Tue Sep 21 5:17pm ET
By STEVE MEGARGEE
AP Sports Writer
Detroit Lions' Jared Goff fumbles during the second half of an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers Monday, Sept. 20, 2021, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)
Green Bay Packers' De'Vondre Campbell celebrates his interception during the second half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions Monday, Sept. 20, 2021, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)
Green Bay Packers' Rashan Gary reacts after forcing a fumble during the second half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions Monday, Sept. 20, 2021, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)
Green Bay Packers' Krys Barnes celebrates a fumble recovery during the second half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions Monday, Sept. 20, 2021, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Matt Ludtke)
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) The Green Bay Packers know what they have on offense with reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers leading a star-studded group that includes All-Pro receiver Davante Adams and Pro Bowl running back Aaron Jones.
Defense remains much more of a question.
After giving up 55 points in the first six quarters of the season, Green Bay's defense showed signs of life on Monday night in a 35-17 victory over the Detroit Lions. The Packers forced two turnovers and held the Lions scoreless during a dominant second-half performance.
''This is a step in the right direction,'' Packers linebacker De'Vondre Campbell said after a game in which he had 13 tackles and an interception. ''We've just got to continue to keep building and continue to keep stacking. The sky's the limit for us.''
Of course, the Packers (1-1) were facing a Detroit team that has gone 14-35-1 since 2018. It's too early to tell whether they achieved a breakthrough or simply benefited from facing an inferior opponent.
If nothing else, the Packers showed there's no reason to panic as they adapt to new defensive coordinator Joe Barry while playing without injured Pro Bowl pass rusher Za'Darius Smith, who will miss at least two more games because of a back issue.
''I think in that second half, we went out there and displayed everything we needed to,'' linebacker Krys Barnes said. ''We played fast, hard and physical.''
But there was plenty of reason to worry early on, as Detroit's Jared Goff completed 13 of his first 14 passes while helping the Lions (0-2) grab a 17-14 halftime lead.
''I think we did make some necessary adjustments at halftime,'' Packers coach Matt LaFleur said after the game. ''One of the things certainly I talked to Joe about was either play coverage, or we have to pressure, because when we were doing our four-man rushes and playing man coverages behind it, we weren't getting to the quarterback.''
The Packers still have only one sack this season, but they did bother Goff in the second half. Green Bay's relative lack of a pass rush remains concerning as the Packers prepare to visit the San Francisco 49ers (2-0) on Sunday night.
''When you're talking about (missing) one of, in my opinion, one of the premier pass rushers in this league and a guy that's been very, very disruptive, you've got to find different ways to manufacture that rush,'' LaFleur said Tuesday.
''Whether that's sending pressure or you've just got to play coverage behind it and hope that you can take away the quarterback's reads and either make him check the ball down or he'll hold it too long and the rush will hit home.''
After failing to reach the end zone in a 38-3 season-opening loss to New Orleans, the Packers showed their offense hasn't taken a step back from last year, when they scored a league-high 31.8 points per game. If you throw out a possession in which Green Bay got the ball with just 3 seconds before halftime and took a knee, the Packers scored touchdowns on five of their first six series.
WHAT NEEDS WORK
The Packers need to start games faster, particularly on defense. In Green Bay's opening game, the Packers allowed New Orleans to score five touchdowns and a field goal in its first seven series. The Lions scored two touchdowns and a field goal on their four first-half possessions Monday.
RB Aaron Jones scored four touchdowns (three receiving, one rushing) to tie the Lambeau Field single-game record. The previous person to score four touchdowns at Lambeau was Carolina's DeAngelo Williams in 2008. Jones also was able to reclaim the necklace honoring his late father that he lost during the game. Packers head athletic trainer Bryan ''Flea'' Engel found it. ... CB Eric Stokes may be ready for a bigger role. The rookie first-round pick from Georgia had the coverage on Goff's fourth-and-1 incompletion to Quintez Cephus from the Green Bay 25 with the Packers leading 21-17 in the third quarter.
TE Jace Sternberger has been released. The 2019 third-round draft pick was suspended without pay for the first two games of the season for violating the league's substance abuse policy. ... OG Lucas Patrick was active for Monday's game after spending the week in concussion protocol, but Jon Runyan Jr. started ahead of him at left guard. ''We'll look at it on a week-to-week basis,'' LaFleur said. ''We're always trying to get the best five out there.''
DB Chandon Sullivan was shaken up in the closing minutes of the game. LaFleur said Tuesday that Sullivan should be OK.
