Bay.  While he had some nice games, he was inconsistent catching only 50% of his targets.  There was some positive buzz surrounding Davante Adams to make a jump in year two, but he failed to live up to the hype.  As a matter of fact, he ranked last in yards per target among receivers who had 40+ receptions.  Randall Cobb who was coming off a 91/1287/12 season in 2014, was terribly inefficient producing 79/829/6 despite having three more targets than he did in 14′.  They missed Jordy.

Taking the number one receiver out of any offense is going to impact the passing game. Everyone moves up a spot, as well as sometimes taking on a new role.  I think Randall Cobb is a terrific talent, but last year it was proven that he isn’t ready to be a true number one.  Hopefully the return of a healthy Jordy Nelson will allow Cobb to work more freely from the slot where he dominated defenses in 14′.

The Packers ran three-receiver sets over 70% of the time last year.  While it has been reported that Adams will have the first shot at being the man to fill that job.  The other name to keep an eye on during camp will be Jeff Janis.  Although he only had two receptions during the regular season, he filled in admirably in the playoff defeat to the Cardinals.  If they could have pulled off the win in overtime, Janis would have claimed a spot in Packer lore for the amazing game tying catch at the end of regulation.  Despite the defeat, Packers fans have to be giddy about the play-making ability Janis demonstrated.


Rodgers and Cobb weren’t the only offensive weapons that saw their numbers drop in 2015.  I distinctly remember having a conversation in which I dubbed Eddie Lacy as the safest running back on the board leading up to fantasy drafts.  He was lock for 1000 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns…and that was his floor.  It isn’t the first time I have been wrong, and it certainly won’t be the last.

So what went wrong?

A myriad of injuries (ankle, groin, ribs) hampered Lacy’s ability to perform on Sundays.  The injuries also limited his ability to condition during the week.  His weight ballooned north of 260.  Mike McCarthy laid it out as blunt as one can be in an end of the year press conference by saying, “he cannot play at the weight he did this year.”

Lacy answered the bell and took the challenge enlisting the help of P90X founder Tony Horton.  With it being a contract year he has plenty of reasons to find the motivation to lose the weight and get back close to the 237lbs he entered the league at.  More on Lacy later.


James Starks has carved out a role in the Packers offense.  With Lacy struggling last season, he totaled 993 yards and five touchdowns.  He was especially useful in passing situations converting 86% of his targets into receptions.  Even if Lacy does revert back to his 2013-2014 form, Starks will still be counted on to contribute.


In 2015, the Packers were sixth against the pass and 21st against the run allowing 119 yards per game on the ground.  It was likely that the Packers were going to beef up the defensive line to improve on that number; however, when B.J. Raji decided that he isn’t playing football in 2016 it became a necessity.  The Packers filled this void in Round 1 of the draft with one of the best defensive tackles coming out of college in Kenny Clark.  The Packers didn’t stop in Round 1.  Four of their first five selections were spent bolstering their front-seven with a variety of skill sets from pass-rushers (Fackrell) to tackling machines (Martinez).  This infusion of youth will mix in well with a group that had the seventh most sacks in the league with 43.  Playing against Adrian Peterson twice a year will test your run defense.  The additions they made to their front-seven should help slow down opposing run games.

mbcdThe back-end of their defense is one of their strengths.  Morgan Burnett and HaHa Clinton-Dix is one of the better duos in the league.  With HaHa entering his third year he will only get better.  The secondary held opposing defenses to 29 passing plays of 25+ yards which was good enough to be in the top 10.  With these two roaming the secondary they will look to continue to be strong against the pass.

An area of improvement would include being more opportunistic in the turnover game.  Forcing more turnovers will take this defense to the next level.  The 22 that they forced last year ranked in the bottom half of the league.  More quick pressure upfront will help out in this area.


Overvalued: Aaron Rodgers (ADP: 29)

Whoaaaaaa buddy!  Earlier in the article you referred to him as the best quarterback in football, and now you’re saying he is overvalued at a mid-third round ADP.  Which one is it???

Its both.  He is the best quarterback in the game, but in the current NFL landscape the statistical difference from the best quarterback and the 10th rated quarterback isn’t much.

I know he didn’t make it to 4000 yards last year, but I still consider him a safe bet to finish with 4000+ yards and 35+ touchdowns.  Those numbers are impressive, but they lose a bit of gleam when you consider last season there were 12 quarterbacks who threw for more than 4000 yards and 11 who threw 30+ touchdowns.  Keeping those numbers in mind the 11th quarterback is coming off the board at an ADP of 104.

I realize there is likely going to be a drop-off statistically the longer you wait.  However, if I can get similar production six rounds later, sign me up.

Undervalued: Eddie Lacy (ADP: 23)

Okay, I resisted making any weak fat jokes above, but I have one that is too strong to not use.

drum roll please…

With a contract on the line, Lacy will be running HUNGRY in 2016. *ba-dum-tshh*

But seriously, is there a better motivator than money?  Packer’s reporter Rob Demovsky said that Lacy weighed in at OTA’s “in the 240s.”  It is apparent that he has taken the challenge laid out by McCarthy head on, and I won’t be the least bit surprised if we see the 2013-2014 version of Eddie Lacy.


As bad as Lacy was last season he still averaged 4.1 ypc, which was the exact number he averaged as a rookie.  The biggest difference was volume and touchdowns.  He punched in 11 rushing touchdowns as a rookie verse three last season.  As mentioned earlier, the Packers offense struggled at times which led to fewer scoring opportunities for Lacy.  For the season, he only had 10 carries from inside the 10 yard line.  With the expectation being that the offense will be better in 16′, look for Lacy to have more opportunities from close range which should translate into more touchdowns.  I believe a motivated Lacy will find his way back to being a top six fantasy running back which is what he was his first two years in the league.


(Click the Red link below to listen)

Major League Fantasy Football Radio: Join Ej GarrCorey D Roberts, and Coach Jeff Nelson live Saturday July 9th from 1-2:30pm EST for episode #63 of Major League Fantasy Football Radio. This is a live broadcast and we take callers at 323-870-4395 press 1 to speak with the hosts. Our first 4 shows of the year covered each AFC division. This week we begin the NFC side with NFC East.

You can find our shows on I-Tunes. Just search for Major League Fantasy Sports in the podcasts section. For Android users go to “Podcast Republic,” then download that app, and search for “Major League Fantasy Sports Show”


(Click the RED link below to listen)

Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio: Join Corey D Roberts and Kyle Amore live on Thursday June 30th, 2016 from 8-10pm EST for episode #72 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host.

Our guest this week is Marc Foster a veteran owner with MLFS since 2009, an occasional writer, and 3 time champion in MLFB/MLFF leagues.

You can find our shows on I-Tunes. Just search for Major League Fantasy Sports in the podcasts section. For Android users go to “Podcast Republic,” then download that app, and search for “Major League Fantasy Sports Show”

A/S/ the old school AOL instant messenger days... 31/M/PA Elementary Physical Education by day, chasing around my 1 and 2 year old boys by night. I started playing fantasy football when I was 9 years old (94'). My older brother let me be a co-owner on his team. We had one of those giant C-Band satellite dishes and had heard that there was a way to get every football game through a new package called "Sunday Ticket." My first memory was watching Terry Allen run around for the Vikings and I have been hooked ever since. I don't know what the world record is for most consecutive Sundays watching a minimum of seven hours of football, but I have to be on my way to achieving it.

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