Wed Nov 7 10:51 pm
In 2016, the Green Bay Packers were 4-6 when quarterback Aaron Rodgers proclaimed the team was capable of running the table. On cue, the Packers reeled off six consecutive wins to get in the playoffs, then advanced to the NFC Championship Game.
This season, the Packers are 3-4-1 headed into Sunday's home game against the Miami Dolphins. They are in the middle of a five-game gauntlet of games at the Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots, home vs. Miami, then back on the road to face the Seattle Seahawks and Minnesota Vikings.
Green Bay lost the first two legs of this pivotal stretch. If it's going to rebound and make a run at a playoff berth, it will be up to Rodgers to play much better than he did against New England.
While Rodgers has thrown a sizzling 15 touchdown passes vs. one interception, he ranks near the bottom of the league in completion percentage. In a 31-17 loss at New England, Rodgers completed only 24 of 43 passes (55.8 percent). When the offense absolutely needed to score in the fourth quarter, it couldn't even get to midfield.
"I just feel like we have to play better, consistently, 60 minutes, try to eliminate some of the lulls we've been having," Rodgers said. "We have to play with confidence and play up to the level we're capable of playing."
The Dolphins will pose a stiff challenge, even as they go from the heat of Miami to a projected 32-degree day at Lambeau Field. Miami leads the NFL with 15 interceptions. Four of those came in last week's 13-6 victory over the New York Jets.
"Maybe he'll change his mind this game," Dolphins head coach Adam Gase joked of Rodgers' ability to avoid interceptions.
Gase has a firm grasp of the obvious, and here's how we know:
"Aaron Rodgers," Gase said, "is a little different than Sam Darnold."
Rodgers, of course, is a former Super Bowl MVP and a six-time Pro Bowl quarterback for the Packers. Darnold is the Jets' rookie first-round pick, a quarterback Miami beat last week with four interceptions.
So ... yeah, the Dolphins definitely have a bigger challenge this week.
However, the Packers are coming off their first losing season since 2008, and they are struggling this season with a sub-.500 record and two straight losses.
The bright spot for the Packers is that they are 3-0-1 at home this season. And something else to factor into the equation is that Green Bay was off to a 4-1 start last season before Rodgers got injured.
The Packers went 3-8 the rest of the way, with Rodgers playing in just one game during that stretch.
Rodgers' completion percentage this year is 60.6 percent, which would be the lowest number of his career since he became a starter in 2008. But he has already passed for 2,542 yards this season, and his touchdown-to-interception ratio is outstanding at 15-1.
Miami ability to force interceptions makes for a fascinating matchup. Also fascinating is the fact that failed ex-Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin returned to Green Bay this year as the Packers' offensive coordinator.
The Dolphins will surely play close attention to two Packers targets -- wide receiver Davante Adams and tight end Jimmy Graham. Adams has caught 19 touchdown passes since the start of 2017. Graham, a former Miami Hurricanes player, has caught 12 TD passes during that same span. However, Graham missed practice on Wednesday due to a knee injury.
When the Dolphins are on offense, they will be without quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who will miss his fifth straight game due to a shoulder injury. Brock Osweiler is 2-2 at quarterback since replacing Tannehill.
For the Packers, who are in third place in the NFC North and 10th place in the NFC, this is practically a must-win game. As head coach Mike McCarthy likes to say, there's no reason to discuss the playoffs until a team gets win No. 10. For Green Bay to get to 10 wins, it must go 7-1 down the stretch.
"It's always good to be at home," McCarthy said. "You have to take care of your home-field advantage. That's something that's a great part of our focus this week. Really, the benefits of being at home is the repetition, particularly when you get to the end of the week. You've got to make sure you take advantage of that. To play in front of your home crowd, that's something that we've always enjoyed. We also know what's coming after it, too."
The Dolphins held the Jets without a touchdown last week, but the challenge against the Packers on Sunday will be much tougher. Miami's defense may struggle to contain the Green Bay passing game. Offensively, the Dolphins' beat-up offensive line allowed four sacks last week, and the unit failed to open holes or get anyone into the end zone.
