The 8-3 Green Bay Packers head on the road to take on the 2-9 Giants with a healthy skill position group — which brings up an interesting statistic: in games with everyone healthy, the Packers have scored 18.3 points per game, while they scored 32.5 points per game in the weeks Davante Adams missed. Of course, this is almost certainly just a statistical anomaly — but given that Aaron Jones saw 6.75 targets per game when Adams was out (and was ultra effective in that pass-catching role) and has seen only 2.7 targets per game with Adams on the field, this is at least worth noting. No offense gets “better” by eliminating an elite wide receiver — but the way this offense is being run is different with Adams on the field, and this has taken away some of the opportunities for Jones to do some of the things at which he is most special.
Either way, of course, that’s likely just a side note and back-burner thought to keep in mind, as the matchup against the Giants is sweet — with this team ranked 27th in DVOA on defense while ranking 27th in yards allowed, 29th in points allowed, and 22nd in drive success rate. The Giants have been solid on third downs and stout in the red zone (seventh in red zone touchdown rate), but teams are able to hit so many big plays (the sixth most pass plays allowed of 20+ yards; the fourth most rush plays allowed of 20+ yards) that this has hardly mattered, as offenses are frequently able to pick up first downs on early downs, and are frequently able to score from outside the red zone. The Giants are not only boosting opponent aDOT by 13.6%, but are also allowing the third highest catch rate boost in the league and are adding nearly 7% to the league-average YAC/r rate. Only eight teams have allowed more fantasy points per game to quarterbacks. Only one team has allowed more yards to wide receivers. Only two teams have allowed more touchdowns to wide receivers. Here are the notable stat lines allowed by this defense:
80-0 (14) Ronald Jones
126-3 (27) Edmonds
139-0 (23) Zeke
The list above is especially interesting in the games for Amari // Evans // Thielen // Golladay // A-Rob, as Davante has a little bit of all those guys in his game. In his last four games, Adams has target counts of 15 // 11 // 10 // 12, and while he has connected on only two of these looks, he has eight targets of 20+ yards in his last three contests. Last season, Adams scored 12 red zone touchdowns on 23 looks, while he has only one red zone touchdown on nine looks this year. Positive regression could hit hard when it hits.
Behind Adams, this passing attack has been “spread the wealth, and don’t expect too much” — with Allen Lazard seeing recent target counts of 5 // 4 // 6 // 2 but failing to top 44 yards since his Week 6 breakout (65 yards, with Adams out), and with Jimmy Graham going 5 // 4 // 3 // 2 and topping 20 yards only once in this stretch. Marquez Valdes-Scantling has fallen out of favor (two catches for 11 yards across his last four) and Geronimo Allison is picking up scraps (no games north of 21 yards in his last four).
In the backfield, Jones is still priced up (and “owned up”) for the role he had when Adams was out — with 26 total touches across his last two games, and with one reception in his last three. Jamaal Williams, somewhat unbelievably, has 31 touches across his last two (five more than Jones), and he has 13 catches to Jones’ one across the Packers’ last three games. These two continue to split snaps roughly down the middle — making Jones a high-priced “bet on touchdown (or changing role)” play, while making Williams a frequently-viable salary saver as a player with the same role as Jones (with a bigger role in the pass game, apparently), minus the explosiveness.
The other side of this game is interesting, as the Packers rank 22nd in defensive DVOA, while ranking middle of the pack in points allowed and bottom five in yards allowed — and this week, they’ll be taking on a Giants team that (as noted in this week’s Angles email) has been able to beat up on three of the six “mediocre” defenses they have faced with Daniel Jones at quarterback. (Incidentally, all three of those big games from Daniel Jones came on the road — though that’s almost certainly a pure statistical anomaly that will correct itself over time.) The Packers have allowed 22+ points in six of their last seven games.
Injuries, of course, will play a major role in our ability to comfortably target the Giants offense, as this team has a chance to consist of anywhere from three to five “heavily involved pieces.” Golden Tate is likely to be out with a concussion, as he’ll be hard-pressed to be cleared in time for this game, making Evan Engram the big question mark. If Engram plays, there will be a chance for one of the Giants’ four pieces to hit a strong price-considered score (though there will also be a chance for volume to be spread too thin for any of these guys to really matter); but if Engram misses, this offense will be focused on Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard, and Darius Slayton — creating solid potential even if the Giants simply hit expectations in this spot, and creating potential for “have to have it” scores if the Giants land on their fourth high-end game of the season.
The best matchup on the Giants belongs to Saquon, as the Packers rank 28th in DVOA on the ground and have allowed the following notable stat lines to enemy backs:
154-1 (20) Dalvin
81-2 (21) Lindsay
87-2 (15) Howard
124-0 (21) Jacobs
80-2 (20) MG3
108-1 (20) CMC
Saquon has not looked quite like himself since returning inhumanly quickly from a high-ankle sprain, and game flow is a potential concern as well; but he’s still Saquon Barkley, and that very much keeps him in the mix.
The Packers have been hit hard by tight ends this year, allowing the sixth most catches and the third most yards — so while Engram has been glued to the shorter areas of the field of late, he’ll have an outside shot at topping the slate in this spot, and he should effectively make the wide receivers difficult to bet on beyond “hoping for a big play or a touchdown.” But if Engram misses, the Giants (who have already lost Russell Shepard to I.R. and just cut Bennie Fowler) will be down to Cody Latimer and Cody Core as depth options, and will be focusing all their attention on Shepard (nine targets in four straight starts — almost all of which have come with pieces missing from this offense) and Slayton (recent target counts of 5 // 4 // 15 // 7). The 15 targets for Slayton came with Engram and Shepard out, while “Engram and Tate out” would have the same effect on role/usage. Obviously, 15 targets is always an outlier, but eight or more looks would be highly likely in this spot for Slayton, and the Giants have proved unexpectedly willing to expand his route tree beyond downfield work when other pieces are missing from this attack.
JM’s Interpretation ::
With Engram and Rhett Ellison missing last week, Kaden Smith saw six targets (which he turned into five catches…for 17 yards), which would also keep him in the mix in this matchup — but the pieces that would really stand out to me would be Slayton and Shepard. Shepard will have a solid floor with a touchdown-driven ceiling if injuries lead to a condensed distribution of targets, while Slayton will be a “bet on role and explosive upside” tourney piece. Saquon is also very much in the mix — and while he is not truly “Saquon” at the moment, he’s still an extremely talented back in a really good matchup.
On the Packers’ side, you could bet on touchdowns and/or big plays with Jones, and you could bet on role for Williams, but the play that really stands out is Adams, who carries a high floor and has big upside in this spot. Adams has said that the toe issue is no longer bothering him, and this is a true get-right spot. After facing Hayward // Bradberry // 49ers since his return, he has a clear path to a top-of-slate score this week against the Giants.