We have a fun primetime slate for NFL DFS this week. Sometimes we have such a lack of options to use that it gets kind of boring playing these primetime slates. Wins or losses come down to a 2 v 2 or 3 v 3 with the other 5-6 guys in the lineup being 70-80% chalk that everyone played. I do not think that will be the case here. At just about every position we have a couple viable plays and WR is so stacked on this slate that nailing the right guys there probably leads to differentiation without having to go punt crazy, despite the small number of teams available to choose from. It should be fun, so let’s dive into it.
Minnesota Vikings @ Seattle Seahawks
- Vegas: Seahawks -3, 49 O/U
QB: The emergence and reliance on the running game has kept Kirk Cousins from needing to go nuts for fantasy purposes. He’s averaging under 30 passing attempts per game. He’s managed to put up about 250 yards per contest and has thrown for about 2 touchdowns per game on average throughout the season. He’s been very efficient though as he has just 3 interceptions with 21 touchdowns on the season. He’s also completed about 70% of his passes. Most of those stats are better for real life football than they are for fantasy. Cousins doesn’t do much running, so he adds little value with his legs. He has had some big games and they tend to come when he’s asked to sling it 35-38 times instead of 25-28. That makes sense as those are the games where they are either trailing or the game plan makes passing the better way to attack their opponent. Seattle has had some games where high volume, high octane passing attacks have torn them up (400 passing yards to the Falcons, 300+ to the Rams and Buccaneers). They have also shut down some teams passing attacks that weren’t top notch. The Vikings may not be elite, but they have a competent QB in Cousins and a couple good weapons in guys like Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen when healthy. Cousins is more a middle of the road option, but by no means an elite one. He’s had a lot of solid fantasy performances, but again not many elite ones. If this was a big slate for cash games I would say he’s viable, but since many of us are trying to win a GPP or playing a showdown slate it’s tough to feel like he’s the guy you have to have to win. He’s not a bad option, but not my favorite.
RB: Dalvin Cook has been a monster all season long. Seattle has a tougher run D than pass D. With all of that said, Cook has crushed in good and bad matchups alike this season. His worst game of the season he still popped off for 13+ fantasy points. He has 20+ fantasy points in all but 4 games this season. He’s already over 1,000 yards on a little over 200 carries for a 4.8 YPC average. He also has 45 catches for another 455 yards in just 11 games this year. That means he’s averaging over 130 total yards per game. He has 11 TDs on the year, which breaks down to 1 per game on average. No one has really been able to shut him down this year, so at best you hope the opponent can slow him down a bit. Not many guys are this involved in their teams offense as Cook’s 260ish carries+catches means he’s getting about 23 chances per game. Seattle has not been a team getting slashed and gashed by RBs on the ground, but between his ability to run and his ability to catch the ball, the Vikings are going to figure out how to get him 20+ touches anyway. We have multiple viable running back options on this slate, but Cook projects as the best of them all. Alexander Mattison has proven to be a solid backup for this Vikings team. He had a 21 yard TD run icing a game earlier this season. Outside of that, he’s done little to nothing in terms of fantasy. I can’t see a game type I want to use him in. Other than a Cook injury, I don’t see him paying off his salary. The only time he did was when he had that TD in Week 3. He has not sniffed double digit assists again since that time.
WR: This is a very narrow WR group for the Vikings. With Adam Thielen out since Week 9, only two guys even matter. The main one is Stefon Diggs. He’s been playing over 90% of snaps recently. Remember this is not a high volume passing attack to begin with and Diggs is more of the lower target, high aDOT guy anyway. He’s seen just 6 targets a game on average, but has managed to average 80 yards on about 4 catches a game. Those are incredibly explosive numbers, but nothing really to get excited about in terms of volume. Diggs has five touchdowns in 11 games and 3 of them came against the Eagles in Week 6. This is why I’m not super high on him despite the passing attack being the better way to attack this Seahawks team. As a GPP play, he definitely has the upside to win your a tournament with low volume, but it’s tough to put much faith in a low volume guy when we have other viable options on the slate. Olabisi Johnson is the other guy that matters. He’s coming off his best game of 6/35 on a season-high 9 targets before the bye week. He had only one other game with more than 4 targets though, so really you can not trust him either. At least with Diggs you have big play upside. Johnson has played a role in 8 games this season, racking up 24 catches and 225 yards over that stretch. His high for yards is 43 and he had not had more than 4 catches outside of that last game where he had 6. If today is the day he pops, so be it. Other than the off chance he catches a TD, he will be unlikely to return value, even in a PPR, despite the dirt cheap price. None of the other WR options get enough volume to even mention or use in a showdown slate.
