Week 8 TNF Showdown: Green Bay Packers At Arizona Cardinals

by Matt Babich · Matchups Start/Sit
kyler-murray-fantasy-football

Advanced stats and analytics will be utilized to identify favorable matchups and players to avoid. The purpose of this article is to paint a picture of how the teams play and matchup with one another in less than 1,000 words.

As the season continues, less emphasis will be put on last season and early season’s stats. Vegas trends will also be implemented to help predict the game flow. I’ll conclude the article with a Cliff Notes section and give the readers my prediction for the game.

Welcome to the newest edition of Thursday Night Showdown. I’ll be guiding you through the important aspects to watch in each Thursday night matchup.

Without further ado, let’s see what the covid-stricken Green Bay Packers and the red hot Arizona Cardinals have in store for us.

Vegas Trends

  • Green Bay are 6-0 ATS in their last 6 games.
  • Aaron Rodgers is 9-1 SU in his career when missing Davante Adams.
  • The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Green Bay’s last 5 games.
  • Arizona are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games.
  • The total has gone UNDER in 6 of Arizona’s last 9 games.
  • Arizona are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games when playing as the favorite.

Green Bay Packers

Like A Good Neighbor, The Aaron’s Are There

Aaron Rodgers is doing in 2021 what he’s always done, slinging the ball with pin-point accuracy. His 7.9 (No. 10 among qualified quarterbacks) Adjusted Yards per Attempt7.8 (No. 8) Accuracy Rating, and 15 (No. 7) touchdowns are why Rodgers doesn’t need his legs to be a top 10 fantasy QB. He has very little help behind Davante Adams, who is out alongside Allen Lazard due to COVID protocols. The Packers are shorthanded and facing the third-best defense vs QBs. Rodgers is a QB2 tonight, but still an auto-start in 2QB/Superflex leagues.


Aaron Jones‘s productivity on the ground has been up and down, but the reason he’s a top 10 scoring running back is his involvement in the passing game. Jones is earning a  13.0-percent (No. 12) Target Share and a 53.9-percent (No. 10) Route Participation. His receiving role plays a big part in his 97.4 (No. 8) Weighted Opportunities, which is a solid indicator of fantasy points. 

2021 Aaron Jones Opportunity, Productivity, & Advanced Receiving Metrics

Jones draws a tough matchup, but will see too many opportunities to be sat.

A Depleted Receiving Core

Robert Tonyan found his groove on Sunday. He ran the third-most team routes, had the third-most slot snaps, and saw the third-most targets. He will see even more work tonight. Tonyan and Aaron Rodgers have a solid connection, which this team will need to rely on in order to win. Matchups don’t matter to Rodgers and company. Start Tonyan with confidence.

Robert Tonyan 2021 Opportunity & Productivity Metrics

The Packers receiving core is coming in shorthanded, missing Davante Adams and Allen Lazard due to COVID protocols. This opens up an opportunity for Equanimeous St. Brown to make an impact. He fits the alpha frame, and ran routes in place of Lazard in most formations on Sunday. St. Brown is an emergency Flex play with Marquez Valdes-Scantling‘s hamstring health unknown.

Equanimious St. Brown Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

While the strength of MVS’ hamstring is unknown, he would step into plenty of targets if he plays tonight. His 20.9 (No. 1) Average Depth of Target leads the league, but he and Rodgers have had trouble connecting. Hamstrings are tricky, so he could be on a snap count. That would inflate the risk, but the lack of alternate options would give him the emergency Flex tag.

Arizona Cardinals

Kyler Murray, Chase Edmonds, and James Coner

There’s not much I need to say about Kyler Murray. He’s the QB3 on the year and is matchup-proof. The Konami QB rushes often, totaling 43 (No. 4) carries, and produced 0.73 (No. 1) Fantasy Points per Dropback. You’re starting Murray everywhere if you have him.

Kyler Murray 2021 Passing Productivity & Efficiency Metrics

Chase Edmonds and James Conner have split work at a near 50/50 split. Edmonds has been the receiving back, earning 33 (No. 7) targets on a 15.5-percent (No. 5) Route Participation. Conner is the goal line and short distance back, totaling 5 (No. 5) Goal Line Carries and 6 (No. 3) touchdowns. This has given both fantasy relevance, but has hindered both of their upsides. 

Chase Edmonds 2021 Advanced Receiving & Efficiency Metrics

Edmonds has been more efficient, but Kliff Kingsbury won’t let Conner go away. Both are Flex plays against a middle-of-the-road Packers rush defense, with Edmonds having more upside.

Arizona Pass Catchers

Post rib injury, DeAndre Hopkins has returned to normalcy. He’s totaled 16 receptions, for 193 receiving yards, and 4 touchdowns over the last three games. His touchdowns have inflated his production, mostly due to his drastic decrease in Target Share since last season. Despite this, the Packers are missing Jaire Alexander and Hopkins is a true alpha playing with Kyler Murray. DHop is a confident start tonight.

Christian Kirk and Rondale Moore have gone back-and-forth swapping high usage/high productivity weeks to start the season. Latley, however, it’s been the Kirk show. Neither are target hogs, but Kirk has displayed efficiency thus far with 0.57 (No. 15) Fantasy Points per Route Run and a +19.8 (No. 22) Production Premium. Moore is a sit, while Kirk is a Flex play tonight. 


A.J. Green is showing his age, but there have been many flashes of the greatness he used to output. He’s received a much higher Target Share than anticipated, racking up 6 targets in all but two contests. He’s generally touchdown-dependent, but has the ability to put up over 100 yards. Green is a high risk/low reward Flex play. 

A.J. Green 2021 Game Log

Zach Ertz balled in his Arizona debut, finishing as the TE6 on the week. He earned 5 targets on a 17.86-percent Target Share and scored a touchdown. Maxx Williams displayed solid performances before his injury, and Ertz has filled the void. He is another confident start on the Cardinals side.

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Cliff Notes

Conclusion

At full strength, this is a much harder call. The Packers are missing Jaire Alexander, Davante Adams, and Allen Lazard, and the Cardinals are out J.J. Watt. Without Alexander, I don’t know how the Packers can slow down the Cardinals enough to win or even cover the 6.5-point spread as underdogs. That being said, my gut tells me Aaron Rodgers will find a way to hang around, so I’m taking the Packers to cover +6.5.

As for the 50.5-point total, I expect this to be a slower-paced game. Both of these teams have had the under hit more often than not. Combined with both teams’ injury concerns, I’m going against the public money and taking the under.

Prediction: Cardinals 24-20