While I’m about as happy as you can be that we have a bonafide stud of a Thursday Night Football game this evening, if there was ever a team that didn’t need a four-game turnaround after Week 3, it’s Philadelphia. The Eagles finished their loss to the Lions down six starters from their opening contest, and though they’ll get a couple back tonight in the form of Alshon Jeffery ($8,200) and Jason Peters, there are still massive holes that only time can fill on this roster. To make matters worse, they’re in Green Bay, set to face an undefeated Packers squad with a seemingly rejuvenated Aaron Rodgers ($10,800) behind center.
Let’s break it all down from a Showdown perspective.
Note: All salaries will be Flex prices unless noted as Captain’s Pick prices.
Green Bay Packers
If recent history is any indication, Davante Adams ($12,000) is going to go off tonight. The Eagles’ secondary has been consistently burned by opposing receivers since the beginning of last season, and their numbers specific to 2019 are horrific. Philadelphia is one of four teams to have allowed at least six touchdowns to WRs through its first three contests, while the unit also has surrendered four 100-yard receiving performances to the likes of Terry McLaurin, Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley and Marvin Jones. This obvious area of weakness doesn’t have any help on the horizon, either.
Not only have the Eagles’ corners struggled to keep their defense afloat, but they’ll be without Ronald Darby for at least a few weeks after the veteran injured his hamstring against Detroit. Still, I doubt Adams will feel too much pity about his diluted matchup. Not after the murderer’s row of defenses and corners he’s been subjected to through the first three weeks of the season. Adams, who led the NFL in red zone targets and touchdowns in 2018, has yet to even find the end zone and has been held to under 60 yards in two of his three starts. These underwhelming numbers clearly haven’t changed his perception or his price point; however, I have total faith the 26-year-old will live up to his hefty salary this evening.
That said, I wouldn’t be shying away from Marquez Valdez-Scanting ($7,600). Both can be viable in this setting, and Valdez-Scantling’s price tag does not match his role through three games; at least not in the sense that he’s just two-thirds the salary of Adams. The sophomore wideout has been targeted on an identical number of routes as Adams (21), leads the team in air yards with 253, and has overtaken Geronimo Allison ($4,200) as Green Bay’s No. 2 receiver by playing at least 87% of the offensive snaps in two straight weeks.
In a way, the duopoly slowly taking hold of the Packers’ passing attack creates a nice opportunity to fade Rodgers at such an expensive price. We know opponents of Philadelphia try to exploit its cornerbacks, as the Eagles have allowed the sixth-most targets to WRs through the opening weeks of 2019 and are coming off a campaign in 2018 where no NFC squad surrendered more targets to the positional grouping. We also know Matt LaFleur has come into Green Bay and tried to establish the ground game, with the Packers’ rushing ratio of 43.8% dwarfing its 32.5% mark from last year and limiting its quarterback’s usual volume upside. Rodgers is always a threat to break a slate; however, by focusing our lineups on his two top weapons, we can remain confident in our level of exposure to the passing elements in Green Bay’s offense. Especially considering Rodgers has targeted Jimmy Graham ($4,400) and Mercedes Lewis ($600) only once combined in the Packers’ past two games.
Finally, when it comes to Green Bay’s backfield, everything is a mess. Despite the fact he’s coming out of a Week 3 where he scored a pair of touchdowns, Aaron Jones’ ($9,000) value couldn’t be at a more precipitous point. He was out-snapped 33-to-21 by Jamaal Williams ($5,000) and was out-gained 59-to-19 on the ground in the team’s win against Denver. It’s not like this was a random occurrence, either. This break out by Williams followed very direct comments from LaFleur that he wanted to “even up” the workload among his two running backs. Still, in season-long formats, there are some reasons to remain hopeful about Jones’ potential. For instance, the Packers have run only eight “rushing” plays in the red zone through three weeks: six attempts by Jones and two kneel downs from Rodgers. That’s not nothing. The fact Jones possesses the goal line role is massive in terms of importance. Yet, at the same time, on this particular slate, it’s not enough to justify a $4,000 gap in the pair’s pricing. Williams is simply more likely to bring back value if LaFleur’s inclination for balance carries over for another week, let alone if he starts vulturing work inside the opponent’s 20.