TE: The RBs and TEs are seeing more targets than the WRs, especially since Thielen went down. I did use the (s) with TE because the Vikings play more than one. On the season, Kyle Rudolph has seen over 85% of snaps. Backup Irv Smith is seeing just shy of 60% of snaps too, so they find themselves on the field together quite often. Rudolph has 35 targets to 32 for Smith, so even in terms of production they are pretty similar. The one thing that bumps Rudolph over Smith for me is that he is more of the red zone threat. After not scoring for the first 6 weeks, Rudolph scored in 4 of the last 5 games. He had one game with 2 TDs to get him up to the five he has this season. Smith has just 1. Smith actually edges Rudolph out for total yards by a few and Rudolph edges Smith out with 29 catches to his 27. None of those numbers are really big or impressive though. The TEs have seen a few more looks in the last couple games, so at least we can see the trend ticking up. Rudolph is a TD dependent TD option, but I prefer him to Irv Smith. Neither guy gets massive volume, so the one who gets more RZ looks is the better guy to use hoping to catch upside. That guy is clearly Rudolph, although I’m not starting off or jamming into lineups.
Defense: The Vikings are tough to run on, or at least RBs haven’t put up big numbers against them. The way to attack this team is through the air. They have played with a lot of leads and that forces teams to be a little more pass heavy, so I’m not going to go overboard stressing that. They have some pass rush, generating nearly 3 sacks a game. They’ve had a few turnovers, creating about 1.5 of those per game as well. They also do not typically give up a ton of points, although they also do not usually have to go on the road and face a team with a competent QB tearing up defenses like Russell Wilson. I just do not see how they get upside here on the road against a QB who takes care of the football.
Top Plays: Dalvin Cook, Stefon Diggs
Secondary Plays: Kirk Cousins, Kyle Rudolph
Showdown: Olabisi Johnson, Irv Smith
QB: Not much more I can say about the potential MVP season Russell Wilson has put up. Even in a run heavy offense without a ton of attempts, he has put up some insanely good numbers. His efficiency is off the charts. Russ is averaging 32 pass attempts per game, but that number is a tad misleading. He had a game with 50 attempts, another with 43, and three others that were just above that 32 per game average at 33, 34, and 35. The rest of the games he threw it under 30 times. The games he has thrown for 295+ yards tend to be the ones with the 35-40 pass attempts. In the other spots he’s throwing for under 250 most of the time. Now he’s still racking up touchdowns with 24 on the season vs. just 3 interceptions. That’s part of his high level efficiency. This does actually make sense as a game he could end up slinging it around a little more. Not only is the total higher than you normally see against the Vikings, but the Vikings are one of the stingier teams in the league at giving up production to fantasy RBs. The way to beat them this season has been through the air with your WR options. If Seattle struggles to run or false behind, Russ is certainly capable of carrying his team to victory. It’s not the most likely of outcomes, but it’s more likely they need him in this game than many of the others they have played.
RB: I’m not very high on the Seattle running game today. I absolutely think they will try to establish the run, but we have a couple factors here that make me nervous. First off the Vikings defense has allowed only the 6th fewest fantasy points to opposing RBs. On top of that, the Seahawks RB situation is more murky than it has been. For much of the season Chris Carson has been the workhorse for this team. Coming into the last game he was averaging 20 carries a game with 2.5 catches on about 3.5 targets. Last game though he saw just 8 carries and 4 targets while his backup Rashaad Penny did much of the damage on 14 carries. Carson has seen over 70% of snaps this year, but the last game it was a 55 to 45 split between the two. Coach speak has said they are backing Carson and he’s the guy, but last game it did not look that way. Carson did still play more snaps and if I had to choose one of these guys it would be him. With that said, Penny has earned more touches with his most recent performance. We probably still see Carson get more, but the gap is likely to narrow between the two. In a good matchup I would be less worried than I am, but losing touches and facing a stingy defense is not normally the recipe for upside.
