Kickoff: Sunday, September 17th, at 1:00PM EST
Location: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA
Betting Odds: Packers -1.5 O/U 40.5 Total via PFF.com
Writer: Matt Prendergast (@amazingmattyp on X/Twitter)
Green Bay Packers
Jordan Love (Start, QB2)
Week 1 was a terrific opening verse to the Jordan Love song, I will take nothing away from that…but. But that Bears defense, and in particular the secondary, did not appear to have familiarity with the sport of football. So I’m not ready to declare the next 15 years settled in GB. He’s absolutely confident, calm, and shows a deeper understanding of the game than most expected…but a 55.6 % completion rate isn’t quite a ‘Top 5 guy -WE’RE GOING TO THE SUPER BOWL!’ outing, especially when facing down a JV squad. There’s more growing to do – a couple of good opportunities last week squandered by balls arriving behind open receivers, or in perhaps a tribute to the man before the man he replaced, thrown clear into the sun. That’s okay, nobody expects perfection….but temper your expectations while Jordan finds his way through a few more schemes and secondaries.
It’s a little challenging to gauge the strength of the Falcons’ air defense – that was Chase Young’s first foray too, and that game leaned into the run and away from the pass. I expect some more growing pains as we go along, and the Falcons should put up more of a fight this week. If I ran, say, a Ryan Tannehill or Danny Jones last week, and Jordan was my bench guy, I’d make the move while the momentum is great – but if you took a top 10 guy in the draft – no matter how terriBurrow they played opening week, calm down. Jordan will still be on your bench in two weeks if there’s REALLY a problem.
Aaron Jones (Start, RB2), AJ Dillon (Sit)
Last week was one heck of a season opener for our favorite sombrero owner Aaron Jones – and he racked up the most RB fantasy points for the week while being seemingly forgotten by Matt LaFleur from the second drive to the second half. Whatever is in the Gatorade bottles the GB coaches hydrate with during the game has got to be spiked with some leftover ayahuasca from a previous teammate, because going back to the last seasons of Mike McFlurry…uh, McCarthy, these leaders of men open every year with a good looking Jones drive, then immediately blank on his existence. Every year. It’s astonishing. In his stead on the ensuing drives, and in spell work the second half, Anti-Vulture AJ Dillon managed half the rushing yards on a third more carries, missing 2 goal-line opportunities in the second half in what could only be a response to terrible threats from Jones managers.
Moving to this Atlanta game, the opportunities should again be there – reports are that Jones’ hammy tweak was minor and shouldn’t have an impact on productivity, keep riding him this week against a Falcons defensive front that gave up 72 yards to Miles Sanders (forgivable) and an additional 60 to Chuba Hubbard (maybe not so much). Jones’ elusiveness and field smarts will continue this terrific sprint to start the season. Conversely, I would probably be pulling high-ceiling/risk-reward candidates off the waiver wire the next couple of weeks rather than hold onto AJ Dillon. That Bears defense had a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day, and Dillon couldn’t do anything of consequence to capitalize. Barring a Jones injury (Please sweet Lord, do not rain that wrath down on us), AJ just simply doesn’t produce fantasy points regularly or consistently enough for me to consider running him even in a flex situation, where I’m more prone to roll a high-side guy and take a chance. He’ll have a couple of good weeks, but it’s not predictable as to when – and highly unlikely to ever hit RB1 levels even then. I’d rather use that bench spot for potential rockets.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Romeo Doubs (Start, WR2) Christian Watson (Start, WR3*), Jayden Reed (Sit, Flex*), Luke Musgrave (Sit, TE2)
On a limited snap count (29), Romeo Doubs brought you delicious WR2 numbers – but most likely on your bench because you didn’t listen to me, or because the entire GB receiver situation last week was a crying prom date of a mess walking lonely into the night going into the week. I’ll repeat a sentiment I’ve put out there before: I like a lot of Christian Watson, he’s a highlight reel, big breaker of a player – the kind that will make you shout ‘Did you see that?!?’ more than a couple times this year – but I’d rather have Doubs for the duration. It’s clear he and Love are already developing that kind of connection and his hands are stellar. As he can establish an expanded workload, look for the yardage to increase as well – though I’d take 2 TDs a week anytime. Look for Green Bay to attempt to make a big splash play with Watson upon his return, but similar to Doubs in week one, I’d expect a limited showing the first week back.
