Injury issues have plagued Green Bay throughout the early portion of the 2017 schedule and Thursday Night was no exception. The Packers lost a starting wide receiver and a pair of running backs in the Week 4 opener, but still managed to put a 35-14 pounding on division rival Chicago behind yet another flawless outing from Aaron Rodgers.
Despite rolling into Week 4 with a patchwork offensive line, Rodgers made quick work of the Chicago defense, throwing two touchdowns in a 53 second span midway through the first quarter. The Packers would eventually build a 35-7 lead by the early stages of the fourth quarter before both teams mercifully ran the clock down to zeros. Rodgers finished the night with 179 yards and a four-pack of touchdowns while throwing a season-low 26 passes. While the football world watched Rodgers pump out another beefy stat line, the story of the night became the incredible rate in which Green Bay players were leaving the game due to injury.
Running back Ty Montgomery was off to a blazing start in 2017, averaging a healthy 19.7 touches per game through three weeks as the Packers’ lead back. Montgomery was unable to continue his productive start, as he played just five snaps before suffering broken ribs and leaving the game. Backup Jamaal Williams was forced into action after Montgomery’s departure, but played just 12 snaps himself before leaving with a knee injury. The next-next man up was rookie Aaron Jones, who managed to finish the game unscathed while tallying 49 yards and a score on 13 carries. So, where does this leave the Green Bay backfield? The official extent of the injuries to Montgomery and Williams are unknown at this point, but due to the fact that Montgomery has broken ribs and Williams was quickly declared out for the game after departing, we could be looking at a multi-week opportunity for Aaron Jones. Fantasy footballers, get ready. There will be a waiver wire rush that would put Black Friday to shame when Aaron Jones hits the market after the conclusion of Week 4. Clutch your waiver priority tight, shake the loose FAAB coins from under your couch cushions and put the full court press on acquiring Jones’ services. In a season relatively light on impact waiver wire additions, this could be a critical pickup if Montgomery and Williams miss multiple games.
In addition to their top two running backs, Green Bay also lost a receiver when Davante Adams took a nasty hit and was forced from the game with concussion and neck issues. Adams did find the end zone on two catches before the scary incident, but the nature of this injury means Adams will likely miss time. Jordy Nelson led Green Bay receivers with 51 snaps on Thursday and will remain the big dog, with snap count spikes likely headed to Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison, who saw the field extensively when Cobb missed Week 3. Fantasy owners could squeeze solid numbers from Cobb and Allison in advantageous upcoming matchups with Dallas in Week 5 and New Orleans in Week 7 if Adams is sidelined.
On the Chicago side, Mike Glennon was Mike Glennon, completing 21 of 33 passes for 218 yards and a score while also contributing four turnovers. After the game, Coach John Fox alluded to a potential evaluation of the quarterback position moving forward, as shiny new rookie Mitchell Trubisky waits in the wings. There were no standout performances from the Bears despite operating in garbage time for most of the game. Kendall Wright managed to find the end zone and caught four of four targets, while Deonte Thompson hauled in five of a team-high nine targets as the Chicago receiving group remains a fantasy wasteland. Jordan Howard punched in a late score to salvage his night and out-snapped Tarik Cohen 35 to 18. Cohen handled 10 touches in the game, a total lower than expected considering the Bears were trailing from the jump against Rodgers and company. Both Cohen and Howard will continue to remain involved moving forward with Cohen handling any and all passing down work.
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Bears at Packers Quick Slants
Markus Wheaton now has a whopping zero catches on five targets this season after a goose egg on Thursday. … Jordy Nelson scored twice on the night while catching four of seven targets. The Rodgers/Nelson combination is in top shape through four weeks and the duo has connected for five touchdowns in three games. … Martellus Bennett caught six of seven targets for 39 yards. Bennett is averaging just 35.3 yards per game this season but has seen an encouraging seven targets per week. … Zach Miller caught both of his targets for 45 yards. Miller will remain miles off the fantasy radar like the rest of the Chicago pass catchers.
In Other News…
Matt Forte (toe) did not practice on Thursday, making a Jets backfield of Bilal Powell and Elijah McGuire one step closer to making an appearance. If Forte does indeed sit in Week 4 as expected, Rich Cimini of ESPN believes the Jets will “lean heavily” on Powell against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags have a solid defense but have been beat for 135.3 rushing yards per game through three weeks, so Powell could make some noise on the ground this week in addition to his expected receiving contributions. Running back-needy owners should snag McGuire off the wire before the weekend in the event that the Jets want a longer look at the rookie as their march toward the top of the 2017 NFL Draft continues.
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Injury News and Notes
Jay Ajayi (knee) practiced on Thursday and will be ready to roll in Week 4, but that bothersome knee is worth monitoring. … Sammy Watkins (concussion) got in a full practice on Thursday and will likely play in Week 4 after getting dinged up last week. … Jimmy Graham (ankle) was limited at Seattle’s Thursday practice while teammate Doug Baldwin (groin) sat out once again. Definitive news regarding the status of these Seahawks will surface over the weekend as Seattle prepares to host Indianapolis. … Michael Crabtree (chest) was limited on Thursday and is worth monitoring heading into the weekend. … Melvin Gordon (knee) was limited on Thursday but is tracking toward active status for Week 4. Backup Branden Oliver is waiting in the wings in the event that Gordon misses time. … Martavis Bryant (illness) missed practice again on Thursday. Stay tuned to Rotoworld for more news on the Pittsburgh wideout as Sunday approaches. … Kelvin Benjamin (knee) practiced in full on Thursday and is now looking like a decent bet to see the field in Week 4 against New England. … Rob Kelley (ribs) squeezed in a limited practice on Thursday but will likely keep fantasy owners waiting until Monday before declaring his playing status. … Will Fuller (collarbone) will make his 2017 debut in Week 4.