PACKERS // JETS OVERVIEW
The Packers head to New Jersey this week to put the finishing touches on a lost season, with their 5-8-1 record matching up surprisingly nicely with the Jets’ 4-10 mark. The Packers have seen their flaws emerge most regularly on the road, where they have incredibly failed to win a game all year, going 0-7 through their first seven tries. Green Bay has the point differential edge between these teams, ranking 17th in points allowed and 16th in points scored, while the Jets rank 24th and 24th, respectively. The visiting Packers have been installed as three point favorites, in a game with an Over/Under of 46.5.
PACKERS PASS OFFENSE
The Jets’ blitz-and-man-heavy defense has managed to shave 3.3% off the league-average catch rate, but they have otherwise been unspectacular, ranking 15th in yards allowed per pass attempt. Only two teams have faced more wide receiver targets this year than the Jets, and Aaron Rodgers focuses on his wide receivers (that is to say, one wide receiver in particular) as consistently as any quarterback in football. Across his last three games, Rodgers has thrown the ball 50 // 32 // 42 times, with the spiked-volume weeks coming in losses and his drop in volume coming in a breezy Week 14 win. With the Packers rarely attacking on downfield routes, volume is typically valuable for Rodgers to hit his ceiling, so if betting on Rodgers, it is advisable to also bet on a piece from the Jets that might help to keep this game close.
Regardless of Rodgers’ volume, volume for Davante Adams has been absolutely glued in place, with recent target counts of 12 // 8 // 13 // 11 // 13. Adams leads the NFL in touchdown receptions and ranks first in red zone targets, giving him a high weekly ceiling alongside the high floor his alpha role yields. Adams will primarily do battle with Morris Claiborne this week — a mismatch that Adams is likely to win.
Behind Adams, target counts among remaining wide receivers have been thin, with Randall Cobb going for 5 // 6 // 5 // 6 // 7 across his last five games, and with Equanimeous St. Brown and Marquez Valdes-Scantling continuing to split time in the number three role. Cobb is the safest floor bet with his targets assured and the matchup in the slot working in his favor, though it often takes more than “a good matchup” for Cobb to pop for upside. He’ll still need a touchdown or a huge YAC play to make a dent in this week’s slate. (NOTE: Randall Cobb’s concussion is now looking likely to keep him out this week. If this ends up being the case, we should see both MVS and ESB playing the majority of the Packers’ snaps, though it is anyone’s guess as to which of these two will be featured in the slot and which will be featured in the number two perimeter role, with each guy rotating responsibilities throughout the year. Both will be dart throws — though each carries an obvious path to upside if you want to take on the risk.)
With Rodgers leaning so heavily on Adams and spreading volume around behind him (involving running backs, wideouts, and tight ends), volume has also been tough to bank on from Jimmy Graham. He’ll enter a tough matchup against Jamal Adams and a Jets defense that has allowed the fewest tight end receptions in the league.
PACKERS RUN OFFENSE
The Jets have been middling against the run this year, ranking 18th in yards allowed per carry and middle of the pack in rushing yards to running backs. The Jets have, impressively, allowed the seventh fewest running back receiving yards, in spite of their blitz-heavy ways.
While the spot is fine for Jamaal Williams in the lead role with Aaron Jones on I.R. (and while volume is definitely going to be on his side), we should keep in mind that Williams is a plodding runner who has averaged only 3.7 yards per carry on the year. Somewhere in the range of 15 to 18 carries and three to five receptions is a reasonable expectation here, giving Williams opportunity for useful, volume-driven production. If he sees a spike in workload or finds his way into the end zone once or twice, he’ll prove to be a valuable price-considered piece on this slate — though he does still carry dud potential, even in the lead role.
JETS PASS OFFENSE
The Packers have been a middling defense against the pass this year, in spite of the presence of stud rookie Jaire Alexander and a defense that skews pass-heavy in its approach. This unit shaves over 3% off the league-average catch rate, but they are otherwise unspectacular, and they rank 19th in yards allowed per pass attempt and 17th in passing touchdowns allowed. Consider this a neutral spot for Sam Darnold, who is showing late-season signs of life in his rookie year — topping 225 passing yards for the third and fourth times this year across his last three games. Darnold has still cracked 260 yards only twice, and he has only four games with multiple touchdown passes, but he has generated enough positive momentum for his pass catchers to at least be considered living/breathing elements in tourneys.
Darnold’s main target in his stretch of non-awful play has been Robby Anderson, with target counts of 7 // 7 // 11 in the last three games these two have played together. Anderson has gone 4-32-0 // 4-76-1 // 7-96-1 in these games, which succinctly captures the range in which he can be expected to score. The matchup is nonthreatening, but nothing is guaranteed between a cautious rookie quarterback and a speedy downfield threat. Consider Anderson a low-floor, high-ceiling play.
Behind Anderson, Quincy Enunwa has seen target counts of 4 // 6 // 4 in Darnold’s last three starts, while Jermaine Kearse has gone 9 // 2 // 5. Enunwa has topped 40 yards only once in the last two and a half months. Kearse has topped 30 yards only once in the last two months. (NOTE: Enunwa’s ankle now appears likely to hold him out another week. Look for Robby Anderson, Chris Herndon, Elijah McGuire, and Jermaine Kearse to be the main focal points of whatever positive offense this group is able to generate.)
This passing attack wraps up with Chris Herndon taking on a tough tight end defense, with the Packers allowing the eighth fewest receptions to the position. If you want to take heart in this matchup, the Packers have faced a largely non-notable tight end schedule. They have slowed down Kittle this year (4-30-0), allowed Jordan Reed to reach expectations (4-65-0), and held Austin Hooper to his typical 4-37-0 game. Herndon has been useful enough to at least be considered as a salary saver this week.
JETS RUN OFFENSE
The Packers have been a perfectly middling run defense this year on a per-play basis, ranking 17th in yards allowed per carry, while facing the 11th most running back rush attempts and allowing the 11th most rushing yards. The Jets prefer to lean run-heavy for as long as they are able to keep games close, ranking 22nd in pass play rate in spite of their 4-10 record, which should open enough volume for Elijah McGuire to join the “cheap running back” discussion this week. McGuire has touched the ball 20 and 21 times the last two weeks (with three receptions in each of these games), with a pair of touchdowns floating his fantasy value behind poor yardage totals. McGuire is no one’s idea of an explosive back, but volume has a chance to turn him into a viable piece once again in this one. If you want to dig deep, Trenton Cannon has seen six and 10 touches across the last two weeks, and he has game-breaking speed. There is an outside chance he breaks off a long touchdown run to provide a low-owned spiked week.
The Packers’ offense consists of Aaron Rodgers, Davante Adams, and Jamaal Williams for me, with all other pieces too speculative for me to want to get involved. Nothing in this game pops off the page for any of these guys, keeping Rodgers and Adams in whatever range you typically keep them (for me: Rodgers is a tourney play, while Adams remains what he is every week: a strong play in all formats), and making Williams a bet-on-volume play in tourneys.
On the Jets’ side, I don’t quite like the upside on Darnold enough to want to chase myself (that is to say: I don’t quite like Darnold’s chances of reaching his upside enough), but I do like Anderson as a tourney play, while McGuire and Herndon at least join the salary-saver conversation. Cannon is also an interesting name to consider in large-field tourneys, as he could easily reach 11 or 12 touches, and this could be enough for him to break off a long play if things line up just right.