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Megatron a mismatch? Packers-Lions fantasy preview

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Week 13 is here (can you believe it?), and it kicks off with a crucial NFC North clash on Thursday Night Football between the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions. The Packers have a 1-4 record since starting the season 6-0, while the Lions are surging with three straight wins behind an offense now guided by Jim Bob Cooter. So what does this all mean for your fantasy lineup? Well, we get into it below in a full player-by-player preview.

Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions, 8:25 p.m. ET on NFL Network

Packers:


Aaron Rodgers, QB

It's been a rough couple weeks for the reigning NFL MVP. With his receivers unable to gain separation and dropping the football when they do, Rodgers' numbers slumped in four straight games, culminating in a 13.38-point nightmare performance at home on Thanksgiving. Rodgers will remain a QB1 in fantasy because, well, he's Aaron Rodgers, but until his offense starts turning the corner a bit he'll likely remain on the lower end of the QB1 tier in fantasy.

Eddie Lacy, RB

Aside from a sloppy fumble last week, Lacy has returned to form and looked like the back fantasy owners drafted in the first round. He's run with better power, vision and quickness, improving his yards per carry average from a paltry 3.71 over his first eight games, to 5.26 over the last two. The Detroit run defense has improved of late, allowing just 2.59 yards per carry and a measly .43 fantasy points per touch to opposing running backs over their last three games. However, those numbers are inflated by the Eagles getting blown out on Thanksgiving (and continuing to run DeMarco Murray ineffectively on stretch plays). Lacy is still a solid RB2 play this week, as he's currently the best offensive weapon on the team outside of Aaron Rodgers. He should see 20-plus touches again and put together a solid outing.

TNF Challenge
James Starks, RB

Starks looked good against the Bears on Thanksgiving too, and averaged over five yards per carry. He'll be a boom-or-bust flex play this week with Lacy figuring to dominate the touches (he's out-touched Starks 44 to 20 over the last two weeks).

Randall Cobb, WR

Cobb looked better last week, catching six of his seven targets for 74 yards. He's really the only Packers wide receiver worth starting in this contest, as he'll be able to avoid Darius Slay (an emerging shutdown corner) by lining up primarily in the slot. He's a solid WR2 play this week.

Davante Adams & James Jones, WRs

Last week, Adams and Jones managed a combined 14 yards on 17 passing targets. That's abysmal. Both are too streaky to trust in fantasy, except in the deepest of leagues. Even then, there are likely options available on your waiver wire with more upside, as one of these two (or both) will have to contend with Darius Slay, who has been Pro Football Focus' top-rated cornerback since Week 5. He shouldn't have an issue handling the likes of the struggling Jones and Adams.

Richard Rodgers, TE

With the team deploying Justin Perillo more frequently and potentially welcoming back Andrew Quarless to the gridiron (he practiced this week), Rodgers' streaming appeal has gone out the window. Look elsewhere for tight end help in Week 13.

Packers D/ST

Green Bay's defense posted just three fantasy points the last time they played the Lions, and that was in Lambeau Field. Heading into Detroit against an offense that hasn't committed a turnover at home since Week 6 and is finding it's groove isn't an ideal situation for the Pack. Streaming the position is probably a better option than starting the Green and Gold this week.

Lions:


Matthew Stafford, QB

The Lions offense has a renewed spirit under offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter, with Stafford praising the aggressive play-calling, something sorely lacking in the early parts of the season. Stafford played his three best games of the season under Cooter's guidance, and is on the rise in fantasy after two straight 20-plus point outings. The Packers secondary will pose a greater challenge than the Eagles did on Thanksgiving, but Stafford has enough weapons to still post solid fantasy totals at home.

Lions RBs

The Lions featured one of fantasy's most frustrating backfields for much of the season, but fantasy fans are finally gaining some clarity with Jim Bob Cooter calling the shots. Ameer Abdullah has seen 54 percent of the backfield rushes over the last two weeks, looking good in spurts. He'll be a decent flex play this week, as hopefully a touchdown will come his way instead of Joique Bell's. Bell is too risky to start in fantasy, even though he scored the most points of these backs on Thanksgiving. He's not seeing enough snaps or touches to assume he'll be able to post a similar stat line again, as the offense is more heavily favoring (and rightly so) Abdullah and Theo Riddick. Riddick leads the league in receptions by a running back, and is a constant mismatch for linebackers covering him out of the backfield. He's a rock-solid flex in PPR, and a frisky option this week in standard as well. The Packers inside linebackers are either banged up (Clay Matthews, ankle) or slow-footed (Nate Palmer, Jake Ryan). That could lead to plenty of chances for Riddick unless the Packers devote a defensive back to covering him.

Calvin Johnson, WR

Megatron saw 28.8 percent of the passing game targets since the team's Week 9 bye, averaging 87.3 yards per game in that span and scoring three touchdowns (all of them last week against the Eagles). Johnson took a day off on Tuesday to rest his still injured ankle, but he's played through the injury for weeks now. He's a solid WR1 play against the Packers.

Golden Tate, WR

Tate is tough to trust in standard leagues, with moderate yardage totals and only two touchdowns on the season. However, he's a stud in PPR, with 15 catches over the last two weeks. With the Lions offense clicking, it'll be a little easier to trust Tate as a WR3 this week against the Packers.

Lions D/ST

The Lions defense has been surging behind emerging pass rusher Ezekiel Ansah, and get the benefit of facing a struggling Packers offense at home. The Packers don't turn the ball over often, but Ansah could help the Lions get home for a few sacks at least. Detroit is a low-end streaming option for Week 13.

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