51,633: Rodgers' career total in passing yardage. His 255-yard performance Monday moved him ahead of John Elway and put him in 10th place.
The Packers have a short week to prepare for the 49ers as they visit San Francisco for the fourth time in the past three seasons.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb will try to bounce back in Week 6 against the Chicago Bears after reeling in 2-of-3 targets for 30 yards in Sunday's 25-22 overtime win against the Cincinnati Bengals. The 31-year-old averages 10.6 air yards per target and owns 9% of the team's target share, ranked 92nd among all wideouts. Cobb will continue to have an expanded role while Marquez Valdes-Scantling (hamstring) remains on the injured reserve. This season, the Bears have been obliterated by WR1s (30th in DVOA) but have been solid against the opposing team's WR2s, which ranks 10th in DVOA versus the opponent's secondary receiver. Cobb is considered a flex play in deep-league formats and is a dart throw at best in Week 6.
Green Bay Packers' tight end Robert Tonyan (knee) doesn't have an injury designation for Sunday's Week 6 game against the Chicago Bears. He was a limited participant in practice throughout the week but is all systems go in Week 6. The 27-year-old has caught just 9-of-17 targets for 82 yards and a touchdown over five games in 2021. He averages 8.9 air yards per target (9th in position rank) and 10% of the team's target share, 26th among all tight ends. The Bears are ranked ninth in DVOA against tight ends this year, and a bounce-back week for Tonyan most likely won't happen this Sunday. Fantasy managers can search the waiver wire for a streaming tight end as Tonyan is a mid-range TE2 at best in Week 6.
Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones (ankle) doesn't have an injury designation for Sunday's Week 6 game against the Chicago Bears. He was a limited participant in practice throughout the week but is all systems go for Week 6. The 26-year-old has rushed for 309 yards on 70 attempts and two touchdowns while catching 17-of-19 targets for 132 yards and three scores over five games in 2021. The Bears have been tough against the run this season and rank fourth in rush DVOA. Despite the tough matchup, Jones is a low-end RB1, and fantasy managers can start the Packers running back with confidence in Week 6.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams is coming off his best game of the season in last Sunday's Week 5 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. He hauled in 11-of-16 targets for 206 yards and a touchdown. The Packers star receiver gets the Chicago Bears in Week 6, has been dreadful against WR1s, and is ranked 30th against the opposing team's top targets. Adams has dominated the Bears in the past, reeling in 67 catches for 814 yards and eight touchdowns over 14 games against Chicago in his career. The 28-year-old should have success again versus the Bears, and a is a surefire WR1 in Week 6.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has thrown exactly two touchdowns in three straight games and is coming off his first 300-yard effort in last Sunday's Week 5 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. The future Hall of Famer gets divisional rival the Chicago Bears in Week 6. Chicago has allowed the fifth-fewest points to quarterbacks and ranks third in pass DVOA this season. Rodgers has completed 107-of-163 attempts for 1,241 passing yards and a 10:3 TD: INT ratio while rushing for eight yards on seven attempts and a score over five games in 2021. The 37-year-old has typically done well against the Bears and has a passing rating of 107.2 with 55 touchdowns over 25 games versus Chicago in his career. Fantasy managers can fire up Rodgers as a low-end QB1 in Week 6.
The Denver Broncos defensive line should have the advantage in Week 6 against a Las Vegas Raiders offensive line that ranks 20th in pressure rate allowed and 31st in yards per carry. The key will be limiting big plays in the passing game, as they've allowed seven completions of 30-plus yards this year, which is tied for seventh-most in the league. Kyle Fuller has struggled in one-on-one matchups, but the return of Ronald Darby from Injured Reserve should help this secondary. If Denver can keep Derek Carr from succeeding deep -- only four QBs have completed more 30-plus-yard passes than him -- they have a shot to really slow Vegas' offense down. The Broncos defense has allowed the second-fewest points (76) through five weeks and should have a solid fantasy week if they can get consistent pressure on Carr.
Denver Broncos kicker Brandon McManus will be looking to stay perfect in a big matchup against the division-rival Las Vegas Raiders in Week 6. McManus has made all 11 of his field-goal attempts and all nine of his extra-point tries through five weeks to rank him as the No. 8 fantasy kicker. The move from Drew Lock in 2020 to Teddy Bridgewater at QB this year has made a world of difference for Denver's offense in terms of efficiency and lack of turnovers. In turn, McManus has become fantasy relevant on a weekly basis, and it also has helped that Denver ranks 10th in red-zone attempts but just 29th in red-zone success rate. The Broncos have scored touchdowns on just 42.11% of their trips inside the 20-yard line, which means McManus should continue to get his chances this Sunday. He'll easily be a top-10 fantasy kicker in Week 6.
