- Cousins has been rough so far, with his only fantasy production coming garbage time vs Green Bay
- TEN ranked closer to the bottom against QBs in 2019 (DK pts), but they also faced the 6th most pass attempts
- Coming off a historically low pass play season (below 500), Cousins has just 51 total attempts through two weeks despite being blown out in both
- Melvin Gordon and James Robinson both found success on the ground vs TEN, combining for 31 att for 180 yds, 2 TD
- Three short TDs have saved Cook’s fantasy production, as he has just 26 att for 113 yds and 3 rec for 6 yds through two weeks
- Thielen has 8 targets in both games, but without the deep TDs like in Week 1, he finished with just 31 yds in Week 2
- Thielen currently has the highest market share of team air yards in the NFL
- Ryan Tannehill is averaging 23.6 DK pts in his 12 regular season starts for TEN
- Tannehill threw for 396 yds, 4 TD, INT in his first career matchup vs Mike Zimmer
- Zimmer’s 2020 MIN defense has allowed games of 364 yds, 4 TD to Rodgers and 214 yds, TD to Rivers
- MIN lost another starter on defense in LB Anthony Barr
- Through two weeks, MIN has allowed 139 yds, TD to GB RBs and 141 yds, TD to IND RBs
- Through two weeks, Henry is averaging 28 att for 100 yds
- Jonnu Smith has been Tannehill’s best weapon so far in 2020, producing 8 rec (12) for 120 yds, 3 TD
- MIN just allowed 111 yds on 5 rec to Mo Alie-Cox
Game Overview ::
- The Vikings are banged up, and will look to lean on the run
- The Titans will look to lean on the run, and are also set up well through the air
- This game could be higher-scoring than most in the DFS community will give it credit for
- It’s difficult to isolate individual pieces from this game to fall in love with on single-entry/three-entry-max builds, but there are some ways to bet on this game environment as a whole
How Minnesota will try to win ::
The Vikings (correctly or incorrectly) see themselves as a playoff team; and they are also a well-coached team. At 0-2, the chances are high that they will come out focused and ready to play well in this one — whatever that means, given the step back their offense has taken so far in the absence of Stefon Diggs, and given all the talent loss on defense (between offseason and injuries: Xavier Rhodes // Trae Waynes // Linval Joseph // Everson Griffin // Danielle Hunter // Anthony Barr). Unfortunately for Minnesota, they will be taking on a Tennessee team that goes fairly opponent-specific in their defensive game plans (likely leading to a “force the Vikings to win with anyone but Dalvin Cook and Adam Thielen” approach; not that the Titans will be 100% successful in this approach, but expect it to be their focus), and that sets up well on offense to take advantage of the depleted Vikings defense.
Look for Minnesota to try to keep the ball on the ground for as long as they can when they’re in possession, and look for them to try to tighten up downfield and force long drives from the Titans offense (Minnesota will know they can’t necessarily “force stops” here, but they can force Tennessee to go on long drives that require them to play mistake-free football).
How Tennessee will try to win ::
The Titans want to force linebackers and safeties to pay attention to Derrick Henry, as this allows them to run Jonnu Smith and wide receivers horizontally or diagonally through multiple zones of the defense. With the linebackers and safeties pulled forward by Henry and pulled side-to-side by the action in the pass game, holes eventually open up, and Arthur Smith is then able to get into a play-calling rhythm that finds and exploits the holes that are created. Against a talent-depleted, zone-leaning defense like Zimmer’s, the Titans are set up well for success. A.J. Brown is expected to miss another week, so we’ll take a look at how this game sets up for DFS in the Interpretation segment; but one way or another, the Titans should find ways to maneuver down the field against the Vikings defense.