WR: The easy thing to discuss is snaps. For much of the season, Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf have towered over the team as a whole here. Lockett has been on the field for over 90% of snaps with Metcalf not far behind at just under 90%. The team also added Josh Gordon recently and started to work him in. In the last game he was on the field for about 33% of snaps. Gordon became the de facto #3 WR, which kind of kills any value for guys like David Moore, Jaron Brown, and Malik Turner. Remember, this is not a huge volume passing attack. Lockett leads the team with a little over 7 targets per game. Metcalf is second at about 6.5 and everyone else has seen like 2 targets a game or less. Maybe Gordon eventually sees a few more than that, but in his game last week he and David Moore had 2 each, well behind the main two guys. At best, those two are secondary options or GPP fliers. Lockett was the clear cut #1 WR for much of the season, but Metcalf now has more targets in the last five games than he had in the first six. He’s routinely seen 5-10 targets in recent games, even out targeting Lockett in three of the last 5. Lockett has seen more targets, made more catches and scored one more TD than Metcalf. Metcalf does have the longer aDOT though and is a tad cheaper. He has 5 touchdowns to Lockett’s six, so they are not that far apart. The Vikings have allowed the eight most fantasy points to opposing WRs, so this is the spot you can have success against this defense. Both guys are likely to be involved here if the Seahawks do not have success on the ground, so I like them both. They have gone off together in a few games, but most of the time a big game for one means an underperformance for the other. I much prefer Lockett if I had to choose, but I don’t think it’s a bad idea to have exposure to both guys, although probably not on the same lineup together.
TE: Throughout the season we have had multiple different players play TE for the Seahawks. Wilson loves using his TE, especially down near the red zone and productivity for the position has been there, no matter which guy was playing. That is why Jacob Hollister is a very interesting option. Minnesota is not weak against the TE, mostly because they have some good safeties who have limited the production a bit. Still, Hollister has 19 catches on 28 targets in the five games since becoming relevant in this offense. He caught two TDs three weeks ago and added another in the next game. He had 4/37/2 in a high scoring game against TB, followed by 8/62/1 against SF, and a disappointing 2/22 on 4 targets in a very low scoring 17-9 win over Philly last week. He’s in the mix with the Vikings guys and Jason Witten as THE options on this slate. None stand out as head and shoulders above the field, but he’s not bad.
Defense: Seattle has created a good amount of turnovers this year, especially in recent games as they have put up big numbers. They do not get to the QB as much as you would like to see, but they have been able to get interceptions and fumbles to flip possession. After being below average to start the season, they have cheated at least 3 turnovers per game in three of the last four contests. I’m not as high on them doing so again here today because Minnesota wants to pound the run and run heavy gameplans are not the ones that tend to yield fantasy points to defenses. I wouldn’t dismiss them completely, but do not think they are the top option either.
Top Plays: Russell Wilson, Tyler Lockett, D.K. Metcalf, Chris Carson
Secondary Plays: Rashaad Penny, Jacob Hollister, Seattle D
Showdown: Josh Gordon, David Moore
Dallas Cowboys @ Chicago Bears
- Vegas: Cowboys -3, 42.5 O/U
QB: It has not translated into wins for them, but Dak Prescott has had a good to great fantasy season. In 5 of the last 8 games, Dak has slung it 40 times or more and with the exception of the Jets game he has ended up with 27 or more fantasy points in each of those contests. He has a sick set of weapons around him with three good WRs, a RB that can catch out of the backfield, and an aging, but reliable TE. He has a solid to great offensive line in front of him too. This is one of the tougher matchups for a QB though. This Bears offense has not only limited QB production, but WR production as well. QBs are scoring in the bottom quarter of the league against them and WRs are even worse. The success against this defense has been with the run, but this coaching staff is too dumb to do what gives them the best chance of winning. Dak definitely is in play here, but not my favorite QB on the slate as the passing game does not project to be the best way for the Cowboys to win and I really doubt the Bears offense is good enough to put up the points to get the Cowboys to abandon the run.
