With full disclosure, this Thursday Night Football Game may be up in the air as today the San Francisco 49ers facility was shut down due to Covid-19 reasons. So keep in mind the below article may be re-posted if the game is postponed in any way. Just wanted to give that warning.
Man if only this matchup happened on Week 1 when everyone was healthy, imagine what could have been. But here we are. You have the Green Bay Packers who may be forced to call up a practice squad running back and start a 4th string back if Aaron Jones cannot suit up. On the other side you have the 49ers who have now placed Jimmy Garroppolo and George Kittle on IR, joining Raheem Mostert and Deebo Samuel. So who is left? Who to play? Who should you have in your lineup(s) on Draft Kings and FanDuel. Let’s talk!
Green Bay Packers
You have to imagine Aaron Rogers is red hot after being handed a stunning loss last week against the Vikings. If you read my articles you know I like a guy with a chip on his shoulder and Rogers’ chip is permanently in that shoulder, but I can only guess it’s digging in. Rogers has historically played well against the 49ers but the question is who is he throwing to – outside to of course, Davante Adams. Well there is an outside chance that Alan Lazard is back for this game (and I do mean an outside chance) which would be a plus for sure for Rogers. Otherwise let’s take a look at the target tree for Rogers last week against the Vikings as I think it will be a bit eyeopening in relation to this game against the 4th best defense in the league against the pass:
Davante Adams – 12 Targets
Robert Tonyon – 7 Targets
Jace Sternberger – 4 Targets
Equanimeous St Brown – 3 Targets
Marquez Valdez-Scantling – 1 Target
Malik Taylor – 1 Target
Darrius Shepard – 1 Target
Mercedes Lewis – 0 Targets
So while sure on the one hand you can say that Rogers spread the ball around, I think the biggest thing we should take away from this is perhaps what we already know. Davante Adams is the clear #1 target on this offense and Rogers has a lot of faith in his tight ends. While the targets for St. Brown, Valdez-Scantling many flip flop, it is really tough to trust on any given week which of these guys – or Taylor or Shepard – are worth a roster spot even at low price and projected low ownership. So you can see why Lazard would be such a boost to this offense. While I doubt Lazard would eat into Adam’s target share, you could certainly see likely the targets decrease for the tight ends as well as the 4 other Wide Receivers listed above. If Lazard remains out however, I am not sure what to do with Aaron Rogers. I think he will find his way to a fine game, I don’t know if he hits a ceiling here for his high price tags (DK: $11K Flex, $16.5K CPT FD: $15K). This is not me saying – don’t play Aaron Rogers. No way not at all. I am just less likely to roster him as Captain or MVP if his targets above do not alter.
One way that those targets above could alter is if Aaron Jones suits up. Is there a chance – sure, Jones did return to practice on Monday but it should be noted, that was a walk thru. We will need to see if he returns to full practice on today (Wednesday) or participates in any pre-game warmups on Thursday. My opinion is he doesn’t play. I think the Packers have shown they are hesitant to rush their starters back from soft tissue injuries and on a short week already, it just doesn’t seem likely they will rush Jones back. Additionally – if he does suit up you have to assume he is not going to walk into 20-25+ touches, unless he proves he is 100% ready. IF he does play however you have to be concerned about Jones’ rushing yardage against a 49ers defense that ranks #1 against the run, despite injuries to their line. If Jones plays I think his value as a pass catcher will be his path to success, where he would likely walk into a role where he was seeing on average 4 targets per game.
But let’s say for the sake of likelihood that Jones is out. Well, Jamaal Williams was officially placed on the Covid-19 IR list as of this afternoon. As has AJ Dillon as of yesterday. This would leave Tyler Ervin as your lead back for the Packers and all signs pointing to practice squad call up Dexter Williams figuring in. We are about 24 hours from getting a full view ownership on the slate, but I would expect (if Jones is out) both Ervin and Williams will be EXTREMELY POPULAR largely due to their salaries – Ervin and Williams are $200 Flex and $300 Captain on DK and $6.5K and 5K respectively on FanDuel. We don’t know much about either of these two but I would expect Ervin to figure more in the passing game while Williams will likely handle early down work as a change of pace. The issue becomes how much usage will Green Bay’s gameplan allow them. We don’t know. I can speculate that perhaps it won’t nearly be the usage Aaron Jones or Jamaal Williams would see, simply because of the lack of playing time Ervin and Williams would have with the offense – but anything can happen. However both men are again facing the #1 ranked Rush Defense in the league… so my take will be to go with the lesser owned player of the two when ownership comes out. However because of their cheap prices, I think both will be very popular – particularly on Draft Kings where their salaries are just so, so cheap compared to the opportunity that they have.
