Kickoff: Thursday, September 28th, at 8:15 PM EST
Location: Historic Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI
Betting Odds: DET -.5 O/U 46 Total via PFF.com
Network: Amazon Prime
Writer: Matt Prendergast (@amazingmattyp on X/Twitter)
Jared Goff (Start, QB1)
As a fantasy quarterback, Jared Goff mirrors real life. Just a flat-out efficient, but not particularly thrilling team leader who puts up pretty dang good numbers week-to-week. He’s not flashy but produces more than most realize. Currently sitting 6th in the league in passing yards (819), yards per attempt (8), 7th in QB Rating (101.6), and 9th in touchdowns (5), Goff might be the least-heralded Top 10 fantasy quarterback of 2023. This week’s matchup with the Green Bay Packers should provide an opportunity to exceed expectations thanks to a banged-up secondary opposite him and an emerging, sure-handed rookie tight end who is already outperforming his paycheck. While Green Bay is terrible against the run so far this year, several hobbled key midfield and backfield defenders will allow him plenty to work with; I’d expect another 250 to 300-yard day bolstered by one or two touchdowns.
David Montgomery* (Start, Flex), Jahmyr Gibbs (Start, RB2/Flex), Craig Reynolds/Zonovan Knight (Sit)
This backfield situation may have gotten more complicated in a week without David Montgomery. In his first shot at lead back, Jahmyr Gibbs settled in and started to show some of the electricity and talent that had everybody drooling over him as a potential steal in this year’s fantasy drafts. Granted, we’re only three weeks in, but 80 yards on 17 carries (4.7 ypc) is the best single performance by a Detroit Lions running back this year. Should David Montgomery return to the fold this week, we may – and should – be looking at a true split between the two. This unfortunately limits their ceilings in their most reasonable ranges of outcomes.
However, this a good matchup for either back: the awful Green Bay defense is currently 30th ranked against the run, giving up an average of 166.5 yards per game to the opposition. That includes the Bears and the third-string running back Kendre Miller (no offense, Kendre), but a huge chunk of that is between-the-20s yardage. They’ve only allowed 2 touchdowns on the ground this season; one of those was Desmond Ridder on a rollout sneak.
The Packers’ rushing defense has been tight in the red zone, so taking that and the likely usage split into account, I can’t lean into Monty as higher than a flex play this week coming off of injury. If Montgomery sits for this game, bump Jahmyr up to a solid RB2; he’s a flex otherwise. Do not bother at all with Craig Reynolds or Zonovan Knight in either situation. Their combined 28 yards on seven carries last week won’t be cause to increase the workload.
Wide Receivers/ Tight Ends
Amon-Ra St. Brown (Start, WR1), Kalif Raymond (Sit, Flex), Josh Reynolds/Marvin Jones (Sit), Sam LaPorta (Start, TE1)
At a position that always has some fluctuation as the season progresses, sure things are hard to come by. Cherish Amon-Ra St. Brown if you have him, as he might be one of the closest things to a lock the position offers. With back-to-back 102-yard performances (and a score in Week 1), Amon-Ra makes plays happen. Rolling into this week, he’ll be facing down a secondary that will either be missing ace Jaire Alexander or working against a banged-up version of him. This leaves a group that is down to Rasul Douglas and a combo platter of fresh meats.
The Packers may also be missing LB De’Vondre Campbell, which creates more opportunity for Detroit’s receivers, in particular ‘Who’s T.J.?’ Sam LaPorta who plays like he’s been here before, and is clearly a part of the game plan, and not just a check-down king. LaPorta should be a fantasy starter at a position in which there have been few dominant players and a semi-load of underperforming options. I’m throwing him in ahead of Darren Waller in my money league moving forward, and there’s not a lot of tight ends I have that feeling for based on results to date/reasonable expectations – Travis Kelce, Mark Andrews, and T.J. Hockenson might be the only two I wouldn’t consider subbing out for Sam. I love this kid so far, and so does Dan Campbell.
As for the remaining Lions’ receiving options – Goff made some effort to get Kalif Raymond involved last week, and the response was decent – foiur catches on six targets for 55 yards. Hardly worth forming a Pro Bowl campaign exploratoty committee, but in the event that Green Bay defenders Alexander and Campbell both sit on Thursday night, there will be opportunities for the Lions support cast, and Raymond certainly earned another week of looks. Josh Reynolds had a groin issue coming into last week, and might as well have not suited up, getting zero targets. He’s not on the injury list, but I do not trust that a bit., and wouldn’t roll the dice on him until there’s a least a smidge of production. Marvin Jones is done, and shouldn’t be on any roster, not even the deepest bench.
Green Bay Packers
Jordan Love (Start, QB1)
Some of Jordan Love‘s current capabilities almost cost the Packers a win in Week 3 – in short, at this early juncture, there were overthrows, underthrows, and the occasional ‘I saw Aaron Rodgers thread one in between three guys like this a bunch of times, can’t be that hard‘ decision. In short, this offense was not clicking at all for about three quarters against the Saints and a cause of that clunkiness was young Love. His receivers often weren’t handing him favors either – both Romeo Doubs and Jayden Reed caught under 50 percent of their targets, and Reed flat-out failed to haul in a touchdown while going to the ground.