Miami's offense will likely have to play much better this week to keep up with Rodgers and the Packers.
Seattle Seahawks LB K.J. Wright (knee) will be a game-time decision for the Week 11 game, according to head coach Pete Carroll.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers LB Kendell Beckwith (ankle) has a chance to play in the Week 11 game, but head coach Dirk Koetter said it is too soon to determine his status for the game.
Washington Redskins WR Jamison Crowder (ankle) is still not 100 percent at this point, but his MRI did not show any more damage to his ankle. Head coach Jay Gruden said he expects Crowder to return soon.
Fantasy Spin: Crowder may not be able to play this week but could return to the lineup in the next week or two. Owners in all leagues should avoid Crowder until he is able to participate in practice.
Philadelphia Eagles DT Timmy Jernigan (back) has a chance to play in the Week 11 game, according to head coach Doug Pederson.
Detroit Lions wide receiver TJ Jones saw his most snaps (50) of the season in Week 10 due to Marvin Jones (knee) being forced to leave the game in the third quarter. However, it didn't lead to increased production as the former caught just one pass for 12 yards. This week against Carolina, if Marvin Jones is unable to suit up then expect TJ Jones to line up opposite of Kenny Golladay, making the available Jones a dart-throw DFS play but nothing more. Although, if Marvin Jones is able to play, it takes away any fantasy value of TJ Jones.
The Indianapolis Colts defense has seen a drastic fall in their sack totals, with only four across their last five games compared to 17 in the first four weeks of the 2018 NFL season. They also failed to produce a single turnover against the Jacksonville Jaguars last week while giving up 21 fantasy points toBlake Bortles. That being said, the Tennessee Titans are completely erratic when it comes to turnovers and have given up the fourth-most fantasy points to team defenses on the year. Don't let the Titans stunning victory over the New England Patriots fool you too much, as the Colts defense could surprise many fantasy owners with a big day in Week 11.
The Indianapolis Colts have heavily featured their tight end group in the passing game as evidenced by six of their last passing touchdowns coming from the motley crew of Jack Doyle, Eric Ebron, and Mo Alie-Cox. Colts tight ends have been targeted in the red zone the most of any team in the NFL this season and their top-two options should have solid fantasy outings against the Tennessee Titans in Week 11. Doyle continues to operate as the No. 1 option, leading the group in snaps and routes run on offense which should ultimately result to another big game akin to his six reception, 70 yard and a touchdown game in Week 8. Ebron might have run only 12 pass routes last week, but his three touchdowns makes it clear that he remains a great play due to his scoring upside week in and week out. With Indianapolis likely to continue featuring its tight ends, plug Doyle and Ebron into your lineups.
Detroit Lions wide receiver Kenny Golladay caught six passes in Week 10, the same amount he caught over weeks 7-9 combined. He also found the end zone for the first time since Week 5. These are the results fantasy owners were expecting when Golden Tate was traded away. This week at home against Carolina, Golladay has a chance to have another solid showing with the Lions looking to break a three-game losing skid. His teammate Marvin Jones (knee) left Sunday's game in the third quarter, leading to a missed practice on Wednesday; he is considered day-to-day. If for some reason Jones doesn't play against Carolina, Golladay should easily see double-digit targets. Look at the second-year man as a WR2 with upside in Week 11.
Detroit Lions running back Theo Riddick recorded his highest receiving yardage total of the season last Sunday against the Bears, catching six passes for 60 yards. Serving as the Lions pass-catching back, the 27-year-old returned two weeks ago from a knee injury and has since caught 13 of 15 targets. This week, the Panthers present a challenge for a player like Riddick, as they have allowed the fourth fewest receptions to running backs this season. Keep in mind that Detroit has trailed in each of the past three games, thus forcing them to throw consistently. Look for Detroit to do whatever they can to break the three-game losing streak this Sunday at home, meaning Riddick has some flex appeal but nothing more.
Free-agent QB Paxton Lynch (Broncos), WR Tre McBride (Jets) and WR Tavarres King (Vikings) worked out for the Miami Dolphins Wednesday, Nov. 14.
