Matchup for the Packers ::
Given how solid the Packers defense has looked so far this year and how conservative the Broncos offense has looked (with their passing attack focused largely on the short areas of the field), it’s fair to assume that most of the DFS interest in this game lands on the home team that has Aaron Rodgers at quarterback. And while the matchup for the Packers is difficult against a still-talented Broncos defense coached by Vic Fangio, it isn’t as difficult as what this team faced the first two weeks of the season against the Bears and the Vikings.
The Broncos have had issues so far this season allowing wide receivers to get vertical on them — with too much trust being given to their boundary corners — and this setup could open opportunities for big plays from Davante Adams and (to a lesser extent) Marquez Valdes-Scantling, each of whom will be used downfield. (There are some concerning elements in this Matt LaFleur offense that we’ll get to in a moment, but he has been more variable in his usage of Adams than Mike McCarthy was, and he should be looking to get the most out of the matchup this week with a couple downfield looks.)
On the ground, the matchup is tougher for the Packers against a Broncos defense that is all about stopping the run first, and the Packers seem to be trending toward the dreaded “Yeah, Aaron Jones is good, but we want to get Jamaal Williams touches, too” setup that we thought we had finally escaped. Jones saw 42 snaps last week and Williams saw 32, and LaFleur seemed to express this week that he would like things to be even closer than that.
Potential issues for the Packers ::
The good (not too terribly unexpected) news is that so far this season, Adams has more targets than MVS and Geronimo Allison combined. The bad news, however, is that the Packers currently rank 21st in pass play rate at 56.35% (after ranking first in the NFL last year at 67.54%). This was somewhat expected with the switch to LaFleur (and given that the Packers have faced the tough run defenses of the Bears and Vikings so far, it seems this will remain the case regardless of matchup this year), but there was hope that the balance of Rodgers on the other side of LaFleur would keep the Packers from dropping quite so low. This dip in passing volume has had an impact on Adams, who has averaged 8.5 targets per game through two weeks after ranking third in the league last year at 11.3. Adams has room to grow, but we should expect him to finish below double-digit targets per game on the whole this season — making him a bit overpriced for his likeliest range in a still-challenging matchup.
On the Broncos side ::
While the Broncos are not a good offense, they do have a narrow concentration of touches, with Emmanuel Sanders seeing 20 targets so far this year, Courtland Sutton seeing 15, DaeSean Hamilton seeing 10, and Noah Fant seeing eight.
Jaire Alexander made it clear this week that he thinks he and Kevin King are the best cornerback duo in the NFL (they’re not — but they are good, and they did really well against the Vikings dangerous pair of Thielen/Diggs), and this week they will take on Sutton and Sanders, who have each been seeing most of their snaps on the perimeter. These corners match up better against Sutton than they do against Sanders — though Diggs is a good comp for Sanders, and they basically erased him a week ago. There would be more reasons to like this matchup for Sanders if he were playing more than 21.5% of his snaps out of the slot, and he will need a broken play or a touchdown to really pop; but he is cheap enough — and the targets have been consistent enough — that he belongs on any list at the front end of the week in spite of the below-average matchup (especially after he hit the Bears for 11-98-1, on 13 looks).
Sutton and DaeSean are more speculative in this short-area attack, but the Broncos are likely to be chasing points if you wanted to chase yourself. Sutton has the biggest downfield role, and is therefore likeliest to hit without needing volume. (He’s also helped by the fact that the volume should be somewhat bankable.)
While game flow will likely tilt the Broncos toward the pass eventually, this is a team that wants to be built on the run, and the Packers enter this game third in early-season DVOA against the pass but 14th against the run.
So far on the season, Royce Freeman has played 72 snaps, and Phillip Lindsay has played 71. Royce has run 42 pass routes to 41 for Lindsay. Royce has 21 carries and eight targets; Lindsay has 24 carries and eight targets. The biggest mismatch for this pair goes to Lindsay in the pass game, where the Packers linebackers have potential to struggle against quicker backs; and while this has come against the Bears trio and Dalvin Cook, it’s at least worth noting that the Packers have allowed the most running back receptions so far this year.
Last year, Lindsay had 1.02 DraftKings points per touch and 0.90 FanDuel points per touch. This year, he’s sitting at 0.66 // 0.54. Any running back who is moderately involved in the pass game should approach at least 0.9 on DK and 0.8 on FD in a worst-case scenario over time; so while it’s no guarantee that he hits this week, Lindsay is pretty fundamentally underpriced on DK. (This is less the case on FanDuel, but he can be kept on the low-owned tourney radar everywhere.)
The same could be said for Royce as well. Big-picture, we should trust Lindsay a little more as a pass catcher than Royce (tilting the upside 60/40 in Lindsay’s favor), but it’s not crazy to bet on either of these guys in tourneys this week.
JM’s Interpretation ::
You could leave this game alone altogether and probably not notice at the end of Sunday (i.e., it’s likely that no “scores you have to have” emerge from this game). But if hunting for one such score, there are plenty of viable options:
- Davante could get nine or more targets and go for 100 yards and a touchdown or two
- Manny Sanders (and to a lesser extent Sutton) could be chased for the targets that are locked in, in a spot where the Broncos offense may be forced to keep up
- Lindsay (and to a slightly lesser extent, Royce) can be chased in tourneys for the low-cost upside in a locked-in 13+ touch role
You could obviously stretch into less-likely scenarios from there (not necessary on a week with so much to like elsewhere, but at least not crazy, either), but at the very least the plays above can be considered in tourneys, as some level of Tier 3 plays.