2022 Week 13: Packers 28, Bears 19 (Dynasty/Fantasy Analysis Game Report)
I forgot about the start to this game, until I just rewatched it…the Bears jumped out to a 16-3 lead like it was nothing in this game. Justin Fields, injured shoulder and all, just waltzed right back into play and picked up where he left off, just striking fear into the hearts of the opposing defensive coordinator and freezing the defense trying to stop him from running.
A quarterback throwing a 20-yard zinger over the middle, against a defense…hey, that’s part of the game. BUT…a quarterback scrambling past pressure for a 20-yard gain…it’s the single worst thing that a coach can tolerate…a ‘coach’, either defensive or offensive. It’s this kinda siren call, the highly mobile QB that turns a good defensive call into a QB scrambling for big yards and breaking the defense/coach’s will…and the thought of that happening to a coach, or the dream of the coach owning that event, that leads to bizarre things -- like Kyle Shanahan trading all his 1st-round draft picks for Trey Lance. THEY want to possess the cool thing too…until they possess it and realize it doesn’t fit their offense or win games, but it looks cool and frustrates opposing coaches.
So, Chicago just comes out and punches the hapless Packers in the mouth. But Green Bay was able to hurry-up mode to score a TD right before the half to close their deficit to 16-10. Then the Packers got a gift from the football gods in the 2nd-half…Aaron Jones got hurt, and THEY were forced to use A.J. Dillon (18-93-1, 3-26-0/3), and their offense looks SO much better when Dillon is just in every play and not rotating in where the defense knows it’s probably a run.
Behind Dillon, the Packers seized back the momentum and Justin Fields did his repeatable thing -- look great for 55+ minutes, and super cool between the 20s, but the team winds up trailing late, and then Fields cannot lead late comebacks as a passer in known passing situations and Fields ends up with another ‘looks cool’ game with great FF stats but loses the game event.
Chicago is now (3-10) and likely, with their tough remaining schedule, to finish at 3 wins. Better days ahead because Matt Eberflus is showing to be a very smart head coach, who is McGuyvering his team to the future -- he is using offensive players for what they are good at, not trying to fit them into any silly ‘system’…and Eberflus is building the foundation for a great defense of the future, because he’s a top defensive mind in the NFL. This team nay never make it to the top of the mountain in the years to come, but they won’t be embarrassing anymore…I believe.
The NFC North will be a top division in years to come with MIN-DET as top 10 teams and CHI trying to get in there too as a defensive-led group.
I did not include the Packers in that future forecast, on purpose…because that team is about to go into a cold, dark winter for the next 3-5-10+ years. The two places that players least want to play, geography-wise, in the NFL, are New England and Green Bay. Buffalo as well, but they have a title contending team currently with an elite QB, so it can be overlooked (Like the NE run with Brady). The Packers are not a 2022 contender, Aaron Rodgers will likely be on the move, retire, or just isn’t a top QB anymore…and Matt LaFleur is a big ‘nothing’ as a head coach, so no players are flocking to go play with LaFleur and his staff (or Rodgers). All good things come to an end, and they already have in New England, and now the bell tolls for Green Bay. It was nice couple decades.
Green Bay is (5-8), and still technically in the playoff chase if they can win out and get to 9 wins…but they are only kidding themselves since they (a) aren’t good enough to win their final 4 games/will be lucky to win one of them, and (b) if they can get to 9 wins they have lost to all the other wild card hopefuls this season -- NYG, WSH, DET, so the path isn’t good if tiebreaker scenarios arise.
We need to start the next section talking about big picture items surrounding the two QBs in this game…
*Note any fractional numbers in parentheses (4/2) or (2/3), etc., are a ‘split’ stat on our definition of a ‘quality start’ (or not) marker on a player -- using 14 PPR points in a game for RB-WR-TE and 21 for a QB…point levels that are good/productive/well above average starts for a Fantasy week. Trying to identify trends, consistency (or not) in players we might not normally realize.
A (3/2), for example, means: 3 times the player hit at/above the mark, and 2 times they did not.