Probably my favorite revelation this week though was the debut of Jayden Reed. While there’s definitely a lot of rawness there, and a critical need for a stronger chin strap, Reed’s 2 receptions both looked like something BIG was one move away from happening – and he tied Doubs for team lead in targets with 5 this first week. I expect him to be a consistent factor in this passing game – albeit a little more sparingly than Christian and Romeo at least for these first few weeks. But in decent matchup weeks as we head down the road, I like him in a flex spot even with the two others healthy, and that stock should rise. Asterisks have everything to do with Watson’s status this week – if we see any setbacks that prevent his return, then obviously he’s a sit, but I’d push Reed to a Start at Flex, or even WR3, depending on the strength of your supporting roster. Luke Musgrave looks like he’s also going to be contributing (3 reception on 4 targets), and in some fashion should serve as a security option for Love (careful backpedaling with those feet, Luke!). I wouldn’t expect top-tier numbers this week, but if there’s a pinch where your starter is dinged up and out (See potentially: Kittle, Andrews) I’d run with Musgrave over what’s on your wire.
Desmond Ridder (Sit, QB2)
Desmond Ridder‘s 115 yards passing against the Panthers doesn’t have me feeling much about Ridder other than ‘I hope he doesn’t start screwing up handoffs’. It probably doesn’t help that outside of Drake London, he’s got a couple of WR4s and the rapidly fading ghost of Kyle Pitts’ potential serving as his hands squad outside of that running crew, but you gotta TRY, man. More on these guys below, suffice to note that the complete absence of capacity to figure out how to get your unquestioned best receiving option involved at all, against a Carolina team that couldn’t stay out of their own way, doesn’t bode well in these early days. Ridder didn’t look much more than ordinary last season and did nothing to change that opinion at the launch of this year. Avoid.
Bijan Robinson (Start, RB1), Tyler Allgeier (Start RB2, Flex)
On the complete opposite of the Ridder scale, what a simply lovely debut for fans of running backs in Atlanta. Bijan Robinson came out with justification for the hype, finishing his debut averaging 5.6 ypc on 10 attempts, and pulling down all 6 of his receiving targets while converting one of those for 6. What nobody expected was Tyler Allgeier‘s refusal to get out of the rookie’s way, putting up a 5.0 ypc of his own off 15 carries and the two scores. As much as I’d love to credit the Packers’ defense with last week’s dismantling of Chicago, let’s be honest and recognize the Bears juggernaut machine self-implodes. When forced into a sprint, Justin Fields had success, as did Khalil Herbert to a lesser degree on RB screens. The Falcons, listen closely, are NOT the Bears. This is going to be a much stronger test of will and mettle, and these two are going to be considerably hard to contain. I do still expect Robinson to gradually take over the lead usage, but judging from last week, there’s no need to rush into things here. I’m happy running both guys until shown differently, though I expect Bijan to have a bit more success regularly. This very much feels like an RB1 and RB1A at the outset, and there are certainly a lot worse problems this world can have for you to deal with.
Wide Receivers/ Tight Ends
Drake London (Start, WR2), Mack Hollins (Sit), Scotty Miller (Sit), Kyle Pitts (Start, TE2)
That was a less-than-ideal passing game performance by the Falcons last week – Drake London‘s 0 catches on 1 target would be the most egregious fantasy sin, due to the full wasting of talent there, but let’s not discount 0 for 0 WR3 performance of acquisition Scotty Miller. Mack Hollins provided a Mack Hollins type of day, leading the receivers with 3 catches on 4 targets for 31 yards. It would be nice to write this off as a week one aberration, but I don’t see that as being truthful. Ridder has shown to be a sub-par quarterback thus far into his career – and until he shows the capacity to grow or improve, I wouldn’t want any of these guys as somebody I rely on, long-term. Short term – this week, for instance, it’s mostly a ‘road washed out ahead, take alternate route’ situation. The exception here is London – his skills and performance in this short career have proven he can usually get his even in dire circumstances, such as playing with Desmond. That said, I’m almost listing him as a WR3 this week with the assumption that Jaire Alexander will be covering the majority of the London trips, and that’s a tough matchup, coupled with an expectation this offense will continue to run through Bijan and Tyler as the first options.
Regarding Kyle Pitts: we are getting incredibly close to a day where talk about athleticism and potential means absolutely nothing – but we aren’t there quite yet, and week one was garbage for pretty much all the top-tier TEs. Historically, I’ve watched GB fail time and again with consecutive DCs in the booth at shutting down TEs, especially on crossing routes across the middle – it’s like an unsolvable Rubik’s Cube for that team, a weird ‘powers don’t work against the color yellow’ type of weakness. This should provide a better opportunity for Pitts this week – I list at TE2 because until Atlanta shows a semblance of consistent execution in their entire passing game, temper all expectations.