Green Bay Defense
Week 1 Statistics: 23 Points Allowed, 3 Sacks, 1 INT; 5.00 fantasy points
With all the concerns surrounding them last year and their return to health this season, the Packers’ offense rightfully grabs headlines. We must not overlook the contributions of this defense, however.
Green Bay ended last season with the #9 Defensive DVOA (#14 Weighted), and it was the defense that really kept the team in games after the 6-0 start started to fall apart. The pass rush (while inconsistent) tied for 7th with 43 sacks, and was 6th in pass defense overall. Statistically, the team was especially good at defending other teams’ second receivers (#2 Defensive DVOA vs #2 receivers), running backs (#4), and tight ends (#4). With moves to improve their inside linebacker and defensive line talent in the offseason — pairing them with a talented young secondary — there was a ton of excitement coming into the season.
We might have to temper that a bit for now, however. Their Defensive DVOA after facing the Jaguars is actually surprisingly high (#6; #10 Weighted), but there were multiple weak points that were exploited in the game.
The biggest area of concern on the field would likely be Quinten Rollins; he kept getting taken advantage of by the multiple explosive talents on the Jaguars — including on a TD pass to tight end Julius Thomas — and his afternoon eventually ended with him having a 60.1 grade from Pro Football Focus (for context, that is on the low end of below-average).
Competing for the title of worst concern is the fact that Sam Shields suffered another concussion towards the end of the game. He wasn’t having a good day himself (38.3 PFF grade while matching up mostly on Allen Robinson, a top-10 quality receiver), but without him (and seeing as he missed almost a month with his last concussion, there’s no reason to expect a quick recovery this time) there could be even more problems to come.
To get a quick gauge of the difference he makes, just look at the two Arizona games last season; without Shields it was a blowout, but with him Green Bay almost stole a win (with Shields coming close to an interception three different times that could have titled things enough in the Packers’ favor to actually win it).
With Shields unlikely to go, this will be a more difficult matchup for sure, but it must be noted that the Vikings are much less scary in the passing game than Jacksonville. Stefon Diggs is their top guy and quite good, but he pales in comparison to someone like Robinson, and there isn’t anyone who works as a proven complement to Diggs the way Allen Hurns is for his fellow Allen in Jacksonville.
Diggs might be a possible threat, but the one and only true concern in purple is, as always, Adrian Peterson. In 16 career games versus Green Bay, he has averages 110 yards per game on 5.27 yards per carry, and has scored 14 total TDs on them in that time. For Green Bay to win this game, they HAVE to find a way to slow this man down. He is the only part of that team that has proven to be consistently reliable for production; take him away, the passing game is likely to completely crater.
I’m not sure they can fully take him out (in fact, this game was one that caused me the most concern coming into the year — almost exclusively due to the combination of their defense and running game) but I think they’ll do plenty in keeping the score low regardless, and possibly force a couple turnovers.
I’m not sure if that can win the first game in Minnesota’s new stadium, but it is enough to make them a viable option for your fantasy team.