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Thursday Night Football Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Packers vs Cardinals

Aaron Rodgers - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Targets, NFL Injury News

Congratulations for making it through the byepocalypse. Hopefully, you survived and are ready for another amazing week of football.

While I hope you were relatively unscathed during the byepocalypse, the NFL wasn’t so lucky. We approach Week 8 with the Cincinnati Bengals leading the AFC and Patrick Mahomes looking like a mere mortal. It might be a weird world we live in, but it’s definitely an exciting one. 

In Week 8, the NFL is rewarding us with what could be the game of the year. The 6-1 Packers are traveling to the desert to take on the 7-0 Cardinals. Outside of a bizarre Week 1 loss, the Packers have been on fire, having won their last six games. The Cardinals, on the other hand, have put the league on notice after road wins against the Rams and the Titans. Fasten your seatbelts, because we are in for a treat this Thursday. As always, my name is Ellis, and I thank you for starting your week with the RotoBaller Thursday Night Preview.

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers won two writing awards and received 12 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. A big congrats to our very own Byron Lindeque (Golf) and Jordan McAbee (NASCAR) for both winning Writer Of The Year awards! Be sure to follow RotoBaller's analysis and advice all year long, and win more. Win More With RotoBaller!


Green Bay Packers @ Arizona Cardinals

8:20 pm EST 

Notable Injuries


Must-Starts for Fantasy Football Lineups

Aaron Jones (RB, GB): For some reason, it feels like Jones has underperformed this year. Despite this perception, he has continued to be a bonafide star running back. Currently sitting as the RB6 on the season, Jones has been excellent. Arguably the most impressive part is his receiving work. Tied for the most receiving touchdowns and eighth-most receptions at the position, Jones has done exactly what fantasy managers were hoping after the departure of Jamaal Williams. Plus, with Adams likely to miss this game, Jones will be looked for often. Although the Cardinals are allowing the fourth-fewest fantasy points to the RB position, Jones’ explosiveness and usage still make him a top-five option for me this week.

DeAndre Hopkins (WR, ARI): We’re seeing a different type of Hopkins this year. Instead of relying on an absurd amount of targets, Hopkins has become a red zone threat. It’s Week 8 and he has already put up his third-highest touchdown total (seven). However, it’s not that the targets have disappeared. He is currently holding down a 21% target share in the offense and is leading the team in receiving yards. With Jaire Alexander still on the IR, there is no reason to be scared of this Packers defense. Hopkins is a firm WR1 this week.

Aaron Rodgers (QB, GB): It’s no surprise to see Rodgers being great for fantasy. Sitting as the QB8 on the season, Rodgers should be locked into all lineups this week. Unfortunately, he will not have his favorite target Davante Adams this week, which may impact his fantasy performance. However, I have confidence that Rodgers will find a way to keep the Packers in this game and produce for fantasy. Superstars like Rodgers always show up when they need to, and a primetime game against an undefeated team is the perfect time for him to put on a clinic. Start Rodgers with confidence this week.

Kyler Murray (QB, ARI): As the QB3 on the season, Murray is the definition of a “must start” this week. Murray has proven himself to be one of the best in the league for both fantasy and real-life NFL purposes. It is nice to see that he is still an elite QB option even though he has not had more than 10 rushing yards in his last three games. Unfortunately for fantasy, it’s this lack of rushing that is stopping Murray from being nuclear. The Packers are currently allowing the sixth-fewest passing yards per game but the 11th-most passing touchdowns per game. Murray should have a great fantasy day in what should be a very competitive matchup from start to finish.  

Chase Edmonds (RB, ARI): A name that might surprise some to see as a must-start, Edmonds makes the list this week for all PPR formats. Despite not scoring a touchdown this season, Edmonds is the RB21. This year, Edmonds has become a yardage monster with the 12th-most rushing yards, 10th-most receiving yards, and fourth-most receptions at the position. His largest concern is his lack of red zone and touchdown opportunities. James Conner has the sixth-most carries inside the five and leads the league in touchdowns inside the five-yard line. However, it is important to note that last week we saw Edmonds get two carries inside the five against the Texans. In a game where the offense should need to score, I think Edmonds will receive a lot of usage all game. This is also why I think the Pie Shop* will be open for the first time this year, and he is a “must start” RB2/flex play for Week 8.

