The “Word of the Day” for Monday, October 15th is “Questionable”; as in: every single important player on tonight’s DraftKings Showdown slate between the 49ers and Packers is questionable. Heck, even Aaron Rodgers ($12,200), coming off a Week 5 performance that appeared to be the healthiest we’ve seen him in over a month, apparently suffered a set-back with his lingering knee ailment. Still, injuries present value in DFS and while most of these decisions won’t be made till inactives are announced around 7pm ET, we can definitely make some assumptions. In fact, it’s exactly what I’m here to do.
In this article, I will outline the potential game script for the two possible outcomes of this matchup (we’re like Donovan McNabb here -— we don’t believe in ties). Based on these narratives, I’ll highlight the players who would stand to benefit from the events of the night going down in such a manner. After the hypothetical exercise, I’ll crown a winner, name a Captain’s Pick, and give some locks for the slate.
So, let’s dive in.
ADAM LEVITAN’S TARGET PROJECTION
George Kittle, $11,700, Captain’s Pick, $7,800 flex — Kittle, who spent four years at Iowa with CJ Beathard, leads the team in every receiving category since Jimmy Garoppolo went down. Expect this duo to continue their chemistry as the 49ers wideout corps remains banged up and underwhelming.
Projection — 7 Targets
If the Packers Win…Through five games in 2018, Green Bay has been one of the easiest teams to script. There really hasn’t even been varying degrees of their pattern, they’ve operated almost exclusively in extremes. The Packers currently sit dead-last in the NFL in first quarter point disparity, with opponents outscoring Rodgers and company by a 29-point margin entering Week 6. That margin grows to 33-points by halftime, but, as you can see, a pass-heavy orientation is set in stone near instantaneously. Because of this, Rodgers leads the league in second-half fantasy points, posting a massive 70.8 percent of his season total in the final 30 minutes of the game. Now, to be fair, with their Super Bowl MVP under center and coach Mike McCarthy at the helm, Green Bay has generally been one of the most pass-happy squads in the NFL, yet, the immediate negative game-script has ripple effects that reach wider than Rodgers – who is basically script-proof anyway.
The largest ramifications have been at the running back position. With the Packers often playing from behind, two RBs on the roster stand to gain the most from a surplus of passing plays: Jamaal Williams ($4,000) and Ty Montgomery ($2,600). The former is the best pass-blocking running back that Green Bay employs and the latter is their best receiver – which makes sense as Montgomery is a converted WR. In last week’s loss to Detroit – a game that the Packers would trail 24-0 at the half – Williams played his highest number of snaps (33) since Aaron Jones ($7,200) returned from suspension in Week 3. Actually, so did Montgomery (29). Meanwhile, Jones wouldn’t garner a single carry in the second half, not even seeing a touch until a 12-yard reception in the contest’s final minute of play. This will not be the case in a Green Bay victory. There should be no question at this point that Jones is the superior RB to Williams. Really, the two couldn’t be more diametrically opposed. Jones has been the most elusive back in the NFL this season, inducing a missed tackle on a whopping 37.5 percent of his attempts through three games – the league’s highest rate. Williams? Well, he’s bringing up the rear at an underwhelming 1.9 percent. Favored by over a touchdown, I’d expect Jones to finally get the bulk of the snaps, culminating in 14-17 touches against a San Francisco defense that has surrendered six touchdowns to the position the past three weeks.
Even with Jones more involved in the game plan, Rodgers remains the focal point. That is unwavering. However, who he’ll be throwing the ball to is somewhat of a mystery – at least, beyond Davante Adams ($11,600). With 47 targets in the last four weeks, only Adam Thielen and Antonio Brown have been force fed more than Adams in that particular span of time. These targets aren’t empty, either. Adams has at least seven catches in each of those four contests, while, for the season, he’s received 37.0 percent of the Packers target share in the red zone – the fourth-highest rate in the NFL. If that wasn’t enough, Adams should benefit from the funnel effect that Richard Sherman’s presence has created so far this year with the 49ers (if he’s healthy enough to play through a calf injury, at least). The veteran CB has only been targeted on 9.0 percent of routes in 2018, the lowest figure of any corner that’s covered over 100 routes to this point in the season. That’s left Ahkello Witherspoon to be picked on 22.0 percent of the time. Witherspoon has also allowed 0.54 fantasy points per route, the fourth-highest number among CBs.
