Xandamere’s Showdown Slant
Week 2 comes to a close as the Lions visit the Packers for a 48.5 total game with Green Bay favored by a whopping 11.5. The Detroit defense is pretty hapless, which we saw play out in week 1 against San Francisco. Their offense at least showed up in Week 1, whereas the Packers just looked completely lifeless on both sides of the ball. It’s just a one-game sample and we can see Vegas isn’t really taking anything away from it with how they’ve laid odds on this game.
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The first thing to note is our snap counts for the Packers are going to look a little wonky since they pulled their starters in the 4th quarter. Aaron Rodgers only played 74% of the snaps. Aaron Jones played 49%, Davante Adams 70%, Allen Lazard 68%, Marquez Valdes-Scantling 63%, and Robert Tonyan 49%. If you figure none of the starters really played much in the 4th, that tells us that the WR trio of Adams, Lazard, and MVS were basically full-time players while Jones and Tonyan were on pace for something like 65-70% of the snaps.
In the run game, we should expect to see Aaron Jones with the lion’s share of the work (get it? because they’re playing the Lions? ha, ha, ha). This matchup favors Jones and we saw him go absolutely nuclear against Detroit in Week 2 of last year (helped, of course, by Adams getting hurt midway through the game). His workload is not as secure as the very top tier of backs as Green Bay is still going to mix in AJ Dillon. But, as long as the Packers don’t get blown out again, he should have a path to at least 18 running back opportunities, including a solid passing game role, with upside for more. As a massive home favorite in a good rushing matchup with a 3rd down/passing game role, Jones checks almost every box, with the only one missing being “primary goal-line back.” That one we just don’t know at this point in the season (because the Packers haven’t gotten to the goal line). Dillon could be favored there in the classic “bigger back that comes in to vulture the touchdowns” role that has plagued so many top RBs – and DFS players – throughout the years. That’s just a minor note of caution, though, as Jones is a very strong play. Dillon’s a great play at just $3k as well and as massive home favorites I’d be comfortable rolling them out together. Rookie Kylin Hill saw the field in Week 1, but almost certainly only due to the blowout, as he didn’t see his first touch until Rodgers and the rest of the starters were pulled. You can include him as a deep MME punt play.
In the passing game, the most interesting takeaway from Week 1 is that Randall Cobb was not signed to resume his old full time slot receiver role as he played just 26% of the snaps and saw one target. It is possible that this changes (he was signed fairly close to the season, after all), but my guess is that at this point in his career, Green Bay views him as more of a capable veteran backup, though the role could grow if Lazard or MVS struggle. Davante Adams is, of course, the king of this offense. He’s a near-lock for double-digit targets every game and Rodgers looks his way in the red zone. I’d take Rodgers over Adams for floor, but it’s close, and Adams definitely has a higher ceiling. Nothing more to say about one of the best receivers in the NFL. In a dreamy matchup, MVS and Lazard are both also in play. It’s worth noting that MVS saw eight targets in Week 1, though he only caught three of them. They also weren’t pure deep passes, which is the role we mostly saw him in last year. After a hype-filled preseason, MVS is one of my favorite plays in this game for tournaments. We know he can take one to the house from anywhere, and if his route tree is going to be diversified, that just adds some floor to his already strong ceiling. My take here is Adams, MVS, and Lazard are the starters and I would rank their attractiveness in that order, with Cobb as the most involved backup. Amari Rodgers and Malik Taylor saw the field in the Week 1 blowout but are not likely to be very involved in competitive games and belong just as MME dart throws. At tight end, Robert Tonyan was on pace for a close to full-time role, something that largely eluded him in 2020 when he only exceeded 70% of the snaps once. He was on pace for a bit more than his 2020 average, which is a good sign for his fantasy utility. Keep in mind that a tremendous amount of Tonyan’s 2020 value came from A) his absolutely absurd catch rate (52 of 59 targets!) and B) 11 freaking touchdowns (tied for 5th in the league!). He got by on modest volume with absolutely unearthly efficiency, and over the course of the season, I would bet for that to regress if his volume doesn’t increase significantly. In a single-game sample, of course, he’s a pretty decent bet for a touchdown as he seems to sniff the end zone with amazing regularity. Marcedes Lewis is a blocking tight end who can be thrown in as a punt play (he did score three touchdowns last year).
