With the 2022 NFL Draft in the books and Free Agency mostly wrapped up, it’s time to turn our attention to the upcoming season. Throughout the off-season, I’ll be looking at some position groups that featured new additions and could have a new look come September. Today I’m looking at the receivers who will line up for Aaron Rodgers. The Packers have won 13 games each of the last three seasons with Rodgers winning back-to-back NFL MVP honors. He’ll have his work cut out for him in 2022.
The 2021 Green Bay Packers
The Packers’ passing game was one of the league’s best in 2021. The Packers finished No. 8 in passing yards with 4,315 and No. 4 in touchdowns with 39. That was largely a credit to Davante Adams, one of the best receivers in the league. Adams saw 169 targets, catching 123 passes for 1,553 yards and 11 touchdowns. He was the focal point of the passing game for the Packers, as he’s been for the past few years.
This off-season, the Packers saw several changes. Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who caught 26 passes for 430 yards and three touchdowns, signed with the Kansas City Chiefs. Equanimeous St. Brown, who spent his whole career with the Packers, signed with the Chicago Bears. And, most importantly, Adams was traded to the Las Vegas Raiders. The trade netted plenty of draft options for the Packers, who took receivers in the 2022 draft. But will that be enough to fill the holes in the passing group.
Rookies and Veterans
The Packers were able to retain Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb from the 2021 group, in addition to second-year receiver Amari Rodgers. But the team also put the focus on receivers this off-season. The Packers signed veteran Sammy Watkins. Watkins was a First-Round pick for the Bills in 2014 and has played for four teams, including the Bills, Rams, Chiefs, and Ravens. He’s caught 348 passes for 5,059 yards and 34 touchdowns. He figures to add a veteran presence.
The Packers also hit the receiver position in the NFL Draft, grabbing two players at the position. The Packers’ first pick was North Dakota State receiver Christian Watson, who they snagged in the Second Round. Watson caught 105 passes for 2,140 yards and 14 touchdowns over his college career and figures to be a potential deep threat. The team also snagged Nevada’s Romeo Doubs in the Fourth Round. Doubs caught 225 passes for 3,322 yards and 26 touchdowns in four years, including catching 80 for 1,109 and 11 touchdowns in 2021.
The 2022 Green Bay Packers
The Packers roll into the new season with Rodgers back under center and presumably the same offensive system. While several offensive coaches moved on—including Offensive Coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, who is now the Head Coach for the Denver Broncos—Head Coach Matt LaFleur, the architect of the Packers’ offense, is still there. And the Packers have plenty of vacated targets to fill. Between Adams, MVS, and St. Brown, the Packers have 241 vacated targets. So, who is to fill them?
The Packers have a mixture of experience and youth in the receiving corps. The team returns veteran Cobb alongside Watkins. Cobb was part of the attack in 2021, seeing 39 targets and catching 28 passes for 375 yards and five touchdowns. The team also has Lazard, who was one of the Packers’ top targets in 2021. He said 60 targets, second-most on the team, catching 40 passes for 513 yards and eight touchdowns.
On the flip side, the Packers have plenty of young receivers. That includes Amari Rodgers, who caught just four passes for 45 yards on eight targets as a rookie. He joined Doubs, Watson, and undrafted rookies Samori Toure and Danny Davis. The team also has third-year players Malik Taylor and Juwann Winfree. The question is who steps up and what the target share is.
The Packers haven’t had to start over at receiver in Aaron Rodgers’ tenure. There was a natural progression from Jordy Nelson and Cobb to Adams, and he’s been a workhorse with more than 100 targets a season since 2016. His absence leaves a vacuum, one the Packers haven’t always been able to fill. The closest the team has come was in 2019 when Adams missed four games due to injury. The Packers had four receivers with 50-plus targets, but none had more than 477 yards.
I suspect the Packers’ plan will be to spread the ball around again in 2022. That includes heavily using running back Aaron Jones and tight end Robert Tonyan in the passing game. But among receivers, I suspect that Lazard leads the way. I doubt he sees 100 targets, but 80 might be realistic. The rest of the targets will be spread between Cobb, Watson, Doubs, Watson, and Amari Rodgers. I think all will be involved to some extent, with a few of them having decent games. From a fantasy perspective, it will be difficult to handicap who is a good start. The only one I feel confident about is Lazard, and even then I think he’s more of a flex option.
One of these receivers could pop, but it will be more of a watch-and-see approach. If you’re trying to win in 2022, the Packers receiving corps isn’t your best bet.
Matthew Fox is a member of the FSWA. He’s a die-hard NFL Fan and Broncos’ Homer. You can find more from him on Twitter @knighthawk7734 or as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast, a part of the Campus2Canton Network.