Dec 3, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) scores a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Green Bay won 27-23. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
QB – Aaron Rodgers
Last Game: 24/36, 273 passing yards, 27 rush yards, 3 TDs (2 pass, 1 rush); 26.62 fantasy points
Fantasy-wise, Aaron Rodgers just had his best game in weeks. He accounted for 3 TDs and some decent yardage, managing to steal away the victory late with his Hail Mary bomb.
Dec 3, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) throws a hail mary during the fourth quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Packers win 27-23. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
With that finish, he ended the game with a 93.3 QBR* (2nd-best of his season) and has his team looking set to take the NFC North yet again by following his lead and being fueled by the emotional catharsis of that season-saving victory.
Let’s not get too wrapped up in the good vibes however; there are still issues here.
Before I do that, first off, let’s corral this idea that there is something wrong with Rodgers: there isn’t. His completion percentage may be down and he may seem off at times, but there are at least two pieces to that puzzle on any given play.
His offensive line and receiving corps have been ripped apart due to injury across the season, and no quarterback is going to be able to cover up those faults without us seeing that strain take effect on him — the margins are just too small.
For another perfect example, look at New England right now. When they had all their pieces playing and healthy, that offense put Tom Brady atop the MVP talk with Cam Newton and Carson Palmer. Without his weapons and blocking? A prime-time road loss to Denver (which is forgivable; that is a strong team) before allowing a formerly-hapless Philadelphia Eagles’ squad to come into their home and beating Brady. Along the way in that game Brady had some not-so-pristine throws sure, but what should stick out more is all the drops his teammates had and how awful the blocking around him tended to be.
Hell, Brady had to go out and catch a pass himself at one point…kind of like how Rodgers had to step up and run in that second-to-last TD in the comeback. These guys are great and tend to show us that more often than not, but even legends need help out there and we need to remember that.
Speaking of help, Rodgers may have some more this week.
Dec 3, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) celebrates after defeating the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Green Bay won 27-23. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
Not only did the offense seem to find some rhythm to build on with that cathartic victory, but they appear to be getting back their rookie weapon in Ty Montgomery. If he plays — even if he doesn’t do anything statistically — he adds back a potentially explosive piece to an offense that has been sorely lacking in that area.
Another area worth paying attention to is the defense coming into Green Bay. Dallas has been in a strange place on that front, where they are somewhat underrated but overrated all at once. They tend to play over their heads to an extent (underrated) but I’ve been hearing a bit too much credence given to them that doesn’t factor in who they played.
Something that does factor that in? DVOA**.
While most basic stats are favorable to the Cowboys’ unit (5th total defense, 5th passing defense, 15th rush defense), those stats are based in yardage — yardage is easy to bump up/down in games, especially in garbage time.
DVOA and Weighted DVOA*** give us a more realistic look at their performance by factoring in things such as opponent and game situation. As of last week’s action, Dallas sits at #18 in Total Defensive DVOA, #18 in Weighted Defensive DVOA, #15 in Pass Defense DVOA and #26 in Run Defense DVOA. Most of those are average, but nowhere near as excellent as simple yardage numbers would have you believe.
One other thing to keep in mind; while Rodgers threw an interception last week, he still only has 6 on the year. Meanwhile, Dallas has forced the fewest turnovers of any team in the league (8; 6 INTs, 2 Fumble Recoveries). Holding onto the ball should be a distinct advantage here, an area we can probably worry about even less than usual.
Factor all that in with the emotional boost from that victory over Detroit and the positive gains the offense found in the second half of that matchup and we could see a pretty good performance from our favorite quarterback.
Week 14 Prediction: 250 passing yards, 2 TDs, 20 rush yards; 20.00 Fantasy Points
Verdict: Ready To Roll
*Total Quarterback Rating is a statistical measure that incorporates the contexts and details of the plays quarterbacks are involved in and what they mean for wins
**DVOA measures a team’s efficiency by comparing success on every single play to a league average based on situation and opponent.
***Weighted DVOA factors in when the games happened (ie: more recent games weigh more in terms of showing how a team is playing now)