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Packers vs. Lions Fantasy Football Advice: Sit Packers Defense, Start Nate Burleson

With Matt Flynn expected to lead Green Bay on Turkey Day, it will most likely be many Lions feasting on a battered Packers defense and giving their fantasy owners a cornucopia of production.


The Green Bay Packers/Detroit Lions Week 13 Thanksgiving Day game is one of three monkey wrenches that the NFL is throwing at fantasy owners as they make their playoff pushes. In fact, the largest high stakes fantasy football contest in the world--the Fantasy Football Players Championship (FFPC)--holds their individual league championship games in Week 13 before the Week 14-16 national sprint for the $250,000 grand prize. But even if you're not playing there, Week 13 is exponentially more important than Week 12 was for you.

Some of you players will have to make tough decisions. Do you wait and see if you Aaron Dobson is going to play through his injury, or do you just start Jerricho Cotchery as your PPR flex? Is it better to roll the dice with Michael Crabtree on Sunday, or do you take advantage of Rod Streater's resurgence? Will you start Brandon Jacobs without knowing how healthy he is or try and get what you can with Bernard Pierce Thanksgiving Night?

Yes, those are pretty unique situations, but owners in deeper leagues are wracking themselves with despair, trying to avoid making the wrong decision. In situations like that, I usually try to analyze who I would be more upset with sitting if they went off. In other words, let's say I benched a gimpy Dobson, and he had a 20-point game and Cotchery tallied a zero in my starting lineup. Would that be more upsetting to me than if Cotchery went crazy on my bench while Dobson was inactive? It's a tough call. (Although in that circumstance, I'd start the healthier player early to make sure I got the points--just my two cents.)

What this all boils down to is go with your gut. It's hard to predict what your opponent is going to do, so try and start the guy who will at least get points for you. Boom-or-bust guys go bust much more often than they go boom. Remember that when setting your lineups tonight or tomorrow morning. Here's this week's preview:


Matt Flynn will make his first start for the Packers in his 2013 tenure. Of course we all remember the last time he started for Green Bay--it was against these same Lions when he threw for six touchdowns. He's obviously not going to duplicate that, but three isn't out of the question. Matthew Stafford is the hottest (fantasy) quarterback in the NFL right now. You'll gladly take the interceptions because they come with buckets of touchdowns and piles of yardage. He's my No. 1 quarterback this week against a bad Packers pass defense.

Flynn: 280 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception, 5 rushing yards

Verdict: Start in 14- and 16-team leagues

Stafford: 330 passing yards, 3 touchdowns, 1 interception, 10 rushing yards

Verdict: Start in every league


While watching the game on Sunday, I remarked that if Eddie Lacy ever wanted to run for mayor of Green Bay, he'd win in a landslide. Sure, the Packers have had a couple great running backs in the past decade (Ahman Green, Ryan Grant), but do you ever remember them doling out the punishment and moving the pile like Lacy does? He is quietly having an offensive rookie of the year-type season, and even I'm baffled as to how he is shredding defenses with little threat of a passing game. Reggie Bush is obviously a must-start in PPR leagues every week, and it's going to be hard for the Packers defense to keep him from running wild on Sunday as well.

Lacy: 75 rushing yards, 1 touchdown, 3 catches, 20 receiving yards

Verdict: Start in all leagues

James Starks: 20 rushing yards, 1 catch, 5 yards

Verdict: Bench in all leagues

Bush: 70 rushing yards, 5 catches, 40 yards, 1 touchdown

Verdict: Start in all leagues

Joique Bell: 30 rushing yards, 3 catches, 25 yards

Verdict: Start as an RB3 only in 14- and 16-team leagues


I probably project track meets in NFL games more than most analysts, so remember that when you read the numbers below. It's getting tough to predict the top Green Bay wide receiver from week-to-week, so to be safe, I'm going to say it's Jordy Nelson again with Jarrett Boykin and James Jones a virtual coin-flip. You may want to start all three this week because I think the Packers will be passing to keep up in this match. Calvin Johnson is the best wide receiver start this week, and I actually love Nate Burleson quite a bit as well. We saw that he didn't miss a beat going 7 for 77 yards and a touch last week in his first game back from his pizza-caused broken arm. He's a borderline WR2.

Nelson: 7 catches, 85 yards, 1 touchdown

Verdict: Start in all leagues

Boykin: 6 catches, 80 yards, 1 touchdown

Verdict: Start in all leagues as a WR2

Jones: 5 catches, 70 yards, 0 touchdowns

Verdict: Start as a WR3 in 12-team PPR leagues

Johnson: 8 catches, 120 yards, 1 touchdown

Verdict: Start in every league

Burleson: 6 catches, 65 yards, 1 touchdown

Verdict: Start in all PPR leagues as a WR2

Kris Durham: 3 catches, 35 yards

Verdict: Bench in all non-PPR and most PPR leagues


What a motley crew this position is in this matchup. Most of the targets will be hogged by the wideouts and running backs, but if you're desperate, you can glean some fantasy production here. While I don't believe Brandon Bostick will (or even can) get cleared in time for Thursday's game because of his concussion, don't expect a massive game from Andrew Quarless. Simply put, Green Bay quarterbacks have not had much success throwing to the tight end since Jermichael Finley went down. Brandon Pettigrew has done fantasy owners mostly wrong this year, but I think this is a good game for him to get right. Joseph Fauria is really only useful in the red zone, but Detroit should find itself there quite a bit.

Quarless: 2 catches, 20 yards

Verdict: Bench in all leagues

Pettigrew: 4 catches, 50 yards

Verdict: Start only as a desperation flex in PPR leagues

Fauria: 1 catch, 15 yards

Verdict: Bench in all leagues


I'd feel much better about these two guys if this game was in the old Pontiac Silverdome, but both should be started in most leagues. Put it this way--unless your waiver wire already locked for the season, you should have only one kicker on your team. And if either of these guys are yours, don't feel like you have to go out and pick up a free agent instead of them.

Mason Crosby: 3 field goals, 2 extra points

Verdict: Start in all leagues

David Akers: 2 field goals, 3 extra points

Verdict: Start in all 12-team leagues


I think that Detroit is going to get pretty sack-happy this game. For all of you IDP-ers out there, this is a good week for Lions defenders. Matt Flynn should be pressured into throwing a few errant balls, and I'm betting at least one turns into a pick. There's not much to say about the Packers defense here. They're going up against my No. 1 quarterback and No. 1 wide receiver this week. Cut 'em and get someone else like the Browns or Dolphins for Week 13.

Packers: 2 sacks, 1 interception, 450 yards against, 27 points against

Verdict: Bench in all leagues

Lions: 5 sacks, 1 interception, 1 fumble recovery, 390 yards against, 23 points against

Verdict: Start in 12- and 14-team leagues

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! May Turkey Day springboard your teams toward wins!

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