Minnesota Vikings (3-5, 4-4 ATS) at Los Angeles Chargers (5-3, 5-3), 4:05 p.m.
Brolley’s Vikings Stats and Trends
Minnesota has played over the total in six straight road games.
Dalvin Cook had assault, battery, and false imprisonment charges levied against him in a lawsuit from a former girlfriend this week. He’s likely to play this week but Alexander Mattison should be rostered moving forward in case the NFL elects to do something with the developing situation. Cook ran for 100+ yards for the third time in six games last week, but he’s fallen below 20+ receiving yards in five straight contests. The Chargers are allowing the most rushing yards per game (130.0) and a generous 4.9 YPC to RBs this season.
Kirk Cousins has fallen below 200 passing yards in consecutive games and he’s averaging just 5.9 YPA in that span, but he reached 21.6 FP thanks to a short rushing TD. Only two QBs have reached 20+ FP and three QBs have multiple passing TDs in eight games against the Chargers this season.
Justin Jefferson caught a 50-yard touchdown on Minnesota’s first drive of the game last week, but he managed just 2/19 receiving on four targets the rest of the way against the Ravens. It’s no surprise Kirkie has just 371 passing yards the last two weeks with Jefferson seeing just nine targets in that span. The Chargers are giving up the second-fewest FPG (26.2) to WRs this season, but their secondary is beat up heading into this matchup. DeVonta Smith got them for 5/116/1 receiving last week.
Adam Thielen nearly had a grisly game last week with just a five-yard catch before he scored a one-yard touchdown to force overtime with about a minute left in the game. He’s now scored touchdowns in three straight games with seven touchdowns overall. The Chargers have given up the second-fewest receiving TDs per game (.5) to WRs this season.
Tyler Conklin posted exactly seven targets and five catches in each of his last two games after finishing with 5/45 receiving on 87% of the snaps against the Ravens in Week 9. Dallas Goedert had a disappointing 3/43 receiving in this matchup last week, but he was just overthrown for a potential 45-yard score.
Brolley’s Chargers Stats and Trends
The Chargers have played under the total in five of their last seven home games.
Justin Herbert snapped out of his mini-funk in a big way completing 32/38 passes (84.2%) for 356 yards (9.4 YPA) and two touchdowns and he added 5/14/1 rushing against the Eagles last week. The Vikings are down three of their best defenders with Harrison Smith (COVID) joining Patrick Peterson (hamstring, IR) and Danielle Hunter (pec, IR) on the sidelines, and this unit just got worked for 98 plays against the Ravens last week.
Keenan Allen has seen 24 targets in his first two games out of their bye, recording 18/181/1 receiving for 42.1 FP on those looks. He had his first 100-yard game last week since he opened the year with consecutive games with 100+ yards. The Vikings are giving up the sixth-most FPG (40.3) and they’re facing the seventh-most targets (21.6) from WRs.
Mike Williams has finished with exactly five targets and two catches in three straight games. He’s finished with fewer than eight FP in four of his last five contests after opening the season with 22+ FP in four of his first five contests. The Vikings have given up massive performances to perimeter WRs Marquise Brown (9/116 receiving), CeeDee Lamb (6/112), and Amari Cooper (8/122/1) with Peterson out of the lineup the last two weeks.
Jared Cook caught all four of his targets for 48 yards with a two-point conversion to reach double-digit FP, but he saw his fellow TEs Donald Parham and Stephen Anderson each score TDs. The Vikings have yet to allow a touchdown to a TE this season, and they limited Mark Andrews to 5/44 receiving on 10 targets last week.
Austin Ekeler came up small for the second time in his last three games with 17/59 rushing and 3/23 receiving on a 67% snap share against the Eagles. He did see 20+ touches for just the second time this season, and he has a good spot to bounce back in this week. Devonta Freeman and Le’Veon Bell combined for 24/127 rushing in this matchup last week, and they’re giving up 4.6 YPC to RBs this season.
Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies
Pace: 27 (8th)
Plays per game: 68.4 (11th)
Pass: 59.9% (18th) | Run: 40.1% (15th)
Pace (seconds in between plays): 25.6 (1st)
Plays per game: 67.8 (14th)
Pass: 65.6% (5th) | Run: 34.4% (28th)
This is the game right here. Overall, we have the quickest and highest volume matchup in adjusted combined pace and plays on tap here. The Chargers have been playing fast and throwing a ton all year long and, outside of one blip on the radar back in Week 6 vs. the Ravens, they’ve now put up 30, 28, 47, 24, and 27 points in five of their last 6 outings. The Chargers are throwing at the second-highest rate above expected in neutral situations (game within a score in 1st-3rd quarter) and will have no issue taking a very pass-first plan against a Minnesota secondary that was just diced for 325 yards and 2 TDs by Cooper Rush and 266 yards and 3 TDs by Lamar Jackson.
