TNF Fantasy Preview: Green Bay Packers vs. Arizona Cardinals

TNF Fantasy Preview: Green Bay Packers vs. Arizona Cardinals

by October 28, 2021 0 comments

Tonight, Week 8 of the 2021 NFL season kicks off with a matchup between the Green Bay Packers and the Arizona Cardinals. While everyone loves Thursday Night Football, fantasy owners struggle with which players they should put in their starting lineups. To help them decide which players they should start and which they should sit, let’s dive into this week’s Thursday Night Fantasy Preview.

All stats are base on four-point per passing touchdown and PPR scoring.

Green Bay Packers

Quarterback – Aaron Rodgers

After a disastrous Week 1 performance, Rodgers has thrown at least two touchdowns and scored 19 or more fantasy points in all six games. Since Week 1, Rodgers has averaged 262.8 passing yards and 23 fantasy points per game, throwing only one interception during that span. Meanwhile, the Cardinals have held quarterback to the third-fewest fantasy points this season, giving up only 13.8 fantasy points per game. Over the past five weeks, the Cardinals have held quarterbacks to an average of 11.4 fantasy points per game, giving up under 12.5 fantasy points in three of those contests. More importantly, Rodgers won’t have his go-to weapon in Davante Adams for tonight’s game. Between the issues at wide receiver and the matchup, Rodgers will finish the week as a high-end QB2.

Running Back – Aaron Jones, AJ Dillon

Last week, Jones and Dillon had a solid matchup against the Washington Football Team. However, the duo combined for only 8.7 fantasy points in their win. They combined for only nine rushing attempts in that game; however, they played excellent football before last week. Jones had scored 14.9 or more fantasy points in four of his previous five games, averaging 21.2 fantasy points per contest. Meanwhile, Dillon had three games in a row with 11 or more touches, averaging 11.5 fantasy points per game during that span. From Week 2 through Week 6, Jones was the RB5 while Dillon was RB35. As much as their recent play should encourage fantasy owners, tonight’s matchup is far from ideal.

The Cardinals have been on the better teams defending running backs this season, giving up only 19 fantasy points per game to the position. However, they have really shut down running backs over the past month. Over their past four games, the Cardinals have held running backs to an average of only 65 rushing yards and 16.4 fantasy points per game while not surrendering a rushing touchdown. More importantly, the Cardinals faced the Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers, and Cleveland Browns during that stretch. Without Adams in the lineup, Jones will become the focal point of the offense. However, he will become the defense’s focal point as well. With the tough matchup, Jones is a mid RB2 this week, while fantasy owners should avoid Dillon if possible.

Wide Receiver – Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Randall Cobb

Not only will Adams miss tonight’s game because of Covid-19 protocols, but Allen Lazard will be inactive as well. Without their top two wide receivers, Valdes-Scantling and Cobb will lead the way for a very inexperienced group. Valdes-Scantling is coming off a hamstring injury that forced him on the injured reserve list for four weeks. He has averaged only 6.5 fantasy points per game this season, scoring 4.7 or fewer in two of three games. Meanwhile, Cobb has been quiet since returning to Green Bay, averaging only 7.3 fantasy points per game this season. He has scored under six fantasy points in all but one contest. However, in the one game with over four targets this season, Cobb scored 23.9 fantasy points and had a season-high five catches for 69 receiving yards.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals have given up 36.4 fantasy points per game to wide receivers this season, one point more than the league average. However, they have allowed wide receivers to score 41.8 or more fantasy points in two of their past four games. They have also given up an average of one touchdown per game to wide receivers this season, giving up two or more in almost half of their contests. Yet, with only two teams on a bye this week, fantasy players should have better options available than Cobb or Valdes-Scantling. However, if forced to start one, Cobb is the better option in PPR as he should lead the wide receivers in targets. In non PPR, Valdes-Scantling is the better option, thanks to his big-play ability.

Tight End – Robert Tonyan

Coming off a top-four finish last season, averaging 11 fantasy points per game, Tonyan has regressed this season. He has averaged only 6.1 fantasy points per game, scoring under 3.5 fantasy points in over 70 percent of the games. Tonyan has become like most tight ends; either he scores a touchdown or is a fantasy bust for the week. In the two games Tonyan has found the end zone, he has averaged 15.3 fantasy points per game. Meanwhile, the Cardinals have held tight ends to the fewest fantasy points this season, giving up only 5.5 per game. They have held tight ends to under 50 receiving yards and 10 fantasy points in every game this season. Even without Adams in the lineup, Tonyan is a touchdown or bust option this week.

Defense/Special Teams

If you read last week’s streamers article, you would have picked up the Packers D/ST against Washington. They finished that game with two turnovers, four sacks and scored 10 fantasy points. However, the Packers D/ST belongs on the waiver wire this week because of the matchup. The Cardinals have held opposing D/STs to only 1.1 fantasy points per game this season. Opposing D/STs have scored negative fantasy points against the Cardinals in over half of the matchups this season, averaging negative 2.5 fantasy points per game in those contests. Furthermore, when opposing D/STs have scored positive fantasy points, they have averaged only six fantasy points per game. With a matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs next week, fantasy owners have no reason to keep the Packers D/ST on their roster.

Arizona Cardinals

Quarterback – Kyler Murray

Despite the slow start last week, Murray finished with 21.4 fantasy points. It marked the third time over the past four games he finished with over 21 fantasy points. More importantly, Murray is the QB3 for the season, averaging 24.1 fantasy points per game. He has also thrown three or more touchdowns in over half of the games this season, including two straight. Furthermore, Murray has three games this season with four total touchdowns. He also has three rushing touchdowns this season, second on the team. More importantly, Murray has averaged 4.4 fantasy points per game on the ground this season and has an excellent matchup tonight against the Packers.

