Packers @ Minnesota
Aaron Rodgers finally got all his weapons back, and he is a true match-up proof player. Indeed, he is going up against one of the toughest defenses at their own territory, so it might not be the ideal match-up on paper. The Vikings front seven is as daunting as it gets, but the Packers have a good and experienced O-line who played as a unit for a long time. The Vikings secondary has a big hole with Xavier Rhodes out, and the Packers O-line is good enough to provide time for big plays to develop. A-Rod is the best in the business in exploiting every opportunities, and he just has too many skill players to throw to. With big play machine like Jordy Nelson and the new TE Jared Cook, who isn’t spectacular but very good at catching deep balls, expect Rodgers to make the most out of small opportunities.
Sam Bradford is reportedly working with the first-team, and he is probably going to take the football this Sunday. He has been with the team for two weeks now, so there are still a lot of questions about whether he was able to adsorb the entire playbook in such a short period of time. First things first, the Vikings have every intention to contend this year, and if they are playing Bradford against their division rival, they have to feel good about his ability to run the offense. Let’s trust the Vikings staff and move on from this issue. Everyone knew that Teddy Bridgewater’s feeble arm isn’t suitable for Norv Turner’s vertical pass oriented offense, and while Bradford’s arm (especially after numerous injuries he suffered past years) is nothing like Joe Flacco’s, it’s probably an upgrade to attack the deep part of the field. While this is going to be another Adrian Peterson show, the Packers secondary without Sam Shields might give couple chances for Bradford to connect with his speedy receivers. The very expensive Vikings O-line didn’t allow any sack last week against the Titans, but Shaun Hill didn’t look comfortable enough to execute the Turner-style seven-step dropbacks. Moreover, even after 6 years of his pro seasons, no one still knows whether Bradford can successfully operate in a non-spread offense. Obviously there are so many question marks surrounding this new union, and this offense doesn’t give enough opportunity for a QB to play around his mistakes. His couple big plays won’t be enough to negate all the negativity, and he should not be started in any format.
Jordy Nelson is in a good spot since he at least doesn’t have to worry about the shutdown corner Xavier Rhodes. The volume won’t be there, but he will be asked to create couple big plays for his talented QB to move the offense, and he obviously has highest chance of scoring a TD amongst the Packers skill player. Rodgers is well aware of the dangerous Vikings defense, and the Packers can’t expect to score bunch by providing more chances for the opposing defense to stop them. He will look at Nelson’s way every single time when the opportunity is given, and the future Hall of Famer won’t likely to miss too many of his targets.
Randall Cobb is looking for a rebound season, but just like his first game against the Jaguars, it won’t be his night to shine. Cobb won’t have much room to operate at the slot, and the expected output of the game doesn’t look promising for a receiver who requires a high volume to deliver in Fantasy. The Packers will be simply doing a favor for the Vikings if they try to move the chain slowly by targeting Cobb often. Davante Adams has a decent chance of out-producing the WR2, and the Cobb owners just have to be patient for one more week.
Stefon Diggs is a real deal, and he is unquestioned number one receiver in this offense. The conservative Vikings won’t put the ball in the air so much with their fresh new QB and healthy Adrian Peterson, but Diggs certainly has ability to exploit the Sam-Shields-less Packers secondary. He will continuously get open, and he is going to soak up every potential target. I mean, who else is going to catch the ball in this offense anyway? If the Vikings gaudy O-line can successfully contain the Packers defense, unlike Bridgewater, Bradford has an arm to deliver a deep ball to Diggs, and he might have bigger Fantasy upside with his new QB. This game is projected to be a low scoring affair, but Diggs certainly has the right floor and ceiling for this matchup. Trust him this Sunday.
Eddie Lacy showed some promises last week after the disappointing 2015 campaign, but he didn’t look any special either (64 yards on 14 attempts). The Jaguars defense is a bevy of young talents, but most of them played their first game in the Jaguars uniform last Sunday, so it’s tough to call Lacy’s performance top notch. The former Crimson Tide, who’s entering his 4th season as a Packer, is unlikely to be an extraordinary runner this season, and his week-to-week production will be heavily dependent upon the match-ups. Obviously, Zimmer’s defense is no joke, and while they allowed two TDs to DeMarco Murray last week, they both came from short passes rather than from the ground. Even with limited snaps, James Stark was targeted two times more than Lacy was in 2015, so Lacy’s upside is capped this Sunday.
Adrian Peterson is the centerpiece of this offense, and as long as he is healthy, he will receive tons of volume no matter what. The efficiency is a different story, however. The Packers tried really hard this off-season to improve their notoriously horrendous run defense, and their first game against T.J. Yeldon was a success (39 rushing yard on 21 attempts. 1.86 Y/A). Peterson’s talent can’t be compared to Yeldon’s, but the All Day and the Viking O-line didn’t look any special last Sunday either (31 rushing yards on 19 attempts. 1.63 Y/A). The Titans totally disrespected Shaun Hill’s ability to throw, and they simply stuffed the box to stop the Vikings running game, and the Packers will probably employ the similar strategy. Peterson’s efficiency in this game seriously depends upon his new QB’s ability to keep the defense honest by finding Diggs often. Bradford should receive little more respect than Hill did, and the Packers’ defense won’t be more effective than Jurrell Casey and the company, so expect Peterson to have a better at the office, but probably not a monster day unless Bradford exceeds every expectation.
Jared Cook was invisible last Sunday, and we should expect a lot of zeros from the newly acquired TE going forward. The Packers just have too many mouths to feed, and he even has to share his snaps with Richard Rodgers. He isn’t going to see enough volumes to provide safe floor pretty much every week, but the Packers might have to use his homerun hitting ability to beat the Vikings this Sunday. If he catches anything, it won’t be insignificant, but the risk is obviously way too high.
Kyle Rudolph is no doubt a key part of Norv Turner’s offense, but he shares the same fate as any other talented TEs on run heavy offenses (Think of Travis Kelce). He will be mostly employed to block, and he will take a back seat at the Red Zone. There will be time when he is asked to catch some balls, but not this Sunday against the Packers without their best corner. Diggs will run the air show, and Rudolph can remain on the bench in every format.