All the Smallwood Things

Staring at the standings on FantasyDraft can be a bit nerve-racking if sitting just slightly inside or outside the cash line of a contest but owning players from this game should ease those concerns. Assuming you find yourself in a situation where tonight’s game can make or break the weekend, here are my projections for the game tonight that will help make your likely fate abundantly more clear:

Green Bay Packers at Philadelphia Eagles

Quarterbacks: Vegas is not high on the Packers whatsoever tonight as they only imply 21.8 points for their offense and are projecting them to lose. Sure the game is on the road but none of the Eagles’ corners are overly imposing, and the team’s running game is mediocre at best, so Aaron Rodgers is going to have to sling the pigskin as per usual. When Rodgers is forced to throw a lot, the result is nearly always positive (at least in terms of fantasy). Heading into this game, Rodgers has attempted at least 40 passes in three consecutive games and has not sunk below 27.20 fantasy points during that stretch. Unlike last season, Rodgers has appeared to show no ill-effects playing on the road whereas he struggled away from Lambeau Field last year. Meanwhile, Carson Wentz and the Eagles are listed as 4.0 point favorites against a subpar Packers secondary that has allowed 30-plus real points in four consecutive games. Amazingly, Jordan Matthews is nearly 50-percent owned in cash games on FantasyDraft so the masses appear to have at least a reasonable amount of faith in the Eagles’ passing game this week. According to Pro Football Focus, Matthews draws one of the most eight most favorable individual matchups of the entire weekend so expect Wentz to feed him. Additionally, this defense only ranks as the 23rd passing defense in terms of Football Outsiders’ defense-adjusted value over average (DVOA) metric. Therefore, when all said and done, it would not be shocking for Wentz to eclipse 20 fantasy points for the first time since Week 3, but I’ll stick with a more safe projection (despite the excellent matchup). Projections: Aaron Rodgers 29 fantasy points, Carson Wentz 18 fantasy points

Running Backs: With Ryan Mathews deemed inactive, Wendell Smallwood and Darren Sproles are set to split the workload for the Eagles. Over the course of the last two weeks, Smallwood has carried the ball exactly 13 times in each game. In Week 11, Smallwood added four receptions (RECs) to his line for 31 yards as well. If there were any question as to which back were the “lead back” heading into this week, the answer is quite clearly Smallwood. While Sproles will still play some sort of role, he only played 10 snaps last week, which was discouraging to say the least. By comparison, Kenjon Barner saw the field for 18 snaps but the scope of the backfield should be destined to change sans Mathews. A safe projection would be 4-5 RECs for 40 yards for Sproles but it is difficult to expect more against a Packers defense that ranks seventh in RB DVOA (in the passing game). As for the Packers, the backfield situation is a bit unclear but Christine Michael says he “knows enough of the playbook to contribute.” This will no doubt result in a committee but Michael quite clearly seems like the better back as James Starks is the epitome of mediocrity. Regardless, the team will be battling a tough rushing defense and the Packers only average 100.9 yards rushing per game as a team. Projections: Wendell Smallwood 15 fantasy points, Christine Michael nine fantasy points, Darren Sproles eight fantasy points and James Starks seven fantasy points

Wide Receivers: As noted in the QB tidbit, Jordan Matthews is the most heavily owned WR from this game and his matchup jumps off the page. The man he will face-off against, Micah Hyde, has graded as Pro Football Focus’ 90th best cover corner which quite obviously is not very good. He is targeted the most heavily of all the receivers on the team but Dorial Green-Beckham is coming off a game where he was targeted eight times in Seattle. In that contest, Green-Beckham caught five passes for 54 yards and a TD so he slowly seems to be emerging as option 1B in the receiving core. Against this Packers defense, especially if this game turns into a back-and-forth, there certainly is some upside here. On the Packers side of the ball, Jordy Nelson is literally the personification of consistency; he has managed double-digit fantasy points in all but one game this season and has eclipsed 20 fantasy points thrice this year. As per usual, he is a real threat to score and should have a distinct advantage on whomever decides to guard him. Davante Adams is only a week removed from a 24.60 fantasy point explosion version the Titans but he was only targeted six times in Week 11. Randall Cobb has averaged 7.5 targets over the past two weeks as he continues to get healthier by the week the further removed he is from a hamstring injury he suffered approximately four weeks ago. Beyond Nelson, Cobb/Adams should continue to split their targets virtually equally and the difference could be which is targeted in the red zone. During the course of the last two games, Adams is the only one of the two to have been targeted in the red zone (two targets) so he gets the nod. Projections: Jordy Nelson 20 fantasy points, Jordan Matthews 17 fantasy points, Davante Adams 14 fantasy points, Randall Cobb 10 fantasy points and Dorial Green-Beckham nine fantasy points

Tight Ends: Through the first eight weeks of the season, Zach Ertz was targeted seven-plus times just once. Over the course of his last three games, Ertz has been targeted seven-plus times in each game and has averaged 6.67 RECs, 187 yards receiving and even scored his first TD of the season during that span. The Packers rank 11th in TE DVOA but they also allow the sixth most fantasy points per game to the position. Most of their games are fast-paced and high-scoring so they have been stout against the position and yet still allowed the fifth most yards to the position. Ertz should be just fine tonight. Jared Cook, on the other hand, emerged as the starter over Richard Rodgers last week as he hauled in 6-11 targets for 105 yards and a TD. Throughout the course of his career, Cook has struggled with consistency and still should be reliant on TDs. The targets last week were encouraging but the Eagles are one of the toughest defenses against the position so his looks could easily fall off a cliff this week. Cook is a volatile asset in this game and possesses a wide range of outcomes…the most likely of which end in disappointment. Projections: Zach Ertz 14 fantasy points and Jared Cook nine fantasy points

Defense: Both of these defenses are around zero-percent owned on FantasyDraft so they are not really worth overanalyzing. Of the two defenses, the Eagles are clearly the superior defensive unit as they grade above average as both a rushing and passing defense according to DVOA. The Packers’ offensive line grades as an above-average unit and yet Rodgers has still been sacked 24 times (12th most in the league). This bodes well for an Eagles squad that has sacked the QB 26.0 times so far. As for the Packers, they were not really worthy of consideration in a game where they were expected to allow 25-plus points once again. Projection: Philadelphia Eagles seven fantasy points and Green Bay Packers three fantasy points

Final Score Projection: Green Bay Packers 24, Philadelphia Eagles 21

Ricky Sanders

Ricky Sanders

Ricky Sanders is a fantasy sports expert with over 15 years of playing experience. After starting several freelance fantasy sports blogs, Ricky moved up in the fantasy industry when he joined Going9 Baseball. He wrote fantasy baseball content and had a weekly radio spot on the site’s SiriusXM Satellite Radio show. Shortly thereafter, in early 2013, Ricky joined RotoExperts as a three-sport fantasy contributor, eventually becoming one of the site’s lead basketball writers. While writing for RotoExperts, Ricky was introduced to daily fantasy sports and immediately fell in love. With help from some of his mentors, some of the best DFS players in the world, he honed his skills and became the daily fantasy expert he is today. When RotoExperts created a daily-focused website called, Ricky was brought on as one of the main contributors. He still makes frequent appearances on the RotoExperts SiriusXM Radio show and on the FNTSY Sports Television Network, talking daily fantasy sports. He also continues to write for a few DFS content sites: RotoCurve and The Fantasy Fix. Ricky is a proud and active member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He has agreed to be a writer and representative for the FantasyDraft brand and serves as an ambassador to the site. He has no more access to the site than the typical user. Don’t hesitate to contact Ricky with questions on Twitter @RSandersDFS.

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