It would likely be Geronimo Allison ($7,400) who sees the majority of Sherman if he is able to go, while Randall Cobb ($7,000) would work primarily in the slot against K’Waun Williams. Or, Equanimeous St. Brown ($2,400) and Marquez Valdes-Scantling ($6,800) could once again start in the event of injury. Whatever the combination, I’d lean to the Green Bay receiver who gets to exploit the slot – most likely Valdes-Scantling, who saw 10 targets versus the Lions. Though, if Allison is sidelined with his hamstring issue, I’d be more apt to attack Sherman with St. Brown at a saving of $5K. Jimmy Graham ($7,600), practicing in full on Friday, is a safe, consistent option amongst all the uncertainty.
If the 49ers Win…It’s difficult to imagine a road underdog with as many injuries as San Francisco possesses getting the job done tonight, yet, stranger things have happened already this season. Still, if the Niners are to come out on top this evening, it likely won’t be the case of their defense stepping up to meet the challenge of a talented Packers team. The 49ers D/ST ($2,200) have been brutal on that side of the ball since Week 2, hemorrhaging points to their opposition and owning one of the lowest adjusted sack rates in football over that span. No, if a San Francisco win is truly in the cards this evening, the 49ers will have had to kept pace with Green Bay and their projected team total of 28.0 points. Considering the 49ers’ implied total sits at just 19.5, to say that’s going to be difficult might be an understatement.
It’s simply that San Francisco lacks big-play ability and has struggled finishing drives. The 49ers have created a league-average 10 red-zone scoring attempts across their past three games, yet, for the season, they’ve converted only 47.4 percent of these opportunities into touchdowns – the seventh-lowest mark in the league. Part of that harkens back to Jimmy Garoppolo’s struggles to end the 2017 campaign, but now the explanation falls squarely at the feet of the consistently inconsistent C.J. Beathard ($8,800). The sophomore QB is an anomaly. He’s somehow an amalgamation of Alex Smith and Brett Favre, but, like, only their worst qualities. Despite very seldom taking shots down the field in his first two starts this season – Beathard’s 5.8 aDOT is the lowest of all 36 quarterbacks to have played 25 percent of their team’s snaps – he’s still managed to throw four interceptions on his 91 pass attempts. He’s a gunslinger with no upside. He’s Ryan Fitzpatrick with a shoulder sprain. It’s a tough combination to swallow.
However, it’s not as if his receiving options are helping matters much. San Francisco entered the season with Marquise Goodwin ($6,600) and Pierre Garcon ($6,400) as their top two wideouts. While the former’s supreme athleticism did originally present some ceiling at the position, a mixture of hamstring and thigh injuries have held Goodwin back, holding the 27-year-old to appearing in parts of three games so far this season with just five catches. Those issues have left the veteran Garcon to do most of the heavy lifting in the 49ers offense, yet, despite entering Week 6 as one of 39 WRs to have received at least 30 targets to this point in the year, Garcon’s 0.21 PPR fantasy points per opportunity rank him dead-last in that grouping. To wit, Garcon was able to turn a eye-popping 12 targets into a mere 9.7 DKFP last week against the Cardinals. His floor and ceiling are roughly two inches apart. The 32-year-old was able to get in a limited practice on Saturday and, with more serious injuries to Trent Taylor and Dante Pettis thinning the depth chart, it’s likely he’ll play tonight. Between the two, Goodwin’s the only play, while Kendrick Bourne ($2,800) would vault into relevance if Garcon is unable to go. Really, George Kittle ($7,800) – who leads the team in targets, catches, and receiving yards – is the only safe play of the bunch.
Running back is even more difficult to process. As of this morning, NFL Network is reporting that Matt Breida ($6,600) is “pushing to play” through an ankle ailment, but I have my doubts that he ends up active or could be at all effective just eight days removed from the sprain. If he’s not active, Alfred Morris ($6,200) is a near lock for 20 touches, though averaging just 4.3 yards per opportunity essentially makes him the RB version of Garcon. Still, in a positive script, it’s likely a few of those touches have come by the goal line. The most interesting name here is Kyle Juszczyk ($5,000), who is coming off a Week 5 showing where he ran 31 routes and saw seven targets. The full back does have 144 career receptions, so it’s not as if this is coming out of straight out of the blue, either. If the 49ers were to end up trailing in this contest, Juszczyk would definitely be featured in the passing game.
THE OUTCOMEThis is not going to be a close game. Expect the Packers to shed their first quarter struggles and get out to a quick lead in this one, giving Jones the opportunity to grind out the clock in the second-half. Adams ($17,400 CP) is not an inexpensive Captain’s Pick, but with so much currently unclear about which receivers are even 100 percent healthy going into Monday night, he presents a rare bit of stability on this slate. Beathard ($13,200 CP), who was forced to drop back an NFC-high 59 times in Week 5, will find himself in similar conditions this evening, also making him viable for the 1.5x bonus.
Final Score: Green Bay 33, San Francisco 17
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is theglt13) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is adamlevitan) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.