There isn’t a lot to like about this Sam Bradford led Minnesota Vikings offense. Since his week two start where he and Stefon Diggs lit up what we now know to be a below average Green Bay secondary, Bradford and the Vikings have looked like a boring, “don’t give the game away” offense.
When the Vikings Throw
In the passing game, Bradford has shown that he can take care of the ball and make a few plays, but they aren’t consistent enough to make them a fearsome offense.
Through 10 starts in 2016, Sam Bradford is actually completing passes at a career best 71.3 percent. His quarterback rating of 98.3 is also a career best and is nearly 10 points higher than his next best season.
The thing that Sam Bradford is doing well is taking care of the football. In the 10 games he’s started, he’s only thrown three interceptions, while fumbling the ball six times. As you’ll see later, the offensive line has something to do with that.
For fantasy football purposes, you might look at this game against Dallas’ second worst passing defense and think you can get a little something from Bradford as a spot start. Don’t get cute. There are at least 25 other quarterbacks I would rather play this week, especially if I have a playoff spot on the line.
Diggs, who has been hampered by a knee injury, has been really good this year for the Vikings and is averaging 9.7 standard fantasy football points per game. He’s averaging eight targets a game and six catches. He’s questionable for this game, but if it looks like he’s going to play, then I’m definitely starting him against a Cowboys pass defense that is still missing Morris Claiborne and has shown they will give up yards through the air.
Other than the aforementioned Stefon Diggs, Kyle Rudolph is the best thing they have going for them on offense. This is not to say wide receivers Adam Thielen and Cordarrelle Patterson can’t make big plays, they can, but this offense is limited.
Start Stefon Diggs (if healthy) and Kyle Rudolph this week against the Cowboys.
When the Vikings Run
They are last in the league, rushing an unbelievably bad averaging of 2.8 yards per carry while only amassing 782 rushing yards through 11 games. This running back group of Jerick McKinnon, Matt Asiata and Ronnie Hillman has to be one of the worst running back groups in the National Football League, but their offensive line isn’t doing much to help them either.
Through week eleven, the most recent rankings I could find, Pro Football Focus had the Minnesota Vikings’ offensive line rated as the second worst line in football. Through week 12, Football Outsiders also had the Vikings’ offensive line ranked as the second worst in football.
You aren’t going to want to start any Minnesota Vikings against the Dallas Cowboys.
While the Cowboys’ defense has been susceptible to the pass, they’ve been really good against the run. Teams have been able to hit a run or two on them and at times sustain drives, but over the course of the game, the Dallas run defense plays really well. Their 4.1 yards per carry allowed is tied for 11th in the league and they have allowed the third fewest yards rushing this season. They are tied with the Detroit Lions for fewest rushing touchdowns allowed at five.
Avoid the Vikings’ backfield. Hopefully they aren’t an option for you anyway.
Dallas, on the other hand, is one of the most consistent and dangerous offenses in the NFL. They aren’t necessarily going to break a ton of big plays during the game, but with their ability to go on long drive after long drive, they are going to break your will.
When Dallas goes to Throw
Dak Prescott will face another difficult test this week. Minnesota’s secondary features a cornerback who has shut down some good receivers this year in Xavier Thomas, and a veteran in Terrance Newman who has held up his end as well.
Combine really good secondary play with a pretty good pass rush and this may turn into a game that is closer than some of us might think (including me).
Minnesota has allowed the fourth fewest passing yards in the league and their 5.2 Net Yards/Attempt is the second best in the NFL. The Vikings are 7th in the league in total sacks.
As a team, Minnesota only allows a score on 31.1% of their drives, tied for the seventh best mark in the league. Compare that to the Dallas Cowboys, who lead the league on offense, scoring points on 51.8% of their drives this season.
Prescott is a low-end QB1 for me in 10-12 team leagues. While Minnesota is great against the passing game, Dez Bryant is easily a WR1, because after all, he is Dez. You’re starting him each week no matter the match-up because this offense — led by Dak Prescott — has shown the ability to overcome poor match-ups.
Cole Beasley is a solid flex-play in standard and PPR leagues this week. Jason Witten is the only other pass catcher I’m considering for Dallas this week, but only if you don’t have a better match-up elsewhere.
Minnesota only gives up 5.85 standard fantasy points per game to tight ends, which is 12th best in the NFL.
When Dallas Runs
Ezekiel Elliott is going to have a great opportunity to run the ball against a team that has shown some cracks in what had looked like a stout run defense. Even if the Dallas Cowboys were facing the 1985 Chicago Bears, I’d start Ezekiel Elliott.
Against this Minnesota run defense, you are locking him in that line up for sure. In fact, Elliott is as much of a lock from week to week as you will find at the RB position in 2016.
Over the last six weeks the Minnesota Vikings have allowed at least 94 yards rushing to each opponent. Dallas, as a team, is second in the NFL in rushing yards (one yard behind the Buffalo Bills) while the Vikings sit at 13 in rushing yards allowed. Dallas has faced four teams who have been better against the run (New York Giants, Pittsburgh Steelers, Green Bay Packers, and Baltimore Ravens) and have had some success.
Like I said above, Ezekiel Elliott is a must-start every week, in any match-up. He has the ability to grind out 90+ yards and a score every single week. Consider the ways Scott Linehan gets him involved in the passing game and he’s a sure thing to cross the 100 total yard mark each and every week.
Good luck with your fantasy teams this week. Hope you are able to get into the playoffs and make a run for that championship.