The Packers have given up an average of 18.6 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks this season, about the league average. However, the Packers have yet to face a quarterback with Murray’s talent this season. More importantly, the Packers have struggled to stop rushing quarterbacks, giving up an average of 34 rushing yards per game to the position. Furthermore, they gave up a career-high 95 rushing yards to Taylor Heinicke last week. As well as the Green Bay defense has played recently, Murray should have his way with them tonight. Fantasy owners should expect him to finish the week as a top-five quarterback.

Running Back – Chase Edmonds, James Conner

While Murray has accounted for over 30 percent of the rushing attempts, Edmonds and Conner are top-24 running backs this season. Edmonds has averaged 11.7 fantasy points per game, good for the RB19, while Conner has averaged 11.1 fantasy points per game, good for the RB21. While he hasn’t scored a touchdown this season, Edmonds has scored 10 or more fantasy points in over 70 percent of his games, averaging almost four catches per game this season. Meanwhile, Conner has played great for fantasy owners over the past five weeks, averaging 14 fantasy points per game, finishing as the RB14 during that span. Unlike Edmonds, Conner’s success has come in the touchdown department. Over the past five weeks, Conner has averaged 1.2 rushing touchdowns per game.

Meanwhile, the Packers have held running backs to 22.9 fantasy points per game this season, about the league average. However, running backs have scored a rushing touchdown in four of their past five games against the Packers, averaging 23.3 fantasy points per game during that span. The Packers have also allowed running backs to average 80.6 rushing yards per game this season, giving up 92 or more rushing yards in almost half of their matchups. More importantly, the Packers have given up an average of 11.7 fantasy points per game to running backs this season in the passing game. Fantasy owners can start both Arizona running backs as an RB2 with confidence this week. Conner should find the end zone at least once while Edmonds finishes with at least five catches.

Wide Receiver – DeAndre Hopkins, Christian Kirk, A.J. Green, Rondale Moore

Arizona has the best wide receiver unit in the NFL. Hopkins leads the way, averaging 16.7 fantasy points per game, good for the WR12 on the season. Behind him are Kirk, Green, and Moore. The trio are all top-48 wide receivers this season, averaging at least 9.8 fantasy points per game. More importantly, the trio all have between 31 and 36 targets this season, while Hopkins has 47. However, over the past few weeks, things have started to change in this wide receiver room. Green and Moore appear to be fading while Hopkins and Kirk are taking on more extensive roles.

Hopkins has averaged 7.3 targets per game over the past three weeks, seeing nine targets in two of those games. Kirk has averaged six targets per game during that span, seeing at least five in every contest. The veteran Green has only 11 total targets over the past three weeks, seeing more than three only once. Meanwhile, the rookie Moore has averaged 4.3 targets per game during that span but has only one game with over five targets. More importantly, Hopkins was the only wide receiver with more targets (nine) than newly acquired Zach Ertz last week. After tonight’s matchup, fantasy owners will see how to view this wide receiver unit now that Ertz is in Arizona.

Even with all-pro cornerback Jaire Alexander on injured reserve, the Packers have held wide receivers to 33.9 fantasy points per game this season, the seventh-fewest in the NFL. However, they have given up at least receiving touchdown to wide receivers in every game this season. While the Packers have held wide receivers to only 33.9 fantasy points per game this season, they have struggled against explosive passing offenses. In their matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals, the Packers gave up a season-high 215 receiving yards and 44.5 fantasy points to their wide receivers. This week fantasy owners can start Hopkins as a high-end WR2 with confidence while Kirk is a flex option. Fantasy owners should avoid Green and Moore tonight if possible after their struggles over the past three weeks.

Tight End – Zach Ertz

In his Arizona debut, Ertz had a strong performance. He caught three of his five targets for 66 receiving yards, one touchdown and scored a season-high 16 fantasy points. He finished the game second on the team in targets, posting a 17.9 percent target share. Meanwhile, the Packers have given up 13.3 fantasy points per game to tight ends this season, a little more than the league average. They have given up at least four receptions to tight ends in every game this season, including six or more in over half of their games. Last week, the Packers gave up six catches on seven targets for 51 receiving yards to Ricky Seals-Jones. While the Cardinals have plenty of pass-catching options, Ertz should still finish the week as a low-end TE1.

Defense/Special Teams

Over the past two weeks, the Cardinals D/ST has averaged 12.5 fantasy points per game, scoring 11 or more in both contests. They forced four turnovers and had seven sacks while giving up only 17 points over the past two weeks. More importantly, the Cardinals D/ST has scored 11 or more fantasy points in over half of their games this season. Meanwhile, D/STs have averaged only 3.7 fantasy points per game against the Packers this season, scoring four or fewer fantasy points in over 70 percent of the matchups. However, the Washington D/ST scored had three sacks and scored seven fantasy points against the Packers last week. With Adams out for tonight’s game, the Cardinals will finish the week as a top-12 unit.

Recap

Rodgers: High-End QB2

Jones: Mid RB2

Dillon: Avoid

Valdes-Scantling: Avoid

Cobb: Avoid

Tonyan: Avoid

Packers D/ST: Avoid

Murray: High-End QB1

Edmonds: Low-End RB2

Conner: Low-End RB2

Hopkins: High-End WR2

Kirk: Flex Option

Green: Avoid

Moore: Avoid

Ertz: Low-End TE1

Cardinals D/ST: Low-End D/ST1


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Mike Fanelli is the Editor in Chief and fantasy football expert for Prime Time Sports Talk since 2018. He is a featured writer for FantasyPros. Follow him on Twitter @Mike_NFL2 and reach out anytime with any fantasy football questions.

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