For as much as there’s left to sort out in a top-heavy NFC, its difficult to suggest that tonight’s contest between the Vikings and the Seahawks is a playoff preview. In fact, despite having 17 victories between the two teams, each squad enters Monday Night Football currently in possession of a Wild Card spot in their conference, but with the capacity to still end up in a first-round bye. I can understand the projecting, though. These are two very formidable 53-man rosters with more than enough star power to get people excited. Its honestly enough for me that we get to see Minnesota and Seattle meet even once this season, let alone a second time when it matters most.
So, before we all get ahead of ourselves, let’s dig deeper into this evening’s affair. Let’s break down every aspect from a Showdown perspective.
Note: All salaries will be Flex prices unless noted as Captain’s Pick prices.
Seattle SeahawksI guess we have to talk about Russell Wilson ($10,800)? Three weeks ago, after throwing a career-high five touchdowns against the lowly Buccaneers, it seemed like the veteran quarterback had the inside track to taking home his first MVP trophy. Coming into tonight’s meeting with the Vikings, it no longer feels that way. Now, part of that sentiment is outside of Wilson’s control. Lamar Jackson has simply been otherworldly in his destruction of defenses and Wilson also navigated a Week 11 bye, helping cede the main stage for Baltimore’s transcendent sophomore. However, some of this recent trend can be attributed to underwhelming production from Seattle’s pivot. Putting aside that amazing performance versus Tampa Bay, Wilson’s generated fewer than 250 passing yards and 18.0 DKFP in every start he’s made since Week 7. In fact, Wilson’s averaging just 0.42 fantasy points per drop back in those four specific matchups; a far cry from the NFC-leading 0.62 fantasy points he’s put up for the season as a whole. Considering the Seahawks pass the ball on a mere 53.6% of their offensive plays, Wilson needs efficiency more than most QBs to remain viable.
Still, there’s a reason to be optimistic in Week 13. First and foremost, Wilson has been an absolute monster at CenturyLink Field so far in 2019. In the 31-year-old’s five games in Seattle this season, Wilson’s managed to amass an eye-popping 14:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio to go along with a 29.7 DKFP average. Additionally, Minnesota’s secondary has been shakier than some of the surface numbers might have you believe. The Vikings’ true strength on defense is their ability to stop the run. It’s why the unit ranks fourth in rush DVOA through 11 contests and a much more pedestrian 16th against the pass. It’s also why the team seems to induce opponents into throwing the football at a higher than normal volume. At 63.7%, Minnesota actually possesses the fifth-largest opponent pass ratio in the league, while it’s opponent passing touchdown rate of 86.4% is easily the highest mark in all of football. Sure, the Vikings have kept the likes of Brandon Allen, Matt Moore, Chase Daniel and Case Keenum at bay; however, the last three “elite” quarterbacks that have faced Minnesota – Dak Prescott, Matthew Stafford and Carson Wentz – have all exceeded 300 yards through the air with multiple touchdowns. Wilson definitely falls into that elite classification.
Wilson’s viability obviously correlates to the success of his receivers, who find themselves in fantastic matchups across the board with Minnesota surrendering the second-most DKFP to wideouts on a weekly basis. Tyler Lockett ($9,600) and DK Metcalf ($7,600) are the highest floor options in a surprisingly deep depth chart, with both members of the duo seeing at least 85% of Seattle’s offensive snaps in its Week 12 win over Philadelphia. However, Josh Gordon ($4,400) should continue to see his role steadily rise and Malik Turner ($2,000) is quietly becoming a credible deep-ball threat with an impressive 15.5 yards per target average. Still, it’s Jacob Hollister ($4,800) that stands out above the rest of Wilson’s options in my eyes. The tight end had his worst showing of the year with a major snap share last weekend against the Eagles, yet Hollister’s two-catch stat line doesn’t account for Wilson overthrowing the wide-open TE in the end zone for what would have been an indescribably easy score. Hollister shouldn’t have to wait long for another high-leverage opportunity, though. No team in the NFL has funneled more targets to opposing tight ends than the Vikings (110), with six different TEs having seen nine-plus passes directed towards them in contests with Minnesota. I’m expecting a big bounce-back for the former Patriot.
