Thursday Night Football
Chicago @ Green Bay
Vegas Projected Score: Packers 26.75, Bears 19.25
Struggling Aaron Rodgers will look to right the ship on Thursday night against the Bears, whose pass defense has so far overachieved by ranking No. 13 in DVOA while allowing top-15 fantasy quarterback finishes in just 2-of-6 games. Although he remains a passable QB1 play in season-long leagues, expectations need to be lowered for Rodgers with just two top-12 fantasy weeks through five games in an offense that has lacked rhythm for a full calendar year. Rodgers has a 58.0% completion rate with a measly 6.26 yards-per-attempt average over his last 16 regular season games. He has averaged just 234.7 yards and 1.75 passing touchdowns per game during that stretch. A knee injury to Bears top CB Tracy Porter and the Packers' injury-riddled running game do enhance Rodgers' theoretical upside. ... Chicago's main defensive vulnerability is on the ground, where they rank No. 20 in run-defense DVOA. Packers running back roles remain up in the air with Eddie Lacy (ankle) in danger of missing multiple weeks, Tuesday trade acquisition Knile Davis having little grasp of the offense, and Don Jackson expected to be signed off the practice squad. Look for swiss-army-knife Ty Montgomery and perhaps Randall Cobb to mix into the backfield. Although I would avoid Davis and Jackson in Week 7 fantasy lineup decisions, Davis should have been aggressively added off waiver wires this week. While there are various opinions about Davis' talent, Packers GM Ted Thompson almost never goes outside of the organization to add players and Davis has shown an ability to handle big workloads with six career games of 16-plus touches. Davis ran 4.37 at 5'11/227 coming out of Arkansas in 2013. His athletic prowess has been displayed on special teams with two career kickoff return TDs. And Green Bay has a cupcake forthcoming run-defense schedule (@ ATL, vs. IND, @ TEN, @ WAS).
Editor's Note: In Week 5, RotoGrinders contributor Derek "Notorious" Farnsworth won a cool $100,000 by finishing first in the FanDuel Monster. This week, he wants to share his expertise with you. Take a FREE look at Notorious' Week 7 FanDuel Cheat Sheet.
Rodgers' Weeks 1-6 targets: Jordy Nelson 47; Randall Cobb 40; Davante Adams 27; Richard Rodgers 16; Montgomery 12. ... Nelson isn't separating like he used to, but he remains a strong weekly bet to hit pay dirt with league highs in red-zone targets (10) and red-zone scores (5). Nelson's matchup is improved by injuries to Porter, his backup Deiondre' Hall (ankle), and LCB Bryce Callahan (hamstring). Porter and Callahan are listed as questionable, while Hall was ruled out. ... Montgomery parlayed 13 touches into 105 yards on 51% of the snaps in last week's loss to Dallas, and his role should expand further with Adams (concussion) probably not playing on a short week. An all-purpose weapon for whom the Packers manufacture touches, Montgomery makes for an intriguing spot-start WR3/flex play with WR2 upside in PPR. ... Cobb has drawn 11 targets in back-to-back games and gets another plus matchup versus Bears slot CB Cre'von LeBlanc, a size (5'10/185) and speed (4.65) deficient undrafted rookie out of Florida Atlantic. After starting the year concerningly slowly, Cobb is settling back in as a trustworthy WR2/3. ... TE Rodgers' usage hasn't improved with Jared Cook (ankle) on the shelf, seeing target totals of 5 and 3 the past two weeks. Yet to top 25 yards in a game so far, Rodgers is a touchdown-or-bust streamer against a Bears defense yielding the ninth fewest fantasy points to tight ends.
A 300-plus-yard passer in all four of his starts, Brian Hoyer has the look of a high-floor streamer and two-quarterback-league play against a Packers defense that has permitted top-14 fantasy quarterback finishes in three of its last four games and will be without each of its top-three corners in RCB Sam Shields (concussion), LCB Damarious Randall (groin), and slot CB Quinten Rollins (groin). On average, the Bears are dropping Hoyer back to pass 45.3 times per game. His pass volume is bankable, while Green Bay's No. 17 DVOA-rated pass defense by no means poses a daunting test. On a one-for-one basis, I would not bet against Hoyer outscoring Rodgers in Thursday night's game. ... Jordan Howard's snap rate dipped to a four-week-low 69% in last week's loss to Jacksonville, losing nine carries to Ka'Deem Carey. Howard still finished with 17 touches to Carey's 9 and remains the Bears' clear lead runner, even if Howard is no longer an every-down back. Howard's matchup is difficult against a Packers defense that has held enemy running backs to a combined 109-329-1 (3.02 YPC) rushing line and ranks No. 3 in run-defense DVOA. The Bears' offensive line also sustained a huge Week 6 blow when LG Josh Sitton suffered a high ankle sprain. Sitton was PFF's No. 7 run-blocking guard amongst 78 qualifiers. In a tough draw where he will likely struggle to find running room, Howard is a risky RB2 option in season-long leagues.
Hoyer's Weeks 3-6 targets: Cameron Meredith 35; Alshon Jeffery 31; Zach Miller 30; Eddie Royal 25; Howard 17. ... Royal's (toe) inactivity should solidify targets for Chicago's other pass catchers. ... Meredith is locked into a high-volume role with a league-high 27 targets over the past two weeks, playing 90% of the snaps and earning every-week starter treatment in season-long leagues. Meredith runs most of his routes at left cornerbacks, where the aforementioned Randall will not play. ... Jeffery has 70-plus yards in five of the Bears' first six games and set a season high with 13 targets in last week's loss to the Jaguars. Jeffery will mainly do battle with RCB Ladarius Gunter, a second-year undrafted free agent who ran a 4.69 forty at the 2015 NFL Combine. Gunter gave up over 100 yards in Green Bay's Week 6 loss to Dallas, including touchdowns to Cole Beasley and Brice Butler. ... Miller has drawn eight targets or more in three of Hoyer's four starts and leads the Bears in both red-zone targets (6) and targets inside the ten-yard line (4). The Packers are allowing the eighth most fantasy points to tight ends.
Score Prediction: Bears 27, Packers 24