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- Justin Fields (20-25 for 254 yards, 0 TD/2 INT, 6-71-1) played the quintessential Justin Fields game, for the new iteration of Justin Fields…
1) Ran as a weapon. Defenses mostly powerless to stop it with any consistency. On his 2nd or 3rd run of the day, he dropped back to pass, ran through the middle of an opening and just kept running…right by all the defenders for a 55-yard TD.
Because Fields was hurt, he only ran 6 times (I assume). If this were a normal game for him, he might run 10-15 times for 100+ yards.
2) Because defenses have to fear Fields running, and the Packers (especially after Fields ran right between/by their defense for a long score) started rushing three defenders more, and usually rushed with four, but those four didn’t full scale pass rush they were dancing with blockers awaiting Fields trying to run.
Thus the pocket time created by Fields allowed him to complete 80% of his passes…when he is not normally anything like an 80%...or 70%...or even 60% passer.
3) The Fields passing is wonderful/simple between the 20s, but when the field shrinks then the defense isn’t as scattered or the situation is an obvious passing situation, Fields passing falters…and in this game, for as accurate as Fields was, he did not throw a TD pass but was picked twice…one of the picks happening during a final drive effort, where chances needed to be taken.
This is Justin Fields. OK for the NFL now, dangerous but not winning football yet…but AWESOME for Fantasy Football.
The top 7 PPG FF QBs this season, in order:
All but two (Mahomes, Burrow) of them feature the run game as their FF juice. Allen being great as a passer and runner. The other four are QBs who run for FF goodness.
Since Week 5, around the time Fields discovered his gift for running, he is the #1 FF QB in PPG (4pts per pass TD). Then Mahomes, then Hurts.
The running QB is where it is at for FF…or at least counters the elite passers. Mahomes, Burrow, and Allen are awesome NFL QBs. But no one thinks Fields-Hurts-Kyler-Lamar are as good a QBs as Mahomes-Burrow-Allen, and they aren’t…for the NFL. In Fantasy, they are on par with the elite throwers.
This is not groundbreaking news. So, why do I mention it?
Because there are not any hidden Mahomes floating around out there. No new Burrow’s. Justin Herbert will be back with them in 2023 and beyond. But there's really no elite passers that were dumped into the league in 2021…or 2022. However, there are two elite runner-passer prospects who will be on sale, in dynasty, this offseason/now.
Trey Lance and Malik Willis.
If you think Justin Fields is good…Malik Willis is better, as a passer and runner…but worst case they are equals. If you marvel at/kick yourself for missing out on Fields…Willis, the equal to/better than Fields, is going to be reasonably acquirable in most cases.
Trey Lance is really gonna be on sale and think what you want on him…if he, or he and his new coach, decide for him to be a Fields-like running weapon QB…the Lance is gonna be an FF-elite as well, in the days to come.
You can’t easily get into Mahomes, Burrow, Fields, Hurts…you either got in on those ships early or you’re now shut out. But note there is real hidden gold with Willis-Lance, in that order (for me), this Dynasty offseason. The first thing you should do when trading opens up again in your league (or if always open), is trade FOR Malik Willis as your investment QB prospect for the future. What Justin Fields is doing will open the door for Willis-Lance sooner-rather-than-later in the NFL.
-- QB note #2…the future of the Packers at QB…short-term, long-term…
Aaron Rodgers has earned the right to play/start until Green Bay is eliminated from the playoffs.
In a perfect world, and it’s not a crazy scenario, the Packers come off their bye with 4 games left to play and be 2.5 games behind the last wild card spot. If they were to win Week 15 (vs. LAR, so totally do-able), and Seattle coming off another loss and with WSH-NYG playing each other Week 15, so one of them will lose (or tie), then the Packers could be 1.5 games behind NYG or WSH and just one game behind Seattle for one of the two last wildcard spots, with three games left to play. So, not over.
Assuming Green Bay beats the Rams Week 15, then we’ll see Rodgers starting Week 16 and then Week 17 would be totally up in the air. If the Packers lose to the Rams Week 15 (possible), then it’s all but ‘over’ for Green Bay but also possible they entertain a ‘if we win three in-a-row to finish, who knows?’ mentality and Rodgers plays Week 16 in that scenario.