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On the Detroit side, we have a backfield split in which both running backs absolutely smashed in Week 1, with a whopping 20 passing targets between them (out of 57 dropbacks, thus 35% of Jared Goff’s noodly-armed throws went to his RBs). Volume should be pretty dependable for them in this offense as Goff seems completely incapable of throwing more than 10 yards downfield, which often leaves him looking at his running backs, tight ends, and slot receivers. Despite the nearly even count of running back opportunities with 22 for D’Andre Swift against 18 for Jamaal Williams, Swift played almost twice as many snaps, so Williams’ production could be viewed as something of a mirage. Based on how often he was on the field, Williams is overpriced for his likeliest range of outcomes, though he can still be considered in tournament play. Swift’s receiving role makes him effectively game script immune, and he is my favorite overall Detroit play on the board.
The Lions passing game is in a bit of chaos right now. Expected WR1 Tyrell Williams is out with a concussion. Kalif Raymond led the WR group in snaps in Week 1, but he popped up on the Saturday injury report, which is never a good sign. At the end of the day, I kind of lump all of the Detroit wide receivers together a bit, as these are mostly either kind of no-name guys or young guys who have yet to really make an impression on the league. The starting receiver trio is going to be some combination of Raymond, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Trinity Benson, Quintez Cephus, and perhaps Khadarel Hodge if Raymond is out. I don’t have a great way to separate them (and would be interested if any industrious reader does!). All of these guys are getting dumped into the player pool, of course, because they’re going to be on the field a lot, but it’s notable that in a Week 1 when Jared Goff attempted 57 passes, the “leading” wide receiver was Quintez Cephus with a line of 3/12/1 on six targets. I would guess that St. Brown is the most talented of the group, but receiver talent only matters so much if your quarterback doesn’t throw to you. They’re all viable in tournaments. I don’t really want to trust any of them in cash games, but if you want to use the Rodgers/Adams/Jones trio, you’re going to need some value. If that’s the route you go in cash I think you can plug in whoever fits and hope for the best. Good luck sorting this mess out. But wait, I’m missing the actual top receiver in the Lions offense, which is tight end T.J. Hockenson. A monster week 1 has led to him being priced where we’re used to only seeing the league’s very top tight ends, but perhaps with Goff targeting him so heavily, this is his year to join those ranks. He certainly looked the part against San Francisco and is a premium play in this one who I actually expect will get somewhat modest ownership, as the field is likely to prioritize the three main Packers. He’s a great play, and you can throw his fellow tight end Darren Fells into your punt player pool as well.
The way this game is likely to play out is for the Packers to come out with a vengeance and smash the hapless Lions. Detroit just doesn’t have anything that can stop the Green Bay offense when it’s firing on all cylinders, and Goff can’t keep up in a shootout. Green Bay should be able to attack how they want to in this one, and after an absolutely embarrassing Week 1 defeat, look for them to try and get back on track with a convincing win. Or, at least, that’s how it SHOULD play out, but there are always some other options…
- The most likely tributary is for the Lions to fail to hit their modest team total as a furious Packers team absolutely trounces them. This would, of course, make Green Bay onslaught lineups entirely viable.
- But wait….what if the Packers offense, for whatever reason, just isn’t as good as it was last season? Rodgers is a year older, maybe he’s pissed at the team for the contract/draft situation…who knows. This is awfully unlikely (and don’t tell my boss at my day job I said this, because she’s a HUGE Packers fan), but maybe the Packers fall flat yet again, just as they did in Week 1. I don’t see a complete stomping as a realistic outcome, as the Lions defense is a far cry from the Saints, but what if something is fundamentally broken in the Green Bay offense right now?
- Alternately, what if the Packers offense does just fine, but Goff CAN keep up? After all, the Lions put up 33 against San Francisco last week. He got it done on dinks and dunks, but Goff led them on successful drive after successful drive despite a pick-six. Could we potentially see a shootout here?
I’m still debating my cash game pool. Rodgers is obviously at the top of it, but I have to decide if I want to play both QBs (as I normally try to do) or go heavy on the Green Bay side with Jones and Adams. I’m leaning towards the latter. Also in the pool are Swift, Dillon, Crosby, and then perhaps a cheap Lion receiver – basically whichever fits the build is “fine.”
In tournaments, my favorite captains are, perhaps unsurprisingly, Adams and Jones, with Swift, Hockenson, and MVS also in strong consideration.
