What We Saw: Week 8
Packers vs. Rams
Fantasy v. Reality
In real life, Aaron Rodgers had a great week nearly leading his team to victory over the Los Angeles Rams. In fantasy, Rodgers threw for only 286 yards and a touchdown. While the lack of turnovers (only one so far this season) helps stave off negative points, Rodgers was only scarcely able to overcome Los Angeles’ defense to be the 17th most effective quarterback in Week Eight. Green Bay kept it close and Rodgers had a good amount of volume – just not enough to be relevant.
Some life, but no consistency
Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams each had a rushing touchdown this week and Jones ran for 86 yards on 12 carries (buoyed by a 33-yard touchdown run). Again with the separation of reality and fantasy, Jones was safetied in the second quarter. Jones continues to look like the top talent in Green Bay’s backfield and after Ty Montgomery’s error that resulted in a game-ending fumble – Jones may continue to see more looks, at least in Week Nine.
More of Marquez
Despite the return of Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison, Marquez Valdes-Scantling seemed to have earned a role in this offense appearing in 60% of snaps, second only to Davante Adams. Valdes-Scantling was also tied in targets (5) with Cobb, bringing in only two for 45 yards (also second highest in Week Eight). The receiver core was hit harder by Aaron Rodgers’ 60% completion rate. The rise of Valdes-Scantling muddles the fantasy value of the unit moving forward as he may serve to spoil each receiver’s (save for Adams) fantasy production.
Jimmy Graham only brought in one of four targets for 21 yards. Graham was on the field for 88% of snaps, second only to Aaron Rodgers. Graham has boomed or busted most weeks independent of touchdowns – but on usage. Week Eight was a good matchup, but the only time Graham was able to capitalize, he had a 22-yard touchdown reversed in favor of his sole 21-yard reception.
In a game that unfolded just the way we had hoped, it was the undefeated Rams that got extremely lucky at the end. If not for a boneheaded decision by RB Ty Montgomery to take a kickoff out from deep in his end zone, the Packers might be sitting pretty in the NFC North, having just unseated the best team in the entire NFC. But, alas, the Packers don’t even get to see if QB Aaron Rodgers can deliver them from the depths, once again, and the Rams improved to 8-0.
No Kupp, no problem…sort of…
The Packer defense came out of the gates swinging and swinging hard, as they forced LA to punt their first five possessions – pretty impressive stuff from DC Mike Pettine’s squad. As I watched those series go by I kept thinking of how big a difference WR Cooper Kupp makes for this offense. Even with all-world RB Todd Gurley, WRs Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods having played to Pro-Bowl levels up to this point, there is an obvious void in the flow to how the offense operates. They’ll be glad once he returns, of course, but you can only keep the beast down for so long, it appears. Green bay struggled to do take advantage of these empty possessions, which left the door wide open for LA. QB Jared Goff and Gurley came alive, leading the Rams on multiple touchdown drives to put them ahead late in the game. Goff finished with 295 yards and three scores, while Gurley ran for 114 yards and led the team in receiving with 81 yards and a score. So, while Kupp’s absence was certainly felt, it was nice to see my prediction about WR Josh Reynolds come to fruition as he finished with 42 yards and two scores – a pretty nice fantasy day if you took my advice.
Defense bends but doesn’t break
I’ve been plenty critical about the Rams’ defense and it’s been warranted. I thought they did a pretty good job of keeping their team in the game, as the offense struggled to get going early on. I was somewhat expecting Rodgers to put at least 30 points on this team, but the front seven were able to dial up enough well-timed pressure to keep the Packers from sustaining big drives. Now, they did allow WR Davante Adams to dominate on the outside on multiple big yardage plays, but they didn’t allow him to get into the end zone, which probably saved the day. They’ll have to bring the same effort against a New Orleans team that is on a hot streak, themselves. So much for getting past a hard opponent. Now they face an even better offensive opponent. I’d probably hold off on starting the Rams’ defense next week.