So what is my advice regarding the Packers? Davante Adams. Adams has been lights out over the last two weeks – 5 touchdowns, 249 yards. Yes sir. Adams will likely be the highest owned player on the slate, but I think a lot of that ownership will come with him as a Flex due to his salary – the highest on the slate – $12.4K Flex, $18.6K Captain on DK and $15.5K on FD. I think many people will be afraid to click on Adams as a Captain taking nearly 20% of the overall DK salary, but I like it as a contrarian play in the position. Plus – due to injuries and Covid, plenty of value has opened up on the 49ers offense, that you can make Adans a Captain and include a cheap Niners receiver and basically play whoever else you want. The 49ers have been pretty good against Wide Receivers, but they haven’t been great – and Davante Adams is great. The Rogers – Adams stack will be the most popular stack, but I think it will largely be with Rogers as Captain on DK, so I will flip it. On FanDuel where the MVP doesn’t have a pricing distinction I think Adams will be the most popular MVP on the day, so I may use Rogers in that spot stacked with Adams in the flex.
If you believe the target tree from last week, I think you will want to have exposure to Robert Tonyon and/or Jace Sternberger as well. Mercedes Lewis is largely used as a blocking tight end, but he can be a red zone target if you feel like a cheap, low owned dart throw. I think the likely top ownership on Green Bay will go Adams, Rogers, Ervin, Williams and so I think you could see Tonyon and certainly Sternberger as contrarian pivots from some of the other wide receivers. Tonyon certainly has touchdown upside, even in a tough matchup – the 49ers are 4th best against Tight Ends. However I could also see Sternberger having some upside here if Tonyon draws the majority of attention from the defense, behind Adams. Tonyon is $6,400 Flex, $9.6K Captain on DK and $10.5K on FanDuel while Sternberger is $1.8K Flex, $2.6K Captain on DK and $6K on FD.
Despite Aaron Rogers and Davante Adams being on the field, the 49ers are no pushovers and I could see Mason Crosby’s two game no field go drought ending on Thursday. If you are muly=ti entering, I would have some shares of Crosby in stacks with Rogers and Adams. I think the same should be said for the Green Bay Defense (DK Only). Nick Mullens will be under center on Thursday and to say that isn’t a volatile situation for the Green Bay Defense to attack, would be an error. While I am not saying the Green Bay defense is lights out, I think having some shares if you are multi-entering is a good idea. Either in a stack with Rogers or with one of the Green Bay running backs. I should also mention that the Packers signed long time journeyman Wide Receiver Seth Roberts to the practice squad and could he see the field on Thursday? You never know. I am not saying bank your single entry lineup on Roberts – I am just mentioning him as he is on the team. use that information as you see fit.
The San Francisco 49ers
Nick Mullens will start this game. What does that mean? Well there are some bright points to consider. First, the Green Bay Defense has shown it’s weaknesses – particularly on the ground, though to be fair the 49ers do not have Dalvin Cook on their roster. Second, while yes George Kittle is not going to play – Jordan Reed has been asking to practice and play and Reed and Mullens did seem to have a connection earlier this season. Unfortunately, I believe those may be the only bright spots, on paper. Brandon Aiyuk, who was expected to lead the 49ers in targets on Thursday has now been added to the Covid-19 List and is ineligible to play. Yikes. Additionally, Kendrick Bourne who is coming off a 10 Target, 8 Catch, 81 yard game is now also ineligible to play due to Covid-19. Now, I personally like Nick Mullens. I like his story and I like how deeply he studies the playbook. What I don’t like is 3 interceptions on the season including 2 during his last start (week 3). Coming in for Jimmy G last week Mullens threw for 238 yards and 2 TDs and if he can put on a performance like that, the 49ers could have a shot – but without Aiyuk, it will be tough to figure where the production will come from. With the Aiyuk news, I think Mullens could potentially be extremely low owned tomorrow night and so it may be a contrarian way to run back the likely very chalky Adams – Rogers stack, with Mullens to be a little different. Mullens is $9.2K Flex, $13.8K Captain on DK and $12K on FD.
