Mike Fanelli | October 24th, 2019
Last week’s Thursday night game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos wasn’t much of a contest. Despite the Chiefs losing star quarterback Patrick Mahomes in the second quarter with a dislocated kneecap, the Broncos didn’t score after the opening drive and went on to lose 30-6. Hopefully, tonight’s game between the Washington Redskins and Minnesota Vikings is more entertaining, but I wouldn’t get my hopes up.
To recap last week, it was an ugly game. Everything got thrown off projections, in part because of the Mahomes injury. The Chiefs offense become more conservative and the defense stepped up huge. Royce Freeman scored the only touchdown of the game for the Broncos, while Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman scored for the Chiefs. The duo of Freeman and Phillip Lindsay rushed for 21 times for just 71 yards (3.4 yards per carry). Courtland Sutton finished with 14.7 fantasy points, the WR19 for the week, while Emmanuel Sanders scored 11 fantasy points and finished as the WR33.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know Sanders was traded to the San Francisco 49ers on Tuesday for a pair of draft picks. I believe he gets an uptick in fantasy value, as does Sutton because of the trade. However, this article is about tonight’s game. I hope I’m wrong but I don’t believe this game will offer a lot of strong fantasy performances. Last week my projections were off and I need to eat crow for that but hopefully, I’m better this week, so let’s find out.
Quarterback – Case Keenum
Earlier in the season, Keenum looked like a potential streaming option at quarterback, scoring 43.9 fantasy points over the first two games of the season. However, in his four games since then, Keenum has scored a total of 29.8 fantasy points. The Miami Dolphins’ offense has looked better at times this season than this Redskins’ offense. Despite Matthew Stafford scoring 28.6 fantasy points against this Vikings defense last week, Keenum’s ceiling is likely capped at around 17 fantasy points. Unless you are in a super-flex league and need a bye week filler for Lamar Jackson or Dak Prescott, Keenum shouldn’t be in any season-long lineups this week.
Thompson has been ruled out of this game with a toe injury. Considering Thompson didn’t play last weekend, it’s no surprise he won’t play tonight on the short week. Smallwood had six touches for 41 yards and 5.1 fantasy points last week against the 49ers. However, there is no reason why Smallwood should be in your season-long lineups tonight. Peterson has been solid the last two weeks, getting 43 touches for 199 yards and 21.7 fantasy points. The problem is the majority of that was against the Dolphins.
Meanwhile, the Vikings give up the fifth-fewest fantasy points per game to running backs, giving up just 19.1 per game. They have held running backs to 85 or fewer rushing yards in six of seven games this season. Furthermore, the Vikings have given up just one rushing touchdown this season and have held running backs to under 13 fantasy points in almost half of their games. The volume and revenge game factor might make Peterson an interesting option tonight but since the Redskins are expected to trail early in the game, he is outside my top 36 running backs this week.
The one bright spot for the Redskins this season has been the rookie McLaurin, who is the WR19 for the season despite missing a game and scoring just 2.1 fantasy points last week. However, in his previous five games, McLaurin has scored 17 or more in four of them. The concern with McLaurin is the merry-go-round at quarterback. Keenum, Colt McCoy, and Dwayne Haskins have all thrown passes this season. However, despite a reputation of shutting down wide receivers, the Vikings give up the sixth-most fantasy points per game to wide receivers, giving up 40.1 per game. Furthermore, Marvin Jones scored a season-high 43.3 fantasy points last week against the Vikings.
McLaurin is a WR3/flex option this week with a chance to go off similarly (but not to the same degree) as Jones did last week but Keenum isn’t Matthew Stafford and McLaurin could bust as well. However, given McLaurin’s fantasy success with Keenum under center (17.6 fantasy points per game), the chance of McLaurin busting are slim. Other than McLaurin, there isn’t another Redskins wide receiver I would consider playing this week. Richardson hasn’t caught a ball since week five and has scored more than eight fantasy points twice this season and not since week three. Meanwhile, Quinn has scored more than eight fantasy points just once this season, all the way back in week one. Neither of these two should be on your fantasy team, let alone in your lineups.
Tight End – Jeremy Sprinkle
This position has been a mess for the Redskins this year. Jordan Reed has yet to play a down and probably won’t this season. After missing the first five games of the year with a concussion, the Redskins placed Reed on injured reserve, meaning he can’t play till week 15 if at all this season. On top of that, Vernon Davis hasn’t played since week four because of a concussion and won’t play tonight. All that is left is 2017 fifth-round pick, Sprinkle, who has scored just 11.4 fantasy points in the three games without Davis this season. Sprinkle hasn’t gotten in the end zone this season and needless to say unless he scores tonight, he won’t be a top 24 tight end this week. Leave Sprinkle on the waiver wire, where he belongs.
