Kickoff: Sunday, September 13th at 1:00 PM ET
Location: U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Betting Odds: GB +2.5, 46 total via Oddsshark
Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers (Sit, QB2)
The Vikings were pretty stingy against quarterbacks in 2019 (eighth in fantasy QB points allowed), and going up against Aaron Rodgers was no exception. Last year, the Vikings held Rodgers to 14.3 fantasy points in Week 2 and 8.3 points in Week 16 (the latter being his worst fantasy week of 2019). Those stats certainly aren’t encouraging.
If AR12 is your QB1, you may just want to hope for the best if you don’t have better streaming options. Still, the expectations for Rodgers should be tempered a bit. I’m predicting mid to high QB2 numbers. If you want some encouragement, I believe there are just two cornerbacks on the Vikings’ roster that have played an actual NFL game. Rodgers could feast against some inexperienced corners.
Aaron Jones (Start, RB1), AJ Dillon (Sit), Jamaal Williams (Sit)
Aaron Jones was the second-best fantasy running back last year but many fantasy players are expecting at least some regression this year in a crowded backfield. I wouldn’t be surprised if “2019 Aaron Jones” continued his impressive play in Week 1. Last year, the Packers used Jones to grind down Minnesota’s defense, giving him 23 carries each game as he totaled 28 and 25 fantasy points over the two contests.
AJ Dillon looks like a physical freak, but without any preseason games, the rookie could need some time to get up to NFL speed. Jamaal Williams may be the odd man out in the backfield, but he’s still useful enough to get some snaps here and there. Williams is easily the best pass-blocking running back on this team (and one of the best in the league). Rotoworld recently reported that Williams is likely ahead of Dillon on the depth chart, but it’s anyone’s guess as to how this backfield shakes up after a few weeks.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Davante Adams (Start, WR1), Allen Lazard (Sit, WR3), Jace Sternberger (Sit, TE2), Robert Tonyan (Sit)
The Vikings were pretty standard in pass defense in 2019, but last year’s rankings won’t be very helpful. Long story short, outside of Mike Hughes and Holton Hill, no other cornerback on Minnesota’s roster has an NFL start. Davante Adams, easily a top 5 wide receiver fantasy option in 2020, should be just as elite as ever in this game. Davante was pretty mediocre in his two games against Minnesota last year, but I’m willing to bet Adams goes off since Xavier Rhodes is no longer in Minnesota to shadow him.
With Devin Funchess opting out of the 2020 season, it seems Allen Lazard is the de facto WR2 for the Packers. He’s hovering around 25% rostered in fantasy leagues, but that has been increasing lately. Lazard isn’t quite a start yet, but he could warrant more consideration down the road if he receives more consistent targets this year. I don’t think he should be started in most deep leagues just yet, but I believe he is capable of low-end WR3 numbers this week.
I’ve heard Jace Sternberger will be the go-to pass-catching tight end on this team, but Robert Tonyan could be in the mix as well. Sternberger is a bit of an unknown quantity. He missed the majority of the 2019 season (his rookie year), but the Packers are still pretty high on him. It wouldn’t surprise me if Jace is getting enough targets to reach TE2 territory, but I wouldn’t expect much more from a Packers tight end.
Kirk Cousins (Sit, Low-end QB2)
I don’t want to dump on Kirk Cousins here, but I can’t muster any enthusiasm for the guy in Week 1 (or many weeks after). It’s honestly pretty difficult to get excited about Cousins. He barely finished the 2019 season as the QB15 and his current ADP is QB21. I can’t confidently tell you to start Kirk even in a two-quarterback or super deep league. The Packers were top five in fantasy points allowed per game to opposing quarterbacks (13.3) in 2019. Two out of Cousins’ three worst games in 2019 were against the Packers. He never scored more than 8.9 fantasy points against them last year. Plus, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Vikings have a “run first” mentality heading into this game.
Dalvin Cook (Start, RB1), Alexander Mattison (Sit)
Dalvin Cook is a no-brainer. If he’s on your team, you likely spent a top 5 pick, and there’s no way you’re benching him. So let’s talk about Cook’s chances in Week 1. Without a preseason this year, it’s possible the Packers are one of the best teams a running back could hope to go up against to start this unprecedented 2020 season. Green Bay’s opponents averaged 128.7 rushing yards per game in 2019, and while their edge rushers are pretty solid, they still don’t really have any options behind them, especially at inside linebacker. Their rookie inside linebacker will be out for several weeks with an injury and they left Blake Martinez over the off-season. Also, Cook torched the Packers for 28 fantasy points last year.
The first home game in an empty U.S. Bank Stadium could have some mental aspect to it, but I fully expect Cook to show up and show out against a Packers run defense that doesn’t seem to have improved much since 2019. That’s another factor to the 2020 season to keep in-mind: defenses can and will make plenty of early mistakes. Start with confidence.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Adam Thielen (Start, WR2), Justin Jefferson (Sit), Kyle Rudolph (Sit, TE2), Irv Smith Jr. (Sit)
Green Bay barely cracked the top ten in passing yards allowed per game (less than two passing yards separated 10-14), but obviously, that’s still pretty good. Still, somebody needs to lead this Vikings attack, and that’s where Adam Thielen comes in. With Stefon Diggs officially out of Minnesota, Thielen is the most experienced Vikings receiver and easily Cousins’ best target to start the season. It’s not the best match-up in the world for Thielen, but he should maintain his reliable floor.
The rookie Justin Jefferson should be out there as well, and reports say he’s been impressing during training camp. I imagine the Vikings are mostly plugging Jefferson into Diggs’ old role considering his impressive speed and sticky hands. I liked Jefferson coming out of the combine, and I’ll be keeping an eye on him in these first few weeks. He’s on roughly 65% of league rosters, and if he blows up in Week 1, he could be one of the first big waiver wire pickups of the season. That being said, we haven’t seen enough of him in full-speed NFL play to confidently start him in 12-team leagues yet. Even in deeper leagues, I would likely employ a “wait and see” approach with him.
Green Bay was right in the middle of the league when it came to points allowed to tight ends in 2019. The real problem here is the way the Vikings have been using their tight ends. Here’s a not-so-fun fact: Kyle Rudolph and Irv Smith Jr. pretty much split the Vikings’ tight end targets in 2019. Rudolph had 48 targets (roughly half as many compared to his 2017 and 2018 seasons) while Smith had 47. Kyle finished TE14 in 2019, and I can’t imagine he will do much better if Smith Jr. is in the mix as much as he was last year.
-Ryan Kruse (@ryanpkruse on Twitter)