*Pie Shop: An Australian term (often used in Rugby League) to describe who will score a Try (or in this case touchdown) this week.

Davante Adams (WR, GB): Although unlikely to play, Adams is not officially out. After testing positive for COVID early this week, he will need two negative tests 24 hours apart in order to participate on Thursday. Although he did not travel with the team, he said he would travel on his own if cleared to play. Based on the fact that Lazard has already been ruled out as a close contact, I suspect that Adams might’ve tested negative Wednesday. However, there has not been an official report saying this. If he is cleared, you immediately put him in your lineups. This is a huge game for both teams, and I expect Rodgers to lean on his favorite weapon if available. 

UPDATE: Adams will not clear the COVID protocol and not play tonight.


Solid Options for Fantasy Football Lineups

Christian Kirk & A.J. Green (WR, ARI): The Cardinals are one of two teams that have three receivers in the top-32. Kirk currently sits as the WR20 and Green is the WR32 on the season. Both of these options have proved to be impressive flex plays this year and have nearly identical stat lines. Kirk has one more target and two more yards than Green. What accounts for the difference in fantasy finish is Kirk has one more touchdown and six more receptions. Both of these players are solid flex starts this week, with Kirk being the most reliable of the two.

Zach Ertz (TE, ARI): A week after being traded, Ertz finds himself a new home that has already proven to be fantasy-friendly. Last week, Ertz had the longest touchdown catch of his career and also had a red zone rush where he fumbled on the one-yard line. The Cardinals clearly acquired him to be an involved piece of their offense. Any tight end on one of the best offenses in the league with a solid target opportunity needs to be started. Ertz fits the criteria and should be a top-eight TE play in Week 8.


Flex Considerations for Fantasy Football Lineups

Randall Cobb (WR, GB): If Davante Adams plays, you can't trust Cobb. However, if he misses, Cobb will step in as Rodgers’ go-to WR target. Although Cobb has only one game this season above five fantasy points, the volume could be there for him to perform this week. The Cardinals will make sure that Rodgers will need to pass to stay in the game, giving Cobb the opportunity for both high yardage totals and a good chance at finding the endzone. I would start him as a solid WR3 this week without Adams. 

A.J. Dillon (RB, GB): After what was a devastating performance in Week 7, Dillon will look to bounce back in Week 8. Just when Dillon started to see consistent involvement in the offense, he put up negative fantasy points in Week 7; however, in the three weeks before that, he saw eight or more carries and had 65 receiving yards. I think Dillon will get back on track and help fill the void of a missing Adams. It’s a riskier play; however, he should be considered as a flex option in deep formats.

Robert Tonyan (TE, GB):  Tonyan is definitely one of the more risky plays this week. After posting his second game this season with over two fantasy points, there is a reason for concern for the young TE. Thankfully for him, the absence of Adams should provide him with a solid target volume and an increased probability to find the endzone. I would start Tonyan as a solid streaming option this week and hope he finds the endzone at least once this Thursday.

James Conner (RB, ARI): Conner has been a touchdown machine this season; however, he is only a flex option this week. Conner typically gets most of his work in positive game scripts, and I expect the Packers to keep this game close. This should limit Conner's role, but he is always a threat to find the endzone. I would start him as a touchdown-dependent flex play in Week 8.


Consider Sitting for Fantasy Football Lineups

Rondale Moore (WR, ARI): As exciting as Moore is to watch and cheer for, he is a nightmare for fantasy. After displaying his electric talents in Weeks 2 and 6, he has come back to earth as an unreliable fantasy option. Moore will be good for four targets; however, he will need to find the endzone to be viable for fantasy. Although this is a great offense to rely on, it’s not a bet I am willing to make this week. I would only play Moore as a desperation flex play in Week 8.


Last week, we managed to squeeze out two correct picks and get back on track. This week, I’ll look to do the same in what should be an electric Thursday night game. It’s hard to see either defense slowing down the other team. However, with the NFC lead up for grabs, I think this will be a coaching clinic from both sides. I have faith in both coaches to keep this game tight and not turn into the track meet that fantasy managers are hoping for. With that, here are my picks. I hope you all enjoy this Thursday night treat that’ll hopefully not be a trick.

Ellis’ Picks: Packers +6.5 (4-3), Under 51.5 (6-1)

Career record: Spread (13-12), Over/Under (15-10)

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