Packers fantasy football outlook: Colts defense poses challenges to Packers skill players

The Green Bay Packers will face another AFC South opponent on Sunday but this time it will be a road matchup against the division-leading Indianapolis Colts.

Indianapolis (6-3) outclassed the Tennessee Titans 34-17 on Thursday Night Football and has developed an identity as a run-heavy team with a rugged offensive line that does a good job protecting quarterback Philip Rivers.

While the Colts will be one of the tougher teams Green Bay has played this season, it is at least getting healthy at the right time. Running backs Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams both played in the Packers’ 24-20 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars and Allen Lazard will make his return after missing seven games with a core injury.

With all that in mind, who should you start? Who should you avoid? We are here to help.

Players are graded on a 1-5 scale of football emojis, from “don’t even think about starting him” (🏈) to “you’re a fool if you bench this guy”(🏈🏈🏈🏈🏈).

Here’s how Week 9 shakes out:

 

GREEN BAY PACKERS

QB Aaron Rodgers: 🏈🏈🏈🏈🏈

Watching Rodgers against Jacksonville, it did not seem like he was playing at his peak. Well, it turns out his B+ outings are still pretty good because he threw for 325 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, along with adding a score on the ground. It all added up to 25.4 standard scoring fantasy points, which is exactly what you want from your starting QB. Start Rodgers.

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RB Aaron Jones: 🏈🏈🏈🏈

Jones would get all five balls under most circumstances. However, the Colts have surrendered the third-fewest fantasy points to running backs this season, so Jones could have a tough time on the ground and it could get even worse if the Packers’ running game mirrors its performance against the Jaguars (3.2 yards per carry). Jones is still Green Bay’s top back and gets plenty of action as a receiver but he probably will not go off for an eye-popping game.

RB Jamaal Williams: 🏈

Pretty much all the same points about Jones apply to Williams. His rushing yardage total will most likely be low, so his value is in the passing game. Williams caught three passes for 25 yards in the Jacksonville game, making him an OK option in PPR leagues but that’s about it.

WR Davante Adams: 🏈🏈🏈🏈🏈

Like Rodgers, Adams played very well but clearly was not at his best. He had a drop and a fumble but still caught eight balls for 66 yards and a touchdown. It speaks to Adams’ supreme skill level that a performance like that is just pretty good for him because he has set the bar extremely high. Even though Indy has allowed the sixth-fewest points to wide receivers this season, it would be unwise to bench Adams because of that. The only reason not to play Adams would be his ankle injury that he is dealing with, so make sure to check on his status in the coming days.

WR Allen Lazard: 🏈🏈🏈

We’ve missed you, Mr. Lazard! The Packers’ best big-body receiver is finally back and they will probably need him against the Colts defense. It has been a while since Lazard suited up, but the last time he did he caught six passes for 146 yards and a touchdown in Green Bay’s 37-30 Week 3 win over the New Orleans Saints. Still, Lazard is coming back from a long injury and may not be too heavily involved in the Packers’ game plan. If you don’t feel comfortable starting him you can always stash him on your bench and wait to see how his targets shake out.

WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling: 🏈🏈🏈

I doubted Valdes-Scantling last week and lo and behold he explodes against the Jaguars with four catches for a career-high 149 yards and a touchdown. That gives him three scores and 202 receiving yards in the past two games, which is quite good for all the uncultured fantasy managers out there. Clearly, MVS has gained more trust from Rodgers, so if you are low on wideouts due to byes/injury/COVID-19, or if you’re just riding the hot hand, then Valdes-Scantling is a good option.

TE Robert Tonyan: 🏈🏈

In terms of production, Tonyan was fine against Jacksonville with three catches for 33 yards. Rodgers targeted him four times on Sunday, and while the one incompletion was a poor throw to an open Tonyan on a deep route, it seems like No. 85 is getting a little less attention with the return of Jones and the emergence of Valdes-Scantling in the past two weeks. Add in Lazard and Tonyan might be the fifth option and that won’t look good in your lineup.

Packers D/ST: 🏈

Indianapolis loves running the ball and Green Bay has allowed the third-most points to running backs in 2020. That could be very detrimental to the Packers, especially because it could mean fewer throws for Rivers and therefore fewer chances for him to make that one head-scratching pass he seems to make each game. Probably best to avoid the Packers D/ST.

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

QB Philip Rivers: 🏈🏈

Win, lose or draw, Rivers is just a fun guy to watch from a neutral perspective. He’s like the older version of Brett Favre without the remaining arm strength. It’s great. Anyway, Rivers has been inconsistent this season, showing flashes of “He’s still got it!” and has also put up some duds. Green Bay’s defense is fifth-best against quarterbacks in fantasy points and not great against the run, so he’ll probably have fewer opportunities to throw on Sunday.

RB Nyheim Hines: 🏈🏈🏈

Hines is such a boom or bust player. He was a human inferno vs. Tennessee with 70 yards rushing and a touchdown and five catches for 45 yards and a score. He scored two touchdowns in a game two other times this season, but in the other six games, he combined for 71 rushing yards and 121 receiving yards. Hines is a risky play, but he is also a guy who could put up 20 points on your bench at the drop of a hat.

RB Jonathan Taylor: 🏈🏈🏈

Taylor has played some good games for the Colts this season, but in the last three games he has totaled just 61 rushing yards and six catches for 41 yards. He has two touchdowns and a fumble in that span as well. The Wisconsin product might have a better outing against the Packers’ 30th-ranked fantasy defense against running backs, but there are other backs out there who can put up better numbers.

 

WR Michael Pittman: 🏈🏈🏈

The rookie out of Southern Cal has come on strong the past two weeks. He led the Colts with four catches for 56 yards in their game against the Baltimore Ravens two weeks ago and followed that up with seven receptions for 101 yards against the Titans. With Pittman becoming more involved in the offense, he could be an undervalued waiver-wire pickup.

TE Mo Alie-Cox: 🏈🏈

It looks like Colts TE Jack Doyle will miss Sunday’s game with a concussion, so Alie-Cox could see more targets. Alie-Cox’s 6-foot-5 frame makes him a tough matchup for defenders and a prime target for Rivers in the red zone.

Colts D/ST: 🏈🏈

Clearly, the Colts defense has some strengths, such as run defense, but the Packers will still be a very tough challenge for that unit. Moreover, Indianapolis has not forced that many turnovers despite playing solid defense (one turnover in the last two games), which means fewer fantasy points. Go with another defense on the waiver wire that is up against a bad offense this week.