Lions at Packers

By: xandamere & Larejo


XANDAMERE’S SHOWDOWN SLANT

Week 4 begins with an exciting matchup as the Lions visit the Packers for a 45.5 total game with (wait for it) . . . Detroit favored by 1.5. When was the last time you can remember the Lions being favored over the Packers? We also have some key injury info to sort through on this one. As I sit down to write this on Tuesday night, I’ll have to make some guesses as to how things turn out and then update this article when we know more (or, update things in our Discord if we don’t get clarity until close to kickoff). 

Green Bay

On the Packers side, Aaron Jones has been marked as a limited participant in practice walkthroughs the last two days. That seems like a positive trend so I’m going to take a guess that he’s playing in this one. If he does, we know the matchup is great and we saw Jones score two touchdowns in Week 1 on 14 touches before getting hurt. But, we need to recognize that this is a different Packers offense. Jordan Love appears to be a more aggressive quarterback through the air than Aaron Rodgers was, which could ding Jones’ pass game role if Love is taking deep shots (Love currently leads the league in average depth of target). The Packers might also take it a bit easy on Jones coming back, and they’re also expecting Christian Watson to return and that would provide another option to soak up volume. At $10.8k, Jones is the second most expensive skill position player on the slate. If we get news early, I expect him to carry a significant chunk of ownership (though we’ll have to wait for point projections, as those drive ownership). If he’s a game time decision, he’ll be less owned and that makes me more interested, but if we see him get the 40-50% ownership that the premium skill position players usually get, that’s an underweight position for me at his price and with an uncertain workload. Behind Jones is AJ Dillon, who has looked awful, quite frankly, in the RB role for the last two weeks. The matchups haven’t been great but Dillon is averaging just 2.7 yards per carry on the season so far and has just four targets. Volume matters more than talent at the running back position so if Jones is out, $7k is too cheap for Dillon and I’ll want to utilize him, but he’s too expensive as an RB2 if Jones plays unless you want to go for a pay up to be contrarian play (he DOES still have a ceiling, as does any running back in Showdown. Even as an RB2, it’s feasible that he could reach 10-12 points if he scores a touchdown, with ceiling beyond that if he breaks a big play, lands in the end zone twice, or if Jones is eased back in or reaggravates his hamstring). 

The passing game for the Packers should take a step forward with the return of Watson, who absolutely crushed towards the end of the season last year. Now that we’ve seen Love act as a capable NFL quarterback, any preseason concerns I had about this offense are put to rest. We do need to remember two things about Watson: first is that he could well be eased back in as he’s missed a lot of time, so there’s no guarantee he will step into a full-time role. The second is that his fantasy production last year came on some pretty insane efficiency – he caught 41 balls for 611 yards and 7 touchdowns, which is nuts. He had three games over 100 receiving yards (despite topping out at six catches in a game) and the touchdowns are pretty fluky. That said, he clearly showed that he has explosive upside and the price is more than fair at $8,200. The question is how much he will play. Unless we get clarity from beat reporter info before kickoff, that’s going to be something of a shot in the dark. In a volatile situation like this, I will take my normal approach of “lean into volatility at lower ownership, lean away from it at higher ownership.” With Watson back, we can expect him to mostly impact the roles of Dontayvion Wicks and Samori Toure, leaving Watson, Romeo Doubs, and Jayden Reed as the primary wideouts with Watson and Doubs on the perimeter and Reed in the slot (this also means that, based on what we’ve seen so far, Reed is the most vulnerable to losing snaps when the Packers run heavy sets). Doubs is a guy I’m generally not a huge fan of – he feels like “just a guy” to me, and at $8,800 and with both Watson and Jones returning, I think he’s overpriced for his likeliest role. In three games so far Doubs has a healthy 20 targets, but he’s only caught 11 for 129 yards, with his production buoyed by three scores. I’m more interested in Reed at $5,600, who has similar numbers to Doubs on the year (20 targets, 9/148/2 line) but should be less affected by Watson’s return and is overall more talented than Doubs. Of the Packers wide receivers, I think Reed is the safest no matter what, Watson is a highly volatile option, Doubs is steady but overpriced. Wicks and Toure should still see the field, with Wicks likely leading the backup WR snaps, but at $5k, he’s pretty unplayable except as a very contrarian piece if Watson is in. Toure at $600 is a better option, to me, as a value play. The Packers have used five wide receivers in every game this year so he should be on the field even with Watson returning and his price is very generous. There is a possibility that the Packers surprise us and use Malik Heath instead but we should get clarity on that before kickoff as I doubt they carry six wide receivers into the game. Tight end is dominated by Luke Musgrave, who has played no fewer than 75% of the offensive snaps in a game thus far, to go along with a healthy 15 targets. He hasn’t popped off yet, but it’s coming. The matchup for Musgrave is great. While it feels weird to play a rookie TE who hasn’t yet really put up a good game yet, at $6,400, I think he’s in play here. To be clear, he isn’t a “must play,” but he’s not a guy I’d just consider overpriced and ignore. I think he has upside and the price is a little high but not outrageously so. Backup TEs have so far been Josiah Deguara, Tucker Kraft, and Ben Sims. They have two total targets between them (both Deguara’s) so there’s not much upside here unless you want to chase the whole “backup/random tight end in Showdown” thing. 

