Fantasy Fallout: What to make of Packers without Aaron Rodgers

We opened up this week’s Fantasy Fallout to your mailbag questions. And the hottest topic was the Green Bay Packers' offense.

Not just because Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone, but because the Packers also have the NFL’s newest confounding backfield conundrum with Ty Montgomery and Aaron Jones.

Let’s take ‘em one at a time:

Unfortunately, there’s no real way to sugarcoat this one. Of course Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams will take a hit, going from one of the NFL’s all-time great quarterbacks to a third-year pro in Brett Hundley, who is about to make his first career start.

But the good news is that Nelson and Adams are both still really good receivers, so Hundley will be smart enough to keep throwing to them. After he replaced Rodgers last week, Hundley targeted Adams 10 times, Nelson nine times, the running backs/fullbacks eight times, Randall Cobb three times and TE Martellus Bennett once. Adams caught five passes for 54 yards and a touchdown. Nelson caught five passes for 50 yards.

Also, ESPN Packers reporter Rob Demovsky pointed out that the last time Rodgers broke his collarbone, in 2013, defenses loaded the box against them and essentially dared Green Bay to throw the ball. So Hundley might not be seeing the same two-deep safety looks that Rodgers sees so frequently.

In other words, you have to keep both Nelson and Adams in your starting lineup; you just have to lower your expectations a bit.

As for the rest of the Packers’ passing game, Demovsky said it wouldn’t be a big surprise if Cobb or the tight ends benefited more once the Packers start creating a game play around Hundley. “Coach Mike McCarthy might try to have Hundley work some short, underneath routes with Cobb out of the slot,” Demovsky said. “And in this offense, the tight end can be a quarterback’s best friend because they’ll run some shorter routes.”

Unfortunately, there is no clear answer yet on this one. Last week, rookie running back Jones had 13 carries for 41 yards, while Montgomery had 10 carries for 28 yards in his return from broken ribs. They each caught one pass.

“Alternating Jones and Montgomery didn’t really work last week against the Vikings. So what does Mike McCarthy do going forward?” asked Demovsky, who pointed out that McCarthy might prefer to have the more experienced Montgomery in the lineup to help protect the inexperienced Hundley. ... But Jones has had the hotter hand.

Plus, as Demovsky said, defenses will probably be intent on shutting down the Packers’ run game and forcing Hundley to beat them.

So the best advice is probably to hang on to both running backs -- both of whom have RB1 or RB2 potential. But no one could blame you for keeping them on the bench while things sort themselves out.

I noticed names such as Orleans Darkwa and Derrick Henry as alternatives in this week’s mailbag questions. Montgomery is still ranked higher than those guys by ESPN’s fantasy experts. But I’d strongly consider Darkwa or Henry for this week, under the circumstances.

Speaking of Henry, the Tennessee Titans' duo was another popular topic among this week’s mailbag submissions. The team considers them a true committee, according to ESPN Titans reporter Cameron Wolfe -- with Henry embracing the “closer” role late in games.

Last week, Henry had 20 touches for 147 total yards -- including a 72-yard TD run in the fourth quarter, while DeMarco Murray had 16 touches for 87 total yards and a touchdown.

"I'd say that's a pretty good model of what we're looking for," Titans coach Mike Mularkey said. "It's a good combination, and it's tough to defend."

Wolfe said he would rather have Henry in his fantasy lineup this week because there is still some uncertainty around Murray’s hamstring injury. “Even if Murray plays, Henry should get close to or more than 50 percent of the touches, like he did last week,” Wolfe said.

But as far as the rest of the season, Wolfe said he would still lean “slightly” toward Murray, “because he should maintain the advantage as a receiver and he’ll likely be the favorite to lead the team in touches on an average day because of his diverse skill set.”

And yes, you can definitely consider using both of them against the Cleveland Browns this week, assuming Murray is healthy and active. That’s what the Titans will do.

Ah, the Washington Redskins' receiving corps. I feel bad for ESPN Redskins reporter John Keim, because I nag him for advice almost every week on Terrelle Pryor or Jamison Crowder in this column.

“I’d sell on Pryor, but maybe not just yet. I’ve said this before and still believe he will have a couple big games at some point this season. It might even happen against Philadelphia on Monday night,” said Keim, who explained that the Redskins like taking shots vs. the Eagles’ coverage looks -- and that Pryor was open for two deep balls in the season opener against Philly that he was unable to either catch or track.

Keim also likes next week’s matchup against Dallas’ secondary.

“The chance for a big game is coming. So, perhaps, maybe give it another week or two before selling,” Keim said. “But I wouldn’t count on consistent productivity every week."

As for Crowder, Keim admits “he’s been a puzzling one.” Crowder told Keim last week that his hamstring was limiting his explosiveness earlier in the year and that it was better now. But he still caught only three passes for 15 yards last week and ran once for 11 yards against San Francisco -- partly because the Redskins have relied more on the run game and third-down back Chris Thompson.

“So we’ll see,” Keim said. “But what’s concerning is that his average targets per game have dropped from 5.9 last year to 4.6 this season [it was 4.8 as a rookie]. I know how much the coaches like him, so I would think his numbers will improve a little. ... But I thought he was going to be a bigger part of the game plan vs. San Francisco.

“At this point, I’d be hesitant on Crowder until he actually has a bigger game -- or a couple of them in a row.”