Aaron Rodgers suffered a broken collarbone on his throwing shoulder in Sunday's loss to the Vikings, and the fantasy football world is still picking up the pieces. Rodgers is for sure out for the rest of the regular/fantasy season, which creates a massive ripple effect across one of the most potent offenses in the league. Can Brett Hundley move this offense, or is what we saw Sunday a harbinger of fantasy fortunes to come? What does Rodgers' absence mean for Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams, Randall Cobb and Martellus Bennett? Should we expect a more ground-based attack with Aaron Jones and Ty Montgomery leading the way? IS IT TIME TO PANIC?!?!
Below, I try to answer these questions as best I can less than 24 hours after Rodgers was lost for the season.
Brett Hundley is the answer in fantasy (for now)
Back in 2013, Rodgers missed seven games with a broken collarbone in his non-throwing shoulder and the team filled the void with the combination of Seneca Wallace (gulp), Scott Tolzien (double gulp) and Matt Flynn (whew?). Wallace and Tolzien were with the team only that year, while Flynn returned to the team after last playing with them in 2011 (and playing for two other teams in 2013!). Hundley has been in the Packers system and under Mike McCarthy's guidance since he was drafted in 2015, and has been the team's sole backup the last two years. He knows the offense and with a full set of practice reps will be able to perform far better than he did in relief against the Vikings. The notion of the Packers signing a free agent or luring Tony Romo out of the booth is ludicrous. They've always been a draft-and-develop team under Ted Thompson, and they've been building up Hundley for this type of situation.
There's no 1-to-1 replacement available for Rodgers on the waiver wire, so if you lost the star quarterback you're likely going to have to stream the position from here on out (add/drop passers based on matchups). Hundley's in a solid spot to be an immediate plug-and-play this week as he heads home to face the New Orleans Saints. They've allowed 287.2 passing yards per game, with three opposing passers throwing for 300-plus yards and three scores. Hundley will be playing at home with a full week of practice reps and all of his weapons at full health. He averaged 43.7 rush yards per game and is a really good athlete, so there's potential for some Konami Code appeal as well (aka, quarterbacks who add rushing yards/scores). Several other quarterbacks with low ownership percentages who might be replacement options have terrible matchups, like Andy Dalton at Pittsburgh, and Jacoby Brissett vs. Jacksonville, and Case Keenum vs. Baltimore. Don't sleep on Hundley as a viable starting option this week (and at times moving forward).
Picking up the pieces of the passing attack ...
With Aaron Rodgers under center, Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams and Randall Cobb were close to weekly starts as No. 12 lifted the fantasy fortunes of all around him. There's no reason to outright panic with Hundley taking over the reins, as this still figures to be a strong passing unit. Back in 2013, the Packers were at about a 59-41 pass-run split (not counting scrambles) before Rodgers' injury and posted a 61-39 run-pass split percentage in the seven games sans A-Rod (also not counting scrambles). The top three wideouts that year -- Nelson, James Jones, Jarrett Boykin -- still saw 18, 21, and 21 percent of the targets respectively. I'd anticipate a similar split among Nelson, Cobb and Adams the rest of the way this year, who represent a far more dynamic and capable trio than Nelson/Jones/Boykin (Cobb was hurt in 2013 as well). It's possible a few more targets trickle to the running backs, but that group had already seen 13.7 percent of Rodgers' targets through the first five weeks. Nelson and Adams saw nine and 10 targets against the Vikings and will remain the best weekly starts for their touchdown upside, though it'll be worth seeing who Hundley favors after a full week of practice. His remaining 14 targets were split among six different players.
Rushing to conclusions: What's next for the backfield?
Ty Montgomery and Aaron Jones split work pretty evenly last week, though it's worth wondering if their usage and this split will change at all with Hundley under center. Jones was used on 42 plays versus 20 for Montgomery, though they saw 17 and 13 opportunities, respectively. Jones has been the better runner, averaging 4.8 yards per carry to Montgomery's 3.2 on nearly as many carries (45 to 56). I'd stand to reason that McCarthy would want to use his more effective runner to take pressure off of his young, inexperienced quarterback, but this is pure conjecture. In all likelihood both will be in the mix moving forward, so don't panic and cut ties with either based on Rodgers' news. Week 7 could go a long way towards shedding light on how this backfield will look post-Rodgers. In 2013, the team leaned heavily on Eddie Lacy, but kept James Starks very much in the mix as well.
The night is darkest before the dawn ... but the dawn is coming
There's no replacing a player of Aaron Rodgers' caliber in real life or fantasy, but hopefully this piece has calmed some of your fantasy nerves after losing the King of the North for the season. Expectations need to be lowered across the board for the Packers skill position players, but the sky isn't falling here. Let's give Hundley a week and see how he responds in a big game at home before the bye week. In all honesty, Nelson and Adams could be buy-low candidates if Hundley delivers on the promise he has shown at times throughout his young career. And if he falters, well, then it might be time to worry. But until then, add Hundley off of waiver and most importantly, follow the advice of "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy": Don't panic.
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