RB: Ezekiel Elliot is a volume monster. He routinely sees over 90% of the snaps with Tony Pollard barely getting 20%. That does mean the two have played a few snaps on the field together, but Zeke is clearly the workhorse and one of the few guys seeing that big a share of the snaps. Zeke averages 19 carries and over 3.5 catches on about 4 targets per game. That’s over 22 touches. This actually sets up as a game where the volume should be towards the high end as the Bears have given up the 13th most fantasy points to RBs and are bottom of the league for points allowed to passing game pieces. Zeke has had double digit fantasy points in all but one game, although he’s also only had two games with legit upside. Many of his games end up with 13-20 fantasy points. It’s nice, but not exactly great value for his sky high price. He does have a couple of just shy of 30 fantasy points. Those are the kind of game we would need out of him here. The Bears have allowed a ton of guys to rush for big games against them this season, dating back to Josh Jacobs in Week 5. In fact since that time it’s been more the norm for teams to end up rushing for 100+ yards than not. Pollard is a nice handcuff, but outside of an injury to Zeke is not seeing enough volume to be relevant. Zeke should get the bulk of the work against a defense that has yielded big games to backs all season. I still prefer Dalvin Cook as my #1, but I’m actively trying to squeeze in both.
WR: I know this group has been good, but it’s a tough matchup for them. The good news is we have a clear group of 3 guys that are relevant and no one else matters. Michael Gallup and Amari Cooper see around 90% of the snaps. When healthy, each averages about 8 targets per game. Cooper is a little banged up right now, but early reports indicate he will be ready to go. Both guys are averaging over 15 yards per catch, so when everything is going good they both contribute and have upside. This is really not the softest spot. This Bears defense has not only limited teams to low passing yardage totals, but they have been shutting down entire pass offenses. They have yet to allow a 300 yard passer this season. When they face bad offenses, they have even held them under 200 yards. The Lions did pop off a few big plays against them in 2 of the last 4 weeks, but at best you ain’t one of the two main receivers here. Randall Cobb sees about 5-6 targets per game compared to 8+ average for the other two guys. He is not consistent, but has popped for some decent games here and there. In a good matchup I can understand using him on a GPP lineup. At best, he’s a low owned flier in classic or showdown type lineups.
TE: I Fucking hate Jason Witten, but Dak and the Cowboys play callers love him. He had a TD in each of the first two games, but hadn’t scored again until opening the scoring on Thanksgiving. He has had a bunch of games with 5-9 targets though and is third on the team behind the two wideouts, seeing more than both Zeke and Cobb to this point. His targets are all short, 5-6 yard passes, but they add up. He’s only had 3 games all season with under 8 PPR points and in half the games he has reached double digits. My hatred for him aside, that’s some decent consistent production for a guy with a cheap price.
Defense: This defense is trash. They have not generated a single turnover in the last four games. That’s a month of football without one fumble or interception. They have some ability to get to the passer and have had a few sacks lately, but if you want to know why this team is losing, the defense has to take a lot of the blame here. They do draw the softest offense to face and one that has turned the ball over a bit. I can not dismiss them on a wide open slate, but remember if this was a Sunday and we had more options to choose from, they would be the defense you dismiss quickly and not think twice about.
Top Plays: Ezekiel Elliot, Dak Prescott, Michael Gallup
Secondary Plays: Jason Witten, Amari Cooper
Showdown/GPP Fliers: Randall Cobb, Tony Pollard
QB: Mitch Trubisky has taken a ton of heat and rightly so this year. I love your boy Jeff Mans, but I think he lets his Bears fandom trump his eyes a bit. With that said, we do see Trubisky coming off his best game of the year. He threw for over 300 yards for the first time this season against Detroit and matched his high of 3 TD passes. It was a good performance that got him 27 fantasy points. His previous high before that game was just 20 and most of the games he’s been well short of that. Dallas has been stingy to opposing QBs themselves, allowing only the 9th most fantasy points to the position this year and struggling more to stop the run than the pass. Trubisky is actually doing less with his legs this year than he had in the past, so we don;t even have that to fall back on. If he pops off for another big game, then I will tip my hat to those who play him, but it won’t be me.