Love then took over the 4th quarter and ended up producing good fantasy numbers yet again, rolling up 259 yards with 1 toss for six and a rushing touchdown. Again, I don’t want to lean too hard on the superstition of ‘it’s a division game’, but I expect Matt LaFleur to come out with an aggressive game plan featuring a full arsenal of weapons for the first time this season. I see Love going over 300 yards with a couple of touchdowns against a bottom 10 Lions’ passing defense. Though the Lions rushing crew nearly murdered Desmond Ridder last week, the Packers offensive line, even without David Bahktiari (who might just be done) and Elgton Jenkins, has done a terrific job giving Jordan time and space all year, look for that to continue. Until he doesn’t somehow pull together QB1 numbers for a couple of weeks, there’s no viable reason to take Love out of your fantasy life.
Aaron Jones* (Start, RB2), AJ Dillon/Emmanuel Wilson/Patrick Taylor *if active* (Sit)
I cannot stress enough; that Aaron Jones is a start whenever he plays next. However, the ‘next’ part is the infuriating aspect of contracting his services for fantasy play. As of the moment of this writing, Jones is expected be back in the lineup for this divisional fistfight with Detroit. Divisional games in the NFC North can get bloody, and generally, dudes show up to show out, but temper expectations a touch. The Detroit defense isn’t kind to opposing rushing attacks – only a total of 172 yards and three touchdowns allowed thus far, and that included Kenneth Walker III and more impressively the two-headed Tyler Allgeier and Bijan Robinson attack, earned a total of 45 yards on 17 carries last week. With a tougher week and limited participation coming back though, I see Jones as more of a low-end RB2 this week. That caution tape being strung out there, Jones often does a bit of his best work off of screens or short checks, and Green Bay needs to get him back as the lead horse.
Timing on this return can’t come soon enough, as AJ Dillon has been solidly useless in fantasy play the last two weeks while manning the ‘lead’ role for Jones. Last week’s 33 yards on 11 attempts should be the last nail for you to get him off your roster and not look back. Emmanuel Wilson has been seeing time solely because of the Jones injury and has performed about as well as you’d expect from an undrafted guy who just made the final cut. If Patrick Taylor is activated again, be it this week or down the road, he has to be signed to the 54, so I don’t expect to see him on the roster this week. However, he has shown some utility in the passing game, offering an opportunity for him down the line. If that promotion happens, I wouldn’t be surprised if he starts getting some of Dillon’s touches later in the season.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Romeo Doubs (Start, WR2) Christian Watson* (Start, WR3), Jayden Reed (Sit, Flex), Dontayvion Wicks (Sit, Flex) Luke Musgrave (Start, TE2)
Against New Orleans, this crew didn’t perform optimally for stretches of the game, and a lot of it should serve as a reminder that they’re all still getting carded for R-rated movies. Looking at the raw numbers, the top four receivers here caught 18 passes on 33 targets, and that’s not going to cut it most weeks. Romeo Doubs statistically went 5-for-12, but watching that game, it’s clear the connection is strengthening between Love and Romeo. Two catches in particular, the touchdown and a sideline grab in the 3rd quarter, were spectacular. I continue to bang the drum weekly for Doubs as a WR2, but because of where he was falling in drafts, he’s most likely sitting in a spot where you’re putting him in a WR3 or Flex. Keep doing that. Enjoy.
The return of Christian Watson this week should bring more versatility to this Green Bay offense, and I expect him to be worked into the game plan early. However, he drops to a WR3 for his first week back. They are likely to work him back in measured snaps, so as not to aggravate the injury that has kept him out so far this season. Jayden Reed caught only three of his seven targets last week, and a couple of them, including the previously mentioned inability to secure the ball in the endzone, were painful. However, they were balanced out a bit with a tremendous 30-yard grab in the 4th quarter. He’s young and naturally a bit inconsistent; with Watson back, he may experience a reduction in targets this week. I wouldn’t put him in a starting lineup.
The same goes for Dontayvion Wicks, who brought in four of six targets for 45 yards, but will return to a WR4 role (and no fantasy utility) this week. We saw more improvement from Luke Musgrave last week, who has been developing a rapport with his quarterback and making adjustments by contorting his body to haul in a couple of throws thrown behind him. He moves well in space, so Musgrave’s regular TE1 ranking ffeels like a matter of “when,” not “if.” Even if it’s not this year, have no fear: I still dig him in keeper/dynasty leagues. With bye weeks on the horizon starting next week, Luke might be pressed into early relief service for many fantasy managers very soon.
*Note: As of this writing, Montgomery, Jones, and Watson (and CB Jaire Alexander) have not yet been fully cleared to play.