Showdown Slant ::
Presented by top Showdown mind Xandamere!
Let’s wrap up week 13 with an exciting game: Vikings at Seahawks, with a healthy game total of 50. The Hawks are 2.5 point home favorites, which falls into “tossup” range. The Seahawks are a run-first offense taking on a defense that has been much more vulnerable to the pass, which may lead to some game plans opening up, while the Seahawks are kind of middling everywhere and the Vikings, of course, have one of the narrowest volume distributions in the NFL. This is going to be a fun one.
We’ll start with the Seahawks and their run game. The news here is Chris Carson and his problems holding onto the football. After playing 80% or more of the snaps in most weeks (and averaging 73% for the season as a whole), Carson only played 54% last week against the Eagles, seeing 8 carries and 4 targets. Penny played 48% of the snaps and saw 14 carries, which he parlayed into 129 yards and a touchdown. Carson has fumbled 4 times in the last 3 games, though he’s only lost 1, and it could be that the Seahawks coaching staff is losing patience with his ball security challenges. Or, they could just be playing the hot hand, as Penny was running well while Carson was struggling to a mediocre 3.3 yards per carry in that game. We’re seeing coachspeak this week about how much the Seahawks value Carson (because what else are they going to say?) but also about how they want to get Penny more involved. Pete Carroll is, of course, one of the worst when it comes to coachspeak. This is a tricky situation and you’ll have to take a stand on how you think it plays out. Personally I think it’s still Carson in the driver’s seat as long as he A) runs well and B) doesn’t fumble. If he fumbles or struggles to move the ball, don’t be surprised to see Penny pick up more work.
The Seattle pass game is, as always, a low volume vertical attack that plays off of their running offense. The Seahawks tend to acquire yardage on the ground but score in the air, which tends to cap the ceilings of just about everyone except Russ Wilson. It really takes a shootout to bring the Seahawks out of their shell, and nowhere is this clearer than Tyler Lockett’s game logs. Despite averaging a very healthy 17.3 DK points per game, Lockett has only cleared 20 points twice, when he scored 35.4 and 43.2 in shootouts with the Saints and Bucs. DK Metcalf is in the same boat except with lower floor, median, and ceiling outcomes; he’s a fine enough play if you want to bet on the long touchdown and his 16.6 yards per catch is up among the leaders of the NFL, but he’s objectively overpriced for his median. The biggest question in the receiving corps is going to be about Josh Gordon, who was part of a pretty even 3-way split last week with David Moore and Malik Turner, but who should separate going forward as he becomes more familiar with the offense. Whether Gordon climbs to 40%, 50%, or 75%+ of the snaps is a major question this week, because he could be anywhere from a bit overpriced (Moore and Turner are much cheaper) to significantly underpriced and we just don’t know. This is a great spot to bet on in tournaments, though. Finally, Jacob Hollister is probably my favorite overall receiver on the Seahawks. He’s barely more than the kickers at just $4,800 and “Seahawks tight end” has been a valuable role all year. Hollister was banged up a bit last week but does not carry an injury designation going into this game.
The Minnesota running game is, of course, all about Dalvin Cook. As long as the game is close, Cook operates like a bellcow, and he should be good for 20-24 touches here including 4-7 targets. The Seahawks are not an aggressive offense so the chances of a blowout are pretty minimal; this should be a close affair throughout. Alexander Mattison only really sees meaningful volume when the game is a blowout, with double digit touches only in multi-score wins over Washington, Oakland, and Philly. Since a Vikings blowout seems exceedingly unlikely in this game that makes Mattison a pretty thin play as you’re just hoping for a fluky touchdown.
In the passing game, even after the bye, Adam Thielen is not ready to return. I’d expect the Vikings to continue what they did when we last saw them in week 11, which was to run almost entirely out of 12-personnel. In week 11 Diggs played 98% of the snaps, Bisi Johnson played 81%, and then Laquon Treadwell and Josh Doctson played just 13% and 11%, respectively, with Kyle Rudolph playing 87% and Irv Smith at 81%. That’s a nice and tight distribution of volume; unless you’re searching for a fluke touchdown, you can just focus on those 4 guys along with Cousins and Cook on the Vikings. Diggs, surprisingly, has not seen a significant uptick in volume since Thielen went down, with target counts of 5, 6, and 5 in the games since Thielen was hurt. With one primary weapon in the pass game, Diggs is seeing coverage tilted his way, and Cousins seems unwilling to force the ball to him in tight coverage when he can utilize one of his other weapons. Diggs is a strong tournament play but you’re paying a pretty high premium for what is likely to be a relatively small number of targets. Bisi saw 9 targets against Denver in week 11, albeit with just 5.8 yards per catch, significantly lower than his overall season average of 9.4. I expect Bisi to be a viable play here and at just $2,600 he has a strong chance of outscoring the kickers. Kyle Rudolph is mostly a red zone threat and needs touchdowns to put up points, though he has 4 in his last 3 games. At $6,600 he’s overpriced but not without upside as a heavily used weapon when the Vikings get close. Irv Smith has seen 6, 6, and 3 targets without Thielen and while they have mostly been short yardage looks, Smith is fairly athletic and fast and does possess some burst. Of the non-Diggs receivers, when price is considered, I would rank them as Bisi, then Smith, then Rudolph.
