Kickoff Sunday, Oct 14th 1:00pm Eastern

Cards (
16.75) at

Vikings (
26.75)

Over/Under 43.5

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Notes

Key Matchups
Cardinals Run D
14th DVOA/20th Yards allowed per carry
Vikings Run O
3rd DVOA/17th Yards per carry
Cardinals Pass D
30th DVOA/7th Yards allowed per pass
Vikings Pass O
15th DVOA/11th Yards per pass
Vikings Run D
31st DVOA/26th Yards allowed per carry
Cardinals Run O
16th DVOA/10th Yards per carry
Vikings Pass D
20th DVOA/28th Yards allowed per pass
Cardinals Pass O
24th DVOA/10th Yards per pass

CARDINALS // VIKINGS OVERVIEW

The Cardinals finally got their first win of the season last week — the last team in the NFL to do so — while the Vikings got their season back on track with a tough road win against the Eagles to move to 2-2-1, tied with the Packers for second in a tough NFC North. Vegas has the Vikings installed as early 10-point favorites in this one; and while Minnesota had a letdown in a similar spot a few weeks back vs the Bills, we should expect them to come out focused this week.

The Vikings have been aggressive on offense this year, ranking sixth in pace of play and second in passing play percentage. The Cardinals, of course, have been on the opposite end of the spectrum, ranking 24th in pace and 16th in passing play percentage.

While Arizona ranks middle of the pack on defense both on the ground and through the air, they have trailed so often this season that they have faced 28 more rush attempts than any other team in the league to begin the season. It will be interesting to see how Minnesota adjusts with a lead this week, as they have had a difficult time running the ball early on, ranking 29th in yards per carry and 28th in adjusted line yards. Look for the Vikings to slow down the pace a bit if they grab a lead, and to lean more run-heavy than normal — but not quite to the extent that other teams have gone run-heavy vs this Arizona defense.

CARDINALS PASS OFFENSE

The Vikings continued to look less-than-elite on defense last week, allowing Carson Wentz to complete almost 70% of his passes for 311 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Harrison Smith and Xavier Rhodes were the only players on this defense with pass breakups last week, while slot corner Mackensie Alexander and rookie Mike Hughes combined to allow 10 receptions on 10 targets in their direction. The Vikings play fast and aggressive on defense, and Wentz was able to hit tight-window throws and was able to find his receivers on crossers throughout the game to keep the ball moving.

The good news ends there for Josh Rosen and the Cardinals. Right now, this Arizona team is in “building mode” — not necessarily worried about trying to win every game (as evidenced by their snail’s pace on offense when constantly trailing), but instead worried about getting as many quality future-building reps as possible. Over the last two weeks, Rosen has thrown 27 and 25 pass attempts — completing only 25 of these 52 passes, for 350 yards and a pair of touchdowns. If Arizona unleashes Rosen for 45+ pass attempts this week, he should be able to press for 300 yards and will have a shot at multiple touchdowns, but that seems unlikely to suddenly become Arizona’s approach.

Notable target counts on the Cardinals over the last two weeks:

10 :: Larry Fitzgerald
10 :: Ricky Seals-Jones
9 :: Chad Williams
9 :: Christian Kirk
7 :: David Johnson

RSJ has caught only two of his 10 targets, while Williams has hauled in three of his nine looks. Fitz has caught five of 10 and should work over the middle of the field; his value comes from high-target games, so a bet on Fitz would be a bet on the Cardinals opening up this offense more than they have the last couple weeks.

The best connection has been Rosen to Kirk, which the Cardinals seem to be proactively trying to develop. Kirk has hauled in seven catches for 113 yards and a touchdown across the last two weeks, while also taking a pair of carries. While his future is supposedly in the slot, he has looked good on the outside early on, and Arizona may be able to develop him into an all-purpose weapon throughout the remainder of this year, while Fitz mans the slot. Kirk has played 57% of his snaps on the outside so far.

CARDINALS RUN OFFENSE

Mike McCoy heard that he was supposed to get David Johnson more involved…so he has given him 40 carries across the last two weeks, behind an offensive line that ranks 29th in adjusted line yards, leading to 126 rushing yards across those two games. DJ has never been a dominant between-the-tackles runner (when he first came up, he was viewed as a pass-catching back only until deep into the 2015 season when injuries led to him taking on the lead job and exploding in all facets of the game), and he’ll be facing an above-average Minnesota run defense. He will need a multi-touchdown game or a spike in receiving work to be a high-floor force in this game — though DJ does have “to the house” upside with the ball in his hands, which keeps his ceiling theoretically intact.

