The Vikings head off to Seattle this week after finally getting a win against Houston. The Seahawks are 4-0, but they seemed at least beatable in their game against Miami.
The Vikings will need contributions from every player to come out of Seattle with a victory. Let’s take a specific look at the offense. Which players are set for big outputs, and which ones should ride the pine in your fantasy leagues?
ESPN Projection: 15.0
Yahoo Projection: 16.5
Josh’s Projection: 18.4
I think both sites are underestimating Cousins this week. The Vikings get to go against the softest passing defense in the NFL, and the combination of Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson has looked great the past two games.
Let’s jump into the numbers, though. Cousins is coming off his best performance of the season, and hopefully for Vikings fans, this trend continues throughout the rest of 2020. He took advantage of the Texans tendency to allow big plays, and that should continue against Seattle.
The Seahawks to this point in the season have severely missed their star safety, Jamal Adams. Seattle has allowed 401 passing yards per game, which is by far the most in the league, and according to pro-football-reference, they’ve done it at a rate of 7.8 net yards per attempt, the third highest. If Cousins throws for 400, that alone will get him to 16 points in standard leagues. I don’t want to bank on that, but it’s not unreasonable to think he will get over 300, for at least 12 points.
For context, the Texans have been surprisingly good against the pass this year, allowing the seventh fewest yards per game, but Cousins still had his best game of the season. The problem with Houston has been a lack of turnovers. They are the only defensive unit to have not intercepted an opposing quarterback this season.
The Seahawks on the other hand have not had this issue. They have six interceptions coming into week five, the league’s second highest total, and they have at least one in every game. Cousins has been fairly loose with the ball to this point, throwing six picks in the first four games. Because of that, I would assume he throws one this week.
Seattle has appeared to be very good at stopping touchdowns through the air, only allowing six, but I think these numbers are skewed due to Ryan Fitzpatrick’s horrible performance last week where he didn’t throw a single touchdown. With Thielen and Kyle Rudolph both being reliable red zone targets, and Jefferson as a deep threat, I would bet on two scores through the air this week for Minnesota. With a line of 300 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception, that brings Cousins to 18 fantasy points. Probably still not worth a start in standard leagues, but if you are in a two-quarterback league, you might want to take a shot with him.
ESPN Projection: 16.2
Yahoo Projection: 16.19
Josh’s Projection: 12.7
Dalvin Cook has been one of the highest fantasy scorers over the last few weeks, and both sites have high hopes for him in week five. However, the Texans nor the Titans have a run defense that is as strong as Seattle’s. It’s not an untested defense either. They shut down Ezekiel Elliott in week three, allowing him to gather just 34 yards on 14 carries.
Because of this defense, I don’t believe Cook will quite reach his projection this week. Obviously, if there is anyone that can stop the trend of Seattle’s dominance, Cook could be the guy, but you could have also said the same of Elliott. However, I am under the impression that Cook will score at least once as Seattle has allowed five touchdowns on the ground.
Finally, there is some reason to be concerned considering Cook had to leave for a portion of the Houston game with an injury. The injury doesn’t seem severe, and he did still rack up 27 carries, but if these troubles continue against a much better defense, it could limit his production.
Finally, I wouldn’t be surprised if this game became a shootout, forcing Minnesota to throw more often than they run, which again limits Cook’s production due to his ineffectiveness as a receiver to this point in the season.
If he reaches 15-20 carries, I would expect a yardage output in the 70-80 yard range and a touchdown, bringing his total to 13-14 fantasy points. While he’s still a low-tier RB2 or flex option, I would not expect a great RB1 output from Cook this week.
ESPN Projection: 11.4
Yahoo Projection: 11.26
Josh’s Projection: 14.5
Thielen has been a boom-or-bust receiver to this point. He has two games of over 100 yards and two with 31 yards or fewer. I suspect the two sites are also thinking targets to Jefferson will take away from Thielen’s ceiling.
However, the Vikings seemed to unlock something last week in which both receivers can be involved. Considering Seattle has allowed seven wide receivers to reach 100 yards and has given up the most fantasy points to wideouts this season, I don’t see why both receivers can’t go off.
In Thielen’s two bad games, he went against Indianapolis, the top passing defense in the league, and the other was Justin Jefferson’s breakout game where he was just too hot not to throw. If there’s anything to question regarding Thielen’s fantasy impact, it’s that the Seahawks are probably more likely to force the rookie to beat them while doubling Thielen. Keep him in the starting lineup this week.
ESPN Projection: 8.3
Yahoo Projection: 8.1
Josh’s Projection: 11.7
Throughout the last two weeks, Jefferson has emerged as a great deep threat for Kirk Cousins. He’s racked up 11 receptions for 278 yards and a touchdown in the past two weeks, for an incredible 27.3 yards per reception.
While I would trust Thielen to have a higher chance to score and rack up more receptions, Jefferson’s point total could approach Thielen’s in non-PPR leagues simply through his potential for big plays. That potential is only higher against the Seahawks, who have given up the second most explosive pass plays (20+ yard plays) in the league, with only the Atlanta Falcons allowing more.
Jefferson has not shown himself as a great scoring option to this point, only taking one of his 16 receptions to the house. That said, I would expect another 100 yard game from the rookie this week, and if he does score, that only makes him an even greater WR2 option this week.