Showdown Slant ::
Presented by top Showdown mind Xandamere!
This game sure looked a lot more interesting before Mahomes was injured last week. Now the Packers are 3.5 point road favorites against a Chiefs team which has not seen a team total as low as 22 points since Mahomes took over at QB. While this game has no real interesting plays on a full-day or full-week slate, we still get a large Showdown to compete over, so let’s see what we can pick apart.
The first thing to note here is that both of these teams have extremely strong pass defenses (6th in DVOA for the Packers, and a surprising 4th for the Chiefs). This is more of a challenge for Kansas City and their backup QB than it is for the Packers and Aaron Rodgers, but with both teams struggling against the run (19th in DVOA for Green Bay, 29th for Kansas City), the easiest path to points for both teams is going to be on the ground. Of course, both teams have split backfields, which leaves us with frustratingly little safety.
Let’s start with the road favorites. Green Bay’s run game is a frustrating timeshare as they continue to insist on splitting work between emerging stud Aaron Jones and plodding slowpoke Jamaal Williams. Jones’ emergence in the pass game this season with 34 targets (just shy of five per game) is encouraging and significantly boosts his floor. Williams, previously thought of as more of a passing down back, only has 18 targets in five games played start to finish. The timeshare between the two is far from even, with Jones leading 16 touches to seven last week (and that was coming off of a Williams eruption game that could have been thought to have earned him more trust and usage), but the week before it was 15 to Jones versus 18 for Jamaal in Jones’ mistake-heavy outing. This seems to go back and forth and is based to some extent on a hot hand approach. Both are viable for ceiling, but I have a hard time trusting Williams’ floor at a not-exactly-bargain price of $6,400.
The Packers’ passing game was flat-out confusing last week as we didn’t expect either of Marquez Valdes-Scantling or Geronimo Allison to play and then both ended up active. While both were part-time plays (57% of snaps for Allison, 33% for MVS), we can expect those counts to go up this week assuming no setbacks in practice. Davante Adams hasn’t practiced yet and is a near-certainty to miss this game. Last week, Jake Kumerow and Allen Lazard led the receiving corps in snaps with 72% and 85%, respectively, though despite a complete demolition of the Raiders by the Green Bay passing attack, nobody saw more than five targets in an “everybody in the pool” game that saw Rodgers complete at least two passes to eight different receivers. What seems likeliest to me is that MVS and Allison go back to being full-time players after a full week of practice, while I suspect that Lazard has passed Kumerow on the depth chart based on leading him in snaps, routes run, and targets last week. Jimmy Graham rounds out the full-time receivers and is a touchdown-dependent option, while Kumerow, Marcedes Lewis, and even fullback Dan Vitale could see a target or two as MME dart throws.
The Chiefs’ run game is equally frustrating with a three-way snap share between LeSean McCoy, Damien Williams, and Darrel Williams (note here: if you play “D. Williams” make sure you get the right one). Darrel is the easiest one to throw out of the pool here; although he’s playing a respectable snap share (30% last week), in the last five weeks he has seen a grand total of five touches. Damien Williams’ usage is somewhat more surprising to me, as I (and I think many others) were expecting him to be the lead back in this offense, but he has seen just two and 11 touches in the last two weeks, and despite being touted as the superior receiving option he has only seen a total of eight targets in three games since coming back from injury (McCoy has six in the same timeframe). McCoy appears to be the lead back here, though “lead” only seems to guarantee him about 10-14 touches; but he has taken advantage of the opportunity by running better than he has in years. Shady is averaging 5.4 yards per carry and it is awfully logical to expect the Chiefs to lean heavily on their run game in this one, so I like him to exceed his season-high in touches in this game.
