- Injuries to Aaron Rodgers and Deshaun Watson have completely changed the offenses in Green Bay and Houston. Are the backs and receivers in those offenses doomed with their backups?
Injuries to big-name players have been an unfortunate theme of the 2017 NFL season. Perhaps we should have seen David Johnson’s Week 1 wrist injury as an omen. Since then, a depressing amount of real-life and fantasy stars have landed on IR. Two of the biggest play the sport’s most important position. It’s there where we train our focus to kick off the Week 10 Cheat Sheet.
Injuries to Aaron Rodgers and Deshaun Watson have seemingly killed the fantasy value of the skill players tied to them. Do you have more hope for the Packers or Texans backs and receivers the rest of the season? Or, are they all doomed?
T.J. Hernandez: Rolling out any skill position player on either of these teams is going to be a risky endeavor each week, but volume is the ultimate driver of fantasy points and the Texans at least have a somewhat concentrated offense. DeAndre Hopkins leads the league in percentage of team targets, and in Tom Savage's first start after Watson’s injury he was targeted 16 times. Lamar Miller has accounted for nearly two-thirds of Houston's backfield touches this season, I though there are instances where D'Onta Foreman has cut into Miller's touch share. 4for4's Rest of Season Rankings show both Hopkins and Miller as top-12 players at their respective positions. The Packers, on the other hand, have committed to a running back committee and 24 receivers have seen a higher target share than any Green Bay pass-catcher this season. On an offense that will struggle to move the ball with a turnover-prone quarterback, spreading out touches might kill everyone's fantasy value in Lambeau.
Michael Beller: I agree with T.J. think the Packers skill players are screwed. Of course I do, right? I’m the guy who said you should bench Jordy Nelson this week. This is a lost offense without Aaron Rodgers. He’s the guy who makes everything go, and without him this looks like a pedestrian group. Aaron Jones and Ty Montgomery are going to split the work in the backfield, and they could be doing so in negative game scripts more often than not. Not one of post-ACL Nelson, Davante Adams or Randall Cobb are particularly dangerous deep threats, but at least teams had to respect that possibility with Rodgers on the field. That’s not the case with Hundley. Packers receivers can likely expect a lot of press coverage and short, low-risk throws near the line of scrimmage. That’s not a great path to fantasy value. Nelson and Adams were, and still are, threats in the red zone, but how many red-zone possessions per game can we expect from an offense led by Hundley? This could be a particularly ugly second half of the season in Green Bay.
There’s reason for hope in Houston, though, and T.J. nailed it. Savage is not good—he appears to be very bad, in fact—but at least Hopkins and Miller should compile a ton of volume. Our colleague Chris Raybon has done excellent work looking at how running backs and receivers can subsist on volume, and Hopkins and Miller are going to have plenty of it in this offense. The value of each individual target and carry won’t be as great as it was with Watson at the helm, but all those targets and carries will accumulate and keep both as reliable fantasy contributors. I’ve got Hopkins and Miller pegged for low-end No. 1 production at their respective positions the rest of the year. As for Will Fuller, he’s in serious trouble. He does not get enough volume to get by with a quarterback like Savage. The touchdown upside he had with Watson is gone.
Jennifer Eakins: I’m going to go with door No. 3 here and say that both offenses are doomed. Brett Hundley and the Packers have a rough three weeks ahead of them schedule-wise. They’re set to face three teams in a row, two on the road, that are in the top 10 against the pass. The path for the Texans isn’t any rosier, with the Jaguars, Ravens and Rams, all of which are in the top five against the pass, on tap. Football Outsiders ranks Houston’s offensive line ranks 30th and Green Bay’s 25th in pass blocking. Neither Hundley nor Tom Savage has the chops to overcome such tough odds, and their position players will suffer a slow, painful fantasy death.