PACKERS // REDSKINS OVERVIEW
There are a number of things to dislike about the head coaches in this game, but one thing to the credit of both Mike McCarthy and Jay Gruden is that they are always looking to win. Rather than boxing their team into a certain system or a certain way they “do things,” these coaches can adjust based on personnel — not only adjusting in terms of scheme, but also adjusting in terms of philosophy and overall game approach.
This season, each team has slowed down the pace (20th for Washington; 22nd for Green Bay; each team also ranks bottom five in Situation Neutral pace), and the Packers have gone pass-heavy while Washington has leaned on the run and short passes. This game is not going to turn into a quick-strike, back-and-forth affair, but each offense should be able to maneuver up and down the field against the opposing defense, creating opportunities for us to hunt for catches, yards, and touchdowns.
PACKERS PASS OFFENSE
Washington is in the business of not allowing easy completions — playing tight coverage and posting above-average marks in catch rate allowed and yards after catch allowed. Aaron Rodgers will have to make a lot of tight-window throws in this spot, but this is something he is comfortable doing, and this matchup should not be much of a downgrade for him. The Packers protected Rodgers’ knee last week by running their offense out of the pistol and preventing him from having to drop back, and he looked comfortable firing the ball around the field. His movement and athleticism are taken out of play right now, but he still has the arm skills to post a strong outing.
Through two games this season, Geronimo Allison has run 80 pass routes — only 16 fewer than Davante Adams, and only 13 fewer than Randall Cobb. He has seen 14 targets in all (compared to 20 for Adams and 16 for Cobb), and he is continuing to go overlooked as a key piece of one of the best passing attacks in football. His aDOT of 11.0 is also a bit higher than Adams’ aDOT of 10.3. Allison costs only 9% of the salary cap on DraftKings, and he costs under that mark on FanDuel and FantasyDraft. He should see another six to eight targets in this one.
Adams is the 1A in this offense, and should see in the range of eight to 11 targets most games. This game should feature a below-average number of total plays, and the matchup for Adams is slightly below-average, so it is worth noting that he is not coming at a discount this week — especially on DraftKings, where he is priced as an elite wide receiver. Still, the work and talent are there for Adams to post a strong game, even if his price-considered floor is lowered a little bit.
Cobb has an aDOT of 4.9, ranking just ahead of Jarius Wright and behind guys like Nick Boyle and Kyle Rudolph. He’ll need a big YAC game (or a touchdown) against a stingy YAC defense in order to post a truly usable score, but his floor is high as a locked-in member of this passing attack.
Jimmy Graham is also an interesting piece in this group, after seeing eight targets last week against Minnesota. Graham has run 79 pass routes of his own, and Washington is attackable in this area, after giving up a 5-46-1 line on nine targets last week to Colts tight ends. Graham needs a touchdown in order to really pay off, but the Packers should be good for at least three scores in this game, and Graham should be involved near the end zone.
PACKERS RUN OFFENSE
Washington has started out the year hot against the pass (fourth in DVOA) and cold against the run (28th), quickly reestablishing their trends from last year (sixth // 29th). The Packers have been one of the pass-heaviest offenses to begin the year (seventh in pass play rate), and with Aaron Rodgers and the weapons he has to attack with, it seems unlikely that they will shift too heavily toward the ground — especially as they are having to run this rushing attack out of the pistol formation. But 22 to 26 rush attempts for this Packers offense is a reasonable expectation.
The bad news, from a DFS perspective, is that Aaron Jones has returned from suspension. Jamaal Williams has 31 carries and six targets through two games, while Ty Montgomery has seven carries and five targets. Williams is keeping the job for now, but Jones has proven to be the more explosive back, and he should mix in immediately. The matchup is strong, but usage will be spread out across three guys this week in what has been a pass-heavy offense.
REDSKINS PASS OFFENSE
As we move deeper into the season, this Packers pass defense should prove to be solidly above-average, and they should make life difficult on less-explosive passing attacks.
Enter Alex Smith and his Washington Redskins. So far this season, this offense has an average depth of target of 5.7 yards — less than half of the to-date aDOT of Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, and Deshaun Watson.
Low-aDOT offenses can be effective with the right weapons in place (a couple years back, in fact, the Packers ranked near the bottom of the NFL in average depth of target, as did the Patriots), but Smith’s current company in this category are names like Derek Carr, Sam Bradford, Blaine Gabbert, and Mitchell Trubisky. Smith threw the ball 46 times last week against a poor Colts secondary, and he failed to top 300 yards.
Jamison Crowder has surprisingly seen only eight targets through two games, while the perimeter combo of Paul Richardson (12 targets) and Josh Doctson (10 targets) lead the way. Doctson and Richardson have each struggled to create separation this season, and either would need a broken play or an unpredictable two-touchdown game to create any sort of true DFS value.
The key piece on this passing attack (outside of the backfield…) has mercifully been Jordan Reed, who has 13 targets so far, which he has turned into 10 catches for 103 yards and a touchdown. Reed is only seeing his average target 5.5 yards downfield, so some yardage duds are in line for him this season; but against a Packers defense that let Kyle Rudolph shake free for some nice plays last week, Reed should be able to post a respectable game, with touchdown upside that could carry him into a truly useful range.
REDSKINS RUN OFFENSE
As noted last week: Green Bay has made a philosophical shift on defense this season under new D.C. Mike Pettine, deciding that they are fine giving up yards on the ground if it means they are making life difficult through the air. Through two games, they rank 24th in yards allowed per carry and 26th in DVOA against the run.
The one problem here for Washington is just how much they are telegraphing their intentions to the defense. Through two games now, the Redskins have run a pass play on 86.7% of Chris Thompson’s snaps, while leaning toward the run on 70.1% of Adrian Peterson’s snaps. Remember: the reason the Packers are “bad against the run” is because they are loading up the field with defensive backs on the regular. This week, expect them to have different personnel packages when Peterson is on the field, which will make it a little more difficult for this Washington offense (with an offensive line that ranks 29th in adjusted line yards) to be effective.
Green Bay will also be ready for the pass when Chris Thompson is on the field, but after he has seen an incredible 21 targets through two games, that shouldn’t concern us. Thompson has eight more targets than any other player on this team at the moment and should be considered the Redskins’ “number one receiver.” Washington will probably lead off this game trying to attack on the ground; but if the Packers are able to stop Peterson with a heavier personnel package, we should still get a good 35 to 38 pass attempts out of Smith in this spot. Thompson has a 27.6% target share on the season, and if that holds, another eight to 11 targets will be in play for him this week, in a likely back-and-forth affair.
I expect solid games from Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams, but week-winning games will be difficult to come by in a slow-paced spot on the road against a good pass defense. Allison is intriguing as an upside play with a quietly bankable role in this offense. Graham costs more than I would like to pay at tight end, but the usage should be there, and a touchdown would enable him to be a solid piece of any roster.
I’ll be leaving the Packers running backs and the Washington passing attack alone — outside of possibly Jordan Reed. Same as Graham: he costs a bit more than I would like, and he will need a touchdown in order to really pay off in this offense, but the work should be there, and the talent is there for him to hit.
Chris Thompson’s price is ridiculous on DraftKings and FantasyDraft (12.6% of the salary cap on DK; 12.8% on FDraft) for a guy playing only 54% of the team’s snaps and who needs game flow to work in his favor; but because of how ridiculous his price tag is, he’ll go overlooked, and he does carry strong floor and ceiling in this game in PPR scoring if the Packers are able to shut down the run early on and/or take an early lead. He’s far less valuable on FanDuel, with 0.5-PPR scoring.