Game Overview ::
By hilow >>
- The game of the week as far as potential game environment is concerned.
- Vikings see Dalvin Cook head to the COVID list a day after activating Alexander Mattison from the COVID list (of note here, quarterback Kirk Cousins is also not vaccinated). (UPDATE: no changes late Thursday evening – just Dalvin on the COVID list).
- The Rams are down to “just” six players on the COVID list. They were up to 29 (!!!) last week, most notably tight end Tyler Higbee and safety Jordan Fuller. (UPDATE: no changes late Thursday evening).
- Cam Akers had his 21-day practice window surprisingly opened on Wednesday but it is unlikely he immediately steps into a massive workload even if fully activated.
How los angeles Will Try To Win ::
The Rams suddenly find themselves atop the NFC West and just one game back from the Packers (lose tie-breaker) for the top overall spot in the NFC which is quite impressive considering they’ve been chasing the Cardinals all season. The two biggest stories out of Los Angeles are Cam Akers’ 21-day practice window being opened (Akers has missed the entire season after tearing his ACL before the season began) and Tyler Higbee’s inability to clear the league’s COVID list (as of Thursday). Keep an eye on the respective statuses of these two players as we inch closer to the weekend. The Rams run the league’s fastest situation-neutral offense and sixth-fastest offense overall this season, incorporating above average pass rates (11th overall and sixth with the score within seven points) along the way. They check in with the most points per drive, fourth-most yards per drive, and a fifth-ranked overall drive success rate this season. Minnesota ranks middle of the pack in most defensive drive metrics but has ceded 24.4 points per game (23rd), has allowed the third-most total yards per game, and ranks poorly in both rush and pass defensive metrics.
Sony Michel continued to start last week with Darrell Henderson back in the fold, taking every running back opportunity over the first two drives before Henderson saw his first touch. Cam Akers could possibly return, but for what it’s worth, I highly doubt he is active this week, with a much higher likelihood of the team holding him out until Week 17 or 18 in an attempt to get him some live game reps before the playoffs. The bottom line is there is a wide range of outcomes to consider when picking through this backfield. The likeliest scenario yields Akers inactive, Henderson operating as the change of pace back, while Michel draws another start. Even then, there is a legitimate path to Henderson being more involved in his second game back from injury. The matchup on the ground yields an absolutely elite 4.74 net-adjusted line yards metric on the backs of a 26-spot delta in run game efficiency (Rams rank 6th on offense while the Vikings rank 32nd on defense).
The money-makers of this offense come through the air as Cooper Kupp stands as the far and away top wide receiver on the season, Odell Beckham, Jr. has taken over the downfield role in this offense, and Van Jefferson has assumed the intermediate, ball-moving option. Here’s a quick snapshot of what Cooper Kupp has done this season: he currently leads the NFL in receptions, yards, and receiving touchdowns, he has seen double-digit targets in all but one game (where he saw “only” nine targets), and he has scored more than 20 fantasy points in all but three games. Hot damn, stud alert. What’s more, Matthew Stafford has seemed to lock onto Kupp even more down the stretch, as “any pass-catcher not named Cooper Kupp” has seen a high of only eight targets each of the last three games. The Vikings carry the honor of allowing the sixth-deepest average depth of target and eighth-most total yards after catch in the league. This is a good matchup for this Rams pass attack.
How minnesota Will Try To Win ::
As we’ve talked about all season, this Vikings team relies heavily on their opponent to dictate their pace of play, rush-pass rates, and overall aggression. Minnesota ranks ninth in the league in pass rate with the game within seven points at 59%, which falls to 51% when playing with a lead and jumps to 66% when playing from behind. The biggest indication of a change in philosophy is their situational pace of play, which stands at a 14th-ranked situation-neutral pace of play (30.62 seconds per play) and jumps to a third-ranked 23.34 seconds per play when trailing by seven or more points. Adam Thielen is tentatively expected to return from a one-game absence with a low-grade high ankle sprain, giving this offense one of its top playmakers back. They will, however, be missing starting running back Dalvin Cook, but backup Alexander Mattison has proven highly capable of filling in when needed.
The backfield will be easy to decipher this week with Dalvin Cook out and Alexander Mattison back from the COVID list. Expect Mattison to see an 80%+ snap rate, backed up by Kene Nwangwu. Fullback CJ Ham should see 35-40% of the offensive snaps of his own but has exactly seven rush attempts and 13 targets on the season. The matchup on the ground yields a paltry 4.035 net-adjusted line yards metric against a Rams defense allowing just 23.0 fantasy points per game to opposing backfields. Consider Mattison a high floor, high theoretical ceiling play in a difficult matchup, primarily boosted by expected volume.
