Evan Silva

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Thanksgiving Fantasy Matchups

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Thanksgiving Football

12:30PM ET Game

Green Bay @ Detroit

Fire up your fantasy players in this game. The 55.5-point over/under on Packers-Lions is easily the highest of Week 12, with Saints-Giants (51) a distant second. ... Opponents' constant double-teaming of Ndamukong Suh has freed up DEs Cliff Avril and Kyle Vanden Bosch for a combined 12 sacks and seven forced fumbles. Rush specialists Lawrence Jackson and Willie Young have 6.5 more sacks. While Detroit is playing top-five pass defense in large part due to its ferocious front four, Green Bay is one of the few NFL teams capable of containing Suh with single blocks. Packers RG Josh Sitton found ways to neutralize Suh in each of the clubs' 2010 meetings, leading Suh to deem Sitton the toughest one-on-one matchup he's faced to date. The Packers can also keep the pass rush at bay with a moving pocket. Aaron Rodgers is deadly throwing on the run, and it wouldn't be surprising to see him rack up rushing yards in this game. ... Greg Jennings hasn't exceeded 46 yards since Week 7, but has a touchdown in three of his last four outings. Jennings' knee contusion suffered in last week's win over the Bucs isn't a concern. Through ten games, he's the No. 8 wideout in fantasy football. ... Jordy Nelson incredibly ranks 69th in the NFL in targets, but third in fantasy scoring among wide receivers. It requires serious big-play ability in order to pull that off. Nelson leads the league in yards per catch among players with at least 20 receptions, and only Calvin Johnson and Rob Gronkowski have more receiving scores this year.

Rodgers' target distribution since the Week 8 bye: Jennings 19, Nelson 18, Jermichael Finley 14, Donald Driver 11, James Jones 5, Randall Cobb 4. ... Finley's production has been inconsistent, but the Packers' passing offense is efficient enough with plenty of volume to support three big-time fantasy pass catchers. Over the course of the year, only Jimmy Graham, Gronkowski, Tony Gonzalez, and Jason Witten have scored more fantasy points among tight ends. Leading the Packers in red-zone targets over the past four games, Finley is a good bet to find pay dirt in this projected shootout. ... Driver isn't producing and Jones isn't getting the rock enough for either to be a viable fantasy play. Driver hasn't scored a touchdown since Week 6, averaging 33 yards a game during that span. Jones didn't secure any of his three Week 11 targets. ... James Starks (knee, ankle) is a game-time decision, potentially leaving Ryan Grant and John Kuhn to handle backfield duties. Grant has been thoroughly ineffective, failing to score a touchdown all season, managing 120 yards on his last 49 carries (2.45 YPC), and appearing dead legged in the process. If you're desperate to play a Packers running back at Detroit, Kuhn is a better bet to score. Kuhn has three touchdowns in the past month and is a fixture in Green Bay's goal-line packages.

As suspected, Matthew Stafford's four-interception Week 10 game was more attributable to windy Soldier Field than his fractured index finger. Now 25 days removed from the injury -- it occurred at Denver in Week 8 -- Stafford is returning from a five-TD destruction of Carolina. He ranks second to only Rodgers in touchdown passes this season, and among quarterbacks only Rodgers, Cam Newton, Tom Brady, and Drew Brees have scored more fantasy points. Trust Stafford against the Packers' No. 31 pass defense in a likely high-scoring affair. ... Calvin Johnson has scored eight touchdowns in seven career meetings with the Packers, averaging five catches and 75 yards per game. Charles Woodson is typically assigned to Megatron, but it hasn't worked. ... Nate Burleson has been an every-down receiver all season, so there's no great explanation for his dramatic swings in production. Burleson has been hot recently with 15 catches in his last two games. We do know that he plays slot receiver in all three-wide sets, and can eat into Brandon Pettigrew's over-the-middle targets and catches when Burleson's role increases in a given week. Ultimately, Burleson is a roll of the dice as a WR3. ... Titus Young plays in three- and four-receiver packages only. While his big-play ability and this game's scoring projection make him somewhat intriguing, Young will likely need a long bomb to be a worthwhile fantasy start. Working in Young's favor is the fact that Green Bay has allowed the most 20-plus yard completions in the NFC this season.

Green Bay has been generous to tight ends this year, through ten games allowing 49 receptions for 693 yards and five TDs to the position. It's a five-catch, 69-yard weekly average. Pettigrew is a respectable low-end TE1. ... Tony Scheffler is the NFC's Scott Chandler. He's scored five times, but is averaging under 20 yards a game. ... Maurice Morris started against the Panthers and saw the first four carries in the Lions' backfield, gaining two yards. It became apparent early in the second quarter that Kevin Smith would be the better option. Smith broke off gains of 15, 43, and 28 on his initial three touches, finding pay dirt on the third. From the second quarter on, this was Detroit's backfield touch distribution: Smith 19, Morris 4, Keiland Williams 0. Morris and Williams are terrible, so Smith should comfortably be the lead back until Jahvid Best returns. I just wouldn't get overly excited. While Smith hit 10 plays of nine yards or longer against a Carolina defense that was taken apart by Chris Johnson the week before, he showed ordinary run skills and no second gear in the open field. Smith was caught from behind on his 43-yard sprint, and the 28-yard score came on a well-blocked screen pass. In the second half, the Dan Connor-less Panthers turned in a clinic for bad tackling. While sheer opportunity is indispensable in fantasy football, my early prognosis is that Smith's big game was largely the result of his opponent. I personally am starting Smith as an RB2 against the Packers, counting on his excellent passing-game skills to buoy his fantasy stats in down weeks for rushing. I expect plenty of the latter against competent defenses.

Score Prediction: Packers 34, Lions 27


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Evan Silva is a senior football editor for Rotoworld.com. He can be found on Twitter .
Email :Evan Silva



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