Denver Broncos tight end Noah Fant had just three catches for 20 yards and wasn't targeted until the fourth quarter in the Week 5 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The reason? His lack of involvement was a direct result of the team's decision to slow down Pittsburgh's edge rushers. The Las Vegas Raiders have some impressive pass-rushers of their own, but look for the Broncos to get Fant more involved in the passing game in Week 6. The 23-year-old remains one of Denver's top targets with Jerry Jeudy still out with a high ankle sprain, and the Raiders defense has been generous to opposing tight ends the last three weeks, allowing the fourth-most fantasy points per game. At the weakest fantasy position, Fant will remain a midrange TE1 with a prime bounce-back opportunity this Sunday.
Denver Broncos wide receiver Tim Patrick hasn't put up gaudy numbers or done anything overly special with Jerry Jeudy sidelined by a high ankle sprain, but he is quietly one of the NFL's best receivers. Through five weeks, Patrick leads the NFL by a wide margin with a plus-15.8% catch rate over expected. Oh, and he also hasn't dropped a pass in 127 targets since the 2019 season. He's gradually seen an increase in targets as the season has progressed, and he had a season-high seven catches on nine targets for 89 yards in the Week 5 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. But because he's not much of a big-play receiver in a middling offense, Patrick has been merely a WR4/flex option in fantasy with Jeudy out. There won't be a ton of upside in Week 6 against a Las Vegas Raiders defense that has allowed the second-fewest fantasy points per game to the receiver position this year.
Denver Broncos wide receiver Courtland Sutton woke up in the Week 5 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, catching seven of his 11 targets for 120 yards and his first touchdown of the season. Aside from his two 100-yard games, though, Sutton has been pretty quiet despite ranking second behind Davante Adams with 644 air yards in 2021. The 26-year-old was also helped by the fact that Denver was forced to throw while being down multiple scores in the second half last Sunday. The targets will be there for Denver's top option in the passing game, but Sutton will also be facing a Las Vegas Raiders defense in Week 6 that has allowed the fewest fantasy points per game (9.0) to opposing pass-catchers in the last three weeks. He'll be a midrange WR2 for fantasy managers against the division rivals.
Denver Broncos rookie running back Javonte Williams seems to waiting patiently for his true breakout game with Melvin Gordon III (hip), who is questionable for Week 6 against the Las Vegas Raiders, dealing with nagging injuries in recent weeks. Williams has gains of 31 and 49 yards, respectively, in the last two games and is a true big-play back that can break tackles. He is fifth in the NFL in adjusted yards after contact per rush at 4.3 since Week 2, and he has 5.05 yards per carry for 202 yards and a score on 40 carries in the last four weeks compared to 3.69 yards per carry on 49 attempts for Gordon. There's a chance that Williams finally takes the majority of touches over Gordon this week, which would give him RB2 upside against a Raiders defense that has been vulnerable to running backs in the last three weeks -- 23.1 fantasy points per game allowed to RBs (seventh-most).
Denver Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and the offense will be looking to carry over their fourth-quarter success in the loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers into a Week 6 meeting with the division-rival Las Vegas Raiders. The Broncos scored 13 points on 10 first downs and 205 yards of total offense in comeback mode in the fourth quarter last week, but the Steelers also were playing softer coverage. Bridgewater has only gone over 300 yards passing once in five games, but he does have a nice TD-to-interception ratio of 7:1 and is completing a career-high 69.8% of his passes. The 28-year-old is taking care of the football, taking plenty of deep shots and taking what the defense gives him. Against a Raiders defense that has looked much better this year, Bridgewater will remain a midrange QB2 in superflex leagues.
The Seattle Seahawks defense has been inconsistent all season, but they have interesting upside in Week 6 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers offense, outside of Week 5 against the Denver Broncos when they scored more than 17 points for the first time since Week 1, has struggled to consistently put up points. The Steelers have turned the ball over at least once in every game, except for their win against the Buffalo Bills, and the Seahawks defense has gotten at least one takeaway in four out of five games while averaging at least two sacks per game. If the Seattle offense can take care of the ball and sustain drives, which is asking a lot with Geno Smith now in for the injured Russell Wilson (finger), the defense could come out of the game with a solid fantasy performance this week.