With the news of Brandon Aiyuk and Kendick Bourne, I think the Niner’s run game will become all the more a vital part of the game plan – but The Niners also have their own Running Back woes. Raheem Mostert is still on IR and last week, sudden stud Jeff Wilson joined him as did Tevin Coleman. This leaves rookie JaMycal Hasty and long time Shanahan guy Jerrick McKinnon. We saw a healthy dose of Hasty last week as he carried the ball 12 times – but against a pretty good Seattle Rush Defense he only managed 29 yards. He did have a touchdown though which was great to see. After seeing the Packers Defense literally get decimated by Dalvin Cook in Week 8, I think Hasty will be an extremely popular play and a really good one too! I don’t think it is hard to imagine the Niners will want to lean on their run game heavily, especially early. It will help get Mullens a rhythm and will also help to keep Aaron Rogers on the sideline. Plus on a short week, the Packers’ defense has barely gotten over the batting Cook gave them. They could be ripe for the pickens for Hasty. But due to the popularity I am expecting Hasty to see, I think McKinnon could come in low owned and I think that is something you need to pay attention to. Should the Niners get down by a touchdown or more, I think McKinnon’s pass catching role could take over the backfield… in fact with Aiyuk and Bourne both out, McKinnon could be lined up as a receiver often in this game even if Hasty is in the backfield. While Hasty will be a popular play, I actually think that a lot of his popularity will be as a Captain or MVP. It could be a very contrarian play to stack both Hasty and McKinnon together…just an idea. McKinnon is $8K Flex, $12K Captain on DK and $7K on FD. Hasty is $7.2K Flex, $10.8K Captain and $11K on FD.
I also think that if there was ever a week to take a shot on Fullback Kyle Juszczyk, this would be the one. The Niners are in need of reliable pass catchers and runners and we have seen time and time again Juszcyck has delivered both on 3rd Down and in the Red Zone. I would not be surprised at all with all of the injuries and Covid disqualifications if gadget plays featuring Juszczyck aren’t deployed more than once. He is $1K Flex, $1.5K Captain and $6K on FD.
No Brandon Aiyuk. No Kendrick Bourne. No George Kittle. No Deebo Samuel. So who in the heck will Mullens throw the ball too? Well first as I alluded, I think Jerrick McKinnon will have a role. I also think you need to pay attention to Jordan Reed, if he is activated – even at the 11th hour – he will be on the field and the 49ers need a steady target like Reed for sure. If Reed is activated early in the day, I could easily see his ownership shoot up as the highest on the 49ers side. If he is activated at game time and you are on top of it, sneak him into a lineup! He is $5.8K Flex, $8.7K Captain on DK and a steal on FanDuel at $5K. Whether Reed is active or not, I think you also need to take a look at Ross Dwelley who had 54 yards, including a 16 yard touchdown last week. If Reed is active I have less interest in Dwelley, but if Reed is not – Dwelley could see a solid share of targets from Mullen. Dwelley is $4.8K Flex, $7.2K Captain and $6K on FD.
Without Samuel, Aiyuk or Bourne on the field I think Trent Taylor needs to be a near lock if you are stacking Nick Mullens. Taylor has yet to see more than 5 targets in a game but necessity some times creates opportunity. He had a season high in receiving yards last week and he could be a favorite target for Mullens on Thursday, perhaps behind the tight ends. However Taylor is an elusive receiver and this team will need someone to take shots with. $400 Flex, $600 Captain and $5K on FD. Taylor is so cheap especially on DK he not only will likely exceed 5 targets but he also allows you to do so much with the rest of your lineup. I also don’t hate the idea of using him in the Captain spot due to how cheap he is for the opportunity he will have.
After Taylor I think another name you need to keep an eye on is Wide Receiver Richie James. James is listed as questionable right now but if he can go, he could immediately be thrust into a starting role here next to Taylor. James hasn’t been active since Week 7 and has yet to see a target yet, but with so little other options for the Niners to go to – he could carve out a role on Thursday. Additionally in a similar boat could be River Cracraft who was sent back to the practice squad on Monday but with the news of Aiyuk and Bourne coming out could easily be called back up. Keep an eye on any news you see on Cracraft. Last name to bring up is Kevin White who was called up from the practice squad and saw 20 snaps against the Seahawks. He could be mainly used as a Kick Returner but given the lack of WR depth, he could also see the field and a target or two. James, Cracraft and White are dart throws yes – but they are cheap ones and should be in your player pool until you hear any news that they won’t be on the field. All 3 of this guys are $200 Flex, $300 Captain on DK and $5,000 on FD. Of the 3, I like James the most – if he can go.
I think kicker Robbie Gould also needs to be in your player pool. The 49ers offense could be looking at several stalled drive in Field Goal range – so Gould could be busy and a solid source of points. If you are multi-entering I think the Niners defense deserve a shot or two as well. While I don’t necessarily expect turnovers, I do expect some sacks and against an angry Aaron Rogers – I don’t expect the Niners defense to be very popular play.
Good Luck in your Contests!