Week 4 kicks off with a timely NFC North matchup as the Detroit Lions visit the Green Bay Packers in Lambeau Field. We have some injuries to monitor on both sides of the ball as the Packers remain hopeful Aaron Jones and Christian Watson will be available for this matchup. On the Detroit side, it sounds as if there’s a chance David Montgomery suits up for the Lions. These two teams have the luxury of sitting at 2-1 through three games while their division rivals, the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears, are currently winless. Let’s not forget, the Lions beat the Packers in primetime in last season’s finale, thus ending the Aaron Rodgers era in Green Bay and keeping the Packers out of the playoffs. I’m sure the Packers haven’t forgotten about that. The NFC North lead is on the line Thursday night so let’s take a look at how we should prepare for the NFL DFS Showdown slate on DraftKings and FanDuel.
Spread: Detroit Lions (-1.5)
Over/Under: 46.0 points
Weather: Clear skies with temps in the low 60’s cooling off as the evening progresses. No real threat of rain and winds will be very low.
- David Montgomery, Running Back – Questionable (Thigh)
- Emmanuel Moseley, Defensive Back – Questionable (Knee/Hamstring)
- Frank Ragnow, Center – Questionable (Toe)
- Taylor Decker, Offensive Tackle – Questionable (Ankle)
- Jonah Jackson, Guard – Questionable (Thigh)
- Kerby Joseph, Safety – Questionable (Hip)
- Jason Cabinda, Fullback – OUT (Knee)
- Matt Nelson, Offensive Tackle – OUT (Ankle)
- Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Offensive Tackle – OUT (Knee)
- Aaron Jones, Running Back – Questionable (Hamstring)
- Christian Watson, Wide Receiver – Questionable (Hamstring)
- Jaire Alexander, Defensive Back – Questionable (Back)
- Rashan Gary, Linebacker – Questionable (Knee)
- Zach Tom, Offensive Tackle – Questionable (Knee)
- Carrington Valentine, Defensive Back – Questionable (Biceps)
- De’Vondre Campbell, Linebacker – OUT (Ankle)
- David Bakhtiari, Offensive Tackle – OUT (Knee)
- Elgton Jenkins, Guard – OUT (Knee)
- Zayne Anderson, Safety – OUT (Hamstring)
NFL DFS Showdown MVP/Captain
He’s the most expensive player on the slate despite battling through some injuries. He doesn’t have an injury designation so I’m firing him up at Captain with zero hesitation. So far through three games he has 21 receptions on 27 targets and he’s coming off back-to-back 100-yard games, so that receiving bonus on DraftKings sure is nice. Even though he had to play through turf toe last week he still satisfied his fantasy managers. He checks the boxes for everything we want in a Showdown captain. He has a 28.9% target share, 8.3 aDOT, and an amazing 57% red zone target share. The Packers kept him out of the end zone in both games last season, but I don’t expect that to be the case in Week 4.
Jones is currently questionable for Thursday’s game, but if he’s active then I am fine playing him at Captain. The Packers have definitely missed his presence in the lineup. This tweet from Adam Levitan from Monday sums up how bad AJ Dillon has been running the ball…
Jones only touched the ball 11 times in Week 1, but he found the end zone twice and had a total of 127 yards before getting hurt. I feel pretty good about him suiting up for this game because, while he was inactive last week, he allegedly begged and pleaded with the coaching staff to let him play. The Lions have been pretty tough to run on so far this year. They haven’t allowed 100+ yards on the ground in any game so far and even last week they held Bijan Robinson and Tyler Allgeier to just 44 rushing yards. I’m not going to write up AJ Dillon because he was so bad in Jones’ absence. That’s going to be a “play at your own risk” option for your own lineups. Update: Aaron Jones is expected to play tonight.
Sure, I’m listing two players that have been trying to come back from injuries. But we also know these are potentially explosive players for Green Bay. Watson has missed the first three games of the season. However, he has told reporters that he expects to play Thursday night. While Jordan Love’s passing volume isn’t great, he does lead the league through three games in average depth of target at 10.9 and Watson was top 20 last year in aDOT. Let’s not also forget that Watson caught seven touchdowns last season on just 67 targets so the big play upside is pretty evident. In last year’s finale against the Lions he caught five-of-six targets for 104 yards. Update: Downgrading Christian Watson if the below tweet is true that he'll be on a snap count. I think he's more of a Flex play than Captain option if snaps are limited.
