Kickoff Sunday, Sep 23rd 1:00pm Eastern

Bills (
12.25) at

Vikings (
28.75)

Over/Under 41.0

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Notes

Key Matchups
Bills Run D
5th DVOA/13th Yards allowed per carry
Vikings Run O
3rd DVOA/17th Yards per carry
Bills Pass D
2nd DVOA/1st Yards allowed per pass
Vikings Pass O
15th DVOA/11th Yards per pass
Vikings Run D
31st DVOA/26th Yards allowed per carry
Bills Run O
32nd DVOA/6th Yards per carry
Vikings Pass D
20th DVOA/28th Yards allowed per pass
Bills Pass O
5th DVOA/9th Yards per pass

BILLS // VIKINGS OVERVIEW

In the “Not Fair” category this week, we have the Vikings at home against the Bills. The early line in this game is absolutely legendary, with Vegas essentially giving the Bills no shot at even keeping this game close. In fact, Vegas didn’t even wait to make sure LeSean McCoy will be healthy this week before setting this line. Unless the Vikings’ players completely overlook this game, there is just no way they get run over by the Minor League Bills. With Mike Zimmer at the helm for Minnesota, I expect this Vikings team to come out firing with their normal intensity and dominance.

BILLS PASS OFFENSE

The one thing the Bills’ passing attack may be able to get going this week is a few deep shots away from Xavier Rhodes, where Trae Waynes has continued to improve throughout his career, but is still the weakest link in this secondary. That’s worth pointing out from the perspective of analyzing the game, but it’s not particularly actionable information in DFS, as we play on sites that award 0.5- or full-PPR scoring; so even if you could guess right on which Bills pass catcher will maybe catch a deep touchdown, you would still not be picking up enough total points for this play to be worthwhile.

Let’s be honest: nothing more needs to be said here. This is the Bills, at the Vikings.

BILLS RUN OFFENSE

The Bills’ offensive line is getting smoked. Through two games, they rank 30th in Football Outsiders’ adjusted line yards. Minnesota is averaging 3.8 yards allowed per carry this year through two games, after finishing fifth in the NFL last season at 3.7 yards allowed per carry. With the Bills getting routinely blown out of the building, LeSean McCoy has managed to touch the ball only 21 times. Through two games. If he plays this week (which is appearing likely), he will be playing through “not broken” ribs. This is a bad spot on a bad offense for a good running back who will be playing hurt.

VIKINGS PASS OFFENSE

The Vikings and Bills are both playing at a top ten pace this year — with the Bills actually ranked second in the NFL, and first in Situation Neutral pace. This is good news as we hunt for upside from the Vikings, as the Bills are remaining aggressive when they fall behind — and are therefore giving the ball back to their opponents more quickly. I think we’ll see a lot of people avoid this Vikings passing attack in tourneys because of “blowout concerns,” but remember: that’s really not an issue until the fourth quarter. And if the Vikings have four touchdowns already at that point, it’s likely that three of them are coming through the air.

Buffalo has crumbled against the pass this season, ranking 24th in yards allowed per pass attempt while picking off zero passes and allowing six touchdowns — one year after allowing only 13 passing touchdowns all season.

Last week, the Chargers tormented linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, throwing at him 11 times for 10 completions, and even getting Keenan Allen matched up on him on four separate occasions (Allen went 4-47-0 against Edmunds on four targets, compared to 2-20-0 on four targets elsewhere). Expect the Vikings to create similar mismatches with Adam Thielen inside, against this Bills defense that aims to filter everything to the middle of the field. The Chargers targeted Bills stud corner Tre’Davious White zero times last week, and they targeted Vontae Davis and Lafayette Pitts on the other side only four times. Bills corner Phillip Gaines dislocated his elbow last week, and things are so bad in Buffalo that Vontae Davis retired from the NFL at halftime (true story). So…yeah. Expect the Vikings to get Thielen matched up on linebackers and to scheme Stefon Diggs away from White — onto either “second-backup” Pitts or an injured (and already ineffective) Gaines. There are big plays to be had.

