Washington Redskins running back Derrius Guice (29) and offensive guard Ereck Flowers celebrate Guice's touchdown against the Carolina Panthers during the second half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)
Washington Redskins head coach Bill Callahan looks on during the first half of an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers passes during the first half of an NFL football game against the New York Giants, Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
Carolina Panthers defensive tackle Vernon Butler (92) rushes Washington Redskins quarterback Dwayne Haskins (7) as offensive tackle Morgan Moses (76) blocks during the first half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn)
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams scores against the San Francisco 49ers during the second half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) passes against the San Francisco 49ers during the first half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) The Washington Redskins this week prepared to face Aaron Rodgers by having backup quarterback Case Keenum try to do his best imitation of the two-time MVP in practice. Even mimicking the voice inflections and cadences Rodgers often uses to draw opposing defenders offside and earn free plays.
''We try to mirror that,'' interim coach Bill Callahan said.
The Redskins (3-9) look to extend their winning streak to three games Sunday when they face Rodgers and the Packers (9-3) in their first-ever December trip to Lambeau Field, a place Rodgers has been absolutely dominant over his career.
Rodgers has led Green Bay to a 16-3-1 record in his last 20 starts at home, with a passer rating of 100-plus in 11 of those games, including the first perfect passer rating (158.3) of his career in a Week 7 win over Oakland.
Rodgers has been especially good in the cold. He has a career passer rating of 111.2 in regular-season home games in December and January, ranking No. 1 in NFL history (minimum 200 pass attempts).
''The cold is a factor,'' he said. ''It's not like we're a bunch of Wisconsin folks who were raised here, but I think you just learn to deal with the elements a little bit better. You're spending eight months a year here. When I go back to California, I laugh at all the Californians wearing long sleeves and coats in 60-degree weather. I'm thinking, `Man, this is short weather, short sleeves, you know? Get the Speedo out or something, baby.'''
The forecast in Green Bay on Sunday says it will be cloudy with a high around 40 degrees, which shouldn't be an issue for Washington rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins, a New Jersey native.
''Having played in the Big Ten, I've played some cold games,'' said Haskins, who will make his fifth career start. ''Try to stay as warm as possible - hand warmers, turtlenecks, soup, chicken broth. All of that.''
PEP IN THEIR STEP
After an 0-5 start cost coach Jay Gruden his job, Washington has gone 3-4 under interim coach Bill Callahan, including two consecutive victories.
Because they play in the terrible NFC East, the Redskins are somehow both technically still alive for a playoff berth - spoiler: that's not happening - and in line for the No. 3 overall pick in the NFL draft.
Going from 1-9 to 3-9 had an effect on the mood in the locker room.
''Winning some games definitely brings some energy and it makes everyone have a little more pep in their step,'' Haskins said. ''We want to continue to win and we're working hard to figure it out.''
Packers outside linebacker Preston Smith was drafted by Washington in 2015 and played his first four seasons there, averaging about six sacks per game. This season, after joining Green Bay in free agency, Smith leads the Packers with 10 1/2 sacks.
''He's had tremendous impact, obviously,'' coach Matt LaFleur said of Smith. ''You're talking about a guy that's got over 10 sacks, and just not only from his play, but from a leadership standpoint as well, I think he's done a great job. He is one of the leaders on this football team, definitely holds himself to a high standard and those around him to it as well.''
RUN, RUN, RUN
Adrian Peterson is moving up the NFL's career rushing chart, now just 40 yards from becoming the sixth player in league history to reach 14,000. Derrius Guice is at the opposite end of his career, getting his first 100-yard game and first rushing touchdown - two, actually - last week. They give the Redskins quite a ''two-headed monster'' in the backfield, as Guice put it after he ran for 129 yards on only 10 carries and Peterson gained 99 against Carolina in Week 13.
With Haskins still learning his way, Callahan is happy to emphasize the run, and so Washington could seek to do more of the same against Green Bay, which ranks 25th in the 32-team league, allowing opponents to run for an average of 123 yards each game.
''They're both consistent, durable, tough, powerful-type runners,'' Callahan said about Peterson, who is 34, and Guice, 22, ''but elusive enough where they can make people miss and also capable springing off explosive runs.''
MOST VALUABLE PUNTER
It is both a measure of how good punter Tress Way has been and just how bad the Redskins are that he might very well be their MVP this season.
Way's 49.9 yards per punt lead the NFL by nearly two full yards; for comparison's sake, Green Bay's JK Scott is averaging 45. Way also ranks No. 1 in the league this season with a 44.4 net average. He was chosen for NFC special teams player of the week honors after dropping a pair of punts inside the 20-yard line while also kicking a season-best 79-yarder in Washington's 29-21 victory at Carolina last Sunday.
