>>>> More Showdown Cash Game thoughts added by Xandamere this week. If you’re still trying to turn this edge to your favor, some of the thoughts here will be really valuable. (Note: As this is part of the Mastering Showdowns course, it is available only to Annual subs. Apologies to the Weeklys out there!)
Showdown Slant ::
Presented by top Showdown mind Xandamere!
Week 4 kicks off (har, har) with the Eagles visiting the Packers. This game opened at 48 before being bet down to 46, with the Packers moving from 3 to 4 point favorites (thus, the Packers’ total has stayed still while the Eagles total dropped a full 2 points). The Eagles are banged up but I’m not quite sure it’s injury news that’s driving this, as Alshon Jeffery is expected to return while nobody really expected DeSean Jackson to play (and he has been officially ruled out). What could be driving at least some of it is the rumor that the Eagles offered a package including Zach Ertz to the Jaguars for Jalen Ramsay which, if true and if accepted, means Ertz could be held out of this game even if a trade isn’t 100% finalized. Nothing is certain yet, but it’s worth pointing out, so watch Twitter on Thursday for news.
The Packers’ offense has started the season a little flat, with totals of 10, 21, and 27 points, albeit against relatively tough defenses. The Eagles’ pass funnel defense should present much less of a challenge, even if Aaron Rodgers has not looked quite as sharp as he has in years past. The Packers also give us a narrower, more predictable usage path, and that combined with the higher team total means that the safer plays are on the Green Bay side. Simplifying this even further is Philly’s run defense — it’s not only good from a talent perspective, but schematically, the Eagles line up in a way that’s tougher on the run and more vulnerable to the pass, leading them to face some of the lowest run volume of any NFL team. Complicating this is Matt LaFleur being firmly on team #EstablishTheRun, with the Packers passing 56% of the time so far in 2019 (albeit playing out in front in every game so far) versus a league-leading 67.5% of the time last season. Complicating matters yet even further is that after Aaron Jones dominated the run-game work in Week 2, LaFleur said he wanted a more even split in Week 3, and delivered on that with Jones only seeing 39% of the snaps and seeing 10 carries and one target versus 12 and two for Jamaal Williams. Some of that could have been the game flow as Green Bay had a two-score lead for most of the game and they may have wanted to preserve Jones, but the combination of matchup and workload split make Jones a tough play. At $9k, he’s priced for usage that he’s highly unlikely to see. Williams is actually somewhat interesting against an Eagles defense that is annually near the top of the league in catches allowed to running backs, as he is clearly in the lead in routes run compared to Jones.
The Green Bay passing game is much easier to dissect. First, let’s start with a note about Thursday night games: they tend to be low scoring because football is a hard, physical game and it’s tough to recover from a game on Sunday in just three days. Aaron Rodgers was only hit once on Sunday, however — something he noted in his postgame press conference, when he said he feels much better than he normally does after a game. That’s a relevant piece of news here. Having a quarterback who isn’t as banged up as guys normally are gives Green Bay an edge in the passing game, which is just how we want to attack the Eagles anyhow. The Packers are going to force-feed Davante Adams, making him probably the single safest play on the slate, while Marquez Valdes-Scantling has become a full-time player this year and has earned Rodgers’ trust as the other perimeter receiver. Geronimo Allison seemed primed for big things as Green Bay’s slot receiver (Rodgers has historically targeted the slot at an above-average rate), but he’s only been playing about half the snaps so far and has seen a total of seven targets all year. At tight end Jimmy Graham is back off the injury list and so he should see the majority of snaps. Aaron Rodgers said he wants to get Graham more involved, so there could be some squeaky wheel additional volume here, but Graham has been dreadful ever since joining the Packers so this seems like a low-percentage play (albeit at a cheap price). Mercedes Lewis is mostly a blocker, while Robert Tonyan is an interesting large-field GPP dart throw at minimum price — he has a lot of athleticism, saw three targets last week, and has played at least 30% of the snaps every week.
The Eagles give us more to pick apart here. The run game is a three-headed monster with the snaps being split fairly equally between Jordan Howard, Miles Sanders, and Darren Sproles, which is really a shame as the ground is the best way to attack the Packers. Howard is a two-down plodder who is unlikely to see more than a dozen carries at most and will need a touchdown or a broken play to pay off. Sanders led the backfield in touches last week with 13 carries and four targets and has the most upside, but he fumbled twice (an issue for him in college as well) and lost goal-line work to Howard. Sproles is a passing down back but he’s losing pass down work to Sanders, with only seven targets on the year. Sanders is the safest play here, but safe is a very relative term.
