The prayers of the Green Bay Packers were answered on Thursday night as Aaron Rodgers heaved a 61-yard bomb toward the end zone with no time on the clock, with tight end Richard Rodgers securing the catch on the other end. Green Bay topped Detroit 27-23 thanks to the miraculous play, and kept pace with the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC North. The loss ends a three-game winning streak for Detroit, who had been playing solid football since their Week 9 bye until the Rodgers to Rodgers connection.
Thursday’s game was interesting, as there weren’t many standout fantasy performances until the final few minutes of this NFC North battle. Aaron Rodgers finished with 273 passing yards and two touchdowns to go with 27 yards and a score on the ground, but did the vast majority of his damage in fantasy box scores in the game’s last three minutes. Tight end Richard Rodgers was the star of the night, catching all eight of his targets for 146 yards and the game-winning touchdown. The catch and yardage totals were season highs for Rodgers, who had just 293 receiving yards before Thursday’s 146-yard outburst. Rodgers will remain touchdown dependent, but has averaged 6.8 targets per game over his last five outings as he floats in high-end TE2 territory.
Matthew Stafford came out of the gate hot for Detroit, but slowed along with the rest of the Lions offense in the second half. Stafford ended with 220 passing yards and two scores, one of which went to Calvin Johnson. Megatron finished with just three receptions but salvaged his night with the touchdown. Golden Tate led the Lions in receiving with eight catches and 63 yards on 10 targets. Tate has averaged 9.7 targets per game over the last three weeks but still has a single-game high of just 80 yards this season to go with two touchdowns.
Packers at Lions Quick Slants
Detroit running back Ameer Abdullah ran for 67 yards on 13 carries in his third-straight game with double-digit attempts. The Lions’ running game has struggled all season but Abdullah is the brightest light in this dark situation. … Joique Bell looked like Joique Bell while running for five yards on eight carries but did add 25 receiving yards on two catches. Bell is not a startable fantasy option. … Randall Cobb caught only four passes for 29 yards on the night, but did fall on a fumble in the end zone for a score. … Davante Adams scored his first touchdown of the season, but added just four grabs for 21 yards as he continues to be inefficient with his target totals. … Theo Riddick caught five passes for 27 yards, marking his third-consecutive game with five catches as his undercover PPR season continues.
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In Other News...
The Kansas City Chiefs are staring at a glorious schedule of opponents during the most crucial weeks of the fantasy postseason, with buttery soft defensive fronts ready to be gashed by the Kansas City backfield. Unfortunately, that dream has now been compromised as Charcandrick West’s return from injury, combined with Spencer Ware’s stellar play in West’s absence, is on the verge of creating a committee situation in Andy Reid’s offense. Chiefs OC Doug Pederson admitted as much on Thursday when asked about the return of West and the recent production from Ware. This leaves Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware owners in a tough spot, but West will likely be the most trustworthy player in the Kansas City backfield, as he was more involved in the Chiefs passing game while handling lead running back duties. Ware will still be involved, but consider West 1A and Ware 1B at the moment, until we see or hear something different out of Kansas City.
Carolina coach Ron Rivera announced on Thursday that he will “try to find chances to spell Jonathan Stewart” in the final weeks of the regular season. Stewart has received 20 or more carries in seven-straight games and currently sits second among NFL running backs in rushing attempts with 211 on the season. The main concern for fantasy owners in this situation is that Rivera follows through on his claim, and Stewart begins to lose reps as the Panthers look to keep him fresh while they nurse a huge lead in the NFC South. No drastic measures should be taken at the moment, but this is a situation to monitor in coming weeks. Stewart won’t be worth benching in fantasy leagues, especially this week at New Orleans, but if Carolina suddenly clinches the top seed in the NFC, Stewart could see his workload potentially reduced in Weeks 15 and 16. Again, Stewart owners should refrain from panicking until proof appears on the field or we have significant changes in the NFC playoff standings.
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Injury Quick Slants
Danny Amendola (knee) practiced on Thursday, but was limited. With New England running thin on receiving options, Amendola should be fed a heaping helping of targets on Sunday against Philadelphia. … Devonta Freeman (concussion) was a full participant in practice on Thursday and will be a top Week 13 fantasy option at the running back position. … Allen Hurns (concussion) is still not practicing and appears to be a long shot to play on Sunday. Marqise Lee is surprisingly healthy and would soak up some targets if Hurns does indeed sit. … Tyler Eifert (neck) missed practice on Thursday, and fantasy owners should not plan on having the services of this stud tight end in Week 13. Hopefully Andy Dalton’s red zone target is healthy for Week 14. … Ben Roethlisberger (concussion) practiced on Thursday and is ready to roll for a nice Week 13 matchup with Indianapolis after leaving Week 12 early with a concussion. … Karlos Williams (shoulder) did not practice on Thursday and was wearing a sling on his left arm. Williams will most likely miss Week 13 according to coach Rex Ryan, leaving LeSean McCoy with a large workload against Houston’s surging defense. … Carlos Hyde (foot) could potentially be placed on injured reserve, which would end his season and make Shaun Draughn’s fantasy stock rise for the final weeks of 2015. … Sam Bradford (shoulder) is practicing normally for the Eagles this week and will take back his starting job from Mark Sanchez on Sunday at New England. … Peyton Manning (foot) shed the cast on his injured foot and will begin rehabbing in hopes of playing again in 2015, which is no guarantee. … Marquess Wilson (foot) hurt his foot on Wednesday and missed Chicago’s Thursday practice session, leaving his Week 13 status in question. More news on Wilson’s status should surface on Friday. … Case Keenum (concussion) is still in the league’s concussion protocol, leaving Nick Foles to start this week against Arizona. … Ryan Mathews (concussion) won’t be seeing the field in Week 13 as he is still in the NFL’s concussion protocol.