2021 Dynasty/Fantasy Game Analysis Week 14: Packers 45, Bears 30 (By Ross Jacobs)
The Bears got off to a hot start here and with the help of a few fluky plays and some heroics from Jakeem Grant, they somehow managed to lead this game for quite some time. Of course, it was not meant to be. Chicago simply can't hang with the Packers, and Aaron Rodgers just methodically carved them up until the ending was no longer in doubt.
The Packers are up to 10-3 with the North all but theirs already. They currently have the #2 seed, but they might be able to get to the #1 seed if Arizona stumbles against a much more difficult schedule than what Green Bay has to face. I think the Packers will ultimately wind up with the top seed, and that is going to really change the nature of the NFC playoffs because teams would much rather go play in Arizona's dome than deal with the cold if Wisconsin.
This is a really good team and they are just getting better by the week. I wasn't a fan early on but I see it now.
The only thing holding them back is health. Jaire Alexander sounds like he'll be available this week or next week at the absolute latest. When he's back GB is in the conversation with Arizona for best defense in the league. Stokes and Douglas have been fantastic but Alexander takes them to another level. There were a few crazy broken plays in coverage last night, but I'm not concerned about it. Sometimes things happen.
David Bakhtiari probably needs more time. He practiced once at the end of November but his knee acted up on him again. He's still a few weeks away at best but it's possible he'll be ready for the playoffs.
A possible larger issue developing is Aaron Rodgers and his toe he fractured in November. Apparently he aggravated the injury during this win and it's causing him a great deal of pain. He looked into surgery when it first happened and decided against it, but now that might be back on the table. If he does have a procedure done it would likely be to immobilize the toe. You can imagine how that might make life difficult for him in the pocket. Mahomes dealt with something similar last year in the playoffs, and we saw how that turned out for him.
It's still very early and we don't have much information yet, but my best guess is Rodgers attempts to play through this and is somewhat affected by it, again much like Mahomes was last year. Getting Bakhtiari back would greatly help as far as protecting Rodgers so he doesn't have to move as much. If those three players can all play then this might be the best team top to bottom in the entire league. They are close to being the best even without two of them.
The poor Bears fall to 4-9 and don't have a lot going for them. Chicago fans are probably feeling ok right now thinking they just gave the Packers a run for their money, but honestly it was pretty fluky that the Bears were even in the game and the Packers still stomped on the gas pedal and ran them over. They might get lucky and win another game or two, but all that does is drop their draft position down even farther.
I can't see how Matt Nagy survives this. There have simply been too many problems, too many issues exacerbated by him that have dropped this team into a death spiral. Drafting Justin Fields was a last ditch effort to provide a spark, and you see how that turned out. The media won't catch on for 4-5 more years as Fields goes the way of Darnold, but you and I know he's not a franchise QB. Never was, never will be. But now the Bears are saddled with him for at least another few years. It's not going to be pretty.
--First things first...did I not warn you about Jakeem Grant two weeks ago? Now I'll admit I didn't see this type of breakout coming but only because I thought the Bears would never up his snap counts significantly and actually get him the ball. Credit to them, they saw what I saw and it kept them in this game for a bit.
Grant isn't a superstar player. But he is a very fast, solid, useful guy to get touches to. It's amazing to me that coaches still don't understand the very simple strategy of getting the ball directly to their most explosive players and letting them try to make something happen.
Every middle school kid knows that's how you play. Who's our fastest guy? You? Ok, let's give him the ball every single play and it doesn't matter if the other team knows it or not, they aren't fast enough to stop him forever. Instead, these genius coaches would rather draw up some complex gobbledygook play with 37 words in it for his players to try and memorize and then throw a curl route to some slow ass 275 lb TE. Nothing makes them happier than that.
Back to Grant. He's a good player. Definitely should be on the field taking screen passes, reverses, a couple handoffs, returning punts..etc. Just get the ball in his hands and sometimes magic happens like it did here. Honestly, they still aren't going to him often enough, but hey it's a start. Still don't think he's usable for fantasy yet, but now that they've seen what he can do...we'll have to see.
--RC's big call from this game was for the emergence of Marquez Valdes-Scantling (3-20-0/5) and that didn't work out so well, but note MVS just missed out on two possible TD's here. One was a tough catch that went off his hands and another just out of his reach. The opportunities were there. I think perhaps we were a little overzealous with him, but he is very close to popping a bit. I'd treat him as a WR3 for the time being.