The Chiefs’ pass game is interesting here. First, Sammy Watkins is back; I expect to see him running a lot of slot, with DeMarcus Robinson outside as the WR3 and Mecole Hardman and Byron Pringle going back to reserve roles. All of the Chiefs’ receivers are priced down to account for the difficulty of the matchup and the QB switch, however. Getting a starting QB who is at least anywhere near competent at just $8,000 in Showdown is highly unusual, and Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce still stick out to me as matchup-proof players who smashed in recent years with Alex Smith as their quarterback. Hill can dust anybody on a given route, while Kelce gets the matchup that just let Darren Waller catch 7 of 8 passes for 126 yards and 2 touchdowns.
The way this game is likeliest to play out is that both teams focus on their run games while taking some occasional passing shots. Whichever team lands those passing shots is likeliest to win, and with Aaron Rodgers, I expect that team is likely to be Green Bay. Vegas expects a close game, which implies both run games are viable on the same rosters as long as the score stays relatively close.
Some other ways the game could play out:
- One team or the other could jump out to a 2-score lead early, which would lead the other team to respond by being more pass-heavy. This could go either way, but it’s definitely worth thinking about correlation with rosters that are captaining a running back and considering if you want to bring it back with the other team’s passing attack.
- I think it’s likely that most rosters will be focused on the running game, given the matchup. But, on the Green Bay side we have a historically great quarterback, while on the Kansas City side we have a highly creative coach and two matchup-proof receivers (plus one of the more talented WR2s in the league in Sammy Watkins). While “both teams focus on the ground attack” is the likeliest way this plays out, there’s a reasonable chance that all of the touchdowns end up coming through the air and we get something of an aerial shootout.
My favorite captain overall is Aaron Jones, as out of all of the running backs, he has the strongest touch projection (including projecting for the most targets). Next comes LeSean McCoy, and then Travis Kelce is someone who I think is likely to go a bit overlooked in the captain spot but is as cheap as we’ve ever seen him in a Showdown.
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 (consider at least 3 with Rodgers given his price, though I’d count Jones and Williams as receivers for this purpose)
- At most 1 of the Green Bay “everyone in the pool” crowd (Lewis, Kumerow, Vitale, Shepherd)
- At most 2 of Rodgers, Jones, and Williams (unless you think both Jones and Williams have a receiving touchdown)At most 2 of McCoy and the Williams’
— 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(!).
JM’s Original Notes for Thursday-to-Monday Players ::
- Packers at Chiefs seems like a spot in which the public will lean on the Packers’ passing attack, given that Rodgers had a monster game in Week 7 and the Chiefs are still believed by the public (and by most content providers) to have a pathetic pass defense. This is a good spot, then, to remind that the Packers rank middle of the pack (15th) in pass play rate, while the Chiefs are facing the eighth lowest opponent pass play rate in the league. This isn’t all about “keeping Mahomes off the field,” either. The Chiefs rank fourth(!) in DVOA against the pass, and 29th(!) against the run. Obviously, that’s not to say that the Packers cannot be successful through the air here (especially if Davante Adams returns) — but on the road, in a game without Mahomes on the other side, the likeliest scenario has the Packers winning this game on the ground.
- The Chiefs will have creative plays designed to still get the ball downfield into the hands of their playmakers, but the focus on this side of the ball should also be on the run game — vs a Green Bay defense that ranks sixth in DVOA against the pass but 19th against the run.
- What does this mean from a “15 game slate” perspective? Ultimately, we have two teams with messy split-backfields that should build their offense around the run. This is a situation in which “one or two strong scores will likely emerge, but it will be a bit of a guessing game as to where those strong scores will come from.” Your best bet is to leave this uncertainty alone on tighter builds for the 15-game slate and wait for the Showdown to poke around in this spot.
- If you want to get a bit more aggressive on your build (or if you are multi-entering and want to target pieces from this game), the running backs are the likeliest sources of points (the Packers should lean on Aaron Jones first and Jamaal Williams second, though both will be involved; the Chiefs may lean a bit more heavily on LeSean McCoy than normal, as he has been their preferred option on the ground, though there is certainly room for them to find creative ways to get Damien Williams and even Darrel Williams involved), while big-play threats at receiver (Tyreek, MVS, Adams) could also be targeted for thin upside.