The pass game is also expected to be highly concentrated, with only Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, and Alexander Mattison expected to see heavy volume, with KJ Osborn and tight end Tyler Conklin rounding it out in low-volume roles. Should Thielen miss, expect the majority of his volume to flow through Jefferson and Mattison, while the player whose role would grow the most would be Osborn. Ideally, what we see is Thielen active, not for what it does to the Vikings offensive game plan, but for what it does to the potential defensive alignments. The Rams have forced a moderate 7.1 average depth of target but have truly struggled with yards allowed after the catch, ceding the sixth-most in the league. That realm is Justin Jefferson’s realm, who leads Vikings pass-catchers in yards after catch per reception at 4.9. Should Thielen miss, look for Ihmir Smith-Marsette to step into about half of the offensive snaps.
Likeliest Game Flow ::
As is always the case this season, the game environment and pace are likely to be dictated by whomever the Vikings are playing. It just so happens that the team the Vikings are playing this week ranks fifth in the league in points scored per game and play at one of the league’s fastest paces. As such, expect the Vikings to be forced to match the Rams here, leading to a likeliest game flow that involves pace and elevated pass rates from each side. Fantasy goodness abound. There’s not much else that needs to be said here – this game is very clearly the top overall game environment on the slate. Picking through the players with a realistic chance at 40+ fantasy points, two of them come from this game in Cooper Kupp and Justin Jefferson.
TOP PLAYS OF THE WEEKEND
SORTABLE GREEN ZONE TOUCHES
TEAM & PLAYER DK POINTS
DFS+ Interpretation ::
My interest in this game starts with each passing game. Through our exploration of the likeliest game flow, we know the path to the most fantasy goodness comes from the Rams finding success and forcing the Vikings to follow suit. Since we know the Rams bias their attack towards the air, the optimal way of attacking the likeliest game flow goes through Cooper Kupp and Justin Jefferson, who form a high upside correlated pairing from this game.
Either quarterback can be added to that pairing, Adam Thielen or Alexander Mattison can be added to Kirk Cousins due to the highly concentrated nature of the Minnesota offense, and either Odell Beckham, Jr. or Van Jefferson can be added to the Rams side in an attempt to capture a majority of the passing game with a few targeted pieces. Basically, the major players in this game all have merit on this slate and I’ll be looking for ways to get exposure to this game in ways the field is likely not going to be this week. Look for more updates on that in the End Around early Saturday morning!
Any of the aforementioned major players can be considered as one-offs to play to a one-sided affair, a team stack with no bring-back can be rostered to play to that same one-sided affair, and either backfield can be played as leverage off of the likeliest scenario (as in, the touchdowns come on the ground from one, or both sides.
- In the last two months, here’s what alpha #1 wideouts have done vs the Rams:
- Brandin Cooks :: 6-83-1
- A.J. Brown :: 5-42-0
- Deebo Samuel :: 5-97-1
- Davante Adams :: 8-104-0
- DeAndre Hopkins :: 5-54-0
- DK Metcalf :: 6-52-0
- A simple translation here might look like this :: “If your alpha is playing the Rams in season-long, you don’t really need to be too concerned; but if you’re having to pay top-dollar in DFS, you might have a hard time returning elite value”
- This is unfortunate, as this is now the ninth game (out of 11) for which I’m writing up Interpretations, and I’m yet to find a QB I really like
- Given that A) the Vikings have been dog-walked by opposing offenses of late, and that B) Cooper Kupp is pretty obviously the top WR play on the slate, a “Stafford + Kupp + bring-back” stack is particularly attractive in theory
- However, given the price tags on the Vikings receivers (Jefferson in particular), I’m a little less likely to actually go there
- Of course, truly sound DFS Theory throws the matchup out of the window in an instance like this (and if we want to feel a bit more comfortable about that idea, we can note that Jefferson has posted two of his three best yardage games this season against defenses that rank top 12 in fewest WR yards allowed)
- The Vikings defense has allowed the fourth most WR catches and the most WR yards in the league, and I’ll be locking Kupp onto each roster I build (I imagine I’ll have three RBs this week on my final build — in order to take advantage of the positional strength — with Kupp as my first wide receiver, and with plenty of maneuverability on my four remaining non-DST spots from there)