Seattle Seahawks running back Alex Collins will be getting his second straight start in Week 6 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but we could see him struggle in this matchup. The Steelers haven't been lights-out on defense this year, but they've been pretty good against the run, allowing the fourth-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing running backs. They remain the lone defense that has yet to give up a touchdown to the running back position. Collins has scored one touchdown thus far, with the majority going to teammate Chris Carson (neck), who was placed on Injured Reserve on Friday. As the primary ball-carrier last Thursday against the Rams, Collins averaged just 3.13 yards per carry, and this matchup doesn't figure to make life easier on him. Collins will be a shaky touchdown-dependent RB3/flex with Geno Smith now at quarterback, while DeeJay Dallas and Travis Homer figure to share change-of-pace work.
This Los Angeles Rams defense has struggled to start the year after looking like one of the best units in the NFL last season, but they're in a great bounce-back spot in Week 6 against the New York Giants. After five games, the Rams D has come away with six turnovers, including five interceptions. The Giants are dealing with a number of injuries across their offense and will be without starting running back Saquon Barkley(ankle) and wide receiver Kenny Golladay (knee). Quarterback Daniel Jones has done a good job of taking care of the football so far this season, but the Rams have the pass rush to get home and really make him uncomfortable, as their 14 sacks are tied for fifth in the NFL. If they can get early pressure on Jones, they have the potential to turn in their best game of the season.
Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich said that kicker Rodrigo Blankenship (groin) will be out for Week 6 against the Houston Texans. Blankenship has been a low-end streaming option in fantasy through the first five weeks of the season by making 11 of his 14 field-goal opportunities and seven of his eight extra points, but he tweaked his groin in last week's game and won't be available this Sunday. The Colts have signed Michael Badgley to do the kicking against the Texans, who have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing kickers to begin the season. Despite the good matchup against the one-win Texans, there are plenty of better kicking options out there.
Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury has tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss the Week 6 game against the Cleveland Browns this Sunday. Quarterbacks coach Cam Turner and defensive lineman Zach Allen also tested positive and will be out this weekend. Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, who has head-coaching experience from his time in Denver, and assistant head coach/special teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers will split the head-coaching duties against Cleveland. This shouldn't have much effect on Arizona's game plan against the Browns, but it's worth noting as the Cardinals look to remain the NFL's lone unbeaten team.
Los Angeles Chargers head coach Brandon Staley said that running back Justin Jackson (groin) will play in Week 6 against the Baltimore Ravens after missing last week's 47-42 barnburner of a win over the Cleveland Browns. The Chargers will decide between rookie Larry Rountree III and Joshua Kelley for the third running back spot on Sunday. Jackson wasn't listed on the final injury report for this weekend. The 25-year-old has played just 12.2% of the offensive snaps so far this year in four games and has only 10 carries for 22 yards while catching all six of his targets for 27 yards. Behind workhorse Austin Ekeler, no Chargers running back has standalone fantasy value.
Houston Texans wide receiver Danny Amendola (thigh) and running back Rex Burkhead (hip, knee) are both listed as questionable to play in a Week 6 contest against the Indianapolis Colts this Sunday. Amendola was limited in practice last week as well but remained inactive. In limited action in the first two games of the season, the veteran slot man caught all six of his targets for 43 yards and a touchdown, but he'll be a desperation flex play in the deepest of leagues if he returns to the field against Indy. Chris Moore came out of nowhere to lead the team with five catches, 109 yards and a touchdown in last week's loss to the New England Patriots, but there's a good chance that's an outlier, especially if Amendola returns this weekend. Fantasy managers can't really trust any Houston receiver outside of Brandin Cooks.
Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs (illness) was removed from the final injury report for Week 6 against the division-rival Denver Broncos after he missed practice on Thursday but returned to a limited practice on Friday. He'll have his work cut out for him against a Broncos defense that's allowed only 344 rushing yards and two touchdowns to RBs through the first five weeks. Fantasy managers should feel a bit more comfortable rolling Jacobs out as an RB2 this weekend, though, after he had 15 of the team's 17 rushing attempts in the Week 5 loss to the Chicago Bears. He also caught four of five targets for 19 yards and scored a rushing touchdown. Peyton Barber's return from turf toe is a bit concerning, but Jacobs is getting healthier after looking sluggish in his first couple of games.