RB: The RB situation is pretty clearly defined. David Montgomery gets most of the carries, while Tarik Cohen gets most of the targets. Both guys play about 50%+ of the snaps, but neither sees a major amount of them over the other as it tends to be 50%-60% for both every game with them even being on the field together for some. Looking through the recent game logs, it’s pretty clear that the one thing that separates which is a better play is who gets into the end zone. That’s a tough thing to predict for fantasy on a weekly basis. You would think the run heavy games benefit Montgomery more and when the Bears are expected to trail it would benefit Cohen. While that seems to be true, it doesn’t account for every time one or the other had the bigger game. Montgomery has scored in games where Cohen had more snaps and targets and Cohen has found the end zone in games the Bears were leading that skewed run heavy. That’s what makes them tough to parse. I can say on a PPR site the floor for Cohen is better. Even if he doesn’t find the end zone, he’s routinely been able to give you enough catches and yards to make or approximate his value. Montgomery though has had the bigger pop games for upside when he gets massive volume and finishes with 100 yards and a TD. I think both guys are in play and on a short slate I prefer the guy who has more upside. Surprisingly that has been Montgomery over Cohen. Both guys are secondary RB options behind the studs mentioned on other teams, but at a discounted price one of them should end up on your lineups. I prefer Montgomery in a single entry, but would definitely have exposure to both if I was making multiple lineups.
WR: Allen Robinson is the clear cut #1 WR for this team. It’s not a soft matchup against the Cowboys and the slower pace does not make me think a ton of upside is here, but Robinson is the best and most consistent WR this team has. Robinson has only had single digit PPR points in 3 games this season. 5 times he has popped for 20 or more. He has a 93% snap share when the next closest guys are sitting in the 60% range, so that alone should tell you how far ahead of his teammates he is. Taylor Gabriel and Anthony Miller are the other two consistent options on this team. Both have seen more like 50-60% of the snaps, mainly due to injuries keeping one or the other out of most games this year. Javon Wims has filled in for them when they couldn’t play as he did last week for Gabriel. Wims would be a flier if Gabriel misses again this week. It’s still too early to know what happens on a Thursday game with a guy in concussion protocol, so we will have to wait on see on both of them. Anthony Miller had a monster game last week and has been a guy who the offense has used when healthy. He’s healthy right now and my clear #2 option at WR for the Bears. Again, the overall passing game has not been great and Robinson is the clear #1. Trubisky was able to support more than one pass catcher last game, but he also threw for 300 yards for the first time, something I doubt he repeats here. Still Miller has had 11, 9, and 13 targets over the last three games. He’s put up great fantasy numbers even in half PPR without finding the end zone. I prefer Robinson on a single entry, but would have exposure to both guys if I make 3-5 lineups and would have a good deal of expose if I was doing 150.
TE: Trey Burton went on IR. Adam Shaheen followed him. Ben Braunecker took the reigns at the position, then missed the most recent game. In that game Jesper Horsted had one catch for a TD. None of these guys at any point in the season were fantasy studs. At best, you get 4 targets from any of them and more likely it’s only 1 or 2. None of the TEs make sense to play whether Braunecker or Horsted get the start.
Defense: The threat of the Bears defense has been bigger than the production this year. They had two good games and most of the rest have been worthless. For the talent they have the number of sacks is disappointing at barely two per game. They generate barely over a turnover per game too. Throw in the fact this game should feature a run heavy attack and really I don’t see the upside. We can always count on Jason Garrett to do one stupid thing a game, so maybe that’s what ultimately gets them some fantasy points, but the typical game has ended with the Bears putting up a pedestrian 5-6 fantasy points and that’s nothing to get excited about. The defense brings name recognition, but not really the results to go with it.
Top Plays: Allen Robinson, David Montgomery, Anthony Miller
Secondary Plays: Mitch Trubisky, Tarik Cohen
Showdown/GPP Flier: Javon Wims (If Taylor Gabriel sits)