Sep 28, 2015; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers defensive end Mike Daniels (76) puts pressure on Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) in the fourth quarter at Lambeau Field. Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
28 Points Allowed, 7 Sacks, 1 INT; 8.00 fantasy point
If there were ever a week to pick this defensive unit in fantasy, this is the one.
Despite them being on the road against a team that has been a more than troublesome matchup in recent meetings — including losses in each game since 2012 — things look to highly favor Green Bay’s defense here.
Let’s start with with the issues on San Francisco’s side.
Sep 28, 2015; Green Bay, WI, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) is tackled by Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews (52) during the third quarter at Lambeau Field. Green Bay won 38-28. Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Their quarterback has rapidly dropped down multiple tiers in every measure for quarterbacks the past couple years, and he doesn’t look to reverse that trend any time soon. He was okay in Week 1, but Colin Kaepernick led a lackluster team effort in a massive blowout loss to Pittsburgh in Week 2 and then turned in the undoubtedly worst quarterback performance on the season last week against Arizona.
He threw for only 67 yards in a blowout, as well as 4 interceptions — two of which got easily returned for touchdowns. He may have running ability — we all have some horrifying memories of that fact — but his pocket presence and footwork continue to deteriorate and the passing game is notably working with some excruciatingly simple (i.e.: easy for an opposing defense to distinguish) play-calling. We shouldn’t let our guard down completely, but we shouldn’t be too worried about him popping off for a surprisingly strong game.
In front of him, the offensive line has not been good either. A drop-off should have been expected with guys like Mike Iupati (free agency move to Arizona) and Anthony Davis (surprise retirement) departing, but this is ridiculous. Kaepernick and the play-calling deserve plenty of blame for the passing game problems, but a line that has allowed 8 sacks in three games (including a 5-sack effort to an underwhelming Steelers defense) and a steady dose of pressure hinders any chance this team has of making a positive output.
The receivers haven’t helped much either. Vernon Davis isn’t the option he once was, Anquan Boldin is still a good possession receiver and relentlessly tough as always, but he’s not dynamic enough to lead a team’s receiving efforts — at least not if they want to succeed. Torrey Smith is a deep threat, but not much else. Nobody else even registers as a legitimate threat.
The only area the 49ers have any success is the running game, but even that has issues. Carlos Hyde has been good when on the field, but there have been injury issues limiting his ability to contribute. Free-agent acquisition Reggie Bush has done next to nothing due to his own injury problems. They are still the #2 rushing team in terms of yardage (also #4 in rushing DVOA), but being stuck in blowouts because of the other failures of the unit lessens the impact of that area.
Now, let’s look at the Packers’ side of things.
Green Bay Packers free safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (21). Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Green Bay hasn’t been a dominant unit by the numbers (#32 in rush defense DVOA), but that has been in part due to the combination of facing tough rushing attacks led by top-tier runners (Matt Forte, Marshawn Lynch, Jamaal Charles), a couple quarterbacks that could run (Russell Wilson, Alex Smith), and in the past game having a lead big enough that the defense took their foot off the gas somewhat while allowing the other team to move the ball in small bursts in exchange for having the clock run.
The run defense could be an issue here, but if the game goes well in other aspects we could definitely see this become like last week: a blowout where yardage is given up in exchange for time again.
The pass defense has been much more on point, garnering the #6 DVOA against the pass. I suspect that aspect will be shown here, with a couple forced turnovers.
Add those to a bundle of sacks and an overall low point total and we have ourselves a nice outing for those who own the Packers defense.
Week 4 Prediction: 13 Points Allowed, 4 Sacks, 2 Forced Turnovers (2 INT); 12.00 fantasy points
Verdict: Go For It!