The Chicago Bears have a bye this week and the Green Bay Packers take on the Lions of Detroit, so the NFC North battles will be limited to two contests this week. The Vikings get an NFC Championship game rematch against the Philadelphia Eagles. With the Vikings at 1-2-1 and the Eagles at 2-2, both have come out of the gate under-performing. I see this game being a crossroads of sorts for both teams. Become the team that you want to be for the remainder of the season, or fold.
Meanwhile at Ford Field, the Packers will be fighting to keep pace with the Bears in the division and the Lions will try to avoid bottoming out under new head coach Matt Patricia. Let’s take a look at who has the best chance to help your teams this week.
Green Bay Packers @ Detroit Lions
Start: Aaron Jones, RB
If you were bold enough to draft Jones in redraft leagues and wait it out until he got his feet back following suspension, I’m hopeful this is when it starts to pay off. Jones was a strong play last week already and should be a legitimate flex play or low-end RB2 play this week. In two games, Jones is averaging 6.3 yards per carry and even impressed with a blitz pickup against the Bills last week. The knock has been that he’s not a strong pass blocker and Jamaal Williams is better at that, but if Jones continues to pick up those blocks and have the ability to pick up first downs in two carries, he should 100% be the workhorse.
With Randall Cobb still on the injury report, Ty Montgomery is best served at picking up the slack in the passing game and not taking away carries. Be comfortable starting Jones against the team that ranks last in rushing yards allowed per game.
Start: Kerryon Johnson, RB
Feels like it could be a good day for running backs. Not only have the Packers made Adrian Peterson look like 2008 Adrian Peterson two weeks ago, but there were spurts in Week 1 where Jordan Howard looked like he was ready to run wild over the Packers defense. Green Bay is ranked 18th in rushing yards allowed per game, but their rush rank by DVOA is 26th.
Johnson has largely split carries with LeGarrette Blount, but his situation is similar to that of Aaron Jones’ in terms of being able to do more with those carries. Johnson is averaging 5.7 yards per carry on the season while Blount is averaging a pedestrian 2.7.
Sit: Matt Stafford, QB
Stafford has a great receiving corps at his disposal, but that doesn’t make him infallible. He put together his first game of the season last week with double-digit yards per completion. However, Dallas is the 26th-ranked team in DVOA against the pass while the Packers are quietly ranked 10th, allowing about 241 passing yards per game. Stafford’s career averages in 15 games against Green Bay are 298 yards per game and roughly two TD’s per contest, but he also averages 1.5 interceptions.
Currently, Stafford is the 17th-ranked fantasy quarterback averaging 17.7 ppg. Which is fine, but unless you’re in a two-QB league, there are better options.
Minnesota Vikings @ Philadelphia Eagles
Start: Jay Ajayi, RB
After missing a week with a small fracture in his back, Ajayi came back to put together a respectable 15 carries for 70 yards. The back injury worries me a little bit, but apparently it’s something he’s just going to play through with a little pain. I still like Ajayi this week. With Darren Sproles and Corey Clement still nursing injuries, the timeshare at running back last week was 75% Ajayi and 25% Wendell Smallwood (five carries).
Minnesota is currently ranked 30th out of 32 teams against running backs. They’ve struggled to keep up with them and have allowed 3.9 yards per carry and over 100 yards per game to opposing running backs. Which brings me to my sit for this game.
Sit: Vikings defense
The Vikings defense is still 90% owned in ESPN leagues, but rank 21st at the position with 6.8 points per game. Losing Everson Griffin is a tough one to swallow and the Vikings offense isn’t making things easier on the defense. Against the Bills, sure, they got walloped by a bad team, but the Vikings only allowed 292 yards on D. Poor field position and bad secondary play has led the defense to be placed in compromising positions.
Per Football Outsiders, the Vikings are ranked 28th in DVOA against tight ends and 30th in DVOA against running backs. Both are positions that the Eagles can readily exploit with Ajayi and Zach Ertz.