- Frank Reich has faced Zimmer three times as an OC, winning both with PHI (21-10, 38-7) and losing with LAC (14-31)
- Rivers is 2-5 vs Zimmer as CIN DC & MIN HC, averaging 253.9 yds, 1.14 TDs, 1.72 TOs, 2.4 sacks
- Playing behind a much better offensive line in IND, Rivers wasn’t sacked for the first time since Week 5 of last year
- Rivers began the season with 363 yds passing & a TD, but he also threw 2 INTs
- MIN’s inexperienced CBs and weakened D-Line allowed GB to have a field day passing the ball (364 yds & 4 TDs)
- Parris Campbell & TY Hilton each received a team-high 9 targets in Week 1, and Hilton’s 53 yd day probably looks better without his 2 drops on the final drive
- While Adams was lighting up the defense every which way, Valdez-Scantling beat the MIN Def for 2 deep balls (1 TD): TY Hilton has been one of the best deep receivers in football during his career, and Parris Campbell is one of the NFL’s fastest players
- Rivers has targeted RBs at least 100 times in every season of his career, and his top targeted RB has ranked either 1st or 2nd in team targets in 4 of the last 5 years
- In Week 1, Hines, Taylor, & Mack each received 8, 6, & 3 targets
- With Mack now done for year, Hines & Taylor will now split all of Rivers RB targets
- GB RBs didn’t produce much through the air, but they caught 9 total passes vs MIN
- GB RBs on the ground produced 139 yds on 28 att vs MIN
- Jonathan Taylor was 23 yards short of finishing with 2000+ rushing yards in all 3 of his NCAA seasons
- Hines’s 73 total yds were the 3rd most of his career, and the most since Week 8 of 2018
- After allowing five 3+ touchdown passers in 2019, IND’s defense opened 2020 allowing Minshew to complete 19/20 passes for 173 yds, 3 TD
- Against a tough QB matchup in Week 1, Cousins managed to put up 22.8 DK pts thanks to some garbage time comeback scoring
- Most of the receiving production that IND allowed in Week 1 came to JAC WRs, as Cole, Shenault, & Chark combined for 109 yds, 3 TD
- Eight WRs finished between 24 & 34 DK pts vs IND in 2019
- IND ranked 24th in Explosive Pass rate allowed to WRs in 2019
- Adam Thielen’s 8 targets were 4 more than anyone else, and he hooked up with Cousins on multiple deep balls, finishing with 6 rec for 110 yds, 2 TD
- Thielen had the NFL’s 4th highest share of team air yards in Week 1 (55.5%)
- Irv Smith only ran 2 more routes (16) than Rudolph (14)
- IND limited RBs to 9th fewest DK pts in 2019 thanks to the 6th fewest rushing yds & 10th fewest receiving yds allowed
- IND did allow the most RB receptions in 2019: JAC RBs caught 4 passes for 36 yds in Week 1
- Prior to his injury last year (10 games), Cook averaged 4 rec for 42.4 yds
- Cook only played on 58% of the snaps in Week 1, however the blowout nature of the game likely played a role in this
- Cook still dominated usage near the endzone with 2 short touchdowns
Game Overview ::
- The sun rises in the east and sets on Mike Zimmer trying to run the ball to win
- The Colts opened up their offense last week with a pass-heavy approach
- Reich is great in the red zone; so is Zimmer; this matchup will dictate the flow of this game
- This seemingly high Over/Under may actually be a bit low; there are pieces with a shot at breaking out in this game, and there are ways to bet on this game as a whole
How Minnesota will try to win ::
In Week 1 against the Packers, the Vikings had six first-and-10 plays when the score was within seven points. They chose to run the ball on five of those six plays. No team ran the ball on first and 10 within seven points at a higher rate than Minnesota (while the list around them is littered with the expected — Baltimore, Chicago, Las Vegas, both teams from Los Angeles…and the unexpected, in the Bucs), and this paints a perfect picture of how the Vikings would prefer to win. Even trailing for most of their game against the Packers, Minnesota threw the ball on only 55% of plays (league average is generally around 62% to 63%), and last year they ranked 30th in pass play rate, while Kirk Cousins topped 32 pass attempts in only a third of his games (while never topping 38 attempts).
Furthermore, we know that the Colts’ defense is designed to keep the ball in front of them — with Gardner Minshew’s Week 1 stat line (19 of 20 passing, but with his average pass traveling only 4.5 yards downfield) a perfect encapsulation of what the Colts want to turn their opponents into. Cousins and the Vikings’ offense are too aggressive to settle for 4.5 yards through the air per pass — but the farther downfield they look, the more concentrated the defense’s focus will be.
How Indianapolis will try to win ::
Indy made us look smart last week by shedding their run-heavy ways and allowing Philip Rivers to let it rip. On first and 10 with the score within seven points, the Colts threw the ball at the ninth highest rate in the league, and this week they get to take on a Vikings team that got rinsed repeatedly by Aaron Rodgers on Sunday. As noted last week :: Mike Zimmer is likely to eventually get this defense playing well; but his scheme relies on communication and precision to mask talent deficiencies, and that can take several weeks to come together. Indy should be able to move the ball through the air in this one, which should keep them leaning pass-heavy for at least another week. It’s worth noting that Rivers is one of the best quarterbacks in the league when blitzed (in five of the last seven years, Rivers has posted a better passer rating when blitzed than when not blitzed!), and Minnesota tried to make up for their lack of pass rush on Sunday by blitzing at the third highest rate in the league. Zimmer is not typically a blitz-heavy coach, so he may not try this again; but it’s either blitz and hope Rivers makes some mistakes, or it’s don’t blitz and give him plenty of time with this mismatch in the trenches. (Not only did the Vikings lose studs Linval Joseph and Everson Griffin in the offseason, but their last remaining stud up front — Danielle Hunter — was put in I.R. this week. The Colts, of course, have one of the best lines in football.) Either way, this spot sets up well for the Colts’ passing attack.