Sam LaPorta, TE, Detroit Lions
LaPorta recently found his way moving up Andrew Cooper’s Tight End Yin Yang Rankings after the phenomenal start he’s gotten off to this year. LaPorsche (I will do my absolute best to make that nickname stick) commands a 21.4% target share, runs 77.6% of the routes, and his yards per route run is 2.24 so I thank Coop for posting those stats in his article, so I didn’t stumble over myself doing the research on my own. Per Pro Football Focus he’s the third-highest graded tight end with a 76.5 score. He’s only the eighth-most expensive option on this slate so he isn’t even requiring you to break the bank by playing him at Captain.
Mid-Tier & DFS Value Plays
Jared Goff, QB, Detroit Lions
While the Lions did prevent the Packers from making the playoffs last year, we should be mindful that Goff has had his struggles against the Packers and it’s keeping me from playing him at Captain. Goff has always fared much better playing in the confines of Ford Field. Last year he averaged about 245 passing yards per game on the road, while throwing for almost 275 yards per game at home. The Packers have been getting ample pressure on opposing quarterbacks. So far, the Packers have allowed just 657 passing yards through three games but that was against the likes of Justin Fields, Desmond Ridder, and Derek Carr/Jameis Winston. I think the Lions win this game, but I don’t think Goff has an explosive game on a short week.
Jordan Love has put up 20+ fantasy points in each of his first three games as a starter. The first two weeks, he didn’t even attempt 30 passes but threw for three touchdowns in each game. Last week he notched a rushing touchdown. Now on top of all this, his starting left tackle and starting left guard are both out for this game. Aidan Hutchinson could have a field day against the backups. So if this is another game where Love is throwing it under 30 times, and his offensive line is depleted, then I can’t trust him at Captain. However, I’m fine playing him as a Flex option. I just can’t commit to a quarterback at Captain without heavy volume especially when said quarterback is touting a 53.1% completion rate.
It seems like after Week 1 we all fell for Dan Campbell’s comments about wanting to get Gibbs going more. And then the David Montgomery injury happened, and it felt like a sure thing. But we still haven’t seen that upside really. Even last week he had 17 carries for 80 yards, but only caught one pass. And he’s yet to find the end zone. If Montgomery is active for this game, then I really have no interest in Gibbs at Captain. But if Monty misses this game on a short week, then I can stomach giving him another chance at Captain especially since the Packers have struggled to stop the run.
Doubs has been great to start the year for Green Bay. In Watson’s absence, Doubs has played 86% of the team’s snaps and has a 26% target share. That number is likely to regress with Watson returning from injury. Last season, Doubs had a 15.7% target share across the entire season and Watson had a similar share despite missing some time. I have confidence he’ll remain on the field in two-wide receiver sets, but he won’t get a dozen targets like last week. There are more mouths to feed and he should see some regression. I’m actually not opposed to playing him at Captain because he breaks the slate with multiple scores and he’s at least had more time to develop chemistry with Jordan Love.
He’s not an efficient runner, but if he’s active Thursday night he should be in some of your lineups. In two games so far, he has 38 total touches. We know he isn’t the most efficient runner in the league. But volume could be a luxury for him and he’s expected to still handle most of the goal line work. I don’t feel as confident in him playing as I do in Watson or Jones playing. But he has a chance and hopefully we catch some kind of clue in the afternoon regarding his status for this game. Update: Downgrading Monty as it sounds like he'll be inactive tonight based on the below tweet. This is a boost to mostly Jahmyr Gibbs but a slight bump to Craig Reynolds who could see short yardage and goal line work. Another Update: It now appears as if David Montgomery will play tonight. My brain is officially in a pretzel.
You can probably count up to three times so far this season where Jordan Love and Luke Musgrave should have connected for a touchdown. It just hasn’t happened yet, but perhaps it happens Thursday night. Here’s what the Lions have done against opposing tight ends so far… In Week 1 Noah Gray and Blake Bell combined for five catches and 43 yards. In Week 2 Noah Fant and Will Dissly combined for seven catches for 91 yards. And last week Kyle Pitts and Jonnu Smith combined for 10 catches for 78 yards. Needless to say, the Lions have struggled to contain opposing tight ends. Wheels up for Musgrave and this might be a nice leverage spot at Captain.
Reynolds was a dud last week after going off as the Impemba Special in Week 2. But he averages 2.74 fantasy points per target which is fifth in the league at the wide receiver position. He was dealing with a groin issue ahead of Sunday’s Week 3 game, but he isn’t on the injury report for this matchup. I’m fine playing him in this game if most of the field is off him following Sunday’s goose egg. Sometimes you just have to wipe the slate clean and go into a brand new Showdown slate with a renewed focus. Kalif Raymond is a nice contrarian pivot that’ll save you $1,000. Raymond is coming off six targets this past Sunday which was third on the team in Week 3 and he also gets kick return work.
