The Green Bay Packers (5-5) are in the midst of their roughest stretch of games since 2008. In a Week 9 loss to the Chicago Bears (6-4), Green Bay saw their franchise quarterback Aaron Rodgers suffer a collarbone injury. Since Rodgers was knocked out, Green Bay has lost their last three games and have fallen behind the Bears and the Detroit Lions (6-4) in the NFC North.
The Packers have seemingly lost their intensity on the field, but there is reason for optimism this weekend against the Minnesota Vikings (2-8). The Vikings have struggled practically everywhere outside of Europe this season, and the Packers have a realistic chance to keep the division race close behind the arm of young quarterback Scott Tolzien.
Tolzien, who is indirectly filling in for Rodgers at quarterback due to a season-ending injury to veteran Seneca Wallace, has completed 48 of 73 passes for 619 yards while throwing one touchdown. His relative success, though, has been overshadowed by five interceptions thrown against the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants.
For fantasy owners this weekend, it is worth taking a gamble on Tolzien in your quarterback spot. The Vikings have one of the NFL‘s worst defensive secondaries this year, allowing opposing quarterbacks to pass for 280 yards per game (29th in NFL) and intercepting eight passes (t-20th) while registering 22 sacks (t-24th).
In Green Bay’s Week 8 win over the Vikings in Minnesota, the Packers’ offense scored a season-high 44 points, the Vikings’ defense couldn’t record one takeaway, and the Packers did not have to punt once throughout the entire game while converting on both of their fourth-down conversion attempts.
Yes, the Packers had the luxury of having Rodgers at quarterback, but Rodgers has proven to be just a number when it comes to opposing quarterbacks having success against the Vikings’ defense this year. Take a look at how Rodgers’ Week 8 performance in Minnesota compares with these nine other quarterbacks’ individual performances against the Vikings this season:
Rodgers: 24/29, 285 yards, 2 TDs; 31 rush yards
Matthew Stafford: 28/43, 357 yards, 2 TDs, INT
Jay Cutler: 27/38, 292 yards, 3 TDs, 2 INT
Brian Hoyer: 30/54, 321 yards, 3 TDs, 3 INT
Ben Roethlisberger: 36/51, 383 yards, TDs, INT
Cam Newton: 20/26, 242 yards, 3 TDs; 30 rush yards, rush TD
Eli Manning: 23/39, 200 yards, TD
Tony Romo: 34/51, 337 yards, 2 TDs, INT
Robert Griffin III: 24/37, 281 yards, 3 TDs; 44 rush yards
Russell Wilson: 13/18, 230 yards, 2 TDs; 14 rush yards
Quarterbacks are averaging 20.2 points against the Vikings and besides Manning, each quarterback has scored at least 17 fantasy points against the Vikings. It may be wise to start Tolzien this week over Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers, Josh McCown, Newton, Andrew Luck or Romo.
In two games, Tolzien has attempted at least 34 passes and barring injury, there is no doubt he will get at least 30 passing attempts again this weekend. With opposing defensive units focused on limiting Packers’ rookie running back Eddie Lacy, Tolzien will receive plenty of opportunities to have a prime showing on Sunday.
Against the Giants, Tolzien was able to show off some hidden skills, completing all four of his passing attempts thrown 20-plus yards downfield for 151 yards. Packers head coach Mike McCarthy called Tolzien’s performance one of the “best performances” he’s ever seen when it comes to deep ball accuracy.
It’s nearing playoff time in most fantasy football leagues, and every fantasy owner is looking for that sleeper to put them over the edge. Tolzien is a young starting quarterback who has a great supporting cast to throw the football in the comfort of his home stadium. The Vikings will likely force Green Bay to beat them in the air on Sunday. In fantasy football, favorable matchups in a home environment is the most crucial difference between a win and a loss.
Tolzien will likely receive limitless opportunities against one of the NFL’s worst defensive units. Fantasy football owners, this will prove to be the best week to start Tolzien in your quarterback spot — no doubt about it.