Monday Night Football
San Francisco @ Green Bay
Team Totals: Packers 28, 49ers 18.5
Albeit prompted by a four-score halftime deficit in Detroit, Aaron Rodgers is coming off his season-best fantasy game to face a 49ers defense that gives up easy pass plays running a Seahawks-style system without the proper personnel. DC Robert Saleh’s unit has supported high fantasy floors by coughing up top-14 weeks to 4-of-5 quarterbacks faced and allowing a combined 12:1 TD-to-INT ratio. Rodgers drew a murderer’s row of pass-rush units in his first five starts; the Niners rank 26th in sacks (9) and 25th in QB hit rate (13.5%). Staying true to form, this year’s Packers have dropped back to pass at the NFL’s third-highest clip (71%) after finishing fourth in in dropback rate in 2017, and first in 2016. This is a blowup spot for Rodgers. … Negative game script prevented Aaron Jones from seeing a single second-half carry in last week’s loss. Green Bay projects for positive script on Monday night, enhancing Jones’ breakout potential. San Francisco has played stout run defense, though, limiting enemy backs to a 104/391/4 (3.76 YPC) rushing line. And Jones’ touch counts in three games since returning from suspension are 7 – 11 – 9 on 25% – 38% – 27% playing-time clips. Until we see tangible evidence of change in the Packers’ backfield distribution – coach Mike McCarthy continued to state that is unlikely this week – Jones will remain a boom-bust flex play on low volume. … Jamaal Williams’ touch counts since Jones’ return are 7 – 11 – 8, staying involved because of superior pass-protection skills and not his running ability. … Ty Montgomery’s Weeks 3-5 touch counts were 10 – 7 – 5. Jones is Green Bay’s lone fantasy-viable back.
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Davante Adams enters Week 6 ranked No. 8 in the league in red-zone targets (10) with a touchdown in eight of his last nine games. Only six NFL players have more overall targets (55), and only eight have more Air Yards (562). Whereas 49ers LCB Richard Sherman never moves in Saleh’s Cover-3 zone, Adams runs 70% of his routes at other areas of the field. 49ers RCB Ahkello Witherspoon has given up the NFL’s second-most touchdown passes (4), including Christian Kirk’s 75-yard scoring bomb last week. … Much as he did to Rob Gronkowski in Week 3, Lions coach Matt Patricia went to great lengths to stifle Jimmy Graham in Week 5. Detroit stuck long-limbed CB Deshawn Shead on him in man coverage and bullied Graham at the line with multiple defenders on obvious passing downs and in scoring situations. Graham didn’t help himself by dropping a 21-yard TD, but still come away with a usable 6/76/0 receiving line. Saleh’s defense plays straight up without matchup-based scheming, so Graham should face much softer coverage looks. … The Packers’ complementary wideout distribution will come down to health. Randall Cobb (hamstring) and Geronimo Allison (hamstring) returned to practice on Thursday, boding well for their chances to play. Although Marquez Valdes-Scantling (7/89/1) and Equanimeous St. Brown (3/89/0) capitalized on their increased Week 5 opportunities in Allison and Cobb’s absence, the rookies will be pushed back down the depth chart as soon as the veterans return. Thinking forward, it’s notable that St. Brown passed J’Mon Moore last week after Moore played ahead of St. Brown the week before.
Matriculating the offense in ball-out-quick game plans astutely designed by Kyle Shanahan, C.J. Beathard has earned every-week starter treatment in two-QB leagues with deep streamer upside after logging QB18 (Chargers) and QB5 (Cardinals) fantasy results in Weeks 4-5. Shanahan’s quick-pass attack is designed to compensate for Beathard’s sub-par pocket awareness. Two starts in, Beathard’s average of 2.30 seconds to attempt is fastest in the NFL among 35 qualified passers in PFF’s charts. Beathard is still a streamer target for Green Bay’s D/ST; the sophomore quarterback has committed 13 turnovers and taken 22 sacks in seven career starts. … Matt Breida (ankle) is not expected to play, forcing Alfred Morris into San Francisco’s lead-back role after Alf logged 21 touches in last week’s loss to Arizona. Although Morris’ pass-catching resume is nonexistent, he drew eight targets from checkdown-specialist Beathard in the last two games and has zero drops this year. 2017 feature back Carlos Hyde was similarly limited in the passing game, yet still set career highs in targets (88) and catches (59) under Shanahan. The Packers have played leaky run defense, yielding a 100/443/4 (4.43 YPC) rushing line to enemy backs. Morris’ biggest Week 6 concern is the possibility San Francisco enters negative script should Rodgers start hot. In that scenario, versatile FB Kyle Juszczyk could end up hogging snaps and catches.
Beathard’s Weeks 4-5 target distribution: Pierre Garcon 19; George Kittle 15; Trent Taylor and Kendrick Bourne 11; Juszczyk 10; Morris 8; Marquise Goodwin and Victor Bolden 4. … Garcon turned in a miserable Week 5, dropping three balls including one that caused a Beathard interception. Garcon’s usage has been there but the production has not. He has yet to reach 60 yards in a game this season and is scoreless in 16 straight. … Kittle has been the biggest beneficiary of the 49ers’ ball-out-quick offense with 11 catches for 208 yards and a touchdown in Beathard’s two starts. Leading the team in red-zone targets (6) and targets inside the ten (3), Kittle has earned every-week TE1 reliability. Green Bay has allowed the NFL’s tenth-most yards to tight ends (308). … Goodwin missed Week 5 with hamstring and quad injuries, forcing more onto Taylor, Bourne, and Bolden’s plates. Goodwin practiced fully this week. Goodwin has played six mostly-full games with Beathard over the past two years. Always a big-play-dependent producer, Goodwin’s stat lines in them are 4/80/0 > 0/0 > 2/68/0 > 1/83/1 > 4/78/0 > 2/24/0.
Score Prediction: Packers 34, 49ers 23
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