Sunday Night Football
Green Bay @ New Orleans
Aaron Rodgers will enter Sunday night's primetime Superdome clash with a 17:0 TD-to-INT ratio over his last six games. He's now gone 192 pass attempts without an interception. Indoors and facing the league's No. 28 pass defense in a projected shootout, Rodgers is this week's premier fantasy quarterback start. ... Despite the return ofJarrett Boykin in last week's win over Carolina, Davante Adams established another season high in snap rate (79%) and scored his second TD in the past three games. With a six-catch, 77-yard Week 6 effort mixed in, Adams is quietly a top-35 overall fantasy receiver over the past three weeks. Adams' Week 7 targets disappointed in a game where Rodgers only had to throw 22 times to blow out the Panthers, but the rookie's fantasy outlook continues to trend upward. Adams remains an upside WR3 play in this cupcake matchup, where Jordy Nelson will surely have Saints top CB Keenan Lewis attached to him, allowing Adams and Randall Cobb to run routes against frequent burn victim Corey White, banged-up Patrick Robinson (hamstring), and/or UDFA Brian Dixon. ... Rodgers' target distribution since Adams passed Boykin as Green Bay's No. 3 receiver four games ago: Nelson 36; Cobb 27; Adams 16; Andrew Quarless, James Starks, and Eddie Lacy 8; Richard Rodgers 5. ... Jordy is an obvious every-week WR1, but he does have a somewhat difficult test against Lewis, who has resumed playing well following a slow start. I certainly wouldn't bench Jordy in a season-long league and would continue to seriously consider him on FanDuel, but we examine matchups in the Matchups column and Jordy's has a chance to be fairly challenging.
Although Cobb has topped 60 yards just twice across seven games, he has compensated with an absurd touchdown rate, hitting pay dirt in 6-of-7 weeks and eight times on the season. As the No. 2 option in a Rodgers-quarterbacked offense, Cobb is an every-week WR2 who to this point has scored like a legitimate WR1. ... Green Bay's committee backfield remained intact in last week's punishing of the Panthers, as Lacy handled 15 touches and Starks 8. Although fantasy owners have had to come to grips with the fact that Lacy is simply not being utilized as a volume workhorse, his weekly TD potential locks in Fat Ed as a borderline RB1. Lacy is averaging just over 13 carries and two receptions per game, but has four touchdowns over his last four. On the season, enemy running backs have tallied 559 yards and six touchdowns on 136 rushing attempts (4.11 YPC) against New Orleans. This is far from a mouth-watering matchup for Lacy, but he'll continue to be a good bet to score. ... Mixing in even when games are in doubt, Starks is more than a change-of-pace or "breather" back in the Packers' offense. He scored a 13-yard touchdown in the first quarter against Carolina and has played 40% of Green Bay's offensive snaps over the last three weeks. Starks is still more RB3 than strong flex option, but he should be owned in all leagues. Starks could become a borderline RB1 if something happened to Lacy, although Eddie's reduced workloads do put him at less injury risk.
The over-under on Packers-Saints is 55.5 points, easily Week 8's highest. Vegas has installed New Orleans as a two-point favorite, so the sharps envision Sean Payton's unit racking up a lot of points. Although Drew Brees has been a slight fantasy disappointment when compared to the likes of Peyton, Rodgers, and Luck, he has thrown multiple touchdown passes in five straight weeks and is tied with Jay Cutler for No. 5 overall in per-game quarterback scoring. The Packers' top-six pass defense poses a legitimate challenge, but Brees is always a top-notch fantasy play at home. ... Brees' 2014 target distribution: Jimmy Graham 49; Brandin Cooks 44; Marques Colston 39; injured Pierre Thomas 29; Travaris Cadet 21; Kenny Stills 20; Robert Meachem 16; Ben Watson 15;Josh Hill 9; Mark Ingram 8; Khiry Robinson 6. ... Fantasy owners would've been better off with Graham (shoulder)not playing in last week's loss to Detroit, but play Graham did, handling just 40% of New Orleans' offensive snaps and failing to reel in either of his two targets. Graham was essentially a decoy, with his first target not coming until the fourth quarter. Although Graham's snaps are expected to be limited once again, he should now be more comfortable playing with his injury, and this game's shootout potential locks in Graham as a high-end TE1. In yet another bad year for tight end fantasy production, the only one I'd play over Graham amongst Sunday and Monday's games isRob Gronkowski. ... All of Green Bay's cornerbacks are playing well this season, so deciding between New Orleans' wideouts is a bit of a crapshoot. Colston stepped up (6-111-0) with Graham limited last week, but will contend with stingy slot CB Casey Hayward in this one. Colston has been an up-and-down WR2/3 all year.
Always a high-ceiling, low-floor dart throw, Stills is coming off his best game since last year (5-103-1) and will run most of his Week 8 routes against Packers LCB Tramon Williams. Williams is a big, physical cover man and doesn't give Stills an especially attractive matchup. Stills is a WR4/5, albeit with heightened appeal due to the game's high-scoring projection. ... Of Cooks' 34 receptions this year, 13 have come behind the line of scrimmage, and 12 more within ten yards of the line. He's only averaging 8.2 yards per catch with one touchdown on the year. Although Cooks possesses a talented enough skill set to go off at any moment, he can't be trusted as more than a dice-roll WR3 against a stingy pass defense. New Orleans' first-round pick ranks a lowly 51st in per-game fantasy receiver scoring, despite a relatively generous number of targets. ... Thomas' (ribs/shoulder) 2-3 game absence frees up an average of roughly nine touches and 30 running back snaps per game. The primary playing-time beneficiary will be fellow passing-down back Cadet, who has just three rushing attempts on the season but 15 catches over the past three weeks. Cadet is a poor bet for touchdowns, but you could do worse in a PPR flex position. Cadet is a solid bet for 4-6 catches against Green Bay. ... The Packers are more vulnerable on the ground than in the air. They rank 31st in run defense and are 14th in fantasy points allowed to running backs. In Ingram's first game back from a hand injury last week, he sprinkled 12 touches amongst 26 snaps. Robinson only played five snaps, finished with three touches, lost a fumble, and missed significant practice time this week with a forearm injury. With Thomas out, Robinson injured and/or potentially in the doghouse, and Green Bay susceptible on the ground, the stars have aligned for a bounce-back week for Ingram, who will be a good bet to hit pay dirt in this potential shootout.
Saturday Update: The Saints have ruled out Khiry Robinson (forearm) in addition to Pierre Thomas (ribs/shoulder) for this game, reducing what is often a three- and even-four man backfield to two. Five carries would probably be Cadet's ceiling, but he should operate as New Orleans' passing-game specialist and is a high-floor flex play in PPR leagues. Ingram should see in the range of 14-19 carries in a plus run-game matchup. He needs to be locked into all fantasy lineups.
Score Prediction: Packers 34, Saints 30