No Thursday game again this week, so we are going to concentrate on the Monday Showdown slates on both sites instead here. The key piece of news we are waiting on is the status of Minnesota running back Alexander Mattison. He practiced in a limited fashion over the weekend, but it was only one practice. He is listed as a true game time decision, so my guess is that we won’t hear any news until an hour or two before the game. If he sits, get ready for super chalk on Mike Boone. The Vikings clinched a spot in the playoffs after the action this weekend, so they may not be motivated to play all their guys and win this game. That’s something else to think about when making lineups here. The Vikings are at home and the better team when healthy, but the motivation could be lacking for them. The Packers on the other hand have a sneaky chance at a #1 seed right now. They needed a Seahawks and 49ers loss apiece in the last two weeks and to win out themselves against Minnesota and Detroit. The Seahawks play the 49ers this upcoming week, so one of them had to lose this week and win that game next week. Seattle lost to the Arizona Cardinals which means a Seahawks win over the 49ers next week could leave the door open. Of course, the Packers need to win out by beating Minnesota here and Detroit next weekend. That means they have more motivation than Minnesota does to win this game. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the game.
Green Bay Packers @ Minnesota Vikings
- Vegas: Vikings -4.5, O/U 47
QB: Aaron Rodgers really has not looked that good lately. He’s had only one game with over 14 fantasy points in the last five and that was against a Giants defense that everyone is carving up through the air. They beat Chicago, Washington, and Carolina. Three teams that were not able to put up a lot of offense, but the Packers didn’t either. In these games, nothing really looks that positive. They are not throwing the ball over 33 times in these games and Rodgers has been under 250 yards in each with only more than one TD in the Giants game. In fact, you have to go all the way back to Weeks 7 and 8 to find a game with Rodgers throwing for 300+ and more than one TD pass. The Vikings are a tough pass D, giving up a bottom 25% production number to opposing QBs. Rodgers really only has one reliable pass catching option that we will discuss later. He certainly is capable and has the skills to put up a big game, but it hasn’t been the focus of this offense or team this year and that’s been amplified lately.
RB: The Packers heavy reliance on the running game has been enough to float two backs at various times throughout the season. Aaron Jones is the better option of the two as he has popped off for the bigger fantasy games. With that said, Jamaal Williams has also had some nice fantasy relevant games too. Over this recent run, we see a very defined difference between the backs. In the past heavy games where they trailed or just game planned to throw, Jamaal Williams has slightly outperformed Jones. In the games they were able to control on the ground, Aaron Jones was a week winner with Williams underperforming in value. Earlier in the season, both guys had some games where they both provided upside together. The Vikings defense is also not giving up a ton of production to the rushing game, so I can’t say the Packers are going to go heavy in either direction here. I do prefer Jones, because when he hits, he tends to hit big and run away with the competition of him compared to Williams. When Williams hits, it tends to be due to his pass catching, and even that is a bit of a concern with Jones seeing some more targets lately at his expense. On a showdown slate, both guys are in play. I do prefer Jones and will have more exposure to him. I don’t think it’s crazy to have both together on a roster, but it would not be my main way to attack the slate. If you are making multiple line ups, I will have one with both myself, so I can’t knock anyone else who goes that way. I’ll probably end up with mostly Jones and a little bit of Williams on and off rosters with his counterpart here.
WR: Davante Adams is the clear #1 for this team and that’s not even a question. Before you ask, no I am not worried about the CB/WR Matchup for him. Adams is the only Packer consistently seeing more than a couple of targets. Last week he led the team with over 90% of snaps and the week before he saw 84% of the snaps with no other WR over 55%. He saw double digit targets in 6 of the last 7 games and even had a solid 7 in the one game he was below. His floor in those games was 6 targets and he reached double digits with 100+ yards receiving as well. He’s scored four total touchdowns in the last four games, reaching the end zone in 3 of the 4. His bad games are right around double digit PPR points and his good ones are easily top-20. It’s tough not to use him somewhere on your lineups for this slate as he is a lock button on mine. The only real question is how much exposure to captain and MVP spots you want with him, but even on the rosters he’s not there he should be one of your spend ups underneath.
Now we get to the tough part of who else is viable. The next two best bets are Allen Lazard and Geronimo Allison. Jake Kumerow and Marquez Valdes-Scantling are seeing under 20% of snaps the last couple weeks, well behind the 50%+ Allison and Lazard are seeing. Lazard got up to over 70% of snaps last week, so he’s the guy getting the best opportunity. Lazard saw three targets each of the last two games. That is not a lot of volume, but it trumps the 4 and 1 targets Allison has seen and the 1 target each for Kumerow and MVS. None of these are guys I am forcing into my lineup, but any of them could be a showdown flier for a TD at lower ownership. Lazard is more expensive than the others on both sites. On FanDuel, he’s $6500 which is not much more expensive than Allison at $5500. On DK, Lazard is over $8K and twice the price of Allison. I say this because while he is the most likely to score more points, he’s not twice as likely. Hell even last week Allison saw 4 targets to Lazard’s 3. On FanDuel, I used Lazard to get my exposure to him at a better price point. On DK, I still have a lineup or two with him, but I have an equal or greater number of lineups to Allison at that paltry price. The other two guys are nothing more than a one off flier here or there where you need the salary to make everything else you like fit. They may not even see a target, so one long pass or a TD is the best you can hope for and it’s not highly probable.
TE: Jimmy Graham is still the top TE, but he’s not producing much. Marcedes Lewis actually out snaps him, but that has more to do with his blocking. Graham is still getting more targets, which isn’t hard considering Lewis has 1, 1, and 2 the last three weeks. Graham has not been much better. He is seeing more targets, but has one catch in three of the last four games. His best game was the Redskins where he had 3/49, hardly something you have to put into your lineups. Graham lacks upside and volume at this stage, so really you are hoping for a TD. Without one, he likely falls short again, but I would still rather use him than Lewis who barely sees any work in the passing game.