Detroit

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On the Detroit side, David Montgomery looks likely to make his return and should resume his 2-down back role – a role that’s led to 37 carries (though just one target) with two scores in two games. Montgomery checks the boxes of a “reasonably talented home favorite running back with a goal line role,” and though the passing game role hasn’t been there this season, $6,800 is a very reasonable price if we get word that he’s a full go. As with Aaron Jones, there is a risk that Monty could be eased back in so it’s a risky situation. Jahmyr Gibbs, on the other hand, is priced based on his potential and draft pedigree rather than what he’s shown us. $9,600 for a guy who’s topped out at 12.6 DK points in his career isn’t exactly enticing, especially with Montgomery returning. But, we saw Gibbs have a BIG receiving role in Week 2 against Seattle with a whopping nine targets as the Lions played from behind, and so we have to consider that kind of volume as being within his range of outcomes in the right role and game script. Gibbs is almost certainly not going to get another 17 carries like he did in Week 3 if Monty is back, but he’s also likely to get more receiving work. He’s an explosive player so you’re really betting on him breaking a long touchdown (or potentially multiple scores, likely through the air or else big plays) in order to pay off his lofty tag. Based on salary he’s a pretty clear underweight, but I do believe he has a ceiling that justifies still including him in player pools. Craig Reynolds and Bam Knight should go back to reserve roles if Monty is active, which makes them non-usable unless you’re betting on an in-game injury situation, but even then they both barely played last week with no Montgomery.

In the passing game, it’s Amon-Ra St. Brown, Josh Reynolds, tight end Sam LaPorta, and “everyone else.” ASRB is obviously a premium play – he has 27 targets so far, two games over 100 yards, and a low of 18.2 Draftkings points through three games. He’s great and the clear (to me) best skill position player in the game, better than Aaron Jones. Reynolds is interesting as it feels like it could be something of a breakout season for him – he went 4/80 and 5/66/2 in the first two games, then got zero targets in Week 3. Eek. Priced at $6,200, I expect him to be popular, and I think he’s a risk worth taking. I’d read more into his consistently strong snap and route rates than I would into his one dud game. The rest of the WR snaps will be used up by Marvin Jones Jr., Kalif Raymond, and Antoine Greene. MJJ had six targets in Week 1 but none since. Jones is fairly dusty and unlikely to put up many useful games this season but he’s on the field, he’s a veteran receiver, and even old dusty guys can have good games from time to time (looking at you, Adam Thielen). Overall, he’s a thin option. Raymond, on the other hand, appears to be ascending somewhat. His snaps are still modest (sub-50% each game) but his targets per game have gone 1 → 3 → 6. Everyone behind the three main guys is fairly thin, with Raymond the safest option but also pricey at $5,200, while MJJ’s two straight box score zeroes are likely to lead to very low ownership but he’s a guy who is still on the field a fair bit and could surprise once or twice on the year. In tournaments, even though it’s high-risk, I think I actually lean towards MJJ at just $2k and likely minimal ownership. At tight end, we have rookie Sam LaPorta who is off to a screaming start to his NFL career, with 18 catches on 23 targets for a combined line of 18/186/1. LaPorta is breaking the whole “rookie tight ends take a while to adjust to the NFL” mold and is actually on track to not just break but obliterate the rookie tight end reception record (I didn’t look it up exactly but it’s somewhere around 70-something receptions, I believe, while LaPorta is on pace for over 100 which is a pace that’s almost certainly unsustainable, but it’s a very impressive beginning to his career nonetheless). It’s weird to see a tight end at $8k in his fourth NFL game but LaPorta could well be the second priority pass catcher on this team behind ASRB and ahead of Reynolds. His price may keep people off of him because it’s a bit of sticker shock, but we’ll have to see once projections are done. I like him as a “bet on talent, bet on the field overlooking him” play. Brock Wright will be the primary backup TE, a role which has led to a whopping two targets on the year. 