RETURNING TO FORM
Green Bay's Davante Adams scored a season-high two touchdowns last week in his fourth game back from a turf toe injury. The two-time Pro Bowl receiver now has three scores in the last two games after being held out of the end zone in his first six games this season.
''It's been good to find the end zone a couple times the past few weeks,'' Adams said. ''But at the end of the day, I try to get in the end zone to help the team win. If I score one touchdown or two or zero, I'm not really worried about it. I would love to get in the end zone, obviously, but it's about that ultimate team goal to get the W. So if other guys are getting in and we're putting points on the board, that's all that matters.''
Since 2016, Adams ranks in the top five among active players in touchdown receptions at home with 16.
The Green Bay Packers Defense faces a tough task this weekend in the NFC Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers. In their regular-season meeting, the Packers gave up 37 points and only dropped Jimmy Garoppolo only three times. They also failed to generate any turnovers. Green Bay's defense may need to lend their offense a helping hand by creating a turnover or two to swing the field position game. If Za-Darius and Preston Smith can ramp up the pressure, the Packers will have a good chance of generating a turnover or two and winning the game. It certainly won't be easy, considering how formidable the 49ers offense has been this season.
Green Bay Packers tight end Jimmy Graham gets a tough matchup against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game. Graham has back-to-back 49-year receiving performances, but those games came against teams that struggle to defend the tight end position. The 49ers are not one of those teams. They allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to tight ends all season and were the league's stingiest pass defense. Maybe Graham makes a play in the red zone. Still, he's a cheaper DFS play but by no means a comfortable one.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Geronimo Allison (illness) is trending in the right direction to play in the NFC Championship game this weekend against the San Francisco 49ers. Even if available, Allison isn't an option in any fantasy format. The 25-year-old hasn't caught more than four passes in a game this season. It sure doesn't seem like he'll eclipse that mark against the league's best defense with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Allen Lazard (ankle) is currently questionable for the NFC Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers. There's certainly a risk for injury, considering he re-aggravated the ankle in last week's playoff game. Still, it's hard to ignore the two-game stretch Lazard had to end the season, where he saw 17 targets. That alone makes him worth a gamble, particularly in a must-win game for a Packers team in desperate need of another threat at receiver. Just beware, the matchup isn't ideal. The 49ers allowed only 172 passing yards to the Vikings last week.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams gets a tough matchup against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game this weekend. Adams produced only 43 receiving yards and a score against San Francisco in the regular season but still had 12 targets. The star receiver has seen double-digit targets in nine of 13 games played this year. There's not many receivers that you can virtually pencil in for double-digit targets- but Adams is one of them. If fellow receivers Geronimo Allison (illness) and Allen Lazard (ankle) suit up, they may be limited. Adams could be looking at more work than usual, even in a matchup this difficult.
The San Francisco 49ers Defense enter Championship weekend as the highest-priced fantasy defense. The Niners face the Green Bay Packers, who they demolished 37-8 in Week 12. In that previous contest, the Niners relentlessly harassed future Hall of Famer quarterback Aaron Rodgers, dropping him five times and forcing a fumble. The Packers were a meager one for 15 on third down conversions. The 49ers will need to follow that blueprint again in the critical NFC Championship to emerge victorious. With a higher-intensity contest expected, it could be difficult to splurge on a defense in fantasy compared to other addressable positions.
San Francisco 49ers wide receivers Deebo Samuel and Emmanuel Sanders both offer solid fantasy value in the NFC Championship against the Green Bay Packers. Both players were limited to under 45 yards apiece in last weekends Divisional Round blowout but were featured early on when the game was still in question. The rookie Samuel has emerged as a consistent dual threat in the latter half of 2019 and is likelier the safer floor. Sanders, the savvy vet has proven himself as a reliable chain-mover with big-play potential. Against the Packers 10th-best pass defense by DVOA, either option seem primed to pop in Sundays winner-take-all battle.
Green Bay Packers running back Jamaal Williams will face off with the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game this weekend. Williams has been playing second fiddle to Aaron Jones quite a lot recently, as he hasn't seen double-digit carries since Week 13 against the Giants. It's worth noting that Williams played a large role in the regular-season game against the 49ers, which saw him rack up 18 touches. Green Bay very well could utilize Williams in spurts to keep San Francisco guessing, though his recent downtrend in usage makes him hard to trust.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is a reasonable DFS bet for Sundays NFC Championship matchup against the Green Bay Packers. Priced as the third-best quarterback, Jimmy G squares off against a strong Packers defensive line that ranked 12th-best in adjusted sack rate during the regular season. Garoppolo was not pressed into service in the Divisional Round blowout win, but will likely be tasked with a tougher test on Sunday. While the Niners have mostly ridden its dominant running game throughout the year, Garoppolo has answered the bell in multiple occasions with three four-touchdown games. With dangerous weapons surrounding him, Garoppolo shouldnt be ruled out in the biggest game of his career to-date.
Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones will take on the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game this weekend. The 49ers Defense held Jones to just 38 rushing yards in their regular-season meeting. However, the star back has been playing some seriously good football in his last five games, with 501 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns. He's also had 20-plus carries in three straight contests. Expect Green Bay to utilize Jones early and often in screens and runs to combat the 49ers mighty pass rush. Even if Jones doesn't pile up over 100 yards, his propensity to find the end zone and role in the passing game make him a safer play this weekend.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers will take on the San Francisco 49ers this weekend with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. The 49ers Defense held Rodgers to just 104 passing yards and one touchdown in their regular-season meeting. However, there are a couple things that are different ahead of this matchup. First, tackle Bryan Bulaga will play in this game after being injured in the first quarter against the 49ers previously. Rodgers should have better protection than he had when these teams met. Secondly, Rodgers himself is playing better football than he was during the regular season before this matchup. He has 566 passing yards and four touchdowns in his last two contests. There is also the added motivation of denying a Super Bowl berth to the team that could have drafted him. Play Rodgers on Sunday, despite the tough matchup.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Kendrick Bourne is worth a gamble for Sundays NFC Championship against the Green Bay Packers. Bourne scored the only receiving touchdown for the Niners in the Divisional Round, adding to his 2019 resume as a legitimate red-zone threat. The third-year pro has just 33 catches this year, including the playoffs, but collected six scores. Despite his risks as a zero-floor fantasy option, Bourne has emerged as a trustworthy target in clutch situations.
San Francisco 49ers running backs Tevin Coleman and Raheem Mostert are both bankable DFS options in Sundays NFC Championship against the Green Bay Packers. The two backs combined for 163 rushing yards in the Divisional Round, with Coleman riding a hot hand to two touchdowns. Considered a backup for the latter half of the regular season, Coleman played 46 percent of snaps last Sunday compared to Mosterts 34 percent. While the touch forecast for either back is cloudy, the Niners draw one of the worst run defenses in the NFL. The Packers ranked 23rd in rushing DVOA during the regular season with the second-worst defensive line in the league, yielding 4.96 adjusted yards per carry. With a likely floor of 10 touches for each Coleman and Mostert, both runners have great opportunities to make a splash.
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (ankle) was a full participant in Thursdays practice and should be fine for Sundays NFC Championship against the Green Bay Packers. Kittle scared Niner Nation with soreness on the left ankle he chipped earlier this year, but confirms he feels fabulous. Kittle factored more as a blocker in last Sundays Divisional Round blowout but the Niners passed just 19 times. The All-Pro is an integral piece in all facets of the offense so is worth his premium TE1 price in DFS on Sunday.
Detroit Lions WR Danny Amendola is set to become an unrestricted free agent, but he's a 'prime candidate' to be re-signed, in the opinion of The Detroit Free Press' Dave Birkett.
Free-agent WR Antonio Callaway (Browns) signed with the Tampa Bay Vipers of the XFL Thursday, Jan. 16.
Kansas City Chiefs RB LeSean McCoy (illness) remained out of practice Thursday, Jan. 16.
Fantasy Spin: McCoy played just one offensive snap in last week's Divisional Round game against the Houston Texans. He's clearly behind RB Damien Williams and is no longer worth starting.
Kansas City Chiefs QB Matt Moore (illness) and DT Chris Jones (calf) didn't participate in practice Thursday, Jan. 16. DT Khalen Saunders (knee), CB Morris Claiborne (shoulder), CB Kendall Fuller (knee), DE Tanoh Kpassagnon (neck), C Austin Reiter (wrist) and G Andrew Wylie (ankle) practiced in full.
Green Bay Packers DL Kenny Clark (back), TE Marcedes Lewis (non-injury), LB Preston Smith (ankle), FB Danny Vitale (knee) and CB Tramon Williams (non-injury) were limited participants in practice Thursday, Jan. 16. S Adrian Amos (chest), OT Bryan Bulaga (non-injury), WR Ryan Grant (non-injury), LB Blake Martinez (hand) and OL Billy Turner (ankle) practiced in full.
Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce (knee) remained limited at practice Thursday, Jan. 16.
Fantasy Spin: Kelce earned a light practice week while catching 10 of 12 targets for 134 yards and three touchdowns against the Houston Texans in the Divisional Round. He's the week's top tight end option once against this week so long as he takes the field.