Showdown Slant ::
Presented by top Showdown mind Xandamere!
The Packers travel to Minnesota to take on the Vikings in what looks to be a great Monday Night Football matchup. The game total is 47 with the Vikings a healthy 5 point favorite. The Packers are somewhat surprisingly 11-3 and are probably amongst the worst 11-3 teams I’ve ever seen, with a mediocre overall offense (sorry, A-Rod fans, but he hasn’t been great this year) and a below average defense, but they somehow find ways to keep winning games. I’m not really buying it here as they’ve mostly taken advantage of bad to average defenses but have struggled against good ones, and the Vikings are, on the whole, a good defense.
Let’s start the Packers and their run game. Aaron Jones is the “lead” back and he’s priced like a bellcow at $10,800 but he’s really more of a 13-18 touch back with a pass game role that is sometimes elite and sometimes nonexistent (7 games of 6+ targets, 5 games of 0 or 1 targets, and only 2 games in between). His value has been propped up by a ridiculous 17 touchdowns but that is about the least “safe” stat you can find in the NFL. As a tourney play, he definitely has ceiling, but at this price, on the road and against a top run defense, this is a position I want to be underweight on. Jamaal Williams, on the other hand, has maintained roughly the same role all year but his price has plummeted in the last couple of weeks. Williams has only had 1 target the last couple of games but he’s usually good for 4-6 with a few carries as his overall volume and snap projections are barely below Jones. The matchup is difficult and Williams is not really a good running back (though he is a good receiver), but on a Packers team that has struggled to find consistent receivers behind Davante Adams, odds are good he sees enough volume to give him a shot at paying off his salary.
The Packers’ pass game begins with Davante Adams, and at least this season it’s largely ended there. Adams is one of the best bets in the NFL to see 10+ targets in a game, especially with the Packers installed as road underdogs and thus Rodgers projecting to throw more than normal. Against a Vikings secondary that has struggled this year and as the focal point of the aerial attack, Adams is a top tier play in this showdown. Beyond Adams things immediately get thin, with Geronimo Allison and Allen Lazard the other receivers playing over half the snaps, but neither generating a whole lot of volume or success. Marquez Valdes-Scantling has disappeared entirely, and there are coachspeak rumors about Jake Kumerow’s role expanding this week (I have no idea if this is true, and I don’t think anybody else knows either; it’s all speculation at this point, but it’s interesting speculation as Kumerow has looked awfully good in preseason and comes at both low ownership and low price). At tight end Jimmy Graham has looked awfully dusty and is being usurped by Mercedes Lewis and Robert Tonyan, with Lewis outsnapping Graham last week. Graham has only been running around 20 routes per game in his last 3 games and is hard to count on here even though the matchup is positive, but at least he’s about as cheap as he’s ever been. For my perspective, I’m always going to bet more on the guys who are on the field the most, so even though his performance hasn’t been there this year, Allison is my favorite of the ancillary receivers (and it doesn’t hurt that he’s just $2,800). Lazard is next, unless we get any news about Kumerow, while everyone else (including all 3 tight ends) are just dart throws to me.
On the Vikings’ side, Dalvin Cook has already been ruled out and Alexander Mattison is likely to miss as well, leaving Mike Boone to serve as the lead back. Unfortunately (or fortunately if you prefer dodging 80%+ owned uberchalk plays), Boone has already been priced up to $9k. He’s a competent passing game back, and while the matchup is great and Boone could certainly smash here if he gets 20+ touches, it’s a bit hard for me to stomach $9k for a guy who’s never really seen an NFL field since we just don’t know how the Vikings are going to use him; will they immediately insert him into the bellcow role? Will they go more pass-heavy than normal? Or will they have him split reps with Ameer Abdullah and/or fullback C.J. Ham? I think Boone being the #1 back is the most likely option as the Vikings aren’t really a timeshare RB kind of organization, but there’s some risk here and we would be foolish not to acknowledge it. Abdullah and Ham are both interesting MME pivots as they’re both super cheap and could see some increased workload (especially Abdullah).
In the passing game, Adam Thielen is back, though Minnesota still ran a ton of 2 TE sets last week as Thielen only played half the snaps (and Diggs just 71%). I expect that Thielen’s snap count will increase this week, but I’m not sure if that will come at the expense of the 12 personnel sets that the Vikings seem to really like using now or if it’ll come at the expense of the ancillary receivers like Olabisi Johnson and Laquon Treadwell. Thielen is a bit hard to trust here coming off of a very lengthy absence and only seeing 3 targets last week. At comparable prices, I like Diggs far, far more, but Thielen is of course highly viable as a tournament play. The tight ends are both relatively inexpensive in a plus matchup against a Packers defense that is near the top of the league in points given up to the position, while the aforementioned ancillary receivers are just dart throws.
The most likely way for this game to play out is for the Vikings to take a lead early and hold it. The Packers, outside of Adams, should have difficulty moving the ball here. I’m not certain if the Vikings lean heavily on the run game here or if they pass a bit more; I’m inclined to think the latter, which bumps up Cousins’ projection for me, but the guys I most want in this game are Cousins, Diggs, Boone, and Adams.
Some other ways the game could play out:
- The Packers’ offense has been really subpar overall and Aaron Rodgers is not playing at the level we’re used to seeing from him. Would it be that surprising if Green Bay really struggled to get anything at all going here?
- On the other hand, despite overall mediocrity this year, Rodgers does have 4 games of 28 or more DK points. Maybe he pulls another one out here in a tough matchup against a tough opponent and reminds us all why he’s considered one of the greatest to play the game. Maybe we see a shootout?
My overall favorite captains in this one are, hands down, Diggs and Adams. They’re the strongest choices and everyone else feels like a dart throw compared to them.
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
- At most 2 Green Bay receivers/tight ends not named Adams
- At most 2 of Rudolph, Smith, Bisi, and Treadwell
- At most 1 Vikings running back