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NFL Matchups: Denver Broncos at Green Bay Packers Fantasy Football Preview

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This a snippet of Adam Pfeifer’s NFL matchups column, previews the Denver Broncos vs. Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers for Fantasy Football Lineups. Fantasy rosters needed protective spray because players were bit hard by the injury bug in Week 2. Multiple starting quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers all suffered injuries this past weekend, with a handful of key offensive linemen also going down. As a result, we missed on plenty in this article, but we hit on plenty, as well. Back on the horse. With that in mind, let’s dig into some NFL matchups and NFL game breakdowns for your Week 3 Fantasy Football Lineups.

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Denver Broncos @ Green Bay Packers

Total: 43

Line: GB -8

Broncos passing game

Joe Flacco’s surface numbers against the Bears weren’t too bad (292 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) but it was not an impressive outing. He averaged an ugly 5.8 yards per attempt in this game and his touchdown didn’t come until there was 31 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Flacco is now averaging 6.9 yards per attempt through his first two games with the Broncos, the 10th-lowest mark among qualified signal callers. Two big name quarterbacks were lost to injury in Week 2, but you still shouldn’t be relying on Flacco as a fantasy option, especially against an improved Green Bay defense that is coughing up just 5.6 yards per pass attempt thus far, the fifth-lowest mark in the league. Once again, look elsewhere this week.

Somebody told Emmanuel Sanders that his career was over. Somebody lied.

Sanders had an awesome game in Week 2, catching 11 balls for 98 yards and a score against a tough Bears defense. He’s now scored in consecutive games, while seeing 25 percent of the team targets. Given how good he’s looked and how involved he is, $4,800 is too cheap of a price tag for Sanders, who has reestablished himself as a top-30 fantasy wide receiver. The weakest point of Green Bay’s defense is slot corner Tramon Williams, and 41 percent of Sanders’ 2019 targets have come from the slot. I am confident in him and his ability to score a touchdown, as Sanders is currently third in the NFL in red zone targets (7) and tied for second with three end zone targets.

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Meanwhile, Courtland Sutton remains the deep threat in this offense, though the Broncos aren’t taking many shots down the field right now. He’s the clear-cut number two, seeing 15 targets through two weeks. In daily, I don’t see how I use him when Sanders is only $300 more. And I think there are better seasonal plays, especially since I definitely don’t love Flacco in this matchup.

Broncos running game

Through two weeks of play, this is how the Denver backfield is shaping out:

Phillip Lindsay:        Royce Freeman: 

Snaps: 72                       Snaps: 71

Carries: 24                     Carries: 21

Catches: 8                     Catches: 6

Yikes. This is essentially a true split, which limits the upside of both players. Freeman has looked better through two weeks, averaging over five yards per carry. And per NFL Next Gen Stats, he has yet to see a stacked box, which tells me that Denver’s scheme has been different this year, especially when Freeman is in the game. Both running backs remain cheap, with Freeman costing more than Lindsay for the first time. As road underdogs, neither back seems optimal, especially because it doesn’t look like one is the passing downs back and one is playing on early downs. Green Bay was just destroyed by Dalvin Cook last week, but two things to note: One, neither Freeman or Lindsay are Dalvin Cook. Two, neither are seeing that type of usage. Now that this backfield is truly a split, both Denver backs are lower-end FLEX options in seasonal formats.

Packers passing game

For the third consecutive week, Aaron Rodgers will be ranked as a back-end QB1 for me. That is not because he’s suddenly bad or anything, but because the matchup isn’t ideal and Green Bay is pounding the run more. As such, Rodgers’ ceiling isn’t quite as high as it once was. Rodgers has thrown 34 and 30 passes through two games and this doesn’t seem like a game where he will have to throw 40 times, either. The Broncos still have a good pass rush and solid secondary, while this game likely isn’t played at the fastest pace. His price is down on DraftKings and he can always throw four touchdown passes, but I like other quarterbacks more this week. The big game is coming but I don’t know if it is in Week 3.

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Davante Adams? Still good at football, it seems. After a dud in the opener against Chicago, Adams bounced back right away in Week 2, ripping off a 39-yard catch and run on one of the first plays of the game. He got open at will against Xavier Rhodes, who rarely chased him into the slot, finishing with 106 yards on seven catches. He’s yet to score but you know the touchdowns are coming. Adams will likely be shadowed again, this time by Chris Harris Jr. Interestingly enough, after ranking 20th among corners in slot cover snaps last year (291), Harris has not recorded a single cover snap from the slot thus far in 2019. The Packers will move Adams around a good bit and if Harris isn’t going to travel, this matchup is primed for the All-Pro wideout. Not may receivers have his touchdown upside and on DK, no receiver is priced at $8,000.

After being shut out in Week 1, Geronimo Allison saw five targets on Sunday with a touchdown. He played 45 percent of the snaps, though he still trailed Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Because Allison is lining up out of the slot, this means that Valdes-Scantling will see the most of Harris Jr. I still don’t want to really use any of these secondary receivers, though it was good to see Allison get back to being an integral part of the Green Bay passing attack. Allison is also $5,000 on DK. No thanks. But if he was dropped and you need some wide receiver help, scoop him up.

Foolishly, I bought into Jimmy Graham after he scored in Week 1 and was used more down the field. He followed it with a goose egg against the Vikings. No matter who is there, the Packers just don’t include their tight ends in the offense very much. Graham dominated the snaps, playing 72 percent of them, but he is hard to rely on and was actually priced up for Week 3. I don’t really get it.

Packers running game

During the second quarter of Sunday’s game, I tweeted that Aaron Jones is not an every-down back. He responded by carrying the ball 23 times for 116 yards and a touchdown against a very good Minnesota front seven. Jones showcased his fantastic vision, finding the right holes and bursting through them. Playing in a Rodgers-led offense is good for running backs, as Jones saw eight men in the box on just 13.5 percent of his carries in 2018. Through two weeks in 2019, that number is just over 19 percent. So it is higher, but still nothing crazy.

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Jamaal Williams will still take six to 10 touches and passing down work from him because the team values his pass-blocking so much. But Green Bay has never appeared to be a “win by defense and running the football” team in Rodgers’ tenure and when they can, they have no issues giving the ball to Jones 20 times. This was great to see and Jones still had six targets. As a home favorite, Jones is a very strong option at just $6,100 and is back in that RB2 consideration.

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