Finally, we get to the brewing RB controversy between Chris Carson ($8,400) and Rashaad Penny ($5,400). The latter racked up season-highs everywhere you could imagine after the former lost his fourth fumble of the year in last Sunday’s win. Still, we’ve seen this script play out before. I’d expect Carson to retain most of his usual workload if he can manage to secure the football for three hours of his life and, in a vacuum, the former seventh-round pick might make for a decent leverage play with many prospective owners likely to be scared off by the threat of a committee. Unfortunately, these games aren’t played in a vacuum and the Vikings are simply a poor matchup for running backs. Minnesota’s allowed the fifth-fewest rushing yards per contest (94.2) and the fewest rushing touchdowns overall (3). You can attempt to save some salary with Penny, but I’d rather avoid Seattle’s backfield entirely.
Minnesota VikingsDalvin Cook’s ($11,800) price tag is enormous, yet it’s pretty hard to envision not having the Florida State product in your lineups this evening. Really, if Christian McCaffrey didn’t exist, you’d have to think Cook’s campaign would be getting a little more attention than its currently garnered. Cook is second to only McCaffrey in scrimmage yards (1,472), while he and Carolina’s MVP candidate are the league’s lone two backs with over 1,000 yards rushing and 400 yards receiving. On top of that, Cook sits second in the NFL in both red zone rushing touchdowns (10) and PPR points gained per snap played (0.50). He’s basically every RB archetype in a single package and an incredibly efficient fantasy asset on top of that. He’s not in the most favorable matchup tonight, as Seattle’s surrendered 100 yards on the ground to just one opponent running back so far in 2019; however, Cook’s such a large element of everything the Vikings do on offense, I’m not sure how you avoid him.
Really, I kind of feel the same way about Stefon Diggs ($9,800). There are a lot of teams in the league that have pretty set-in-stone offensive hierarchies, but few teams hold a candle to Minnesota’s touch shares – especially when Adam Thielen (hamstring) is sidelined with an injury. Consider for a moment that the Vikings have generated 4,323 total scrimmage yards through 12 weeks of action. Cook has accounted for 34.1% of those yards on his own, while Diggs has mustered 21.1% with 910 yards. No other player on the roster checks in at over 10%. It’s not like Diggs is solely a volume-based fantasy asset, either. Among all active and qualified WRs in Week 13, only Michael Thomas is averaging more PPR points per route run than Diggs (0.60). More interestingly, Diggs is football’s lone wideout averaging more than 3.0 yards per route. He’s essentially been everything you could ask for in a target and he’s the biggest reason Kirk Cousins ($9,000) has been so consistent the past two months. In fact, dating back to the beginning of Week 5, Cousins sits first in passing touchdowns (18), second in adjusted completion rate (82.9%) and third in fantasy points per dropback (0.64). It’s probably not a coincidence that the two players both broke out of early-season slumps around the same time.
So, with such a concentrated offensive scheme, where else can you go for some value on Minnesota? Well, while Olabisi Johnson ($2,600) does provide some nice floor for his price, I’d say your search begins and ends with the Vikings’ duo of tight ends. Seattle’s given up both the third-most DKFP per game and the third-most targets overall to the position coming into Week 13 and it’s not as if Minnesota doesn’t utilize both Kyle Rudolph ($6,600) and Irv Smith Jr. ($3,600). It’s a high-leverage usage, too. The Vikings actually possess the NFC’s highest tight end red zone target rate at a whopping 45%, with Rudolph (10) and Smith Jr. (7) owning the two largest individual target shares inside the 20-yard line on the team. Considering both have seen exactly 15 targets over Minnesota’s past three contests and that expensive nature of Cook and Diggs, Smith Jr. appears to be a clear way to save some salary and still get exposure to a high-ceiling asset.
THE OUTCOMEDespite the general assumption that these two teams are run-oriented and defensive-minded, I think we have all the makings of a high-scoring matchup on our hands. The trick simply becomes finding opportunities to save some money in a star-studded slate. For instance, while it’s perfectly reasonable to make Russell Wilson ($16,200 CP) or Stefon Diggs ($14,700 CP) your Captain’s Pick, taking a chance on someone like Jacob Hollister ($7,200 CP) opens up the top of the pricing list so much more. In any event, there’s enough value available to make a variety of builds work.
Final Score: Seattle 28, Minnesota 24
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