Likeliest Game Flow ::
Last season, both of these teams finished top four in rush play rate, and both defenses ranked top three in fewest rushes allowed of 20+ yards (the Vikings ranked second, allowing only five such rushes all year; the Titans tied with the Steelers and Patriots in third place at six such rushes allowed). The Vikings are the team likelier to crack in this area, but they are still going to be a fundamentally sound defense that makes big plays more difficult for opponents (last season, for example, the Vikings shaved almost 25% off the league-average YAC/r rate — by far the best mark in the league; the Titans, by the way, shaved almost 8% off themselves; these two teams are fairly similar in a lot of their general philosophies and approaches). Tennessee is the better team, but both of these teams are fundamentally going to be good in the red zone, while the Titans struggled to defend in the red zone last year, finishing bottom five in opponent red zone touchdown rate (the Vikings, for whatever it’s worth, were the second best defense in the red zone a season ago). The raw ceiling on this game is somewhat capped by the way each of these teams likes to win games, but we nevertheless have some sneaky high-scoring potential here, with good coaches all the way around, and with some good offensive pieces. The Titans are likelier to control this game, but it’s likely to remain competitive throughout. This would likely leave each team at 31 or fewer pass attempts (in his last 12 games, including playoffs, Ryan Tannehill has topped 27 pass attempts only three times, while Kirk Cousins has gone seven consecutive games with 31 or fewer pass attempts), and would likely give each running back a clear path to 23+ touches. Scoring should come from in close, rather than from big plays (giving a bump to running backs — though Jonnu, Corey Davis, and Adam Thielen are all used near the end zone as well), and the ultimate outcome of the game may depend on whether these teams are scoring touchdowns or are settling for field goals. 23-20 is about the lowest score we would expect here, with clear upside to something like a 24 to 27 game, or even 27-31 (before last week, the Vikings’ game totals had hit 49+ in five consecutive games against non-division opponents, while the Titans have quietly scored 31+ points in six of their last nine regular season games). I haven’t yet looked at the Over/Under, but I’m guessing it’s around 45.5, or maybe even 46.5 — which would look slightly high for these two teams at first glance; but I would actually go as high as 48.5 here myself (wow; good on Vegas — they have this game at 49.0, as of Wednesday night; though, after digging in on a deeper level, I guess it’s more “good on the early-week sharps”; this line opened at 45.5 before quickly being bet up). Scoring would finish in a tight range around these numbers in most scenarios; but when it’s all said and done, there’s a good chance here that both teams find a way to put up points.
DFS+ Interpretation ::
Games in which the total is moving up aggressively are always spots we should pay attention to as DFS players (and for me, at least, this is further deepened by the fact that Vegas started this line right where I expected to find it, and the line has since moved right where I would have set it). The public thinks of “low scoring” when they see these names, and that may help lower ownership in DFS this weekend.
Of course, it’s a little more difficult to recommend how to play this spot, as Dalvin Cook and Derrick Henry are both priced high enough that they need multiple scores simply to reach value, as neither team is passing enough to give their back a serious pass game boost (especially the Titans — who pass even less than the Vikings, and who use Henry far less in the pass game). Beyond this, the pass game volume is too low to make any of these pass catchers more than a “bet on touchdown” play as well (in most game scripts here, Thielen will max out at 10 or 11 targets, and his likeliest range is eight to nine — which is fine, but is still tough to pay up for when guys with bigger downfield roles and a much clearer shot at double-digits are also hanging out in his price range, and when the Titans are the sort of team that can be more purposeful than most in forcing the Vikings to beat them away from Thielen; Thielen will see his targets no matter what, but the matchup cuts off a lot of his paths to a truly high-target game, and many of the targets he sees are likely to be in tight windows).
In spots like this, I prefer to bet on the game environment, rather than isolating individual plays; and if betting on the game environment, the place I would actually want to start is Tannehill, who gets you some leverage in the fact that no one ever thinks of rostering him, while giving you enough upside to be worth the perceived risk. Tanny has gone for 25+ DraftKings points in five of his last 10 regular season games (22+ on FanDuel), with only one game below 17.9 points. We’re a ways away from the weekend, but I could see myself ending up with something like three Tannehill rosters on a 26-roster block :: one with Jonnu (five targets last week), one with Davis (five targets last week), and one with Tanny naked. I might then bring one of those back with Dalvin, one of those back with Thielen, and one of those back with both. And then I might hedge with a couple Henry rosters — betting that if Tanny disappoints, it will be because Henry is having a big day. Outside of these isolated bets, I wouldn’t be rostering players from this game, but this would get me exposure on my Roster Block, in case the points in this game concentrate on the cornerstone pieces of these offenses.