Some groups to consider
- At most 1 kicker
- At most 1 defense
- Pair captain pass catchers with their QBs (or consider boosting the QB if using a captain receiver if you don’t want 100% exposure to this pairing – discussed in further detail in the 2020 update to my Advanced Showdowns course)
- If using an RB captain, apply a negative correlation to the opposing defense and kicker (you can see how to do so in my FantasyLabs tutorial video)
- Pair captain QBs with at least 2 pass catchers
- At most 2 Lions wide receivers (and I wouldn’t really argue if you used at most 1 here, as wide receivers are not the best way to attack the Packers and that isn’t where the talent of the Detroit offense lies)
- At most 2 of MVS, Lazard, and Cobb
By LexMiraglia10 >>
- DET allowed the 2nd most QB DK pts/g in 2020 (25.4)
- DET allowed 314 yds, TD to Jimmy G in W1 and lost a starting CB for the season
- Rodgers vs DET 2020: 240:2 // 290:3, rush TD
- DET had the 2nd fewest QB pressures with just 3 in W1
- Adams received 9+ targets in 14/16 total games last year, with the two short being an injury-shortened game and the other a Week 17 blowout
- Adams received 7 targets in a W1 blowout loss vs Lattimore’s Saints in which the starters were pulled from the game early
- In first two years with Lafleur, Adams has turned 10.6 tg/g into 91.2 yds/g
- Adams caught 20 TDs in his 16 games last year
- DET allowed the 3rd most WR DK pts in 2020
- DET was just eviscerated by Deebo Samuel in W1 for 9:189:1 (12)
- Adams vs DET 2020: 3:36 (left early) // 7:115:1
- In three career seasons, MVS has five 100-yd games and five games of 5+ rec
- MVS best scores by season: 16.1, 16.3, 19.8 // 21.9, 24.3 // 17.1, 19.3, 19.6, 20.5, 27.9
- MVS tied Davante with 7 targets in W1
- MVS vs DET 2020: 3:64 (7) // 6:85:1 (6)
- A lot of Deebo’s big W1 came on a deep TD
- DET allowed the 2nd most DK pts to RBs in 2020 behind the most RB rec TDs, 2nd most RB rec yds, & 5th most RB rush yds
- Aaron Jones took advantage of this weak 2020 DET RB defense to the tune of 18 att for 168 yds, 2 TD & 4 rec for 68 yds, TD in the first matchup // 15:69, 2:6 in the second
- In W1, DET allowed 127 rush yds, 2 TD on 22 att to SF RBs & 22 more yds through the air
- Jones played 74% of the snaps through the first 3 quarters of the W1 blowout loss in a brutal RB matchup
- GB allowed the 3rd fewest QB DK pts in 2020, but did switch to new DC Joe Barry
- Barry’s 4 previous defenses allowed the 2nd, 6th, 8th, & 8th most pass yds; only one finished top 20 in pass TDs allowed
- GB’s pass D allowed 5 TDs to Jameis on just 20 pass att in W1
- Goff turned a blowout vs SF into a game late behind 338 yds, 3 TD
- Goff’s protection actually improved from the preseason thanks to Penei Sewell being forced to play LT (his natural position); GB’s star pass rusher Zadarius Smith is on IR
- #1 WR Tyrell Williams left with a concussion before the passing game really got going in W1, and will remain out for W2, leaving Cephus, Raymond, Benson, St Brown (slot) as the four main DET WRs
- Those four combined for 21 targets in W1, with no one surpassing 50 yds
- GB allowed the 4th fewest WR DK pts in 2020 and drafted another 1st-rd CB
- Other than a deep shot to Harris, most of NOR’s production vs GB flowed through the TEs and the ground game
- The leading WR yds in two DET games vs GB in 2020 were 54 (Cephus) & 66 (Amendola)
- Hockenson is DET’s #1 with the most routes run & a 20% target share
- Hock finished with 8:97:1 in a tough matchup vs SF
- GB just allowed 2 TDs on 6 rec to Johnson & Trautman in W1
- Hock vs GB in 2020: 4:62 // 6:43:1
- GB allowed the 5th most RB DK pts in 2020, with only KC & DET allowing more RB rec yds
- GB allowed 133 rush yds on 31 att to NOR RBs in W1 (+ a rec TD)
- DET RBs (albeit in heavy comeback mode) each received 8 targets in W1, going for a combined 121 yds, TD through the air
- Swift led in carries 11 to 9, but was outgained by 15 rushing yds
- Swift played 68% snaps to Williams 35%