Point being, we’re likely to see Rodgers through Week 16…with a possible/probable turn to Jordan Love Week 17…but possible that it won’t be until Week 18 that Love appears. Green Bay will start Rodgers, if healthy to play, until they are mathematically eliminated…and not a week before that.
What will Green Bay do in 2023? The mood seems to have shifted HARD to pro-Rodgers the past two years. If Rodgers wants to return to Green Bay, he will. He’s no longer being forced out…so it appears. The President of the Packers announced he would retire after the 2024 season. If GB is to win a title the next two years, it would be behind aging Aaron Rodgers not Jordan Love. The Packers want to retain Rodgers. If Rodgers retires, then that’s another issue…but it doesn’t appear he hates his public/football life. NFL players have to be dragged off the field well past their prime.
So, Rodgers will be the Packers QB for the foreseeable future…and he still has the skills, so why not?
Jordan Love will play out his contract, as a backup, and leave after 2023. No one is seriously trading for Jordan Love. There is too much QB talent in the NFL for anyone to strongly chase an average backup QB, at best.
-- Allen Lazard’s (5-67-0/6) FF usefulness ahead is tied to Aaron Rodgers playing…or, at least, Lazard’s solid predictability.
Lazard is a WR2 with Rodgers with some mild WR1 hopes in any given week to score a TD. He’s now stable and unexciting with the rise of Christian Watson (3-48-1/7, 1-46-1) but Lazard is still the top target for Rodgers…just all the TDs have been taken by Watson lately.
If/when Jordan Love takes over, then Lazard is probably an unpredictable WR2/3…especially if Romeo Doubs returns to action late season, when/if Love is playing.
Lazard was a (4/3) to start the season…but has been an (0/4) since the rise of Watson.
Watson started out a (0/6) and has been a (4/0) since…with four 20+ point PPR games.
-- For the last couple weeks, A.J. Dillon (18-93-1, 3-26-0/3) looks like the star we’ve all been waiting for. I started to give up on meandering, lightly used AJD…but he’s re-gained my attention the past couple weeks with a renewed passion in his play, and it shows, and it showed in this game where Aaron Jones got hurt and AJD had to take over down the stretch and he was great.
If Dillon could ever get away from Jones, and fully take over, he’d win some people some FF titles this season. But that has no chance of happening until Green Bay is eliminated and Rodgers sits for Love. Most likely, Dillon will get the royal treatment Week 18 as Jones is sat…to show you exactly what has been true for years…this coaching staff is all about Jones and doesn’t really see much in Dillon. It’s like the Elliott-Pollard issue in Dallas the past few years.
Dillon started the season with a quality game, then had 10-straight non-Q-starts, but is a (2/0) the past two games.
-- As Fields rises as a passing threat, between the 20s/not in crunch time, Cole Kmet (6-72-0/7) has become a back end TE1 who roams free for Fields. A career high 6 catches for Kmet this game.
Kmet is just a generic TE who is a decent spot on-and-off, like a Hayden Hurst or Dawson Knox or Dalton Schultz…not great talents, but OK enough with an offense that helps them get some FF output.
-- Chase Claypool (5-28-0/6) got treated OK for targets this game, just nothing big time came from it. A candle is still lit but he’s a flier WR3 any given week right now.
-- Make it three of his last 4 starts with Jack Sanborn (11 tackles, 1 TFL) with double-digit tackles. He’s averaging 10.8 total tackles per game. Since Week 10, Sanborn is the #1 IDP scoring per game LB in Fantasy. He became a starter in Week 9, and he’s the #2 LB in IDP PPG since becoming an NFL starter.
We found this one ahead of the mainstream back in the 2022 preseason, and it’s paying huge dividends just a few months later. Shocking.
Snap Counts of Interest:
34 = Pettis
33 = Claypool
30 = St. Brown
20 = Pringle
12 = Velus
05 = N’Keal
62 = Lazard
61 = Watson
33 = Cobb
45 = Dillon
25 A Jones