--Part of what's holding MVS back a little is the re-emergence of Allen Lazard (6-75-1/7). This is the first time in a while that I've seen Rodgers actually trying to work Lazard as something other than a random option. I don't think Rodgers will throw for 341 yards most weeks, so I wouldn't count on the heavy yardage totals for Lazard, but he might be getting a few more scoring options his way with Cobb out. Maybe it pushes Lazard to a low end WR2? He's definitely in play again.
--Another big change with the GB offense that's helping...AJ Dillon (15-71-0) is the new main carry back and Aaron Jones (5-35-1, 3-30-1/3) is being used as a change of pace/3rd down back. It's a fantastic plan for the team, but it's going to be somewhat frustrating for fantasy owners.
Jones “started” the game as usual, but Dillon was quickly in and taking the bulk of the work. He's their grinder, their bully they use to help wear down the defense. Think Derrick Henry's early years before he became the entire offense. Unfortunately for Dillon, while he's now getting good carry counts, Jones is still getting most of the red zone opportunities, at least for now.
I think you can consider Dillon a RB2 now. He didn't have any catches here, but he's usually involved in the passing game a little and he should also get more short TD's soon. If you have Jones I'd be worried. The TD's propped him up here but those won't always be available. My best guess is he's still probably a low RB2 but I wouldn't swear to it.
--I've bashed Justin Fields (18-33 for 224 yards 2 TD/2 INT, 9-74-0) a lot this year and for good reason. He's not a good QB. The numbers look ok here considering the caliber of defense he was playing against, but about 100 of his yards came from Grant and Byrd blowing through the defense by themselves for long TD's.
Long term I don't see much hope for him. He's skittish and inaccurate. Short term he works pretty well for fantasy now that he's running more. I'm still never blown away by his runs though the way I am with Lance or Hurts or Taysom. You'd think a 225 lb guy with 4.4 speed would be more explosive than he is. I'd consider him a QB 1.5 for now.
*RC NOTE: I thought this was one of Fields’s better games…showing some hope of being a Jalen Hurts type QB…a more willing runner of late (partially because he struggles as a passer). Being a Hurts-type QB is sweet for FF…not so great for NFL purposes.
Lamar, Hurts, Fields, Cam, Taysom…the football world's future is not going to the ‘running QB’. It’s a myth…it’s actually a problem (for the teams getting suckered into it). It looks sexy. The media loves it. But the reality is…old Tom Brady and broken toe Aaron Rodgers are exponentially more NFL-valuable/more ‘winning’...but less ‘cool’. The cool kids like the runner-QBs because they also like cartoon depictions of the players who just a scored a TD to pop up on their TV screen, because nothing equals ratings like fans you have to drag/sucker into the product.
Why can’t football go…”Look, we’re football. We’re the greatest episodic TV show on the planet. We’re everywhere all week if you wanna watch. We get millions of viewers because people play Fantasy and gamble on it. We don’t need to try and get 0.1 more ratings by acting like goofs and spending time/money to bait the uninterested in watching with cartoons, contests, and televised games on Nickelodeon. We’re football. If you wanna watch the Masked Singer…God help you, be my guest. We’ll be over here with a Jacksonville game on a Thursday Night that will beat any TV show you got all week, so no more song and dance routines to get you interested, and insulting our vast existing customer base.”
--De'Vondre Campbell (16 tackles) is so so so good. By now anyone that reads my reports knows I've been a fan of his for several years now. I don't care what PFF had to say about him in the past. They claim he was a journeyman, average LB and only suddenly this year morphed into one of the league's best. That's obvious nonsense. Campbell has been playing at an extremely high level going back to his time with the Cardinals and Falcons. There was no reason he should have been available to sign so cheaply this off-season.
GB is the winners for it. Campbell is playing DPOY caliber football. He might get a little consideration for it but I doubt he wins no matter how deserving. It's a shame. Hopefully the Packers up his pay next year. The man deserves it and more. He has become the heart and soul of this defense in one year. It's truly incredible.
*RC NOTE: The same PFF who dismissed Rasul Douglas, too.
Snap Counts of Interest
58 = Davante Adams
53 = Allen Lazard
43 = Marquez Valdes-Scantling
35 = AJ Dillon
29 = Aaron Jones
57 = Darnell Mooney
48 = Allen Robinson
36 = Damiere Byrd
29 = Jakeem Grant