Kickoff Sunday, Sep 29th 4:25pm Eastern

Vikings (
18.5) at

Bears (
19.5)

Over/Under 38.0

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Notes

Key Matchups
Vikings Run D
25th DVOA/26th Yards allowed per carry
Bears Run O
22nd DVOA/14th Yards per carry
Vikings Pass D
16th DVOA/28th Yards allowed per pass
Bears Pass O
27th DVOA/30th Yards per pass
Bears Run D
23rd DVOA/23rd Yards allowed per carry
Vikings Run O
27th DVOA/17th Yards per carry
Bears Pass D
10th DVOA/3rd Yards allowed per pass
Vikings Pass O
11th DVOA/11th Yards per pass

:: The Week 4 “Pre-Grid”

:: PLAY FANTASYDRAFT HERE (note on this in the Angles Pod)

The last four meetings between these two teams — starting with the most recent — have produced combined point totals of 34 // 45 // 33 // 37. It probably doesn’t need to be said, but I’ll say it anyway:

This game should be a defensive slug-fest — and given that the Bears spread the ball around so heavily and the Vikings are unlikely to post a big game against the Bears, you could probably get away with just ignoring this game completely. One important angle to consider before you move on, however:

The Vikings have had an easy time running the ball so far this season — but the Bears are as difficult of a run matchup as a team can run into. Last year was last year, of course; but it is still very much worth noting that Kirk Cousins had 46 and 33 pass attempts in his two games against the Bears last season, while Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray combined for 13 carries in each game. Adam Thielen saw 12 and four targets in those two games. Stefon Diggs saw 18 and 10.

While the Vikings obviously don’t have many total air yards on the year, their distribution has remained more concentrated than any team in the league — with Thielen racking up 48.26% of the Vikings’ air yards so far (which leads the NFL), and with Diggs ranking eighth in the league with 41.51% of Minnesota’s air yards. If Cousins has to throw the ball 35 times in this spot (which is likely, as long as the Vikings keep their drives going long enough to run a comfortable number of plays), Thielen and Diggs should easily combine for 15 to 18 of those looks with upside for more (these two have 44.4% of the targets on this team so far) — while soaking up all the pass game upside on this team. There is a chance for the Bears pass rush to completely disrupt Cousins, and scoring expectations in this game as a whole are low; but it is very viable in tournaments to chase the upside on these pieces.

The only other piece worth talking about on this side of the ball (in this incredibly concentrated attack) is Cook. With his price tag rising and the matchup so difficult, you’re really just “hoping for the best” if you take him this week; but he’ll be on the field plenty and has a floor of at least 17 or 18 touches even if game flow (due to score, or due to potential futility on the ground) works against him. He is a candidate to go over-owned for his likeliest range of outcomes as people try to figure out where to spend their salary this week; but his ability to score from anywhere on the field still keeps him in the conversation.

Once price is factored in, the Bears offense has produced only one “have to have it” score this year (and in fact, they have produced only two truly startable scores this year, with salary factored in) — and the fact that this “have to have it” game came from Taylor Gabriel says more about this spread-the-wealth offense than it does about Gabriel’s ability to bankably repeat that performance.

This offense leans on Allen Robinson as the main piece (12th in the NFL in percentage share of team air yards), while spreading the ball around behind him enough that you know a few big scores will emerge throughout the year…but you also know that you won’t be able to know where they’ll come from. Against one of the toughest defenses in the NFL — in what should be a low-scoring spot — the best approach here is to either A) avoid completely, or B) play a scenario that calls for this game turning into a higher-scoring affair than anticipated, and trying to capture a big wide receiver score from Minnesota or one or two “hope you guess right” scores from the Bears. Xavier Rhodes should be on Robinson — but while he’s a solid player, he hasn’t been a shutdown force for a couple years (so far this year: 12 receptions allowed on 14 targets, with a 105.4 passer rating on passes thrown in his direction — per PFF). You could bet on Robinson; or you could bet on A-Rob being slowed and the Bears having to go somewhere else. All of this is thin, of course — against a Minnesota defense that is among the best in football vs the wide receiver position.

JM’s Interpretation ::

As noted at the top of this game: you could leave this game alone altogether, and a good 80% of the time you wouldn’t even notice.

Among the remaining “20% of the time,” half would prove to be big, but unpredictable scores; and the remaining times would likely yield a big price-considered day from Thielen and/or Diggs. The latter two pieces are the only I’m likely to have interest in myself — and at this point in the week, those are looking like large-field-only plays for me this week.