Minnesota Vikings (3-4, 3-4 ATS) at Baltimore Ravens (5-2, 3-4), 1 p.m.
Brolley’s Vikings Stats and Trends
The Vikings are 3-11 ATS in their last 14 games.
Minnesota has played over the total in five straight road games.
Dalvin Cook fell below eight FP last week for the second time in five games, and his receiving production bottomed out in a catchless performance against the Cowboys. Dalvin’s receiving production has fallen in five straight games (10.3 FP<3.7<3.0<2.3<0). The Ravens have yet to allow an individual back to reach 60+ rushing yards, but they’ve given up the fourth-most rushing TDs per game (1.1) to the position.
Kirk Cousins got completely out-played by Cowboys’ backup Cooper Rush last week as he averaged just 5.0 YPA and the Vikings converted just one third-down attempt in 13 tries. He’s finished with under 15 FP in three of his last four games, but he did torch an aggressive Panthers’ defense for 373/3 passing in Week 6. The Ravens rank just behind the Panthers in blitz rate (33.5% to 32.5%) and just ahead in hurry rate (11.4% to 11.3%).
Justin Jefferson flopped for the first time last week with season-lows in targets (4), catches (2), and yards (21) against the Cowboys. The Ravens have given up 15+ FP to WRs just twice this season, one of which came against Ja’Marr Chase (8/201/1 receiving) the last time they took the field.
Adam Thielen is back to finding the end zone on a weekly basis after a two-week cold spell in Weeks 4-5. He’s scored in 5-of-7 games with six scores total, and he’s hung 17/204/2 receiving on 22 targets in the last two weeks. The Ravens have given up just five receiving TDs to WRs in seven games.
Tyler Conklin has double-digit FP in consecutive games with a combined 8/128 receiving on 12 targets. The Ravens are giving up the most FPG (19.5) to the position after C.J. Uzomah ripped them for 3/91/2 receiving the last time out.
Brolley’s Ravens Stats and Trends
The Bengals outscored the Ravens 28-7 in the final two quarters of their battle for the AFC North lead in Week 7.
The Ravens are 5-2 ATS in their last seven home games.
Baltimore is 7-2 toward overs in its last nine home games.
Lamar Jackson has reached multiple TD passes just once in seven games this season, but he’s averaging a career-high 277.6 passing yards per game so far with 68.6 rushing yards per game. The Vikings’ defense is coming off an embarrassing performance in which they let backup Cooper Rush post 325/2 passing, and they lost their best pass rusher Danielle Hunter (pec) for the season.
Mark Andrews had ripped off 55+ yards and 10+ FP in five straight games before managing just 3/48 receiving on seven targets against the Bengals in their last game. The Vikings have limited top TE Dalton Schultz (2/11 receiving) and T.J. Hockenson (2/22) early in the season, and they’re facing the sixth-fewest targets per game (5.6) at the position.
Marquise Brown has reached 19+ FP in five of his seven games after posting 5/80/1 receiving on a season-high 14 targets the last time out. Hollywood ranks third in aDOT (16.5) among the 50 WRs who have seen 40+ targets. The Cowboys had three different WRs post 80+ receiving yards against the Vikings last week, and they’re giving up the sixth-most FPG (40.4) to WRs.
Rashod Bateman posted 3/80 receiving on six targets against the Bengals in Week 7, which gives him six targets in each of his first two games. The Ravens could be getting Sammy Watkins back from his hamstring injury this week, so it’ll be interesting to see how the Ravens rotate their WRs this week. Bateman ran as a distant second in routes (80 to 57) at the position to Hollywood in his first two games.
Devonta Freeman led the backfield in production for two straight weeks heading into their Week 8 bye after posting 4/14/1 rushing and 3/25 receiving on 40% of the snaps with Latavius Murray (ankle) out of the lineup in Week 7. Murray has four rushing scores in six games but he’s averaging a career-low 3.6 YPC. The Vikings are giving up the eighth-most rushing yards per game (103.7) and 4.5 YPC to the position.
Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies
Pace (seconds in between plays): 27.2 (11th)
Plays per game: 70.7 (7th)
Pass: 60.6% (15th) | Run: 39.4% (18th)
Pace: 30.8 (30th)
Plays per game: 71.4 (5th)
Pass: 56.7% (25th) | Run: 43.3% (8th)
While the Ravens’ season-long tendencies still portray them as a run-first team, that hasn’t been the case as of late. With their backfield in shambles, the Ravens have actually transitioned into a pass-first offense for the first time in Lamar Jackson’s career. In their last four games leading up to their bye, the Ravens went 59% pass-heavy on early-down, non-red-zone plays – which was the ninth-highest rate in the league. As a result, Lamar is averaging a robust 34.5 passes per game over his last four outings which is miles ahead of his career average of 25.9 passes per game. With this new-look, pass-first approach, Lamar Jackson has scorched earth fantasy upside for the remainder of this season.
Meanwhile, the Vikings are the same team every week. They play fairly fast but are very balanced overall. However, I wonder if they lean a little bit more on the pass this week than normal as 6-point road dogs. This year, Ravens’ opponents are throwing the ball way more often than expected (+7.2%, second-highest rate) due in large part to a back-sliding secondary that is allowing 8.26 YPA (fifth-most) and 313.7 YPG (most) through the air. Baltimore is giving up great numbers to quarterbacks in part because they’re blitzing 32.5% of the time (fifth-highest rate) and it’s leaving them a man or two down in the secondary. As Brolley noted above, Cousins ripped a similarly aggressive Panthers just a few weeks ago. All of the Vikings success this week comes down to how Kirk Cousins handles the Ravens blitz-heavy front-seven.