Defense: In the first matchup between these two teams, the defense reigned supreme with 2 interceptions, 2 fumbles, and a sack for double digit fantasy points. They also were dominating to start the year, before falling off in the middle of it. This defense has talent and can generate pressure, but I’m not in love with their upside. The Vikings will also look to pound the run no matter who the RB happens to be. It’s not the ideal spot for the defense to rack up fantasy points. If they can get a lead, I do think they could create some turnovers, so they are in play at least on DK.
Kicker: Mason Crosby is an absolute stud. He’s made 16 of 17 field goals this year and all 38 of his extra points. The problem is those are not exactly high volume numbers. The Packers run game slows down the clock and keeps scores low. Crosby tends to deliver when called upon, but he has not been called upon enough to really have big monster fantasy scores. He’s definitely worthy of inclusion here, but not a core play.
Top Plays: Davante Adams, Aaron Jones
Secondary Plays: Aaron Rodgers, Jamal Williams, Packers DST
Showdown: Allen Lazard, Geronimo Allison, Jimmy Graham
QB: A lot of what was said about Rodgers applies here too. The Vikings are a run first team now and that has meant some lower volume games for Kirk Cousins. In 6 of the last 8 contests, Cousins has failed to throw 30 passes. He has not thrown over 38 this entire season. He has averaged under 250 yards and thrown for a little over 1.7 TDs per game. The Packers can generate pressure and have been better against the pass. The way to gash them is the run, which is what the Vikings are likely to lean on, no matter who the RB is. We also have a little concern about whether or not Cousins plays the whole game. If they choose to sit the RBs, nothing is stopping them from sitting other players too either announced or mid game depending on how things are going. Cousins, like Rodgers, has been under 20 fantasy points often lately and the upside games are the exception, not the rule with him lately.
RB: So the good news is that the RB will be heavily featured. The bad news is we don’t know which RB. We do know it will not be Dalvin Cook and he’s been the super heavily used back throughout the year. Alexander Mattison has been his handcuffs and the finisher when the Vikings have needed one. He holds the edge over Mike Boone, assuming he plays. If he doesn’t play, Boone is a must start. Even if he doesn’t crush, the volume alone makes Boone worthy. The real question then is what to do if both Mattison and Boone are active. This one is tougher to call. Even if Mattison is ruled in, we are not guaranteed he gets the workhorse role. With him banged up, at worst, Boone and him both see touches. Boone could even end up out touching him if they truly are worried about his health. Boone ran for over 4.0 yards per carry last week with 2 TDs in mop up time. He’s certainly interesting either way to me. I would prefer Mattison sits to make this easy, but if not, we do have to consider the fact both Vikings RBs are in play on this slate and neither is a slam dunk if both are going to get touches. They will need to be treated like a 1 and 1A, which means both should be rostered if available on showdown slates.
WR: The Vikings are healthy now at WR, but not back to normal just yet. Stefon Diggs is clearly the lead dog as he leads the team in snaps, targets, catches, and yards lately from the position. The return of Adam Thielen really dented the snap count for Olabisi Johnson who had seen way more snaps in previous games to be the #2 on the team. I would expect this to remain the same with Diggs seeing the most, followed by a little volume for Thielen, with Johnson not far behind in terms of snaps. Johnson had one or two nice games this year, but for the most part he’s nothing more than a low volume flier. He saw just one target each of the last two games. He had three targets the game before that, but caught just 1. In a low volume pass attack that uses TEs and RBs, you really can’t expect a ton from the WR group on low volume and short aDOT.
TE: The Vikings have two good ones and both see the field and get some targets. Kyle Rudolph is clearly the better option of the two as he not only sees more targets, but a lot of them are also red zone looks. Neither guy has massive upside or a massive amount of targets projected. Irv Smith has seen a few more snaps, but they overlap in two TE sets often. Smith has 2 TDs in the last 4 games, but even in those games his top score is 11 fantasy points in PPR formats. Rudolph has not been great the last couple weeks, but he was on a TD scoring binge the month before that and seeing more targets. The TD equity gives him a higher upside, but at worst you need to look at both as guys for your player pool.
Defense: The good news is this defense is generating sacks and turnovers. The bad news is one of the worst games for this defense was in Week 2 against this same opponent. This will really come down to game flow. If GB is able to control the clock and run like they want to, the Vikings D will not have a ton of chances to score fantasy points. If the Vikings get a lead, you might be able to get a good day out of them. I think we see a negative correlation between Aaron Jones and the Vikings DST. If Jones is going off, this DST likely doesn’t. I think you have better correlation with Boone/Mattison and Vikings D along with the Packers pass game. If the Vikings DST plays well and they can run the ball, that’s the recipe for getting more passing out of Rodgers and gives them a chance to score some fantasy points. It seems counterproductive, but that’s how I built the lineup with the Vikings as the things that need to happen to pay them off favor Vikings having a big lead.
Kicker: I think in a vacuum, Crosby is the better kicker. I also think football is not played in a vacuum and that makes Dan Bailey a tad more interesting. Green Bay has done a better job of keeping people out of the end zone and that leads to more FG attempts. Bailey has the better chance to have multiple chances and that could lead to a higher score for him than Crosby.
Top Plays: Stefon Diggs, Mike Boone (Alexander Mattison if he plays)
Secondary Plays: Kirk Cousins, Kyle Rudolph, Dan Bailey
Showdown: Vikings D, Irv Smith, Adam Thielen, Olabisi Johnson