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Defenses and Dragons: Fantasy players to watch in Lions-Packers

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The Packers have a new Aaron in town.

Green Bay Packers v Washington Redskins Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Each week, Defenses and Dragons will highlight two Detroit Lions and two opponents who stand out in the matchup, for better or for worse. It may be a stud who could struggle, or it could be a lower-level guy primed for a big game; either way, these are players who should over or underperform their typical output. D&D hopes to help out with crunch-time decisions by taking a closer look at the matchup through historical stats. All stated scoring assumes six points for all touchdowns and a half point per reception.

Ameer Abdullah

While a tough early-season schedule was always going to dampen production from Ameer Abdullah, even games against lesser teams have been disappointing. The reality is that more often than not for the rest of 2017, he is going to be someone to sit instead of start. This is not too bold of an assessment for a player averaging just 8.2 PPG and less than 5.0 PPG over his last three games.

However, the Packers are one team that Abdullah may actually find success against. Green Bay ranks in the bottom five against fantasy running backs and all but one RB1 has recorded double digits against them. It may not be an overwhelming performance, but this is a week where Abdullah can be started somewhat comfortably.

Eric Ebron

The drama surrounding Eric Ebron has been well documented, but with the trade deadline over and the offseason still a couple months away, the focus can be returned to his on-field play. Unfortunately, that play has been widely mediocre this season, with just two weeks topping 4.0 fantasy points. That poor output should continue for Ebron this week.

Some fans may believe that the Lions’ decision to keep Ebron may inspire them to utilize him more down the stretch, but that seems unlikely. The tight end has hauled in less than 50 percent of his targets and is barely reliable. Against a Packers defense that ranks first in the NFL against tight ends and just 25th against wide receivers, Matthew Stafford and the Lions will be passing the ball elsewhere.

Aaron Jones

In the four games that he has played this season, Aaron Jones has reached at least 10.0 points on three occasions. He has turned into the best option out of the Packers’ backfield and has found the end zone three times. Against a Lions defense ranked in the bottom half of the league, Jones is poised to have a quality fantasy performance on Monday night.

Only two rushers have really blown up against the Detroit defense, but most starting running backs have had at least solid games. Jones should follow suit despite not being a huge factor in the passing game. Even if he does not find the end zone, Jones does not look like much of a risk this week against a subpar Lions run defense.

Jordy Nelson

Owners of Aaron Rodgers were not the only fantasy players distraught by the quarterback’s injury. Jordy Nelson is the perfect example of a wide receiver severely dependent upon the player throwing him passes, and the loss of Rodgers has significantly impacted his value. An average of 19.7 PPG to start the season has cratered out to just 6.7 PPG in recent weeks.

The Lions have been vulnerable against wide receivers in fantasy, particularly those not shadowed by Darius Slay. However, even if Slay follows Davante Adams on Monday Night, which seems like a real possibility, Nelson is still not a great start. Most owners will still wind up starting Nelson, but be prepared for a less-than-stellar result.