Huber’s Key Matchup Notes
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The Vikings couldn’t get anything going while hosting the Cowboys last week. We’ve already established that Trevon Diggs did not shadow anyone. No easy button — Dallas simply outplayed their opponents. Minnesota only converted one-of-13 third down attempts. And the O-line permitted 19 QB pressures. The Ravens will not provide the Minny O-line any clemency with their top-five blitz rate. But they will provide Kirk Cousins with another chance to attack a Cover 1-heavy defense.
Baltimore DC Don Martindale initially shied away from using his Cover 1 staple. However, it seems he’s attempting to make up for lost time, utilizing Cover 1 enough to currently push the overall rate to sixth-most. The Ravens have closed off QB rushing lanes to the fewest FPG (0.90), but they’ve supplied the fourth-most pure passing FPG overall (17.6). And their QB allowance has spiked to seventh-most over the last four weeks (20.1), the most over the last two (26.6). Since Week 1 of the 2018 season, Cousins ranks second among all QBs with 0.58 FP/Db against Cover 1. Built into that number is a 116.7 passer rating (second-highest), 22% jump in YPA (third), and 21% increase in air yard/attempts (ninth). He’s assaulted single coverage with 28 TDs vs. only three INTs.
Justin Jefferson has not reached paydirt since Week 4. We could look at the 23% decline in his YPRR from his rookie season (2.66) as concerning. But I’ve seen nothing on film or in the analytics that raise a red flag. The reason I view JJ as being on a path toward a potential Hall of Fame career is his complete dominance of the two most common NFL coverage schemes: Cover 1 and Cover 3. He’s averaging 2.62 YPRR against Cover 3 and 3.70 YPRR when facing Cover 1 this season. He ranks fourth-best with 0.74 FP/Rt vs. Cover 1 during his career. That’s a 55% increase in production above his overall average (fourth-best). He also ranks second across from single coverage with 4.13 YPRR, third with 13.73 YPT, and seventh by drawing targets on just under 40% of his reps.
When Baltimore lost Marcus Peters for the season, 2018 fourth-rounder Anthony Averett was thrust into a featured role on the outside. With Jefferson running more than half of his routes from the left side, Averett will need to bring his A-game on Sunday. The former Alabama corner is permitting 1.67 YPCS (77th), 0.31 FP/CS (67th), 0.40 AY/CS (66th), and a 75.5 passer rating (17th). With Marlon Humphrey still struggling to emerge from his atypical coverage numbers, even if Martindale were to decide to shadow Jefferson with his star corner, I’d still confidently expose my lineups to a high amount of JJ action.
Dolan’s Vantage Points
There’s really nothing much to say about the Vikings’ performance last week other than the fact that it was an embarrassing loss to a Dallas team that probably expected to lose with Cooper Rush making his first career start.
The Vikings played conservatively and it bit them in the butt, and they likely won’t have the ability to play as conservatively even if they wanted to this week against the Ravens.
hard to understand the Vikings gameplan v DAL:— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) November 3, 2021
-went 1/13 on 3rd down but threw just 1 time beyond the sticks
-ran more than passed on 1st half 1st downs (w bad results)
-passed behind the line often (w bad results)
but it makes sense when remembering Mike Zimmer is the HC https://t.co/6ctWvolzac
“Conklin has been a remarkably consistent fantasy contributor, which is exactly what we look for in a TE streamer. He’s seen at least four targets and has scored at least 4.5 fantasy points in 6 of his 7 games this year, and has flashed a compelling ceiling, scoring 20.0 fantasy points in Week 4. Conklin is the TE17 by FPG, and assuming he stays healthy, should be a consistent mid-range TE2 for the remainder of the year.
Conklin's Week 9 matchup with Baltimore is certainly on the plus side, as the Ravens are giving up the 3rd-most schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing TEs (+4.8). And Minnesota are 5.5-point underdogs, so they should have some of the better pass volume of Week 9. Conklin can be viewed as a low-risk TE2 this week.”
The one weird thing with Minnesota is Dalvin Cook. Cook was held without a reception in Week 8 for just the second time in his NFL career — the first time it happened, he played just 24% of snaps in a game in which he got injured, back in 2018. He’s also had fewer than 20 receiving yards in four consecutive games, only the second time that has happened in his NFL career. His role is still huge — over 70% of the snaps — so I hope this is a blip on the radar, but it’s been a weird few weeks for him.
The Ravens are coming off a humbling loss to the Bengals and then a bye week, but they’ve utilized that bye week to, ostensibly, get healthier.
Ravens didn’t make any trades, but it feels like a good day anyway. They’re about to get a big boost with significant players getting ready to return: Nick Boyle, Derek Wolfe, Chris Westry, Latavius Murray and Sammy Watkins.— Sarah Ellison (@sgellison) November 2, 2021
The big question from my perspective is how Sammy Watkins’ return affects the rotation for Lamar Jackson’s WRs. Obviously, Marquise Brown remains the guy here, but fantasy players might want to look to rookie Rashod Bateman given Minnesota’s banged-up secondary got shredded by a backup QB and the Cowboys’ passing game last week. I think it’s a viable maneuver for those looking for some upside. And it’s certainly good to have TE Mark Andrews back from bye.
Just keep an eye on Bateman’s status.
Harbaugh on Rashod Bateman missing today's practice: "Nothing serious. He's got a real good chance for Sunday. We'll just have to see how he feels." #Ravens— Luke Jones (@BaltimoreLuke) November 5, 2021
Here were the Ravens’ RB snaps in Week 7, prior to the bye — DeVonta Freeman (29), Le’Veon Bell (22), Ty’Son Williams (21). Latavius Murray (ankle) won’t be back this week, but when he does come back, it feels like any of these four could be a gameday inactive on any given Sunday. To my eyes, Freeman looks the best of the group, but that’s a very low bar to cross.