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How to handle Packers WRs for fantasy football in Week 16 vs. Panthers

Green Bay is dealing with multiple injuries to key wideouts. We go over how to approach the situation for fantasy football in your playoff matchup.

Dontayvion Wicks of the Green Bay Packers signals for a first down during the second half against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Lambeau Field on December 17, 2023 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

The Green Bay Packers continue to shoot themselves in the foot when it comes to getting into the 2023 NFL playoffs. Back-to-back losses have the Packers’ season in jeopardy heading into Week 16 vs. the Carolina Panthers. This is the perfect opportunity for the Packers to get back on track and keep their hopes alive. One issue is the health of their offensive skill players.

We’re going to focus on WRs but RB Aaron Jones isn’t 100% still despite playing last week. RB AJ Dillon is dealing with a fractured thumb. But the WR core, which hasn’t been healthy all season, has multiple question marks for this week. We’re going to break down the injuries and how to approach things for your fantasy football playoff matchup.

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Packers injury report — Updated Sunday, 11:30 a.m. ET

WR Christian Watson (hamstring) — OUT
WR Jayden Reed (toe/chest) — OUT
WR Dontayvion Wicks (ankle) — ACTIVE
TE Luke Musgrave (abdomen) — OUT
RB AJ Dillon (thumb) — ACTIVE

Update — So Reed and Watson are inactive and Dillon and Wicks are both active. Wicks becomes a good option if you need a FLEX play in PPR in a pinch. He should see plenty of snaps alongside Doubs. Don’t sleep on Malik Heath or Kraft as well.

Both Jones and Dillon have gotten some practice in this week, which is encouraging. Jones still feels risky and Dillon may have issues with ball security. But we’re here to talk about the wideouts.

Watson feels like the least likely to play of that group above. Reed was looking more doubtful earlier in the week but has returned to practice as of Thursday. Same with Wick, both were limited the other day. It could mean the Packers rule Watson out on Friday and deem Reed and Wicks questionable to play vs. Carolina. That will make this decision a bit tough but lets break it down.

If Watson is out and Reed is active, he should be the top wide receiver play for the Packers. You can make a case for Romeo Doubs, who we’ll talk about in a little bit. But Doubs has been pretty underwhelming the past four weeks. As for Reed, he’s been great. He’s second on the Packers in offensive snaps at WR and his snap count hasn’t really mattered given his role in the offense. Head coach Matt LaFleur likes to use Reed in a lot of different packages and looks. Here’s a look at Reed’s number since breaking out in Week 8.

Targets: 51
Receptions: 38
Total Yards: 482
Touchdowns: 5

That’s over an eight-game stretch, which averages out to about five receptions and 60 total yards per game. So in PPR, Reed has been super consistent over the second half of the season. Overall on the 2023 season, Reed is a top-30 WR in PPR formats. With the RB situation a bit shaky, don’t be surprised if Reed gets more work out of the backfield. LaFleur had become a bit obsessed with using Reed on a Jet sweep. So if Reed is active, he’s a good WR3 or FLEX play in PPR formats, especially if Wicks doesn’t play.

But the anticipation should be that Wicks is also active. He’s coming off a career-high 97 receiving yards in Week 15 vs. the Bucs. A lot of that production was thanks to Reed leaving the game early and only playing 25 snaps. Wicks ended up playing the second-most snaps (47) among Packers WRs behind Doubs vs. Tampa Bay. In that same eight-game stretch as Reed that we discussed above, Wicks has been very involved. Here’s his breakdown:

Targets: 34
Receptions: 23
Total Yards: 379
Touchdowns: 0

All of Wicks’ yards are receiving, so he isn’t getting used in the run game at all. Wicks also hasn’t found the end zone since Week 2 vs. the Atlanta Falcons. In the event Reed is ruled out, Wicks would end up starting alongside Doubs and could see around 75-80% of the offensive snaps. Wicks is a riskier play if Reed is active but could still see playing time. Wicks would be more of a stretch PPR FLEX play in deeper formats if Reed is able to play.

Then we get to Doubs. Early in the season with Watson sidelined, it was looking like Doubs was primed for a breakout and to claim the WR1 job for Green Bay. Instead, Doubs has kind of disappeared over this four-game stretch when the Packers needed him most. He’s got 14 catches on 19 targets for just 171 receiving yards in the past four games. All of that while still playing an average of around 85% of the snaps in that time frame.

That’s the one encouraging thing about Doubs, especially if Reed is out. Doubs should play almost all the offensive snaps in a game the Packers are favored and expected to win. The Panthers’ defense hasn’t been that bad and their secondary is decent. But Doubs would be tough to ignore if Reed is out. Even if it’s Wicks who is out, Doubs becomes an OK FLEX PPR play in leagues with 12+ teams. If both Reed and Wicks end up being out, Doubs is a fringe WR2 in PPR. But chances are Reed and/or Wicks are active.

If all three WRs are active (Doubs, Reed and Wicks), we’d rank them the following:

  1. Reed
  2. Doubs
  3. Wicks

Reed and Doubs should be targeted in the red zone if the Packers visit there often. If all three are active, you’d guess Wicks is seeing the fewest snaps and there’s also TE Tucker Kraft to consider in the passing game. Plus, Jones is off the injury report and Dillon could also play. That would put Wicks pretty far down on the offensive pecking order for QB Jordan Love.