It’s been a while since the Lions have had anything to play for, and their roster is wrecked by injuries — but they have at least been putting in effort. The Packers, after their win over the Vikings, have everything to play for, as a win lands them a first-round bye and even keeps them in position for the Number One seed with a bit of help.
The Matchup ::
- The Lions have been pathetic on defense this season, ranking 26th in DVOA (with a number 29 ranking against the pass); they have allowed the fifth most yards per pass attempt and the seventh most points per game, while allowing the fourth most yards per game
- Only one team has allowed more passing yards than the Lions, and only three teams have allowed more passing touchdowns
- Aaron Rodgers has been held to 243 or fewer passing yards in seven consecutive games, while throwing one or fewer touchdown passes in six of those seven contests
- Stefon Diggs is the only alpha, perimeter receiver who has topped 86 yards in this matchup — doing so twice — a 7-142-0 game in Week 7, and a 6-92-0 game in Week 14
- Darius Slay got injured 18 plays into that 7-142-0 game — which means that no alpha perimeter receiver has topped 92 yards on the Lions this year when Slay was on the field
- Slay has not had a great season by PFF standards (he’s been prone to pass interference penalties — hurting him in real life, but hurting us in DFS), but he’s only had two games this year in which he’s allowed more than five receptions on passes into his coverage (per PFF), and one of those was six receptions allowed on 11 targets
- In the last five games between these two teams, Adams and Rodgers have been healthy together only once, with Adams going 9-140-1 in that game (2018)
- Green Bay ranks eighth in time of possession but only 25th in plays per game, with a number 31 ranking in pace
- Green Bay ranks middle of the pack in pass play rate
- The Lions have been hit hardest this year by pass-catching running backs — especially in the screen game — with the third most receiving yards and the most receiving touchdowns allowed to the position
- Only the Panthers have allowed more total touchdowns to running backs than the Lions
- Aaron Jones has gone for 20+ touches in only three games that Adams has played this year; two of those have been in the Packers’ last three games
- No player in the NFL has more touchdowns than Aaron Jones
- No receiver in the NFL has more touchdowns than Kenny Golladay; he has been the lone bright spot over the last several weeks for the beaten-down Lions offense
The Game ::
It’s been a strange season for the Packers, as no one would watch their games and be terrified to play them — and yet, the same could have been said of the Patriots for most seasons over the last 20 years. There is a vast number of things that goes into something like this, and it’s impossible to stamp the Packers as a “winning team” (damn whatever the “dominance eye test” or the normal stats we can point to would say) without digging in deeper than anyone would have time to do during the season (unless that “someone” were able to do nothing but “dig in,” while spending no time providing content of any sort — as it wouldn’t be enough to simply dig deeply into this new Packers team, but to also have a strong feel for each team the Packers have played, and to have a strong feel for the league as a whole), but we can note that the Packers have the second fewest penalty yards in the league this year and rank third in turnover margin (with the second fewest giveaways) — which tend to be hallmarks of teams that continually find ways to win in spite of looking less dominant than their record. Or, to put that another way: the sum of the Packers may be much greater than their individual parts.
Their “individual parts,” of course, have looked less dominant almost specifically because of how few “individual parts” there are on the Packers’ offense, with Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Geronimo Allison, Jimmy Graham, and even Allen Lazard functioning as mere background noise on the stat sheet each week, with fluky outcomes required for any of these guys to provide anything close to slate-winning fantasy value. This has left this offense working through Davante Adams, Aaron Jones, and Jamaal Williams.
Adams has double-digit targets in seven of his last eight games (including games of 15 and 16 looks), and he should be leaned on in this spot. Adams has topped 65 yards in only half of those eight games, but he has topped 100 yards in the other four games, and with the Lions playing heavy man coverage that allows opponents to attack them downfield (deepest opponent aDOT in the league), Adams will have a chance to rack up yardage — with Slay a slight concern, but with the chances of the Packers grabbing control of this game and killing the clock on the ground a larger concern.
The “killing the clock on the ground” setup would be more intriguing if Green Bay could be relied on to lean more heavily on Jones — who out-snapped Williams 52 to 21 last week with Williams busting up his shoulder, but who shared snaps 35/24 just the week before. As we know: Jones has topped three targets in only three games “started and finished” by Adams, and he has topped 13 carries only four times all season, while his price has soared due to his league-leading 19 touchdowns. Per-touch expectations are solid for Jones in this spot, but he should be considered a risk/reward piece — with the “rewards” still elite a few times with Adams on the field, but with that “elite” merely matching what you would be hoping for at Jones’ price, rather than providing the sort of value those games should be able to provide at his lower workload. The one thing that could significantly boost expectations for Jones would be for Williams’ shoulder issue to be a bigger deal than currently seems to be the case. Williams missed practice Wednesday, and if reports closer to the weekend have him looking iffy or limited in this spot, Jones could work as more of a full-time back with this team seeming to have no love for third-stringer Dexter Williams. If healthy, of course, Jamaal Williams will work as the value-sucking compliment to Jones — warranting placement on a roster only with an unpredictable multi-touchdown game.
Expectations in this game have the Packers taking a lead and the Lions playing from behind — though look for the Lions to try to control this game on the ground for as long as they can against the Packers’ 22nd ranked (DVOA) run defense. It’s unlikely that this is relevant information for fantasy, as Kerryon Johnson was eased in last week with 16 snaps — and it’s likely that those snaps expand this week, without rising high enough for Kerryon to provide anything but fluky value on a bad team with a bad offensive line.
When the Lions are forced to the air, we can expect most of the work to flow to Danny Amendola (only two games north of 34 yards in his last eight; only one game north of 47) and Kenny Golladay. Strangely, after seeing target counts of 5 // 8 // 7 in games in which David Blough threw 38+ times, Golladay saw 12 targets last week with Blough throwing only 24 passes. Golladay is purely a bet-on-talent option (with this talent dragged down by his attachment to Blough), but he does lead all wide receivers with 11 touchdowns, and he has picked up over 1100 yards on the year — making him an interesting piece to consider in tourneys if betting on Packers pieces, in the hopes those pieces from Green Bay pop off and Golladay runs up some scoring in response.
JM’s Interpretation ::
With an Over/Under of 43.0 and the slow-paced, split-backfield Packers favored by 12.5, this isn’t an attractive spot on paper — but Adams remains a solid bet for 10+ targets with a decent amount of downfield work mixed in (in a tough individual matchup — but against a Lions team that cannot rush the passer, and that should allow Adams and Rodgers to work some magic when plays break down), while Jones is interesting for his explosiveness and scoring potential. Golladay is also interesting as a bring-back piece in this spot. (If going here myself, I would probably put Golladay on about half my Adams and/or Jones rosters, while otherwise leaving him alone.) Unfortunately, none of these players come at a discount against their ceiling — and since the game environment lowers the floor for Adams, and the touch uncertainty lowers the floor for Jones, and Blough lowers the floor for Golladay, all are more “risk/reward” than anything close to staple pieces for me this week.
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