The big question in this game is which version of the Vikings shows up. Minnesota has been a roller coaster ride all year long and have now put up 30 or more points four times in their last seven games while scoring just 7 (vs. Browns), 19 (vs. Lions), and 16 (vs. Cowboys) points in their other three outings. While Kirk Cousins has been less-than-stellar as of late, this sets up as a run-heavy game plan against a Chargers run defense that is getting shredded. L.A.’s opponents have tried (and succeeded) at running the ball at will against them as they are facing a run at a massive +10.8% above expectation.
Huber’s Key Matchup Notes
As with all elite fantasy QBs, we are left deciding which of at least two receiving options will eat each week. For Los Angeles, we obviously need to decide between Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. The optimal path toward differentiating the upside of the two this week is by determining what the Vikings are willing to allow. Minnesota was pummeled for the most receptions and resulting yardage on targets of 20-plus yards last season. Co-DCs Adam Zimmer and Andre Patterson employed a significant scheme rotation shift that cleaned up that area quite well. They are currently limiting opponents to the ninth-fewest FP/CS on 20-plus throws. But as with Philly last week, that favors Allen.
Dolan’s Vantage Points
Obviously, the dueling lawsuits involving Dalvin Cook are serious — no matter which side is telling the truth. Having to write about this stuff when it comes to fantasy football is as gross as it gets, so I’ll let an actual lawyer lay it out. The following is a Twitter thread:
Ok I've got a window in between law guy stuff and dad guy stuff so let's do it.— Drew Davenport (@DrewFBGAuctions) November 10, 2021
When I saw the initial reports about Dalvin Cook my eyebrows were raised, but when I examined the civil suit this case went to another level.
Here's your Dalvin Cook #FFLegalUpdate
Cook is going to play this week. Who knows if he’ll play in future weeks.
#Vikings OC Klint Kubiak on Justin Jefferson having just nine targets in the past two games combined (with five catches): "You don't want to come out of games with Justin having those type of targets."— Chris Tomasson (@christomasson) November 11, 2021
Say Klint, if only you had a say on that…
Jefferson and Adam Thielen should have success against a Charger defense that lost yet another CB when Ryan Smith tore his ACL last week… but the Chargers are also the NFL’s top run-funnel defense and are facing an excellent Viking run game.
Here’s Scott Barrett from Start/Sit on Cousins:
“Cousins has been phenomenal this season, ranking 3rd-best among all QBs in PFF Grade, and a lot better for fantasy than I thought possible; ranking 10th-best in FPG (20.2), sandwiched in between Patrick Mahomes (21.8) and Russell Wilson (19.9). But he’s just a high-end QB2 for us this week, in a brutal matchup against the Chargers.
That’s because the Chargers are far-and-away the league’s top run-funnel defense. Opposing offenses have elected to run on Los Angeles 8.1% more often than their expectation dictates (based on down and distance plus gamescript). That leads the league and is over twice as much as the next-closest defense. And it’s not hard to see why — the Chargers rank worst in YPC allowed to opposing RBs (4.86) but top-10 in passer rating allowed (90.0). They rank 2nd-worst in rushing FPG allowed to opposing RBs (21.3) but 2nd-best in both passing FPG allowed (12.6) and schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing QBs (-4.4).
Obviously, this matchup is far more advantageous to Dalvin Cook, who we like as a top-4 option this week.”
Wes mentioned above that he thinks this game is more a Keenan Allen than a Mike Williams game, based on how the Vikings are playing coverages now. Well, Graham has more on Williams from the Week 10 Stat-Pack:
Mike Williams was added to the injury report with a knee injury in Week 6…
Pre-knee injury (Weeks 1-5): 10.2 targets, 6.2 receptions, 94.2 yards, and 23.2 FPG (WR3).
Williams post injury (Weeks 6-9): 5 targets, 2 receptions, 34.7 yards, and 5.5 FPG (WR88).
The big thing that has dried up for Williams is deep targets…
In Weeks 1-5, Williams averaged 3.2 targets of 15+ air yards per game.
Over his last three games, Williams has just 4 total targets of 15+ air yards.
Speaking of knees, Allen was added to the injury report with one this week, but it doesn’t appear much to worry about. (He’s officially questionable.)
For RB Austin Ekeler, the Vikings will be down two front-seven defenders — LB Anthony Barr and DT Michael Pierce.