XANDAMERE’S SHOWDOWN SLANT
Week 18 and the regular season close out with one of the worst scheduling screw-ups I’ve seen as the Lions visit the Packers. This game currently has a juicy 49-point total with the Packers favored by 4.5, but this could change based on the outcome of the earlier games on Sunday. The Packers are in it to win it no matter what, as they can lock in the 7 seed with a win, but the Lions need the Seahawks to lose to the Rams. If the Seahawks win, the Lions are eliminated from the playoffs. If the Seahawks lose, the Lions are in the playoffs if they beat the Packers. The Seahawks are six-point favorites against the awful Rams, so the likeliest scenario here is that the Lions are eliminated before this game kicks off. I’ll try to write this up to cover both scenarios as best I can, but just recognize that if the Lions are eliminated, they might rest some guys, and while I will try to take some educated guesses, I may not be right (i.e. this game could change a LOT based on later news and inactives).
On the Packers side, things should be a little more straightforward. Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon will be the primary running backs, however, Jones’ workload has varied significantly from week to week as he’s battled through various injuries. The Packers need this game, so I expect Jones to play and to be in a normal role to start, but he’s someone who is definitely at risk of having his workload managed if the Packers get out to a big lead (which also makes Jones a riskier play if the Seahawks win earlier in the day and the Lions decide to rest guys). Jones was initially hurt in Week 9, and since then he has seen 26, 19, 16, 14, 22, 8, and 17 running back opportunities, so a “normal” expectation here is somewhere in the 15-18 range, but there’s a wide range of outcomes. If the Packers are struggling, they may lean more heavily on him if he’s able to deliver, but if they’re up big, we could see another sub-10 touch game. Dillon, on the other hand, has a more bankable workload of at least 12-14 touches but relatively modest odds of going much beyond that. At $6,800, you don’t need a full bell cow role, and while you’re likely to need a touchdown for Dillon to pay off, he’s scored one in five straight weeks (and, if the Packers are trying to protect Jones, it makes sense that they would try and shelter him from bruising goal-line work). If the game gets out of hand and the Packers decide to take it easy, we could see Patrick Taylor getting mixed in for more reps. The matchup here is solid, as while Detroit has not been QUITE the dumpster fire on defense that we saw to begin the season, they’re still 28th in overall defensive DVOA and 27th against the run.
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In the passing game, Christian Watson is questionable but he played through that tag last week (albeit with a slightly diminished role of 60% of the snaps vs. 80%+ in his four healthy games from Weeks 11-15), and I expect he’ll play through it again. Watson is clearly the most explosive pass catcher the Packers have, but just be aware that a huge portion of his fantasy production has come via touchdowns, with nine TDs in just 65 total touches. Watson is a high variance, high ceiling play. Allen Lazard is the safer option of the Packers wide receivers, as he’s playing the WR1 role and the bulk of the snaps, he’s averaging a healthy 11.7 points per game, and yet he’s just $7,400 despite an elite matchup – he’s a strong option. Romeo Doubs has been one of the least effective wide receivers in the NFL and is in a split role as long as Watson is healthy, leaving him as a high-variance tourney option, while slot receiver Randall Cobb is on the tail end of his career and is a part-time player at this point with just two games of double-digit DK points all season. Cobb can be viewed as a reasonable floor but modest ceiling play, though priced below the kickers, maybe that’s all he needs to be. Samori Toure will rotate in for a handful of snaps and is a thin MME punt play. At tight end, Robert Tonyan is the only guy with any semblance of floor, and Green Bay’s insistence on managing his reps and keeping him in the 50-60% of snaps range most weeks has limited his ceiling. He’s a touchdown-or-bust option. The other Packers tight ends (Marcedes Lewis, Josiah Deguara, and Tyler Davis) are all tourney punt options.