Over the last two weeks, the Redskins D/ST has scored 21 fantasy points, but that was against the Dolphins and the 49ers in horrible weather conditions. However, over the first five games of the season, they averaged just two fantasy points per game. Opposing D/STs are averaging the fifth-fewest fantasy points per game against the Vikings, just 2.1 per game. Furthermore, over the Viking’s three-game winning streak, D/STs have scored -10 fantasy points. While there is zero chance I would play the Redskins D/ST in season-long leagues, for $2,200 on DraftKings, I would consider playing them to save money and hope Kirk Cousins has a three turnover game against his former team.
Quarterback – Kirk Cousins
As I mentioned in this week’s streaming options article, it’s amazing what an apology can do. After publicly apologizing to Adam Thielen, the Vikings have gone on a three-game winning streak where Cousins has played great. During that span, he is completing 76% of his passes for 976 yards, 10 touchdowns, and 77 fantasy points, while scoring 20 or more fantasy in each game. In his revenge game against his former team, I expect Cousins to keep up his hot play. Removing the last two weeks against the Dolphins and the soaking wet game against the 49ers, the Redskins are giving up 21.7 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks. I expect Cousins to score 20 plus fantasy points again tonight. He is a top 10 quarterback this week, with plenty of upside.
Obviously you will start Cook tonight. He is the RB2 on the season, averaging 23.5 fantasy points per game and has scored 19 or more fantasy points in 86% of his games this season, while tied for the league lead in rushing touchdowns with eight. For fantasy owners dealing with injuries or have multiple running backs on a bye, Mattison is owned in just 17.6% of ESPN leagues and is an interesting option this week. Over the three-game winning streak, Mattison is averaging 9.3 carries for 44.3 yards. Those numbers aren’t anywhere near a worthy flex play but the matchup and a potential uptick in volume, could (emphasis on could) push Mattison into a flex play in 16 plus team leagues.
The Redskins give up the ninth most fantasy points per game to running backs, giving up 26.6 per game. However, that number is slightly misleading given the soaking wet field they played on Sunday against the 49ers. If you remove last week’s game, the Redskins have given up an average of 36.6 fantasy points per game to running backs over their last three contests. If the Vikings get up by a big margin early and have a commanding lead in the fourth quarter, the Vikings could let Mattison run out the clock to protect Cook. While it is a long shot and certainly not guaranteed to happen, in larger leagues, Mattison could be a good flex option this week, especially if he gets in the end zone.
Thielen has been ruled out with the hamstring injury he suffered Sunday against the Lions. With Thielen out, Diggs should see plenty of targets come his way tonight. After scoring just 43.3 fantasy points over the first five games of the season, Diggs scored 43.5 two weeks ago against the Eagles and then followed up with 21.2 against the Lions. Diggs averaged 4.6 targets per game over the first five but has averaged 9.5 over the last two weeks. Without a doubt, Diggs is a top 12 wide receiver based on volume alone and if he gets hot again as he did against the Eagles, he has the upside to finish as the WR1 this week.
Johnson has been a solid WR3 for the Vikings over the last four games but he hasn’t been fantasy relevant. That is still the case for season-long lineups but for DFS I might take a look. At $6,200 Johnson is an interesting option for tonight’s game. Over the last four games, Johnson has four or more targets in three of them, he is catching 77% of his targets, and scored a career-high 14 fantasy points last week verse the Lions. Diggs and Kyle Rudolph can’t get every target tonight and with Thielen out, Johnson could see another eight targets tonight like he did last week.
Speaking of Rudolph, as part of this week’s streaming options, I mentioned how he is my top add at tight end this week. When Thielen left the game with a hamstring injury, Rudolph became much more involved in the offense. However, the uptick in usage started last week against the Eagles. Over the first five games of the season, Rudolph had eight total targets and had just one game with more than a single target in it, but during the last two games, Rudolph has nine targets and had his two best fantasy performances of the season. There is a good chance Rudolph is second on the team in targets behind Diggs tonight. Rudolph is a top 10 tight end this week.
While I like Rudolph this week, I wouldn’t get cute and start Smith, even in larger leagues. He scored a career-high 11 fantasy points last year as he doubled his previous career-high in targets with six. However, the Redskins give up about the league average of fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends. They have held opposing tight ends under 10 fantasy points in two straight games and have given up just two touchdowns to tight ends this season. While Rudolph should see enough volume to keep me from worrying, Smith’s role in the offense is too uncertain, even with Thielen out, to trust. Leave him on the waiver wire where he belongs.
Despite some recent struggles, the Vikings D/ST is the D/ST10 for the season, averaging 7.1 fantasy points per game. Obviously, a Keenum led offense isn’t anything Viking fans should be worried about, as D/STs are averaging 10.9 fantasy points per game against the Redskins, fourth-most in the league. For the Vikings D/ST to have a fantasy productive game, they will need to get sacks and interceptions. The Vikings are tied for ninth in the league with 19 sacks and tied for seventh with seven interceptions. With the Redskins struggles on offense, on the road, and on a short week, the Vikings D/ST is a top-five option and has a chance to finish as the D/ST1 this week.
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