In the pass game, Alshon Jeffery is back as a perimeter receiver and the other perimeter receiver is…we don’t know. It will either be J.J. Arcega-Whiteside or Mack Hollins. JJAW is higher on the depth chart and is a promising rookie while Hollins barely made the team coming out of camp, but Hollins significantly outsnapped JJAW last week and outperformed him as well. RotoWorld seems to think it’s Hollins, and they’re the biggest fantasy site out there so that’s going to drive the ownership. If it’s Hollins, it’s awfully cheap at just $2,400, but if it’s JJAW you’re going to capture a lot of value and upside at much lower ownership. It has to be noted, though, that the Packers’ cornerback duo of Alexander and King is emerging as one of the top pairings in the NFL and outmatch Philly’s perimeter receivers; whoever it is will have a tough time. Nelson Agholor should remain relevant out of the slot with a better matchup and coming off of a couple of nice games, but he’s now priced up for it. Zach Ertz, despite a difficult matchup, is still a top play (if he isn’t traded). Finally, Dallas Goedert “played” last week but it seemed to be out of desperation for any warm bodies as he only played nine snaps. He should be back to normal this week (he got in a full practice on Tuesday), and we can expect the Eagles to go back to running more 12 personnel, which means Goedert should be looking at something around a 50% snap percentage — making him look awfully underpriced at just $1k for a guy who’s on the field as much as he is and who has a prominent red zone role. Price-considered, Goedert is my favorite Philly receiver barring any confirming news on the Hollins/JJAW situation.
The way this game is mostly likely to play out is the Packers trying to #EstablishTheRun early on and failing before realizing, like most teams, that the way to beat the Eagles is to pass, pass, pass. They should be able to attack successfully on the perimeter, heavily utilizing Adams and MVS, who are the premier plays in this scenario, as the other Packers skill players are all part-time guys. Philly should try to attack on the ground to start as that’s the best matchup; though they won’t be able to stick with it if Green Bay rushes out to a lead. The Philly pass game should be focused in the middle, which means Agholor, Ertz, Goedert, and the running backs, with Agholor and Hollins/JJAW locked down by Alexander and King.
Some other ways the game could play out:
- If Philly gets out to a lead, they could try to lean heavily on Sanders (or even Howard). The path to 20 touches is awfully slim, but 16-18 could be in range if Philly is playing from in front, especially for Sanders.
- Through a combination of good fortune and LaFleur’s stubbornness, Green Bay may actually succeed in the run game (weirder things have happened). We would be likely to see more of Jones than Williams in this scenario, and since people tend to avoid using running backs against the Eagles (with good reason), he could end up being a somewhat sneaky captain choice.
- Finally, let’s note that Green Bay’s defense has been legitimately good so far this year. They haven’t faced a huge test yet, but so far they’ve put up double-digit scores in every game, and that’s without a defensive touchdown. A banged up Eagles team on a short week could fall flat at Lambeau and the Pack could just dominate start to finish.
While my captain choices, as always, vary depending on the game scenario that I’m building for, there are two that really stand out to me as having the ideal matchup and being on the field for almost every snap: Adams and MVS. Jones is a bit sneaky, or you could try to play pick-an-Eagle (Hollins/JJAW/Goedert all carry upside and they let you basically play whatever other five guys you want).
Some rules to consider:
- At most 1 kicker
- At most 1 defense
- Pair captain QBs with at least 2 receivers (I’d even consider 3 in the case of Rodgers as given how narrow the offense is, you’d basically need 3 guys to each catch 1 TD without breaking 100 yards for Rodgers to be the top scorer)
- Pair captain receivers with their QB
- At most 1 of Jones and Williams
- At most 2 of the Eagles’ RBs
- At most 1 Packers TE
- At most 1 of Hollins and JJAW
One final note here: in this game, given how both of these are timeshare backfields and how the Eagles defense is such a pass funnel, I’m not confident in the traditional cash game formula that tries to prioritize the running backs over receivers. We also have a couple of receivers (well, one, especially) whose volume is so locked-in that he feels as high floor as most running backs. I don’t think the running backs are all necessarily bad plays, but I’m much more willing to consider receivers in cash in this matchup than I am on most slates.
— Xandamere’s Advanced Showdown Course is now available through OWS :: Marketplace! This is his tournament course for Showdowns; and given the tangible edge in this contest type, it should pay itself off pretty quickly(!).