Detroit Lions (0-4, 2-2 ATS) at Minnesota Vikings (1-3, 2-2), 1 p.m.
Brolley’s Lions Stats and Trends
The Lions have lost eight straight games outright.
Detroit is 1-5 ATS in its last six games.
The Lions have failed to score more than 17 points in three straight games.
The Lions snapped a six-game ATS losing streak against the Vikings in last year’s season finale. Both games in this matchup went over the total last season.
The Lions drove inside the 10-yard line on each of their first three drives against the Bears and came away with no points.
D’Andre Swift saw a season-high 73% snap share but he fell flat with 8/16 rushing and 4/33 receiving on six targets. Swift has posted 4+ catches and 7+ FP in receiving production in every game this season. Jamaal Williams saw season-highs in carries (14) and rushing yards (66) last week, but he posted season-lows in snap share (30%) and targets (0). The Vikings are giving up a healthy 155.3 scrimmage yards per game to RBs, including 191 yards to Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt last week.
Jared Goff has topped 18+ FP in three of his first four games. He completed 24/38 passes for 299 yards and two touchdowns but he was credited with two lost fumbles in their loss to the Bears in Week 4. Kyler Murray is the only QB to reach 19+ FP against the Vikings this season.
T.J. Hockenson has come crashing back to earth the last two weeks with 6/52 receiving after hanging 16/163/2 receiving in the first two games. He at least saw 8+ targets for the third time in four games after seeing just two targets in Week 3. The Vikings haven’t allowed a touchdown to a TE this season, but they are giving up the eighth-most receiving yards per game (63.3) to the position.
Kalif Raymond has seen the most consistent playing time among these WRs and it’s translated into fantasy success the last two weeks with 9/114/2 receiving on 16 targets. Quintez Cephus has posted double-digit fantasy production in three of the first four games, and rookie slot WR Amon-Ra St. Brown finally got into the act last week with 6/70 receiving on a team-high eight targets (21% share). The Vikings are giving up the 13th-most FPG (39.3) to WRs this season.
Brolley’s Vikings Stats and Trends
The Vikings won both matchups last season and Minnesota has won seven straight games outright.
Minnesota is 1-5 in its last six home games, and they’ve failed to cover in six straight games as a favorite.
The Vikings have played under the total in two consecutive games after playing over the total in five straight games before that.
Dalvin Cook managed just 11/44 scrimmage on 49% of the snaps in his return to the lineup off of his ankle injury. Alexander Mattison wasn’t much better with 10/20 rushing on 34% of the snaps as the Vikings RBs managed just 2.8 YPC last week. The Lions were just ripped by David Montgomery (23/106/2 rushing) and Damien Williams (10/70/1 scrimmage) last week.
The Vikings scored on their first drive of the game against the Browns, and they never made it back inside the Browns’ 30-yard line until the final play of the game in their 14-7 loss in Week 4. Minnesota’s O-line had played relatively well through three weeks, but the Browns pressured Kirk Cousins on a week-high 53.7% of his dropbacks. He failed to throw for multiple passing TDs last week for the first time since Week 14 last season, and he completed just 52.7% of his passes, his lowest rate since Week 2 last season. Kirkie threw for three scores and the Vikings scored 34+ points in two matchups with the Lions last season.
Justin Jefferson survived last week’s ugly offensive performance by scoring their only touchdown of the game. He’s posted 6+ catches, 65+ yards, one TD, and 18+ FP in three straight games. Jefferson failed to score against the Lions last season despite Cousins throwing for six scores, but he still posted 12/197 receiving in two matchups. Darnell Mooney broke loose for 5/125 receiving in this matchup last week.
Adam Thielen failed to find paydirt and he fell short of 6+ catches for the first time last season, but he still saw eight targets (21% share). Thielen busted in two matchup with the Lions last season, posting a combined 6/95 receiving. Allen Robinson caught his only three targets for 63 yards in this matchup last week.
K.J. Osborn has come crashing back to earth the last two weeks with 5/52 receiving on nine targets after leading the Vikings in receiving through the first two games. Devin Duvernay posted 2/22/1 receiving in this matchup in Week 3.
Tyler Conklin struggled against the Browns with just 4/18 receiving on six targets (16% share) against the Browns. He did play 83% of the snaps and he ran a route on 78% of Cousins’ dropbacks. They gave up 11+ FP in each of the first three weeks until Cole Kmet posted just a six-yard catch last week.
Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies
Pace (seconds in between plays): 31 (27th)
Plays per game: 70.3 (8th)
Pass: 65.5% (8th) | Run: 34.5% (25th)
Pace: 26 (4th)
Plays per game: 70.0 (9th)
Pass: 62.0% (13th) | Run: 38.0% (20th)
The Vikings have been a shootout team for the last two seasons, but last week was one of their lone flops. The Browns offense struggled badly, too, but the Vikings basically did nothing all day long after a nice opening drive. Since the start of last season, Minnesota’s games have combined for 47 or more points 16-of-20 times and they are 13-7 towards the over in this span. I’m extremely optimistic that the Vikings rebound here and put up points with ease. Through the opening month, Detroit is giving up a league-high in YPA (10.7) and the second-most fantasy points per pass attempt (0.668) as opposing offenses are absolutely roasting their secondary. With the Vikings pushing the scoring pace as two score favorites, the Lions will have to continue being Garbage Time heroes. Detroit is the only team in the league yet to lead a ball game through the opening month.