Strategy Outlook

Assuming all the injured guys play, this is a super interesting game to me. We have two ascending offenses (the Lions kind of ascended last year, really, but they’ve continued to look quite capable this year with 72 points in three games), while the Packers under Jordan Love look far more capable than they did in his brief cameo last season. Love is leading the NFL in average depth of target, which makes up for a mediocre completion percentage. He’s scored at least 20.34 Draftkings points in each game and the Packers have scored 80 points in three games. I’m not normally one to bet totals, but I’d guess the over is more likely here than the under. We could see some offensive fireworks. 

Potential Scenarios
  • I definitely want to build for some shootouts, with lots of exposure to the QBs and pass catchers.
  • As I always note, 5-1 onslaught builds are generally underowned in games with close spreads like this one. While less likely to hit in a close spread game, when they do hit, you’re likely to encounter little competition. 
  • I think that, broadly, people are going to be attracted to the passing games. Goff, Love, and ASRB will all be popular. Watson might be if we get news he’s a full go; we have cheap Reynolds, cheap Musgrave, etc. When we have situations like this, it always makes sense to consider flipping the script and imagining what if all the scoring comes on the ground? While 2-RB lineups won’t be that uncommon (especially a pairing of Jones + Montgomery due to price), I expect lineups with 3 RBs, or with 2 RBs but also no quarterbacks, will be quite a bit rarer.
Cash Games

In cash games, my player pool consists of ASRB, the quarterbacks, Montgomery, and the kickers as my preferred options. If you need to dip down to a cheap value option, I’d prefer Toure, though they’re all pretty thin down there, and I certainly wouldn’t argue if you wanted to play Watson if we get positive news on his role. 

Tournaments

In tournaments, ASRB is going to be the clear chalk captain, but I also expect a lot of Watson ownership if we get clarity that he’s a full go. If we don’t get that clarity, that’s when I want to lean into some extra Watson captain ownership, and I also want to go overweight on Jones (I’m not as interested in him in flex, but he does have an elite ceiling), LaPorta, Reynolds, Reed, and Montgomery.


“Off Script”

LAREJO >>

The NFL is scripted. Well, they wish they were. What they do want is for the biggest stars to shine on the brightest stage. Over the course of a season, this tends to happen. But in a one-game sample, anything can happen and we can exploit the edge for these off script outcomes.

Do you want to win a million dollars on this game? Well, then you need to think for yourself. We’re honored you’re reading this article and analysis, but in all reality, our greatest advantage in life is between our two ears. You can read and learn just about anything but applying that knowledge is solely up to you. I won’t be offended if you stop reading now, honestly. But what will follow here will be some guidance on how to attack this game from your own unique point of view. My only supply to you is to present information that you can run with.

Envision this one game based on what we know. I’ve been drilling home the value in predicting the present, the knowns, and not guessing about the future. Predicting the future is impossible, after all. But predicting short-term outcomes based on indicators, trends, patterns, usage, reliability, and narratives is why we all play DFS. So you’ll do yourself a favor by limiting the content you consume for this game. Save it for Sunday’s slate. This is a simple matchup between the Lions and the Packers, two old rivals. We’ve seen this before, we just have new dynamics in play in every game. So how do these two line up for this game?

There are expected to be two large mismatches in this game. First, the Lions rushing attack against the Packers rushing defense. PFF has this ranked as the third-best rushing matchup on the week (29% advantage for the Packers). Second, the Packers passing attack, which Fantasy Points has ranked as the second-best passing environment on the week for Jordan Love and Co. This matchup would obviously be boosted even more if Christian Watson returns to the field. Building lineups according to where the teams should have success may make some sense in this one.

On the Lions side, that could mean slightly more Jahmyr Gibbs and Craig Reynolds, while less could be asked of Jared Goff. For the Packers, depending on the health and status of both Jones and Watson, this is a positive matchup for Jordan Love. He should see decent pressure in the pocket (Lions rank 10th in pressure %) but the secondary of Detroit is to be had. All Green Bay pass catchers should be in play.

Off Script Captains: Doubs, Watson (if he plays), Gibbs, Musgrave, Reynolds

Off Script Builds: Lions rushing + Packers passing

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