Week one of the NFL season is behind us, but owning Green Bay Packers players in your fantasy football leagues last week did not do you any favors. That is, unless you had the Packers defense, which played great in Chicago. This week the Packers will have their home opener against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.
Here’s what to expect from players on both sidelines in Sunday’s game.
Rodgers finished 19th among fantasy quarterbacks last week. A couple things likely played into this. Between his taking over as the starting quarterback in Green Bay and the end of the 2016 season Rodgers has had significant difficulties early when not playing significant time in the preseason. How significant? When he attempts 40 or more preseason passes, his passer rating over the first quarter of the season was 106.5 and he completed 70.7% of his passes. When he attempted 25 or fewer passes in August, his passer rating in those games drops to 86.4 while completing 64.5% of his passes. Rodgers did not play at all this preseason and we should expect some early season woes.
The other problem is the Packers start off with two great defenses. Rodgers is actually not a good start this week, but you likely took him high and most people do not roster two QBs (especially if one is Rodgers). If you are desperate, Josh Allen might be a good pick up this week in a spot start. Allen is playing the New York Giants, who allowed Dak Prescott to be the second highest fantasy QB of the week last week. Allen is just 35% owned in Yahoo and 23% owned in ESPN leagues.
Cousins only attempted 10 passes in week 1, but he did a good job of capitalizing on those throws as he completed eight of them for 98 yards and a touchdown to Adam Thielen. Still, this team is taking a hard turn toward running the ball more. Mike Zimmer wants to control the game and let his defense carry him. Game momentum had a lot to do with this decision as well as the Vikings got out early and maintained the lead the rest of the way. Expect higher numbers from Cousins this week. Stefon Diggs is now off the injury report and there should be more opportunities as well, making Cousins a low-end starter in ten team formats.
Davante Adams / Marquez Valdes-Scantling / Jimmy Graham
Okay, yes, Geronimo Allison has also been a valuable weapon, but he had zero catches last week and seems to be the third WR option on the team at this point. Adams is the clear leader here, but that simply means he will be drawing far more attention from defenses until MVS can make more noise. Mackensie Alexander dislocated his elbow last week, though Zimmer is not ruling him out yet. Still, having a strong CB opposite Xavier Rhodes has been a difficult issue for the Vikings in recent years. Another strong point for Adams is that he generally does very well against Rhodes. In both contests last year, with an injured Rodgers, he managed 60+ yards and a touchdown. I would Count Adams as a WR2 in most ten team formats this week.
MVS is a possible flex in deeper leagues. Jimmy Graham has been a beneficiary of the new offense. His targets are significant and he is getting the ball in space between the twenties. This should continue. Graham is a start if you have him unless you have a Hockenson, Kelce, Kittle, or the like.
Adam Thielen / Stefon Diggs / Kyle Rudolph
Diggs was attempting to play injured last week and it really slowed the passing attack. Expect the Vikings to find it harder going on the ground against the Packers defense this week and the passing yards should increase. The Vikings should looked to be more in mid-season form on offense and the numbers for Diggs and Thielen should both be top 20 this week.
Still, though it is too early to declare the Packers defense an immovable force, but this matchup could give some pause. But Allen Robinson managed to cross the 100 yard mark last week and it seems like the volume of passing will increase for the Vikings this week and boost the WR numbers. Rudolph did not do anything last week, but he has been a consistent thorn in the Packers side. It appears likely that Raven Green will be involved in covering Rudolph, and I have low expectations for him. Vernon Davis is only owned in 16% of Yahoo leagues and 4% of ESPN leagues. He faces Dallas this week and should be a decent matchup (getting targets from former Viking Case Keenum), particularly if Jordan Reed is out again.
Aaron Jones / Jamaal Williams
There was nothing to write home about last week for the Packers’ running game, and the Vikings present another difficult matchup, but I expect Jones to have a better game here. I expect him to be a mid-leve RB2 this week — look for him to be more involved in the passing game and get a few more touches. It seems like he may have had to take off some snaps mid-game last week with some pain, but nothing seems to worry anyone at this point.
Williams is not a starting option at this point unless you are in a deep league, and then only in a flex position. If you have these two, you might want to look at picking up Chris Thompson. With the injury to Derrius Guice sidelining him for a few weeks, Thompson will get a lot more look in the Washington passing game. He was undervalued last year in a similar situation. He is owned in 38% of ESPN leaguesa nd 33% of Yahoo leagues.
Here is maybe the single “must start” in this game other than the two defenses. Cook is clearly set to be the focal point of this offense. He is finally a full season away from his ACL injury and is showing the speed and the power that made him so desirable coming out of college. He should be involved in all facets of the offense this week. The Packers’ defense did well against the three running backs in the Chicago backfield in week one, but Cook is better than all of them and has an actual passing attack to draw attention away from the line of scrimmage. He’s a definite RB1 play.