– Thursday Night Football Preview –
Washington Redskins at Minnesota Vikings
Spread: Vikings -16 | Over/Under 42
The NFL season is entering Week 8 and that means it’s time for another showdown on Thursday night football. The Washington Redkins are coming off a 0-9 shutout home loss in a monsoon to head to Minnesota to take on a sizzling hot Kirk Cousins led Vikings squad. This is a matchup that clearly favors the Vikings; hence the 16-point favorite. However, if we recall the last time we saw the Vikings this heavily favored at home was in 2018 when they were favored by 16.5 points over a winless Buffalo Bills team. They lost outright 27-6. That was after Kirk Cousins threw for 425 yards, and four touchdowns in a divisional matchup versus the Green Bay Packers in the game prior. Eerily similar circumstances surround the Vikings as they enter this game. Let’s take a closer look at Week 8’s Thursday Night’s Game.
Now I am not going to buy into the whole “Kirk Cousins is in the MVP consideration” talk. However, you do have to give him credit when credit is due. He has averaged 25.68 fantasy points per game over the last three weeks and currently ranks as the QB11 overall and QB15 in points per game on the season. Meanwhile his counterpart Case Keenum has had a somewhat underrated season from a production standpoint. In games where Keenum has not been benched or played in torrential downpours, he has thrown for at least two touchdowns. In those four games, he has averaged 17.77 fantasy points.
For the matchups on paper, it is actually pretty equal. Washington gives up the 12th most fantasy points to the QB position and Minnesota gives up the 13th most fantasy points to the QB position. But looking at the most recent games over the past four weeks the Redskins have allowed just 12.86 fantasy points per game to the QB. Meanwhile, the Vikings have been shredded in their secondary the past two weeks by Carson Wentz and Matthew Stafford. Those two averaged 24.55 fantasy points versus the Vikings. Cousins is obviously on the streaming radar, but do not be surprised if Keenum has a productive outing as well. When the Vikings are at home their opponents are averaging 40.3 passing attempts per game which ranks number one in the NFL.
The last thing to note is that Cousins in prime time has traditionally been a disaster. Especially on Thursday night football where he touts a 1-5 record with a 12-9 touchdown-interception ratio. Keenum is 3-2 on Thursday night football. For a DFS lineup to be contrarian just simpling fading Cousins in favor of Keenum would be a massive leverage play. Keenum could easily see much more passing volume.
Just make sure that Dalvin Cook is in your running back slot and not your FLEX position. Cook has been amazing this year checking in as the RB2 overall and ranking fourth in the NFL in rushing yards (583). He has scored in every single game outside Week 5 and faces the Redskins defense that has allowed the ninth-most fantasy points to the running back position. Specifically, they have allowed the fifth-most receptions to the position which bodes extremely well for Cook who has 28 targets on the season (four per game). He is in your starting lineup and deserves MVP or Captain consideration in DFS single-game formats. The Redskins are allowing 123.7 rushing yards, 29.7 rushing attempts, and one rushing touchdown per game on the road.
As for the Vikings, it has been reported that Adrian Peterson has suffered a high-ankle sprain. He has claimed that he is fine and will be okay, but you cannot play Peterson across any format. For the weakness that the Vikings’ secondary has been their run defense has been stout. They have allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points to the running back position and just one rushing touchdown. Only Aaron Jones has gone over 100 yards against them and that took 23 carries. No other running back has rushed for more than 53 yards. Peterson is merely a DFS dart throw that you are playing based on a revenge-game narrative that you are hoping goes one hundred percent supernova.
Wendell Smallwood might be the best option as he will most likely see the majority of touches in the passing game with Chris Thompson looking to also be sidelined. The Vikings have allowed two receiving touchdowns this season. If you are extremely desperate Smallwood could be in play in PPR formats. In his career when Smallwood has seen 12 touches, he has either scored a touchdown or amassed 50 yards from scrimmage. Solid floor for cheap across DFS formats.
The Redskins have been one of the worst secondaries in the NFL. Washington gives up the tenth-most fantasy points to the WR position. Any player that has seen nine targets has scored at least 14 fantasy points (DeSean Jackson, Julian Edelman, and Sterling Shepard). Adam Thielen is questionable for this game and if he misses the game Stefon Diggs would absolutely eat in the matchup. Even if Thielen is active you should rely on the side of caution with him and his hamstring injury. Thielen has only gone over 75 yards receiving once this season and could easily be limited in a short week. Olabisi Johnson would be the target to add if Thielen is deemed inactive for the game. That being said considering the Vikings only have four receivers on the active roster Zimmer could easily pull a “Kliff Kingsbury” and have Thielen be an emergency receiver.
For the Redskins you will want to make sure that you are starting Terry McLaurin. He did not produce last week, but that was mostly due to the weather and the Redskins being forced to abandon any passing game very early on. When targeted this season by Keenum, McLaurin has put up a 146.8 rating, averaging 17.9 per reception, to go along with 17 first downs. The Vikings rank 28th in the league in first downs allowed through the passing game at home (15). Over the last two weeks, the Vikings have allowed the third-most fantasy points to the wide receiver position. McLaurin needs to be started and if somebody is sour on him after last week, go trade for him before Thursday night! He should be locked into all DFS lineups as well to go along with some Captain/MVP exposure. Trey Quinn looks the best bet at wide receiver as a punt play. He has had at least four targets in each game outside last week that Keenum has started. Danny Amendola went for 100 yards doing the majority of his damage from the slot in Week 7 versus the Vikings.
There are only three names to note here. Kyle Rudolph, Irv Smith Jr., and Jeremy Sprinkle. Now the interesting note for Sprinkle is that the Vikings actually have allowed the most targets to the tight end position and the second-most receptions, but no touchdowns. That is most likely to regress and what better night for it to happen than Thursday night for Jeremy Sprinkle. I would bump up exposure to Sprinkle especially if the running backs are out.
For the Vikings’ tight ends the Redskins give up the 16th fewest fantasy points to the TE position. No tight end has gone over 54 yards receiving against Washington. It’s no coincidence that both Minnesota tight ends saw season-highs in targets, catches, and receiving yards after Thielen departed. If Thielen misses Rudolph should be on the streaming radar.
The Vikings D/ST is a solid option this week. If the Vikings force a pass-happy approach from the Redskins that could create a lot of opportunities for turnovers. On the side for kickers, neither are very appealing. The Vikings have allowed the third-fewest field goal attempts per game and the Redskins have allowed the fourth-fewest field goal attempts on the road this season.
The Vikings are clearly the superior team, but it is worth noting that in four of the losses fully played by Keenum this year the Redskins never lost by more than a margin of two scores. The line at -16.5 seems too big for a team on a short week with a quarterback that has known struggles in primetime. Vikings end up winning, but the Redskins cover. Final score prediction: 24-21 Viking over Redskins.