Minnesota Vikings (6-7, 7-6 ATS) at Chicago Bears (4-9, 5-8), 8:15 p.m., MNF
Brolley’s Vikings Stats and Trends
The Vikings are 1-4 ATS in their last five games against the NFC North.
Minnesota has played over the total in four straight games.
The Vikings are 8-1 toward overs in their last nine road games.
Dalvin Cook went from potentially being done for the season with his shoulder injury to becoming the first player to run for 200+ yards this season all in the span of 11 days. The Vikings surprised most medical experts when it came out that Cook would play in Week 14 after dislocating his shoulder and tearing his labrum less than two weeks earlier. Cook played and he played well against Pittsburgh’s Swiss cheese run defense, shredding them for 27/205/2 rushing and a season-high 35.2 FP on a 77% snap share. Cook is still at high risk of aggravating his injury, but he clearly showed in Week 14 that he must be in fantasy lineups anytime he plans to play. Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon combined for 20/106/1 rushing and 3/30/1 receiving against the Bears last week.
Kirk Cousins has 2+ TDs and 16+ FP in six straight games, but he completed a season-low 45.2% of his passes and just 216 yards against the Steelers last week. The Bears have been rocked for 29+ FP in consecutive games by Aaron Rodgers and Kyler Murray, and they’re giving up the fourth-most passing TDs per game (1.8) to QBs.
Justin Jefferson has seen 9+ targets in each of his last five games since he saw just nine combined targets in Weeks 8-9. He’s scored 20+ FP in four of his five games in that span, and he’s posted 17/261/2 receiving on a whopping 29 targets in the last two games with Adam Thielen out of the lineup. Davante Adams ripped the Bears for 10/121/2 receiving on 13 targets last week,
Adam Thielen suffered a high-ankle sprain early in Week 13, and he was never going to play with a quick turnaround to get ready for Thursday Night Football. He’s still more on the doubtful side to return from his high-ankle injury this week against the Bears, but it’s notable that the Vikings didn’t place him on the injured reserve. It’s also notable that Minnesota’s medical staff gave Cook (shoulder) the green light to play last week just 11 days after he dislocated his shoulder and tore his labrum, so there’s a chance Thielen could try to play in Week 15. K.J. Osborn will remain a plug-and-play WR3 if he needs to miss another game. Osborn scored 14+ FP in consecutive games as the second option behind Jefferson after posting 3/83/1 receiving on nine targets (29% share) against the Steelers.
Tyler Conklin flopped as a streaming option last week, seeing just two targets (2/20 receiving) after posting 7/56 receiving on nine targets with Thielen leaving early in Week 13. Conklin would need Thielen to miss again this week to have a realistic chance to come through for fantasy this week. The Bears have given up just four TDs to TEs this season, but Josiah Deguara and Marcedes Lewis did combine for 7/95 receiving last week.
Brolley’s Bears Stats and Trends
The Bears have failed to cover in four straight games.
David Montgomery played 84% of the snaps last week despite the Bears listing him with every injury in the book leading up to the game. He managed just 10/42 receiving but he had his best receiving performance of the season with Fields, posting 6/39 receiving on seven targets. Montgomery hasn’t scored in each of his last five games since returning to the lineup but he’s at least seen 15+ touches in each contest. Najee Harris managed 20/94/1 rushing and 3/10/1 receiving in this matchup last week.
Justin Fields didn’t play particularly well against the Packers last week, completing 54.6% of his passes while averaging 6.8 YPA, but a pair of long catch-and-run TDs and 74 rushing yards propelled him to 21.4 FP. He’s scored 19+ FP in his last three full games after reaching double-digit FPG just once in his first five games. The Vikings have given up 3+ TD passes to quarterbacks in four of his last six games, and they’re giving up the third-most FPG (20.2) to QBs this season.
Darnell Mooney continued to underwhelm with Fields at quarterback, posting just a 19-yard catch on five targets against the Packers last week. He’s now failed to top 45 receiving yards in five of his last six full games with Fields. The Vikings allowed three different Steelers’ WRs to post 15+ FP against them last week.
Allen Robinson returned to the lineup last week after a three-game layoff for an ankle injury, but nothing changed in terms of his production with just 2/14 receiving on six targets. He’s failed to score 11+ FP in each of his first 10 games this season, but if there’s a matchup to finally break through, it’s in this one against a Vikings’ secondary that’s giving up the most FPG (43.2) to WRs. Unfortunately, he landed on the COVID list this week so he could miss yet another game.
Cole Kmet has fallen below eight FPG in three of his last four games after managing just 3/17 receiving on five targets against the Packers. Minnesota has given up three touchdowns in its last two games to keep hope alive for Kmet, who has yet to score a touchdown this season.
Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies
Pace (seconds in between plays): 26.6 (5th)
Plays per game: 63.0 (18th)
Pass: 57.8% (23rd) | Run: 42.2% (10th)
Pace: 27.5 (13th)
Plays per game: 63.6 (16th)
Pass: 59.7% (20th) | Run: 40.3% (13th)
All pace / play data is from the last eight weeks.
Vikings’ games have been a blast recently with their last six games combining to average 59.5 total points and they are 5-1 towards the over in this span. Minnesota is rolling offensively and have scored 26 or more points in six-straight and they certainly have another opportunity to keep it going against this Bears defense that has gotten stomped by the Cardinals (33 points allowed) and Packers (45). The Vikings surge offensively has directly coincided with playing faster and this game is sneakily up in pace as these two offenses combine for the third-fastest game on the Week 15 slate.
Huber’s Key Matchup Notes
Dolan’s Vantage Points
Most Bears fans would likely argue that the team needs a full overhaul of the coaching staff, but I doubt any of them would argue going into this week without literally all of their coordinators sets them up for success.
#Bears coordinators Bill Lazor, Sean Desai & Chris Tabor have all been sidelined by COVID-19 this week, per Matt Nagy.— Brad Biggs (@BradBiggs) December 16, 2021
Given the NFL’s loosened testing protocols for vaccinated individuals, the Bears could get all of their coordinators back for Monday night, but obviously with no guarantees.
Anyway, the presence of Justin Fields in the lineup hasn’t been good for the production of these receivers, Darnell Mooney and Allen Robinson. Here’s Graham from Start/Sit on these disappointing receivers:
“With Justin Fields back under center and Allen Robinson back on the field, Darnell Mooney cratered on SNF vs. the Packers last week. Mooney got 5 targets, but only caught one for 19 yards. Meanwhile, A-Rob got 6 targets and wasn’t much better with just 2/14 receiving. The Bears had a number of big plays and a punt returned for a TD so they didn’t have a ton of play volume in general, but the fact of the matter is that Mooney is averaging just 9.5 FPG in Fields’ 8 starts on the season. In fact, Mooney has been held to 45 or fewer yards six times with Fields under center. Yikes. He has three great matchups to close out the fantasy season (vs. Vikings, Seahawks, and Giants) – but with Fields back and A-Rob drawing targets, Mooney reverts back to being nothing more than a low-floor option moving forward.”
Of course, with ARob on the COVID-19 list (it is possible he tests out of protocols by Monday, given the lightened threshold), Mooney could see a higher target share in this game. But ultimately, he’s a highly volatile WR3, and those playing Fields are hoping he continues to run like a madman. He’s averaging 54.3 rushing YPG over his last six starts, and his passing stats from last week were misleading because of catch-and-run TDs.
The Vikings are the same team for fantasy every week, and the magical thing about it is that when one of their players misses, someone can fill right in. When Dalvin Cook is out, Alexander Mattison is an RB1. When Adam Thielen is out, KJ Osborn is a viable WR option.
This week, Mattison (COVID) is out and it’s not looking great for (Thielen). But — and I’ll take a massive L on this — Cook was spectacular last week despite his shoulder injury, and Osborn was a very effective fill-in for Thielen last week and could be going forward. However, Tyler Conklin was a disappointment for those looking for a streaming option last week.
Here’s Jake Tribbey from Streamers on Conklin:
“Among TEs this season, Conklin ranks 12th in targets (66), 12th (tie) in receiving yards (489), 13th (tie) in red zone targets (15), 5th (tie) in end zone targets (7), and 16th in FPG (8.9). He’s been no less than a high-end TE2, with TE1 upside in weeks with a strong matchup.
And that was before Adam Thielen suffered a high-ankle sprain. Thielen is questionable to play in Week 15, and should he sit, it’s reasonable to expect at least a fraction of his 7.7 targets per game to go to Conklin, but more importantly, Thielen ranked top-15 among WRs in both red and end zone usage. So even if Conklin’s target boost with Thielen out is a modest one, it’s likely those additional targets will be close to, or in, the end zone given Conklin ranks behind only Thielen and Justin Jefferson in team red zone and end zone usage.
With that said, Conklin saw a season-low 2 targets in Week 14 with Thielen out, so it’s possible his role will remain largely unchanged while K.J. Osborn and Jefferson soak up the excess target volume. But even if that’s the case, Conklin can safely be considered a high-end TE2 in a tougher matchup against a Chicago team that’s allowed the 12th-fewest schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing TEs over their last 5 games (-2.2).”