XANDAMERE’S SHOWDOWN SLANT
Week 4 begins with an exciting matchup as the Lions visit the Packers for a 45.5 total game with (wait for it) . . . Detroit favored by 1.5. When was the last time you can remember the Lions being favored over the Packers? We also have some key injury info to sort through on this one. As I sit down to write this on Tuesday night, I’ll have to make some guesses as to how things turn out and then update this article when we know more (or, update things in our Discord if we don’t get clarity until close to kickoff).
On the Packers side, Aaron Jones has been marked as a limited participant in practice walkthroughs the last two days. That seems like a positive trend so I’m going to take a guess that he’s playing in this one. If he does, we know the matchup is great and we saw Jones score two touchdowns in Week 1 on 14 touches before getting hurt. But, we need to recognize that this is a different Packers offense. Jordan Love appears to be a more aggressive quarterback through the air than Aaron Rodgers was, which could ding Jones’ pass game role if Love is taking deep shots (Love currently leads the league in average depth of target). The Packers might also take it a bit easy on Jones coming back, and they’re also expecting Christian Watson to return and that would provide another option to soak up volume. At $10.8k, Jones is the second most expensive skill position player on the slate. If we get news early, I expect him to carry a significant chunk of ownership (though we’ll have to wait for point projections, as those drive ownership). If he’s a game time decision, he’ll be less owned and that makes me more interested, but if we see him get the 40-50% ownership that the premium skill position players usually get, that’s an underweight position for me at his price and with an uncertain workload. Behind Jones is AJ Dillon, who has looked awful, quite frankly, in the RB role for the last two weeks. The matchups haven’t been great but Dillon is averaging just 2.7 yards per carry on the season so far and has just four targets. Volume matters more than talent at the running back position so if Jones is out, $7k is too cheap for Dillon and I’ll want to utilize him, but he’s too expensive as an RB2 if Jones plays unless you want to go for a pay up to be contrarian play (he DOES still have a ceiling, as does any running back in Showdown. Even as an RB2, it’s feasible that he could reach 10-12 points if he scores a touchdown, with ceiling beyond that if he breaks a big play, lands in the end zone twice, or if Jones is eased back in or reaggravates his hamstring).
Ownership updates automatically
The passing game for the Packers should take a step forward with the return of Watson, who absolutely crushed towards the end of the season last year. Now that we’ve seen Love act as a capable NFL quarterback, any preseason concerns I had about this offense are put to rest. We do need to remember two things about Watson: first is that he could well be eased back in as he’s missed a lot of time, so there’s no guarantee he will step into a full-time role. The second is that his fantasy production last year came on some pretty insane efficiency – he caught 41 balls for 611 yards and 7 touchdowns, which is nuts. He had three games over 100 receiving yards (despite topping out at six catches in a game) and the touchdowns are pretty fluky. That said, he clearly showed that he has explosive upside and the price is more than fair at $8,200. The question is how much he will play. Unless we get clarity from beat reporter info before kickoff, that’s going to be something of a shot in the dark. In a volatile situation like this, I will take my normal approach of “lean into volatility at lower ownership, lean away from it at higher ownership.” With Watson back, we can expect him to mostly impact the roles of Dontayvion Wicks and Samori Toure, leaving Watson, Romeo Doubs, and Jayden Reed as the primary wideouts with Watson and Doubs on the perimeter and Reed in the slot (this also means that, based on what we’ve seen so far, Reed is the most vulnerable to losing snaps when the Packers run heavy sets). Doubs is a guy I’m generally not a huge fan of – he feels like “just a guy” to me, and at $8,800 and with both Watson and Jones returning, I think he’s overpriced for his likeliest role. In three games so far Doubs has a healthy 20 targets, but he’s only caught 11 for 129 yards, with his production buoyed by three scores. I’m more interested in Reed at $5,600, who has similar numbers to Doubs on the year (20 targets, 9/148/2 line) but should be less affected by Watson’s return and is overall more talented than Doubs. Of the Packers wide receivers, I think Reed is the safest no matter what, Watson is a highly volatile option, Doubs is steady but overpriced. Wicks and Toure should still see the field, with Wicks likely leading the backup WR snaps, but at $5k, he’s pretty unplayable except as a very contrarian piece if Watson is in. Toure at $600 is a better option, to me, as a value play. The Packers have used five wide receivers in every game this year so he should be on the field even with Watson returning and his price is very generous. There is a possibility that the Packers surprise us and use Malik Heath instead but we should get clarity on that before kickoff as I doubt they carry six wide receivers into the game. Tight end is dominated by Luke Musgrave, who has played no fewer than 75% of the offensive snaps in a game thus far, to go along with a healthy 15 targets. He hasn’t popped off yet, but it’s coming. The matchup for Musgrave is great. While it feels weird to play a rookie TE who hasn’t yet really put up a good game yet, at $6,400, I think he’s in play here. To be clear, he isn’t a “must play,” but he’s not a guy I’d just consider overpriced and ignore. I think he has upside and the price is a little high but not outrageously so. Backup TEs have so far been Josiah Deguara, Tucker Kraft, and Ben Sims. They have two total targets between them (both Deguara’s) so there’s not much upside here unless you want to chase the whole “backup/random tight end in Showdown” thing.