2021 Dynasty/Fantasy Game Analysis Week 8: Packers 24, Cardinals 21 (By Ross Jacobs)
The Cardinals grabbed an early lead, but the Packers would tie up the score shortly after. They then got the ball near the Cardinals goal line after Rondale Moore tipped the punt with his finger. However, the Cardinals defense stiffened and held the Packers to just a FG.
The score was 10-7 Packers at halftime and there was the feeling that the Packers were lucky to be in the game. Surely the Cardinals would crack it open soon. But a tipped pass off of Moore's hands ricocheted straight to a defender and the Packers got another short field and an easy score to make it 17-10.
After that the two teams would trade blows with the Cardinals twice scoring TD's to cut the Packer lead. With Green Bay looking to close the game out in the final minutes, they drove down to the Cardinals 1 yard line but were denied the score. Cardinals ball, 99 yards to go for the win.
Arizona looked like they were going to pull out a miracle win. They drove the field and were set up for the TD, but AJ Green didn't hear an audible from Kyler Murray and the perfectly thrown pass his direction sailed right behind him and into the arms of former Cardinal CB Rasul Douglas. Ball game Packers.
Credit the Packers. They were down their top two receivers, but they had the perfect game plan and pulled out the win over the better team. They are now 7-1 and right in the mix for the top seed in the NFC. With this win and Minnesota's loss to Dallas without Dak, they probably just cemented the division for themselves.
But...there's no way they are the better team of these two. Green Bay played as good a game as they could have hoped for and still needed a couple of turnovers and a missed audible to win. The Cardinals were off their game. It happens. But if you played this game 100 times I think the Cardinals win 60%+ of them. They are just a more well-rounded team to me.
Arizona is now tied with the Rams for the division, but they own the tiebreaker for the moment. There's still another game left to be played between them. Win that and they probably secure the division. Lose and they are likely looking at the #5 seed where they would still be dangerous but much less than if they had the 1 or 2 seed.
Of course this assumes that they can get through the next few weeks relatively unscathed, but that is much more difficult now with Kyler likely needing to recover from an injury. They have the 49'ers, Panthers, and Seahawks, all beatable teams. Can Colt McCoy get them through (if it comes down to it)? Perhaps. This defense is quite salty, and they have the playmakers to help him on offense. The toughest game will likely be the Seahawks because they could/should have Russell back by then. If they can go 2-1 in this stretch they'll be in good position to hang onto the lead against the Rams.
--Another week, another so-so fantasy performance for Aaron Rodgers (22-37 for 184 yards, 2 TD/0 INT). I warned weeks ago that I didn't like how he looked or how the schedule was laid out and suggested you trade him for Josh Allen or another undervalued QB at the time. I know he didn't have Davante here and this was against one of the best defenses in the league, but something just isn't right with this offense and it's not getting better. Outside of the 2020 explosion, Rodgers has been mortal for fantasy three of the last four years. Most games now he gets about 250 yards and 2 TD's. Nice, solid work but not fantastic, not what you paid through the nose to draft. If he has another spike game soon I still recommend trying to get off this train.
--If you watched this game then you saw what I saw with the Packers RB's. AJ Dillon (16-78-0) was the more effective runner by far than Aaron Jones (15-59-1, 7-51-0/11) and also took one more carry than Jones. So are we to the point of a split?
No. I don't think so. This was the result of Davante being out which made the two RB's the best players left for Rodgers to work with. The Packers needed to grind the ball and control the clock, and Dillon's power running let them do just that. But it was Jones that got the goal line work and led the team in targets. Jones is still the far superior fantasy RB here. Of course if Jones ever does get hurt Dillon becomes a top 5 back instantly.
--Robert Tonyan tore his ACL here and is out for the year. Marcedes Lewis will ascend to the starting role. He's a trusted veteran for Rodgers, but I doubt it works out to good fantasy stats. He'll be the same as Tonyan, just hoping for the occasional TD to make it work. Green Bay might look to trade for help at TE too. There have been rumors floating that they are interested in Evan Engram. That would certainly be an interesting pairing, but I can't get fully excited about it because this is still not an efficient passing offense, and Rodgers isn't likely to wear out a new acquisition until he knows he can trust him.
