Clearly there is a return of hope this week if you have Green Bay Packers players in your fantasy lineup. Last week against the Bears, Aaron Rodgers broke his long string of games under 300 yards passing, three different receivers had 10+ catches, and even the defense gave up nothing more than a field goal while intercepting Bears quarterbacks twice. This game could be amazingly fantasy relevant.
One thing to completely avoid at this point would be the defenses on both teams. Yes, the Packers are currently seventh in the NFL in defense (yards per game), but they are buoyed by the top-ranked run defense to cover their very average (read as 15th ranked) pass defense. The Atlanta pass offense has looked great against better competition. However, Atlanta has the 26th ranked total defense - they are 31st in the league against the pass and ninth against the run. The ball should be in the air a lot this week.
The Packers started their season with Eddie Lacy and James Starks as the running backs, but suddenly there were none. They answered with Ty Montgomery in the backfield and Rodgers dropping back 60 times (56 pass attempts, 2 sacks, two scrambles). While you want to see Rodgers be himself in consecutive games before you feel he is back in that top three or top five conversation, he should have every opportunity to be great against this Falcons defense. If you want Rodgers in Daily (he is actually the second most expensive QB in Draft Kings) then save some cap space by taking Montgomery rather than Randall Cobb or Jordy Nelson. Montgomery is a full $2,000 less than Nelson this week.
He is the highest scoring QB in fantasy so far. That is a rather impressive feat given the consecutive games he played in Denver and Seattle. Having Julio Jones and the two running backs he has is a great luxury. The Packers’ depleted defensive backfield will be a great matchup if you have Ryan this week.
Packers Running Backs
Okay, so here we are. ESPN has made Montgomery a running back as well as a receiver. Yahoo, on the other hand, has taken the stand that they will not make that call unless the Packers officially call him a running back. Anyhow, in an ESPN league, Montgomery is a great add and especially so in PPR formats. The fact that he was able to add 60 yards rushing on nine carries was great for this offense (granted 30 yards came on a single run). If you have the space, Knile Davis and Don Jackson might be lottery tickets down the road. Knile Davis has the speed, but will likely only be useful in return duties in the short term.
This would normally be that rare scenario where a single team can share the running back duties and both retain their value. However, Coleman is expected to miss the game with a hamstring injury, which would give Freeman a bit of a boost in value. Although Coleman is the better receiving back, Freeman should be able to pick up some of his production there and be at least a solid RB2 this week despite the Packers’ excellent rushing defense.
Jordy Nelson/Randall Cobb/Davante Adams
Two things expect to be different from last week. Jordy will get more than one catch (and more than four targets) and Adams is not likely to get 16 targets this week. I fully trust that the multiple receivers and multiple short routes will be the new norm. Look for Rodgers to get a few more looks deep, but as teams continue to sit on the deeper routes the slants and outs will be open. Expect McCarthy to start scheming ways to get Jordy the ball in space as well. Adams is a nice add if you need the WR help. Adams has been productive this year and has stayed healthy (knock on wood... now! Do it! Thank you). Adams is remarkably under-owned in fantasy for someone currently 19th in scoring in ESPN standard scoring and 20th in Yahoo. That is total scoring not per game basis (Packers having already had their bye).
Julio Jones/Mohamed Sanu
Julio Jones is the top WR this year. He can very quickly make a few plays and have 200 yards. Sure start every week. Sanu was brought in to be someone to be a strong second option (something like Marvin Jones, who also left Cincinnati); however, Sanu has never had more than five catches in any week, only twice been above six targets and only once been above 50 yards receiving. Sanu is a flex option at best.
THE REST OF THE LEAGUE
Jameis Winston gets the honor of playing the very worst pass defense in the NFL. Winston came out of the bye with a three touchdown game on the road against the Niners. Getting to come back home to Tampa and have the Oakland Raiders waiting should be a great matchup. Winston is still available in 29% of Yahoo leagues and 46.7% of ESPN leagues. Don’t look now, but Mariota has had three straight 20+ point games, and 20+ points in five of seven games. Mariota gets to play the Jaguars this week and will need to get the ball up in the air. Make no mistake, the Jaguars have been a pretty good in pass defense, but Mariota has been solid this year and he is available in 22% of Yahoo leagues and 40.8% of ESPN leagues.
Jacquizz Rodgers is still out there in 17% of Yahoo leagues and 61.8% of ESPN leagues. This is not someone to pick up if you have long-term needs. He is yielding the field once Doug Martin is healthy, but that is not this week. If you just grabbed Jay Ajayi just in time to see him enter his bye week, Rodgers is a good streaming option. Tampa will be at home and facing the Raiders this weekend. Rodgers will get the majority of carries and will get touches in the pass game as well. Devontae Booker looks to be the likely starter this week in Denver. This could be a big deal as the Broncos are clearly keyed in on running the ball and Booker could be carrying the load by himself with C.J. Anderson injured and likely out this week and for a few more games. Booker had 83 yards and a touchdown last week on 17 carries. The Broncos will be in San Diego this weekend.
Tyrell Williams is an interesting name with some concerns. He has had 5+ receptions and 100+ yards in two of his last three games. He is only owned in 67% of Yahoo and 69.8% of ESPN leagues. He is getting good looks on a team that is throwing. He is outscoring Travis Benjamin who was considered a likely WR1 when Keenan Allen went down. If you are owning one San Diego receiver it should be Williams. Currently 16th in ESPN standard scoring and 17th in Yahoo standard, Williams is a solid WR2. Here is your concern, the one game in the last three where he did not get five catches and 100 yards was against Denver. Who do the Charges play this week? Denver. Might be a tough week, but maybe being home helps him.
Jamison Crowder has been another oddly under appreciated name so far. Crowder’s fantasy points are similar to Williams, but part of his numbers are the return game stats. From Week Two onward, Crowder has hit 9+ points in five of six weeks. One of those weeks was saved by a flukey punt return, but it was stuck in the middle of a trend. Crowder leads Washington in receiving yards and is second to only Jordan Reed in receptions. With all this, Crowder is available in 57.9% of ESPN leagues and 53% of Yahoo leagues. The matchup against the Bengals is not terrible and he has been solid for a while now. Easily a flex start in all formats and a worthwhile streaming option.