In the run game, the Colts will lean on “potential rookie phenom” Jonathan Taylor after losing Marlon Mack for the year. Taylor and Mack combined for only 37 snaps on Sunday (Nyheim Hines had 39 snaps of his own), while the strength of the Vikings is still their linebackers, making Taylor a bit of a leap of faith in DFS this week. But we should see a mix of Taylor runs and Hines pass game involvement, and if you want to resort to guessing, it won’t be surprising if one or the other puts up a solid game.
Likeliest game flow ::
There aren’t many games in which you could say the Vikings are likely to throw the ball 36+ times; but this is the sort of game in which the Vikings could get closer to that number, as Indy should be able to move the ball in this spot and put pressure on Minnesota on the scoreboard. Indy has been a top eight red zone offense both years under Reich, while Minnesota has finished as one of the five toughest red zone defenses in three consecutive years under Zimmer. This is the matchup that should dictate the way this game plays out, as Indy field goals in the red zone could lead to a more closed-up game flow; while Indy breaking through for touchdowns against this still-raw defense could open up this game quite a bit — to where the Vikings are attacking more heavily (and to where this is also opening up a bit more space for Cook underneath).
DFS+ Interpretation ::
With Stefon Diggs gone and Olabisi Johnson presenting no real threat, I’m a bit concerned about this Vikings offense at the moment — not in terms of raw performance so much as the price tag you have to pay in order to lock in Dalvin Cook or Adam Thielen. The Colts will be selling out to stop these two, and Thielen’s ownership and price are both likely to rise after he turned his eight Week 1 targets into 110 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Thielen can rise above eight targets, but that’s the bet I would want to be making if going to him (i.e., I would want to say, “I expect this to be a pass-heavy game,” and I would want to build accordingly — looping in the Colts pieces that I would expect to be responsible for forcing the Vikings to lean more heavily on the pass; to put all that another way :: if you roster Thielen, you are either taking a pricey, popular-ish guy and hoping he’s massively efficient on around eight or nine targets; or you are giving yourself an edge on the field by including that pricey, popular guy in a more unique roster construction that bets on him getting more targets than normal, and bets on X piece on the Colts (or X pieces on the Colts) putting up points and forcing this more aggressive attack from Minnesota; obviously, this second path is much better in terms of long-term net-positive ROI). As you know, I love Dalvin Cook in this offense, and I love him as a player; and I love Thielen as a player. But neither pops off the page in this spot. I’ll likely avoid Dalvin this week and hope he finishes on the lower end of his range (while recognizing that even the higher end of his likeliest range — 30 points on DK; 24 points on FD — won’t kill me if I miss out at his price tag), and I’ll likely avoid Thielen unless I’m stacking him with Colts pieces.
With all that said: I do think Colts pieces (and thus: stacking Thielen with Colts pieces) can be considered here. 23 to 31 points would be our general scoring expectation for the Colts here if we were playing this game out over and over again, and Minnesota is solid enough on offense to keep pace by the time it’s all said and done. I put the Vikings’ scoring range at 19 to 30 here, and would actually put the Over/Under at more like 49.5 than the 48.0 at which Vegas has it. (Which is not what I would have expected when eyeballing this game — and which may be what’s keeping this total down a bit.)
The Colts very much treated Parris Campbell like a co-number-one in Week 1 — giving him the most snaps of any skill position player (two more than T.Y. Hilton), and feeding him nine targets and one carry. He had a very healthy aDOT of 11.4, while Hilton also saw nine targets at an aDOT of 12.4. Each guy lines up nicely for seven to 10 targets in this spot as a moderate-floor, high-upside option.
Elsewhere on the Colts, Taylor saw six targets last week; and while he’s likelier to see 15 carries and three or four targets than to again see nine carries and six targets, that usage should still be noted. It’s also worth noting that Mack himself saw three targets against the Jaguars before going down. If that’s what this role continues looking like with Rivers, it becomes pretty enticing, even in a less-than-perfect matchup. Behind Taylor, Hines is a bet on his role continuing at the same level he saw last week (seven carries, eight targets) — which would be a bold bet at what will likely be heightened ownership, but is not necessarily a “fish move.” Hines could very easily see another five to seven carries and five to seven targets here. His floor is low, but there are arrows that point to this play. Finally: the Colts may pass enough to support players beyond the two main wideouts and the two main backs (Jack Doyle played the third most snaps among Colts skill position players and saw four targets; Mo Alie-Cox saw two targets; and Michael Pittman and Zach Pascal were both involved), but these guys are mostly just bet-on-touchdown plays (best reserved for if you’re betting heavily on the other pieces and want to hedge with some additional exposure). (Note: If Doyle and Pittman both miss (Doyle has missed three practices, as of Thursday, and Pittman popped up with a toe issue), Mo Alie-Cox has a clearer shot at four or five targets; but perhaps more importantly, that should concentrate the touches across the remainder of this team.)
All in all, there’s a surprising amount to like in this game. It’s not a perfect spot; but it certainly has some angles that can be played.