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Thursday Night Football DFS Preview: What to Expect Fantasy-Wise from Packers at Cardinals

Previewing the fantasy football and DFS match-ups in the Thursday Night Football game between the Green Bay Packers and the Arizona Cardinals.

Week 8 of the 2021 NFL season starts with Thursday Night Football as the Arizona Cardinals play host to the Green Bay Packers. Here’s a break down the fantasy football starts and sits and DFS plays for Thursday night’s action.

Over/Under Points Scored: 50.5

Green Bay Packers

QB Aaron Rodgers — WRs Davante Adams and Allen Lazard will miss Thursday night’s matchup, stuck on the COVID-19/Reserve list. The only time the pair has missed a game together since Lazard became a full-time starter in 2019 was Week 4 of 2020. In said game, Rodgers lasered 13 targets to his Aaron Jones/Jamaal Williams backfield—all of which were caught—and split the overwhelming majority of his remaining attempts between WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling and TE Robert Tonyan. MVS predictably caught only half of his 8 targets for 45 scoreless yards. Tonyan went a perfect six-of-six with three scores. Rodgers finished as the fantasy QB3 that week. That type of high-end outcome can’t be banked on but Rodgers should remain a top-12 QB option. The Cards’ front-seven is going to be without DL J.J. Watt (shoulder, done for year) and Corey Peters (COVID-19/Reserve List). Rashard Lawrence (calf) has a chance to play but will be far less than 100%.

WRs Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Randall Cobb, Amari Rodgers, and Equanimeous St. Brown — Cardinals’ CB Robert Alford will make MVS’s day at the office a tough one, if he plays. MVS’s lack of talent doesn’t help either, he’s a volatile WR4. Cobb could be a short-to-intermediate target hog and should be considered a high-floor WR4 play. Slot DB/safety Byron Murphy Jr. will be all over him though. Rodgers is a WR6 with a floor lower than MVS’s. ESB is likely to run cardio on the perimeter and should not be utilized in redraft formats.

Update: MVS has been ruled out. Expect a sharp uptick in targets for Cobb and a handful of deep shots to ESB. Cobb is a fantasy WR4 with possible-TD upside. ESB is a DFS-only guy. Rodgers is not inside the position’s top-60.

TE Robert Tonyan — In the aforementioned game sans Adams and Lazard, three of Tonyan’s six targets came in the red zone—two of which came in the end zone and both were caught for touchdowns (per PFF.com). His third touchdown was from 21-yards out. Tonyan is a high-end TE1 this week and needs to be locked into DFS lineups.

RB Aaron Jones — It’s not a coincidence that Jones’ three eight-target outings—his career-high single game sum—all occurred with Adams inactive. Sans both Adams and Lazard, Jones may enter the 9-10 target territory tomorrow night. Enhancing Jones’ potential outcome, Arizona is also likely to be missing key components of their defensive front. Jones is this week’s overall RB3.

RB A.J. Dillon — Dillon’s usage took a major change of direction (in a bad way) last week but with the receiving crew short-staffed, they’re going to have to get the talented offensive puzzle piece involved. Dillon is an RB3 floor-play with TD-upside given Arizona’s recent front-seven woes.

Related: Roast & Ghost: Week 8 Fantasy Football Start Sit Advice

Arizona Cardinals

QB Kyler Murray — Murray would be an elite QB1 here even if GB weren’t missing CB Jaire Alexander and pass rusher Za’Darius Smith.

WR DeAndre Hopkins — Hopkins’ fantasy ceiling remains that of a high-end WR1 but his ranking should probably be more in the high-end WR2 range this week as he’s battling a hamstring injury. The dominant X-receiver is expected to play but hammy strains are the type of injury that need rest and are highly prone to in-game setbacks.

WRs Christian Kirk and A.J. Green — Kirk and Green’s snap shares have stabilized. They are the Nos. 2 and 3 WRs in Arizona with Kirk operating as the primary slot receiver and Green on the perimeter. Consider both as top-36 WR plays this week in a match-up that offers spiked week potential to both.

WR Rondale Moore and TE Zach Ertz — Moore is the odd WR out with Ertz in the picture. Moore barely kept an edge on Ertz in the snap department in Ertz’s Arizona debut (52% to 49%) but Ertz ran more routes (19 to 16, per PFF) and saw more targets (5 to 3). Perhaps most bonkers, between the two of them Ertz was the one to get a carry — inside the opponent’s five-yard line(!). Moore is a WR5. Ertz is a mid-tier TE1.

RBs Chase Edmonds and James Conner — Edmonds’ shoulder injury is behind him; he received 18 intended touches to Conner’s 10 in what should’ve been a Conner-heavy game-script. Both backs should eat against Green Bay’s 27th ranked NEFF run defense. Edmonds is a mid-tier RB2, Conner a high-end RB3.