Atlanta Falcons LB Deion Jones (foot) is making progress, according to head coach Dan Quinn, but the team is going to make sure he's 100 percent ready first before putting him back on the field.
Detroit Lions running back Kerryon Johnson scored a rushing and a receiving touchdown last week against the Bears, but outside of that was very average against a good defense. This week, Johnson has another questionable matchup against the Carolina Panthers. The rookie's yardage totals have suffered recently because the Lions have trailed in each of the past three games. Detroit will need to get ahead early or keep it close throughout to get Johnson opportunities on the ground. However, if they do get behind again, Johnson can still get it done in the passing game, having seen 20 targets since Week 8. Clearly the return of Theo Riddick hasn't affected how the Lions will use the Auburn product. Look at Johnson as a flex play with RB2 potential.
Detroit Lions running back LeGarrette Blount hasn't crossed the goal line in three weeks and has totaled only 15 yards rushing in the same period. That is all you need to hear when breaking down Blount's fantasy value. Making his case even worse is the fact that Kerryon Johnson received a goal-line carry last week that ended up as a touchdown for the rookie. It's obvious the team is losing their interest in Blount as a factor in the offense. Keep him on waivers in Week 11.
Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis is 'still hopeful' he'll have WR A.J. Green (foot) back on the field for the team's Week 11 game Sunday, Nov. 18, versus the Baltimore Ravens.
Fantasy Spin: It seems a lot more likely than not that Green will remain out through Week 11, as his injury has kept him sidelined for only one game thus far when his original timetable called for him to miss more time than that. Either way, he's a WR1 whenever he gets back, but his owners should begin preparing for another week without Green's services.
Cincinnati Bengals LB Nick Vigil (knee) is making progress in his recovery but is not expected to play in the Week 11 game.
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck has thrown three or more touchdown passes in six consecutive games, the longest streak since Tom Brady's 10 back in 2007. Despite heading into a Week 11 tilt with a Tennessee Titans defense that has allowed the fewest offensive touchdowns, points per play, and touchdown conversions in the red zone on the season, Luck's hot hand is too hard not to ride. For fantasy owners in need of reassurance, Carson Wentz, Philip Rivers, and Deshaun Watson all managed to put up 20-plus fantasy points against the Titans in previous weeks. Plug and play Luck as a QB1 with confidence for fantasy purposes.
Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has a decent matchup at home with the Carolina Panthers this Sunday. Stafford saved his Week 10 stat line with two garbage-time touchdowns against the Bears; however, he did toss two interceptions. The Panthers are in damage control after getting torched by Ben Roethlisberger for 5 touchdowns last Thursday. With the Lions back home after two straight road games, Stafford will be looking to get back to winning ways. Since Golden Tate was traded, Kenny Golladay has been up-and-down, while Marvin Jones injured his knee last Sunday and did not practice Wednesday. Pay attention to his designation for the game, but if he plays look at Stafford as a QB2 against the Panthers.
Oakland Raiders WR Martavis Bryant (knee) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Nov. 14. CB Gareon Conley (groin), C Rodney Hudson (ankle), OG Kelechi Osemele (knee), LB Kyle Wilber (knee) and CB Daryl Worley (shoulder) were limited during practice. OG Jon Feliciano (ribs), WR Dwayne Harris (foot), OG Gabe Jackson (pectoral) and OT Kolton Miller (elbow, knee) fully participated in practice.
Oakland Raiders RB Doug Martin (hip) fully participated in practice Wednesday, Nov. 14.
Fantasy Spin: Martin has received at least 10 carries in each of the last three games and has rushed for at least 60 yards in two of the games. He should have some success against the Arizona Cardinals and can be at least a flex option in standard leagues.
Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald (non-injury) didn't participate in practice Wednesday, Nov. 14.
Fantasy Spin: The veteran was simply just getting a day off in order to manage his reps. He'll be out there come Sunday, but at this point in time, it's under the status of a WR3 with inconsistent freshman Josh Rosen throwing him the football.