The Vikings and Packers will match up this week in a game in which big plays and big mistakes will both be difficult to come by. Given the elite levels at which most of these players are priced (with Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs STILL priced for their workloads from the first half of last season, with Dalvin Cook priced up after his big Week 1, and with the Packers priced like a team with Aaron Rodgers under center), this game becomes immediately unattractive in cash games, as we have an early-week Over/Under of 44.0 to go with those high prices. Last year the Vikings allowed the sixth fewest pass plays of 20+ yards, the fourth fewest wide receiver receptions, and the second fewest wide receiver touchdowns — and the clearest way for this game to turn into a shootout (which will almost have to happen for any of these core pieces to post a week-winning score at their prices), the Packers will almost certainly need to jump out to a lead and force the Vikings to open things up.
If you choose to attack this game in tournaments, the scenario above (Packers striking quickly and forcing the Vikings to get aggressive with their elite wide receivers) is the highest-upside path to build around — and frankly, trying to isolate individual pieces outside that scenario leaves you doing a bit more guessing than is strictly necessary, even in tourneys. If you do want to isolate some individual players, however:
In nine career games against the Vikings, Davante Adams has never topped 64 receiving yards (a pretty stunning bit of defensive mastery by this squad — especially over the last couple years, when “65+ yards” has typically been a given for Adams). Adams has remained a focal point throughout these contests the last couple years, and he has scored in four consecutive games against the Vikings. He also has the role and ability to buck these trends if you want to chase — but again: his price doesn’t reflect the difficulty of this matchup (and ownership likely won’t fully reflect it either), making him a better piece to build around in “shootout expectation” scenarios than to rely on in core builds.
With the Vikings potentially missing Mackensie Alexander this week, they could be down to Mike Hughes; and with Xavier Rhodes on Adams and a weakened secondary elsewhere, there is an outside shot that Marquez Valdes-Scantling sees more looks and produces accordingly. (MVS had something of a breakout game last year against the Patriots when Stephon Gilmore was on Adams. Of course, Rhodes is not Gilmore.)
Geronimo Allison, Jimmy Graham, and even Aaron Rodgers are just guessing and hoping for the best outside of “Packers jump out to a lead” game stacks. Aaron Jones has a difficult matchup as well and had a concerning and somewhat unexpected timeshare with Jamaal Williams in Week 1. Especially with Rodgers’ tendency to pass the ball close to the end zone, he’s somewhat high-risk as well.
A bet on the Vikings’ passing attack would be a bet on extreme efficiency or (again) the Packers jumping out to a lead. The matchup isn’t great against the Packers’ slightly-above-average secondary on an improving defense (especially as Pettine’s blitzes could give Kirk Cousins and his poor offensive line fits), but if you’re betting on a scenario like this, you can pretty much throw matchup out of the window. The Packers did allow 22 touchdowns to wideouts last year (fourth most in the league), so betting on a multi-touchdown game from one of Diggs // Thielen and hoping for yards to pile up from there would be your best way to go.
This swings us to the safest piece in this game :: Dalvin Cook. Cook played only 67.9% of the Vikings snaps last week, but this was affected by the final couple drives when Alexander Mattison began to take over. Cook looks like about a 75% to 80% player; and while we don’t yet know whether or not he will see the bulk of the work near the goal line (it seems unlikely that he will), his integrated role (he’s almost certain to touch the ball at least 20 times in this run-heavy offense) and his score-from-anywhere-on-the-field skill set gives him enough upside to remain in the tourney conversation independent of game flow. The Packers do practice against a similar run scheme each day in practice; but this wouldn’t be enough to scare me off Cook if I were wanting some tourney exposure.
JM’s Interpretation ::
This is not a game I’ll be looking toward heavily myself, as the clearest path to these guys putting up week-winning scores at their respective prices is for the Packers to jump out to a big, early lead, and there are just other bets I would rather make this week. But I will have a little bit of MVS in large-field tourneys, and I’ll toy around with Cook in smaller-field stuff. I also like a large-field shot on the Packers’ D, as they could disrupt the line and force Cousins into mistakes — either because “cautious Cousins” holds onto the ball too long and takes sacks (with potential for a fumble-six), or because the “aggressive Cousins” they’re trying to develop tries to force some throws that aren’t there, leading to interceptions. Because the Vikings are both A) disciplined, and B) run-heavy, this isn’t a staple defense to lean on; but there’s enough upside to think about them as a home unit that may go overlooked in large-field play.