Showdown Slant ::
Presented by top Showdown mind Xandamere!
Written before pricing was released; pricing notes are added at the end of this article.
Week 6 wraps up with the Lions visiting the Packers. Green Bay is a 4 point favorite at Lambeau Field, though that might drop down a bit now that Davante Adams has been officially ruled out. This shapes up as a fairly ugly game for DFS purposes without a lot of clear, strong plays, which makes it ideal for multi-entry play.
Aaron Jones finally exploded last week against the Cowboys with Jamaal Williams and Davante Adams both injured, handling 19 carries and eight targets and scoring four touchdowns en route to one of the highest NFL DFS scores we’ve ever seen. Perhaps somewhat lost in the glory was that he still only played 68% of the snaps and his backup, Tra Carson, saw 10 touches of his own, including four targets. Adams has been ruled out already, which likely means more targets flowing to the running backs, but with Jamaal Williams coming back there’s a good chance that Jones settles back into the 60/40 or so split that he and Williams had for the first few games of the year. This spot is hard to predict, as any coach with a brain would want to give Jones more work, but the Packers have frustratingly refused to unleash him time and time again. After his performance last time and as a home favorite (especially when people see those eight targets and think “3 down bellcow back!”) he’s probably going to be the highest owned player and captain on the slate, and while he’s a strong play, his ownership is likely to exceed his chance to really smash. Williams, of course, could easily get enough pass game work to matter in a game without the Packers’ #1 receiver.
In the pass game, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Geronimo Allison are really only NFL receivers because they’re on the Packers and Rodgers can make just about anyone look like an NFL receiver. They aren’t horrible, per se, but they’re hardly elite and the Lions have quietly become one of the better secondaries in football (12th in pass defense DVOA despite a tough early schedule including Kansas City). Both MVS and Allison are likely to be overpriced relative to their chances of success here, though that can be said for most players in this game and you have to play someone. MVS has the higher ceiling with more consistent and deeper volume. Jake Kumerow took over as the WR3 in Adams’ absence last week, playing 68% of the snaps (nobody else aside from these three played more than 5% of the snaps), but he only saw 2 targets. In the world of “has he earned Rodgers’ trust yet?” it seems the answer is “no,” so it’s hard to put much faith in Kumerow for anything at this point. He’s a dart throw. At tight end, Jimmy Graham is terrible and Marcedes Lewis is a blocker. Based on full-week pricing, Graham may end up being a decent enough value play as we at least know he’ll be involved, but his ceiling is low.
On the Lions’ side, the premium piece in this game is Kerryon Johnson. KJ has played 70% or more of the snaps for two consecutive weeks and handled over 20 touches each time, while backups J.D. McKissic and Ty Johnson have seen touch totals of six and nine over that two-week period, respectively. The matchup here is pristine against a Packers team that has really struggled to stop the run (28th in run defense DVOA) but has been absolutely elite vs. the pass (5th in pass defense DVOA). If the Lions want to win, expect them to lean on the run game as hard as they can, which is what they tend to bias toward anyhow.
Detroit’s pass game has a fantasy-friendly narrow distribution, with Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones, and T.J. Hockenson sucking up basically all the volume. If Danny Amendola returns this week, he’s actually in somewhat of an interesting spot as the slot receiver (Green Bay’s secondary boasts 2 elite perimeter corners but is at least…well, less elite across the middle). Volume is always a question here, and Marvin Hall’s usage during Amendola’s absence was not exactly encouraging, but there’s certainly some upside if the Lions try to force things in the middle of the field. Hockenson is looking likely to be cleared for this game and would benefit from a middle-of-the-field strategy as well. On the perimeters, you’re betting on Golladay and MJJ being able to beat two of the stronger corners in the NFL — it’s certainly not impossible, but it’s also not a particularly likely outcome. If I were betting on one, I’d bet on the superior talent of Kenny G.
The most likely way for this game to play out is for the Lions to lean heavily on the run, riding Kerryon Johnson as long as the game stays close. The Packers will likely spread the ball out more than they did last week (they probably won’t just ride Aaron Jones all the way, as the Lions’ run D is better than Dallas’), with Williams giving them another receiving outlet. Jones is the best bet for production despite almost certainly being overpriced.
Some other ways the game could play out:
- If the Pack get out to a multi-score early lead, this could turn ugly. The Lions would be forced into a pass-heavy script against one of the league’s better pass rushes and secondaries. There’s enough talent on the Lions to feasibly turn this into a shootout, but the more likely outcome would be a Green Bay stomping.
- Alternately, if the Lions can get up by over a score early on, they can just keep riding Kerryon Johnson while the Packers would need to up the tempo. This is the more likely shootout scenario to me, as of course Rodgers > Stafford, and A-Rod could drag a couple of his pass catchers along with him to big games.
While my captain choices should depend on the scripts I’m building for, my overall favorite captain in this one is Kerryon Johnson. It feels weird to write that as I’m normally not a road underdog RB kind of guy, but he just has by far the best matchup. Otherwise, I’ll be trying to guess right on receivers, and having some Jones captain makes sense in an MME strategy even if he’s going to be overowned and overpriced, because home favorite RBs always have a decent chance of putting up the best score.
Some groups to consider:
- At most 1 kicker
- At most 1 defense
- Pair captain receivers with their QB
- Pair captain QBs with at least 2 receivers
Sunday pricing update: after seeing pricing, I’m still sold on Kerryon Johnson at just $8,600 as my favorite play in this game. Aaron Jones is a strong play as well but, as I suspected, he’s overpriced after his huge game last week at $11,400. Aaron Rodgers also feels overpriced at $11,600 for a QB who hasn’t been playing his best ball and is going up against a tough secondary. Nobody is jumping out at me as a super cheap play. Amendola looks fine at $4,600 but he’s not a real ceiling play, while Kumerow will be on the field a lot and if you believe he actually sees some targets this time he’s kind of a bargain. Otherwise, I think this is a game in which I like the kickers a lot, as there just aren’t many guys priced around them who are serious threats to outscore them.
— 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(!).
(Note from JM :: Xandamere is currently in FIRST place through five slates in the King of the Showdown tournament. One slate remains!)
JM’s Notes for those playing Thursday-to-Monday Slates ::
- As of these notes, we don’t have news on the availability of Davante Adams this week — and against what has been one of the stingiest secondaries in the NFL this year in the Lions, I would be comfortable leaving the entire Packers passing attack alone on the 14-game slate. There are things that could go right, but there are a lot more things that could go wrong. If going here, MVS is the guy likeliest to hit.
- I would have some interest in Aaron Jones here (assuming Jamaal Williams misses again), though the matchup is non-ideal, leaving Jones as a tourney-only, “bet on talent and workload” play on a slate this large.
- On the flip side, Kerryon Johnson is in a great spot against a Packers defense that continues to be attackable on the ground, while Kerryon’s role has expanded to a point where we can bank on the usage and can consider solid production to be in the likeliest range of outcomes. He shapes up as one of the higher floor/ceiling bets at running back this weekend.
- The Lions passing attack has looked really good this year, but the Packers remain a tough matchup even after their blip against the Cowboys. Consider all pieces from this attack to be large-field, “hope for the best” plays only.