The way this game is most likely to play out is a fairly close, back and forth affair. Both teams are happy to lean on the run when the game is close, with Seattle 27th and Minnesota 30th in passing play percentage on the season. The most likely way for the game to get more aggressive is if the Vikings are able to build a multi-score lead, which would likely lead to the Seahawks taking the brakes off of Russ a bit and opening up their playbook. The chances of a real back and forth high-scoring affair are pretty reasonable, but it could also remain a slower, grinding game throughout if neither team is able to grab the reins and jump out to a bigger lead.
Some other ways the game could play out:
- Well, like I just mentioned above, an aerial shootout is well within the realm of possibility here if one team gets out to a 2 score lead.
- I always think that the likelihood of a team, especially a road team, just falling flat in a reasonably difficult matchup are underrated. The Vikings are a pretty narrow team right now, which we like as DFS players….but defensive coordinators also like. Cousins has had several games in his career in which he just implodes, so that would not be a surprising outcome.
My favorite overall captain here is Russ, followed by Diggs. Cook is hard to make work and I think his likelihood of outscoring Russ is low (if Cook has a really big game, that means the Seahawks offense becomes more aggressive in response, which means Russ likely goes off, etc. etc.). I’m normally not a QB captain guy, but since individual Seahawks receivers rarely pick up tons of yardage, Russ is one of my exceptions.
Some groups to consider:
- At most 1 kicker
- At most 1 defense
- Pair captain receivers with their QB
- Pair captain Cousins with at least 2 receivers and captain Russ with at least 1 receiver (Carson included here, though I don’t think I would include Penny)
- At most 1 of Gordon, Turner, and Moore
- At most 2 of Russ, Carson, and Penny
JM’s Notes for Thursday-to-Monday Players ::
- At 49.0, Vikings at Seahawks carries the second highest Over/Under on the 14 game slate, and it has the added bonus of carrying a low spread (Seahawks by 3.0), creating an opportunity for multiple plays from this game to matter.
- On the Vikings side, Adam Thielen is expected to return, which will effectively turn this offense into “Cook // Thielen // Diggs,” with the tight ends involved as well (but difficult to bank on, especially on a slate this large). On the Seahawks side, Rashaad Penny seems to have finally regained a foothold in the Seattle backfield (rendering both he and Chris Carson purely speculative), while Tyler Lockett (two) and DK Metcalf (one) have combined to produce only three really usable price-considered scores all season.
- The most attractive play on the Seattle side, unsurprisingly, is Russell Wilson, whose biggest obstacle here is his team’s tendency to “play for the fourth quarter” and to limit his volume throughout the game as a result. Russ joins Mahomes and Lamar as solid bets for the highest score on the slate — though his chances of getting there are a bit lower, and his floor if he misses is lower as well.
- My favorite pass catcher on Seattle is Jacob Hollister, who has a great matchup against the Vikings and boasts recent target counts of 6 // 2 // 6 // 10 // 4. Hollister sustained a foot injury last week that limited his snaps and could impact him this week, but tight end is almost always ugly, and this role in the Seattle offense has produced all season. Russ Naked is also always in play, of course, while Lockett and (to a lesser extent) Metcalf have monster ceiling — though you’re required to take on a lower price-considered floor to get there.
- There is a chance for this game to turn into a completely run-leaning affair between these two teams; and while Dalvin Cook hasn’t quite shown the floor/ceiling of CMC, he’s largely matchup-proof and is an interesting tourney piece in this spot.
- If you want to bet on the passing attacks here, one of Thielen/Diggs is likely to post a solid game, while either has a shot at producing one of the more attractive scores on the slate. All three Vikings would be in Tier 3 for me. Russ, Hollister, and Lockett would be Tier 3 as well — and while I wouldn’t bet on him myself, Metcalf is also in the mix.