If there was going to be a week Miles Sanders ($6,200) breaks out, it’d be tonight. Green Bay has been gashed by opposing running backs its past two games, surrendering an average of 173.5 rushing yards to the Vikings and the Broncos. Yet that’s not the only way the Packers’ defense has been susceptible to RBs. Though the numbers are slightly slanted due to a Week 1 matchup with a Bears squad that seemed terrified to throw to anyone other than a running back; at 33%, no NFL team has allowed a higher positional target share to opposing backfields than Green Bay in 2019. It all seems great. Well, aside from the fact Doug Pederson has illustrated time and time again he’s unwilling to feature a single RB.
Pederson has been the head coach of the Eagles for 51 regular season contests and, in that span, he’s bestowed 15-plus carries to a player in just 17 of those games. Heck, in last Sunday’s loss to the Lions, all three of Philadelphia’s primary backs saw more than 30% of the team’s offensive snaps but less than 40%, with Darren Sproles’ ($2,800) raw count of 27 plays leading the way. That’s about as close to splitting the snaps equally in three parts as I can ever remember seeing. Still, it’s not going to be Sproles or Jordan Howard ($4,600) who end up winning you a tournament. Their ceilings are simply too small.
Sanders is the lone back utilized in both the rushing attack and the passing game. Sanders is the back that posted an aDOT of 24.0 yards on his targets last week. Sanders is the guy who had receptions of 33 and 40 yards against the Lions and also led the team in red zone rushing attempts. I’m nowhere near confident enough in the rookie’s floor to make him a Captain’s Pick, but Sanders’ salary is more than fair for a fantasy piece with his potential.
On the other side of the coin, the Packers have been their conference’s stingiest defense when it comes to shutting down opposing QBs. Sure, one could question the caliber of signal caller Green Bay’s had the good fortune of facing the first few weeks of the season; but going three consecutive contests without allowing a 250-yard passer or a touchdown through the air is impressive no matter the opportune circumstances.
However, for as stout as the Packers have looked, it does feel like Carson Wentz ($10,000) might volume his way to a productive fantasy performance. The Eagles are road underdogs in tonight’s matchup, which is already the starting point of a game script with many passing attempts, and a script that all three Philadelphia contests in 2019 have followed. Wentz actually has been forced to throw 35-plus times in all three games he’s started so far this season. He also ranks sixth among qualified quarterbacks in dropbacks with 129. Wentz tends to make the most of this volume, too. Going back to last year, the 2016 first-round pick has averaged a whopping 23.9 DKFP the past nine times he’s attempted in excess of 35 passes. Considering Wentz presents this level of volume in addition to owning a massive 10.3-yard aDOT, it’s difficult to ignore the pivot in this spot.
On top of his own personal talents, Wentz gets the benefit of welcoming back Jeffery this evening. Through the past two years, the wideout’s presence has been relatively important to Wentz’s upside. In the 11 games the duo have suited up for together, the QB has put up an average 284.7 yards and 21.5 DKFP. In the three contests Jeffery’s been sidelined by injuries in this span, Wentz’s output has been far more modest at 248.3 yards and 18.1 DKFP per start.
In a similar vein, Jeffery has a monstrous impact on the production of Nelson Agholor ($7,800). Going back to the beginning of 2018, Agholor has received double-digit targets in a game only five times, with four of those occasions coinciding with contests Jeffery was missing. Agholor also has compiled seven or more catches just four times across his past 19 regular season performances, and all four of those took place with Jeffery watching from home. With such an underwhelming yards per catch rate, Agholor is the archetype of receiver who needs volume to thrive, and it’s clear that level of sustenance is not available to him when both Jeffery and Zach Ertz ($9,200) are active. You can take a shot on Mack Hollins ($2,400) with DeSean Jackson still out; but, in terms of high-priced options, only Jeffery and Ertz are viable on this slate.
This is a contest that should be highly competitive, yet it’s one I ultimately feel the Packers will win. Because of this, even at his heightened salary, Davante Adams ($18,000 CP) makes for tonight’s top option at 1.5x value. Marquez Valdez-Scantling ($11,400 CP) and Carson Wentz ($15,000 CP) also make for acceptable plays in the Captain’s Pick slot; with Miles Sanders and Jamaal Williams providing a nice level of value from the mid-tier.
Final Score: Green Bay 27, Philadelphia 21
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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.