Huber’s Key Matchup Notes
While Dalvin Cook is banged up… this is a special matchup. Opposing offenses are so caught up with Detroit relinquishing the most pure rushing FPG to RBs (20.2) that they overlook the Lions’ deficiencies against the pass. Detroit is providing opponents with the fourth-most PPG (29.8) and missing tackles at the highest rate (18%). Cook split backfield carries with Alexander Mattison in his return from an ankle injury last week. He is going to limit his practice reps this week, but has stated that he will play.
In my view, this is the week T.J. Hockenson gets it going again. After previously reinventing themselves as a Man-heavy defense early in the season, the Vikings have re-reinvented themselves toward featuring a ton of zone, perhaps given to the struggles of their CBs. They managed to reduce their PPG allowed from 30.5 the first two weeks, down to 15.5 over the last two. But several factors point to this being a plus spot for Hock. Minnesota is only giving up 11.1 FPG to TEs, but that number is deflated due to keeping them out of the end zone. I think Minnesota’s new defensive tendencies play right into Hock’s hands.
Dolan’s Vantage Points
Last week, Kirk Cousins and the Viking offense took a steamer in Cleveland, dragged down by Baker Mayfield and the Browns doing the same on the other side. But this is a bounce-back spot. From Graham Barfield in the Week 5 Start/Sit column:
“After starting the season with QB12, QB6, and QB6 scoring performances, Cousins backed up to QB28 with just 10.1 FP in Week 4. Granted, that game completely fell apart and didn’t provide much for fantasy – the Browns offense wasn’t any better. Well, you couldn’t ask for a better rebound spot here at home against Detroit. You don’t need me to tell you that the Lions are a terrible defense, but the numbers they’re allowing are truly staggering. Through the opening month, Detroit is giving up a league-high in YPA (10.7) and the second-most fantasy points per pass attempt (0.668) because opposing offenses are absolutely roasting their secondary no matter what coverage the Lions play. Detroit plays man coverage about a third of the time and zone two-thirds of the time, but it doesn’t matter because opposing offenses are pushing the ball downfield on them at will. Against man, the Lions are giving up an average depth of target of 15.8 yards (!!) and against zone it’s 14.2 (!!) which easily leads the league in both coverages. Cousins, Thielen, and Jefferson should go off here.”
So, yeah, fire up Cousins, Justin Jefferson, and Adam Thielen in this spot.
While I think I have to play Dalvin Cook where I have him, I am a little concerned about his ankle injury. Here’s what he had to say:
Dalvin Cook says he's "not 100% yet" but is planning to keep playing in spite of his ankle injury. Said that "part of the game is playing through pain" and that he doesn't believe his injury is getting worse or heading in the wrong direction.— Courtney Cronin (@CourtneyRCronin) October 6, 2021
In our staff Slack, Dr. Edwin Porras threw some more worries my way.
Yikes. Hopefully, it’s not as bad as it looked last week — Cook was struggling. He’s officially listed as questionable.
On the Detroit side, I’m not at all concerned about a subpar game statistically for D’Andre Swift in his committee with Jamaal Williams. Here’s Scott Barrett from the Week 5 XFP Report:
“Swift, who had been dealing with a lingering groin injury, technically hasn’t started in a single game this season. And up until last week, he was stuck in a near-perfect 60/40 committee backfield alongside Jamaal Williams, earning 59% of the backfield XFP to Williams’ 41%. Nonetheless, despite this handicap, Swift still ranked 3rd in XFP per game (20.2) and 3rd in FPG (20.0).
So, any type of demotion for Williams was going to be massive for Swift. For instance, if the committee moved to 70/30 in Swift’s favor, his 20.2 XFP per game average would have jumped to 23.7, which would have led all players at all positions.
So what happened in Week 4? Did Swift see a massive uptick in usage? Emphatically yes, although it didn’t really result in very many fantasy points (8.9). Swift saw 69% of the backfield XFP, earning 18.0 to Williams’ 8.2. And Swift's snap share jumped from 63% to 72% and his route share jumped from 57% to 73%.
Although Williams out-carried Swift 14 to 8, and they both earned 3 opportunities inside the 10-yard-line, Swift out-targeted Williams 7 to 0. His 18.0 XFP ranked 6th-best on the week, marking the third time this season he’s finished top-6 among all RBs in XFP.”
Scott posits that Swift remains a league-winning asset, and I tend to agree. Williams, meanwhile, is a TD-dependent FLEX. (Both are listed as questionable here, but are expected to play.)
I also agree with Wes that TJ Hockenson remains a must-start despite some statistical struggles. He’s the only passing-game option I even come close to trusting here. However, he’s questionable with a knee injury. The Lions have been getting multiple WRs involved, but that’s the problem: they’ve had a different WR either tie for or lead their WRs outright in targets every single week — Kalif Raymond, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Quintez Cephus, and Trinity Benson have all done it. Detroit has no WRs in the top 40 in total fantasy points.
QB Jared Goff could be down multiple offensive linemen, by the way.
The Lions were supposed to have one of the NFL's best O-lines after adding Penei Sewell to a unit that featured Decker and Ragnow. Now all 3 are hurt, and 2 have been ruled out heading into a matchup vs a Vikings front that has ripped their QBs for years: https://t.co/tSd2bFyIlO pic.twitter.com/rVjsUdvU9s— kyle meinke (@kmeinke) October 6, 2021