By now you’ll know I don’t love playing kickers at Captain or MVP depending on the site you play on. I am a little surprised they’re both more expensive than the D/ST’s in this matchup though. Anders Carlson has only attempted three field goals in as many games while making all nine of his extra point attempts for Green Bay. Keep in mind, the starters for the left side of the Packers offensive line will be out and that’s a downgrade to this offense moving the ball effectively and if it’s another night where he’s kicking one field goal then he won’t have much upside. On the other side, Riley Patterson is in a similar spot for the Lions. He has three field goals through three games and he’s nine-for-nine on extra points.
As always, you can correlate your kickers but I’m not the type to play this position at Captain. This is a short week for both teams and kicker production is dependent on the offenses moving the ball but stalling in the red zone. The good news is Vegas has the Lions slightly favored with a projected total of about 46 points as of Thursday morning. They think it could be a close affair with both teams putting up 20+ points. So there’s potential for offense but remember these Thursday games tend to start out a little sluggish. Are Carlson or Patterson an affordable source to potentially get double-digit points? Sure, but in an ideal world you need at least three field goals and some extra points to boot… Get it? Boot? Cause they’re… Kickers… I’ll stop.
Another position I’m not jazzed to play at Captain or MVP. However, I do slightly prefer the Lions over the Packers in this spot simply because David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins are both out for this game. The Lions just sacked Desmond Ridder seven times last week and held the Falcons to just six points and 183 yards on offense. The Packers will be in a better position to do damage, but I think Detroit can get ample pressure on Jordan Love.
There isn’t anything spectacular about the Packers defense. They have nine sacks through three games with three takeaways. However, Detroit’s offensive line is one of the best in the league. Do they have some players questionable? Yes, so it’s worth monitoring inactives 90 minutes before kickoff.
One thing both quarterbacks in this game have done well is limiting turnovers. Love has just one interception through three games and while Goff has two in his last two outings, we should at least remember he was flirting with the longest streak without throwing a pick. We want our D/ST’s to get pressure on the quarterback to force turnovers, but these two quarterbacks have shown enough discipline early on to be a bit stubborn in that regard.
NFL DFS Dart Throw Bargains
I lose interest in Reed if both Watson and Jones are active. He easily comes off the field in two-wide receiver sets if Watson is healthy. But he does have 15 targets over the last two weeks and found the end zone twice in Week 2, which is why I can’t fade him completely. The rookie has certainly flashed upside early into his career. For the same reasons you can also consider Dontayvion Wicks, but I’m less bullish on him with Watson and Jones coming back.
Jones is priced way down at $2,000 on DraftKings but he’s been a ghost since his disappointing showing back in Week 1. Last week’s targets to non-running backs only went to Amon-Ra St. Brown, Sam LaPorta, and Kalif Raymond. But Jones hasn’t seen much attention since Week 1 despite playing nearly 40% of the team’s offensive snaps.
The return of Watson and Jones would not be beneficial for Toure. But keep in mind, he’s only $600 and he’s received eight targets through three games. He’s not a value play to shove into every lineup you make. However, he can pay off this price tag with a couple catches and some yardage.
Complete shot in the dark right here. Similarl to Toure, this isn’t a play to jam into every lineup. He hasn’t had a target since Week 2 and he runs maybe 20% of the offensive snaps if he’s lucky. But the Lions only have five wide receivers on the active roster. Marvin Jones and Josh Reynolds were not involved in Week 3 and perhaps there’s room for Green to get more snaps and targets. I’d say it’s unlikely that happens but he’s only $200 and just needs a couple catches to pay off this price tag.
Remember everything I said about the Lions struggling to defend tight ends? Perhaps we finally see Kraft get some action. He’s been non-existent through three games. Luke Musgrave was the 42nd overall selection in the 2023 NFL Draft. Tucker Kraft went 36 picks later in Round 3 so the Packers clearly liked him enough to draft a second tight end following the Musgrave pick. We’ve seen multiple tight ends have production each week so far against the Lions. Kraft is only $200 on DraftKings, but he’s also been very uninvolved so far playing just a handful of snaps. But he costs you very little and perhaps the Packers work to get him in a little more knowing the Lions have struggled to stop opposing tight ends.