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Aaron Rodgers Injury Reaction

Fantasy Football 2023

The hopes of many New York Jets fans came crashing down after the Jets’ fourth play from scrimmage of their first game of the season. That was when Bills’ EDGE Leonard Floyd twisted Aaron Rodgers to the ground on a sack. As Rodgers tried to limp off the field, he sat back on the turf and out came the trainers. Then, the cart.

Not again. All the hype, all the Super Bowl aspirations, everything the Jets hoped to accomplish this season officially hung in the balance as Rodgers rode the cart to the locker room.

As news leaked out during the broadcast, the fear was that Aaron Rodgers tore his Achilles and would miss the season. The Jets confirmed that fear on Tuesday morning. Jets fans, for obvious reasons, are devastated. Packers fans are another loser in this scenario. Their team will no longer receive a 1st round pick as a result of the trade that sent Rodgers to New York in the first place. It was a conditional 2nd that could become a 1st if Rodgers played 65% of the team’s snaps in 2023.

But lastly, fantasy football managers now mourn the loss of Rodgers. So what does it all mean? Let’s start with the Jets star wide receiver, Garrett Wilson.

Aaron Rodgers Injury Reaction

Rodgers was set to make the entire Jets offense considerably better. The reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year was already in place, WR Garrett Wilson. And after putting up over 1,100 yards his rookie season, stability at QB was to be the driving force on his rise to stardom.

This is why Wilson was a fringe 1st-round pick in fantasy drafts. After a WR21 finish in 2022, Wilson vaulted into the top 10 in ADP this summer. We know all about Rodgers and his love for his WR1. He and his former WR1 in Green Bay, Davante Adams, shared many great seasons. And we all expected him to replicate that adoration with Wilson.

Impact on Garrett Wilson

Last year was a tale of two seasons for Garrett Wilson. Former 2nd-overall pick Zach Wilson, who will now get the nod as the Jets starting quarterback due to Rodgers’ injury, missed time due to injury. But, when Wilson was the starting QB, Garrett Wilson averaged 6.3 targets, 3.8 receptions, and 49.7 yards per game. And the Wilson-to-Wilson connection compiled ZERO touchdowns. Putting this in fantasy football terms, those per-game numbers would have netted Garrett Wilson 150 fantasy points over an entire season. That would have been good for a WR47 finish in 2022. Talk about 1st round value!

However, WITHOUT Zach Wilson at QB, Garrett Wilson was on pace to score 294 fantasy points. That would have been good for WR7. This is why Aaron Rodgers’ presence was so crucial to Garrett Wilson and why he was selected so high in fantasy drafts.

After one game, minus four snaps, with Zach Wilson at the helm, Garrett Wilson is currently on pace to finish with 244.8 fantasy points. That would have been a WR11 finish in 2022. But a 5/34/1 stat line each week just isn’t going to cut it.

I am officially worried about Garrett Wilson for 2023 in fantasy football. Zach Wilson looked like typical Zach Wilson during Monday night’s game. Granted, a week of practice and game-planning changes things a little, but not enough for me to feel like I’m getting any kind of return on my investment after selecting Wilson within the first 15 picks of my fantasy football draft.

Nathaniel Hackett will likely resort to more run calls and convert Zach Wilson into a game manager at quarterback. It was reported before the game that RB Breece Hall, coming off a torn ACL suffered in 2022, would be on a pitch count of sorts. He ended up touching the ball 11 times, 10 rushes, totaling 147 yards in the process. (His 83-yard romp in the first half was just beautiful.) Running mate Dalvin Cook, brought in to help with the Jets’ push to the Super Bowl, totaled 16 touches. The Jets, as a whole, ran the ball 28 times to 21 pass attempts.

Of those 21 pass attempts, Garrett Wilson saw only five targets (23.8% target share). If the run/pass split evens out, the target share numbers should make him a serviceable WR2 as the season continues, with WR1 spike weeks. But Zach Wilson has never thrown for more than nine touchdowns in a season. No, that’s not a typo – NINE. The solace you take from this is that even highly targeted WRs with little to no touchdown upside can finish as a top-30 option. (Diontae Johnson says hi.)

The Running Back Tandem

Breece Hall and Dalvin Cook will likely be the centerpiece of the offense moving forward. We saw the heavy split Monday night against a good Buffalo Bills defense. Breece Hall looked like his usual electric self, even if his football conditioning needs a little work. (He doesn’t get run down on his 83-yard scamper if this is last year, pre-injury.) As for Dalvin Cook, 2.5 yards per carry isn’t great, Bob. He may be the “lead” back to begin the season, but Hall clearly has the best next gear of these two backs.

Hackett spent time in Green Bay when they had both Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones, then Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon. Even last year in Denver, he had a rotation that included Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon before Williams tore his ACL. Hackett knows how to build an offense around two quality running backs. This is the value you want on this offense in fantasy football.

The Rest of the Jets’ “Weapons.”

Weapons may be generous, but there are players on this team who can contribute when their number is called.

Allen Lazard, a free agent pickup this past offseason, made a couple of quality catches on Monday night. His four targets on the night were good for 2nd on the team. He’s likely to see his fair share of targets when the Jets play defenses with quality number-one corners. That is until Zach Wilson beats it into his brain that Garrett Wilson can’t be guarded. We all saw this evidence on his touchdown catch on Monday night.

At best, Lazard is a matchup-based Flex play, likely to end the season in the 70 target range due to the move to Zach Wilson at QB.

The TEs on this team, Tyler Conklin and C.J. Uzomah, totaled one target between them on Monday night. I never expected either of them to be relevant in this offense in 2023, but Conklin was, as he still is now, likely to have a few start-worthy games. He played 43 of 54 snaps and ran a route on 19 of 20 pass plays (95%). Eventually, numbers like that will turn into production, even if it’s minimal.

Lastly, Michael Carter played 12 snaps, 10 of which came on pass plays. I’m sure much of his playing time came from the limitations heaped onto Breece Hall (17 total snaps) and Dalvin Cook’s late addition during training camp. As the season wears on, this is likely his role as a change-of-pace back who looked better in pass protection Monday night than he did at any point over his first two seasons in the league.

Defense or Bust

The Jets’ Super Bowl hopes may officially be dashed, but that doesn’t mean they won’t have any fantasy value this season, especially on defense.

They flustered Bills QB Josh Allen into four turnovers (3 INTs and a fumble) and returned a punt for a touchdown in overtime to seal the win. We’ve seen great defenses carry middling offenses into the playoffs before. It’s not unfathomable to think it could happen again, even in this new era of pass-happy offenses.

But I think it’s safe to say the real fantasy football winners of this are those who drafted the New York Jets’ defense. Their DEF2 finish in Week 1 likely isn’t a fluke. They’re hungry and have aspirations of being better than the ‘85 Bears.

Jets fans, hang your hat on THAT because that will be better to watch than Zach Wilson at quarterback. Again.

Be sure you’re following Josh Hudson on Twitter. You can also find Club Fantasy’s Week 2 rankings here and the rest of our Week 2 content here!