VIKINGS PASS OFFENSE

Because everyone wants to simplify their research process, most DFS players (and most DFS writers) often label bad teams as “bad,” and will therefore fail to notice that the Cardinals have faced the lowest average depth of target in the entire NFL this year, with Steve Wilks’ zone scheme pushing teams to take short completions instead of trying to attack deep. Given the way the Cardinals play pass defense and the way game flow is likely to shake out in this game, this is a slight “downgrade” spot for my favorite wide receiver duo in the NFL.

Through five games, Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs are combining for almost 77% of the Vikings’ air yards (an almost unheard of number for two guys to be splitting), while they have combined for nine games of double-digit targets (in 10 total opportunities). Right now, Thielen ranks second in the NFL in targets per game, and Diggs ranks seventh. On this pace, each guy will finish the year with an average of double-digit targets per game. In 2017, only four players in the NFL averaged double-digit targets. Don’t be fooled into thinking that these guys cannot produce together; each guys is a Top 10 receiver in the NFL, and each guy is being targeted like a Top 10 receiver. This is not the best week for them to hit — against a team that forces short throws, in a game in which passing volume will likely take a step back for Minnesota — but they are always in play.

Laquon Treadwell was schemed a couple looks last week, and he continues to log heavy playing time and run into a couple additional targets when other guys are covered. He’s not a force in this offense, but he should see four to six looks again. Over the last three weeks, Kyle Rudolph has seen target counts of six, six, and five, and he has caught 15 of these 17 looks. Typically, his receptions are coming when he is the checkdown option beneath a deeper route for Thielen or Diggs, so don’t expect big “schemed” usage, but he should be in line for five or six high-efficiency targets again in this spot. Red zone targets on this team go Thielen :: 7 // Diggs :: 4 // Rudolph :: 3 // Treadwell :: 2.

VIKINGS RUN OFFENSE

Mike Boone and Roc Thomas continue to take a few looks away from Latavius Murray in this backfield, but the veteran Murray still had 13 touches last week to six for Boone and Thomas. We cannot expect the Vikings to go as run-heavy against the Cardinals as other teams have (Arizona has faced a monstrous 34.8 rush attempts per game — but their schedule so far has been: Redskins :: 24th in pass play rate // Rams :: 27th in pass play rate // Bears :: 26th in pass play rate // Seahawks :: 31st in pass play rate // 49ers :: 18th in pass play rate; again, the Vikings rank second in the NFL in pass play rate), but they should take a lead and lean on the run more than normal, which could lead to 16 to 20 touches for Latavius. The best way to score on the Cardinals is to run the ball close to the goal line (seven rushing touchdowns allowed to running backs // one rushing touchdown allowed to quarterbacks — compared to five passing touchdowns allowed, with two of these passing touchdowns also coming to running backs). This opens some sneaky “bet on workload” upside for Murray this week.

JM’S INTERPRETATION

Nothing in this game pops off the page as a primary play — including even the Vikings’ defense, which will have a difficult time generating splash plays if the Cardinals continue to play conservative ball even when trailing. From a talent and guaranteed usage perspective, Diggs and Thielen are always in the conversation for me in tourneys, while the same can be said for the big-play upside of David Johnson.

I like Christian Kirk as a player, but after considering him and not pulling the trigger last week, this is not a spot where it would make sense to suddenly jump on board in a tougher matchup.

Latavius Murray is an interesting “bet on usage” play who could pay off with a multi-touchdown game. The floor is lower than I would love, but he should have a solid shot at hitting in this game. He joins Thielen, Diggs, D.J., and Kirk as “guys to consider, who I probably won’t end up actually playing.”

SATURDAY AFTERNOON UPDATE // Full “Updates” List

Dalvin Cook will play this week for the Vikings. Realistically, this takes all Vikings running backs off the board, as “volume” is the reason to use running backs vs Arizona. Cook’s volume will be held back a bit, and his return puts a dent in the workload for Latavius Murray. As always, it only takes one big play to post a solid box score, so you could make a large-field tourney case for Cook — but he’s a low floor play.