--With Davante and Lazard both out, the TD's went to Randall Cobb (3-15-2/5) because of course they did. You think Rodgers is going to throw to anyone but his favorites? Cobb shouldn't even be on the field. He's completely useless for anything other than short 1st downs and TD's, but that's good enough for Aaron. You can safely ignore this event.
--Kyler Murray (22-33 for 274, 0 TD/2 INT, 6-21-0) had a down game here. That happens sometimes. He's still perfectly fine for fantasy moving forward after he gets past this new injury. Early reports are a PCL sprain which could keep him out a week...or a month. We'll have to wait for more information this week. I'm going to guess somewhere between 2-3 weeks. One likely scenario would be he misses the next 3 games and then returns for the Bears game after their bye week.
*RC Note: Kyler might try to play Week 9, but I’m guessing he’ll be out for at least Week 9 and 50/50 for Week 10. Colt McCoy has a chance to guide them through, although the offense/scoring will be down and affects FF production.
Even if Kyler comes limping back Week 9...his running will be off and thus a restrictor on his FF upside -- and he was already not running for much of anything the past few weeks.
--Well, Chase Edmonds (7-30-1, 3-39-0/4) got his TD, so now is the time to try and package him up in a deal. His role isn't getting any better. James Conner (5-22-2) is still a fantasy vulture...uh I mean primary goal line back, and now that Kyler is hurt the scoring chances get even slimmer.
--DeAndre Hopkins (2-66-0/2) somewhat saved his day with an early bomb for 55 yards. He very nearly had a TD on the play, but it was called back for a facemask on the defender. He came into the game nursing a hamstring injury, so it was no surprise when he reinjured it on that play and had to leave the game for a time. Being the warrior he is, he checked himself back into the game later on (against Kingsbury's wishes) and caught another pass for 11 yards. They quickly pulled him again after that play and his day was done. He should be healthy again next week, but again, with Kyler being out it's obvious to wonder about how his scoring will be. This actually might work out for him though, because McCoy shouldn't be nearly as adept at exploiting mismatches, so he might just start forcing the ball to Hopkins again. We might be back to Hopkins getting 14 targets a game for a few weeks.
--Everyone else has just been a random decent option and hope for a score with Murray. Zach Ertz (4-42-0/4) is doing about the same work that Maxx Williams was getting. Kirk and Green are the next two options averaging 3-5 catches a game. And Rondale is still getting his usual short work looking to pop a big play. How all this changes with McCoy I have no idea. I'm guessing it doesn't get much better for anyone other than Hopkins.
--RC and I had a quick discussion during the game about possible DPOY candidates in our opinion. De'Vondre Campbell (7 tackles, 1 sack, 2 tfl) should absolutely be on the short list, but he'll never even get a sniff from the mainstream media. And to think the Cardinals let him go this off-season and nobody wanted to sign him until Green Bay scooped him up for a minimal deal. What are all these GM's doing if they can't even see how great this guy is?
--Man, is Eric Stokes (6 tackles, 1 pd) good. RC is right that he's been the best rookie corner in a very good class of rookie corners. The man is very nearly a lockdown corner already. His only mistake on the night was the big play to Hopkins, but he had perfect coverage until Hopkins lost him last second on an adjustment to a wild throw by Murray. He should be in play for defensive rookie of the year, but again he won't even get mentioned I guarantee. Huge steal by the Packers in the 2021 draft.
Snap Counts of Interest
56 = AJ Green
46 = Christian Kirk
36 = Rondale Moore
43 = Zach Ertz
35 = Chase Edmonds
22 = James Conner
54 = Juwann Winfree
50 = Randall Cobb
16 = Amari Rodgers
48 = Aaron Jones
29 = AJ Dillon
35 = Robert Tonyan
31 = Marcedes Lewis