- From that point, nothing from this game jumps out to me (I would love the Rams backfield if we knew one back would see the bulk of the work; but as Hilow pointed out, it wouldn’t be a shock if Henderson saw a bigger workload in this one), but plenty from this game is in play
- Kupp is the Blue Chip play for me
- Stafford // “Rams backfield” // OBJ // Van Jefferson // Justin Jefferson // Adam Thielen // Alexander Mattison are all in the mix
By Dwprix >>
- Total has moved up 1.5 pts to 49.5 making it the highest on the slate
- LAR is favored by 3
- LAR avgs 27.6 pts/g (5th) // MIN allows 24.4 pts/g (23rd)
- MIN avgs 25.8 pts/g (12th) // LAR allows 21.6 pts/g (T-11th)
- Over their last 3, LAR has allowed 13.3 pts/g (2nd best) facing SEA, ARZ, & JAX
- LAR is currently in the 5th seed
- They could realistically finish anywhere from the 1st seed to the 6th seed
- After losing 3 straight by 8 pts or more, all to potential playoff teams (GB, SF, TEN), LAR has won 3 in a row by 7 or more (SEA, ARZ, JAX)
- LAR is 10-4 & 7-7 ATS
- MIN is 7-7 & 8-6 ATS
- MIN is currently in the last playoff spot
- They could miss the playoffs or possibly move up to the 6th seed
- MIN from week 5 on: Won 2 (DET, CAR) // Lost 2 (DAL, BAL) // Won 2 (LAC, GB) // Lost 2 (SF, DET) // Won 2 (PIT, CHI)
- Stafford ($6.7k) is the 6th highest priced QB (Mahomes, Allen, Brady, Herbert, Jackson)
- DK pts when LAR or their opponent scores 30 or more: (23.5, 24.0, 27.0, 11.8, 27.2, 26.2, 20.3, 32.5, 27.3)
- The game where he scored 11.8, LAR only put up 10 pts (@ SF WK 10)
- Stafford has 2 games w/ 30+ DK pts: (30.2 WK 7 vs DET) // (32.5 WK 3 vs TB)
- Notable QB scores vs MIN: (Roethlisberger 28.82) // (Jared Goff 21.94) // (Aaron Rodgers 36.5) // (Jackson 35.64) // (Cooper Rush 22.20) // (Murray 38.10)
- MIN allows 21.1 pts/g to QBs (T-2nd most)
- Kupp’s ($9.1k) season high price was $9.6k vs GB WK 12
- He only has two games not scoring at least 20 DK pts
- There’s only been 2 games where he hasn’t scored a TD
- MIN allows the 4th most yds/rec (10.1) & T-5th most rec TDs/g (1.8)
- LAR tgs last 3: Kupp (13, 15, 10) // Van Jefferson (2, 3, 8) // Beckham (3, 7, 5)
- Notable WR scores vs MIN: (Amon-Ra St. Brown 24.8) // (Davante 33.5 + MVS 25.3) // (Hollywood 23.6) // (Cooper 29.2) // (DK Metcalf 25.7) // (Rondale Moore 27.4) // (Ja’Marr Chase 23.9)
- MIN allows 43.5 pts/g to WRs (most in the league)
- Tyler Higbee & Johnny Mundt are on the COVID list
- Higbee was added DEC 17th so he could play
- He’s missed the previous 2 games
- Higbee tgts in last 4 games: (6, 5, 5, 10)
- Kendall Blanton last 2 w/o Higbee: (0:0, 1 tgt) // (2:29, 3 tgts)
- MIN allows 11.0 pts/g to TEs (10th least)
- Henderson returned last week after missing the previous 2
- Snaps: Henderson (18) // Michel (48)
- Rush Atts:yds: Michel (18:92) // Henderson (6:23)
- Michel ($5.5k) has seen double digit rush atts in three straight games
- Henderson ($5.7k) is avg 4.5 yds/att // Michel 4.2
- MIN allows 24.5 pts/g to RBs (13th most)
- LAR is generating pressure on 36% of dropbacks (best in the league)
- Cousins passer rating drops from 116.9 when clean to 67.2 under pressure (Stafford’s is 82.5 under pressure for an example)
- Cousins DK pts when throwing for at least 300 yds (24.2, 28.2, 31.5, 28.1, 25.0)
- LAR ranks 16th in pass yds allowed (238.4)
- LAR allows 17.7 pts/g to QBs (6th least)
- Cousins ($6.2) is in the price ranges of Jalen Hurts ($6.4k), Russell Wilson ($6.1k), & Joe Burrow ($5.9k)
- Justin Jefferson’s ($8.1k) season price range: ($7k-$8.3k)
- Jefferson has 4 games above 25 DK pts: (38.6, 40.2, 25.9, 29.8)
- Three of them have came in the last 6 games
- LAR has only allowed one player to break 25 DK pts: (Deebo Samuel 30.3)
- Adam Theilen has been out the previous 2 w/ a high ankle sprain
- He’s questionable this week
- KJ Osborn w/o Theilen: (3:21, 3 tgts) // (3:83:1 TD, 9 tgts)
- Osborn’s price from a previous season high last week ($4.2k) to a new season high this week ($4.8k)
- LAR allows 36.1 pts/g to WRs (T-14th most)
- Conklin has broke 50 rec yds 4 times: (7:56, 5:57, 3:71, 7:70)
- $3.9k is down from a season high of $4.1k two weeks ago
- Conklin is priced around: Pat Freiermuth ($4.3k) (Questionable and in concussion protocol) // Tyler Higbee ($3.8k) (Currently on COVID list but could be cleared) // Gerald Everett ($3.7k)
- LAR allows 12.5 pts/g to WRs (12th most)
- Dalvin Cook has seen 28 & 27 rush atts the last two
- His season high is 29
- $8.3k is the highest priced RB on the slate (Ekeler is 2nd @ $8.1k on COVID list)
- Alexander Mattison was on the COVID list last week but has since been cleared
- He’s seen 5.1 rush atts/g with Cook active
- LAR allows 23.0 pts/g to RBs (17th most)