The Bills were middling against the tight end last season, and were unable to slow down Virgil Green last week. Kyle Rudolph finally got involved in the offense last Sunday, seeing eight targets from Kirk Cousins, marking him as the clear third target behind Diggs and Thielen (13 targets apiece). Rudolph’s main value in DFS comes in the red zone, where the Vikings should find themselves often on Sunday.

VIKINGS RUN OFFENSE

So far this season, Dalvin Cook has played 107 out of a possible 144 snaps, but he hasn’t really popped just yet, averaging only 3.0 yards per carry and earning low grades from Pro Football Focus. Running between a middling offensive line, Cook’s biggest efficiency drain is the 2.9 yards per carry he is averaging on his 10 carries to the middle left (between the left guard and center), though if Cook can break through the line on one of these, this will send him into the area of Tremaine Edmunds — who also leads the Bills is missed tackles.

There is obvious upside to be found here for Cook. He is operating as the lead back in this offense (only 37 snaps for Latavius Murray), and he has 12 targets on 84 Kirk Cousins pass attempts (14.3% share). But the production has been disappointing thus far, and there could also be a case for the Vikings to protect Cook in the fourth quarter if they have a big lead.

Latavius Murray has zero carries inside the 10-yard-line this year (compared to two for Cook), though opportunities have been thin, with Cousins raining down touchdowns from outside the 10. We are still just guessing when it comes to goal line work on this team, but Latavius shapes up as a guy likely to see anywhere from eight to 14 touches this week.

JM’S INTERPRETATION

This game shapes up as more of a “30 to 35 pass attempt” game for the Vikings (as opposed to the glorious 48-attempt overtime affair last week), which should put Adam Thielen somewhere in the range of eight to 12 targets, with Stefon Diggs trailing a few paces behind him. Thielen has lined up in the slot on over 50% of his routes this year (compared to 24% for Diggs), giving him the higher floor — especially in this matchup vs a Bills team that funnels targets inside. Each guy carries big ceiling. I imagine neither will be in play in cash games for me, simply because it will make so much more sense to target spots with actual shootout potential; but each guy is playable in tourneys, with genuine week-winning upside.

Kirk Cousins can be categorized the same way as his two best pass-catchers: a little less secure in cash than some other guys, but still carrying excellent upside in a cake matchup in tourneys.

I’ll likely leave Kyle Rudolph alone myself, but he’ll always have a clear red zone role in this offense, and he provides nice floor on weeks when he actually sees targets. The running back position on the Vikings is also a bit thin for me, with each guy overpriced on DraftKings and FantasyDraft, and with touchdown equity a little too iffy for me to want to dip into this spot on FanDuel. It’s likely that Cook has a solid game here, but I would really want some week-winning upside from his DraftKings/FantasyDraft price tag, and I have a hard time seeing that; on FanDuel, I would want to bet on someone with a higher-scoring role.

Obviously, I’ll be leaving the Bills alone.

FRIDAY EVENING UPDATE // Full “Updates” List

Dalvin Cook is going to miss this week’s game, leaving Latavius Murray atop the depth chart for the Vikings in a smash spot at home against the Bills. Expect Murray to get at least 18 carries, with upside for more — with all of the goal line work going his way.

While that’s the good news for Murray, a few concerns should be noted:

1) Murray never topped three targets in a game last year for the Vikings, in spite of seeing 15 or more carries in 10 games. In fact, he saw three targets only once, and he was held to one or fewer targets in eight of the 10 games last year in which he had 15+ carries.

2) Murray is running behind a mediocre offensive line that may be missing starting center Pat Elflein (there are confusing reports on Elflein at the moment, with the Minneapolis Star Tribune noting that Elflein won’t start, but will “have a role” — whatever that means).

3) On FantasyDraft and DraftKings, Murray costs 11% or more of the salary cap — in the same range as guys like Tevin Coleman and Gio Bernard (and much more expensive than Corey Clement). With all that said, it is worth noting that Murray costs only 8.67% of the cap on FanDuel, where receptions matter less. He is a much stronger play on there.

Further fallout from Cook missing this game is that Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs (and to a lesser extent, Kyle Rudolph) will have opportunities for a small increase in targets. There are still blowout concerns in this game, but these guys should be involved early and often through the first three-plus quarters.