We wrap up the Sunday portion of Week 11 with what should be a fairly competitive game between two teams fighting for a playoff spot and riding some impressive winning streaks. This inter-conference matchup may not see an extremely high game total, but the spread has Denver favored by just a field goal so it should be competitive. After starting the season 1-5, the Denver Broncos have won three straight games and it’s not like they’re beating teams that are tanking. They’ve rattled off wins against the Green Bay Packers, Kansas City Chiefs, and Buffalo Bills. Even in their first matchup against the Chiefs, Denver played them tough and only allowed Patrick Mahomes and Co. to put up 19 points on offense. On the other side of the ball in this game we have the Minnesota Vikings who have not mailed it in this year despite losing Kirk Cousins. The Vikings are riding a five-game winning streak after starting the season 1-4. Newly acquired Joshua Dobbs has seemingly acclimated well with this offense and as he gains more familiarity with the system, the floor and ceiling could be elevated. And they’re doing all this without star receiver, Justin Jefferson. So with a pair of teams trending in the right direction, I won’t scoff at another Denver Broncos primetime matchup and instead, I’ll look to embrace the excitement and storylines surrounding both teams. Let’s take a look at how to approach this game for Sunday night’s Showdown contests!
Spread: Denver Broncos (-3)
Over/Under: 41.0 Points
Weather: Sounds like there will be showers around kickoff and throughout the first half. That could easily change but temperatures will be in the high 40’s with light winds. We’ll monitor the weather leading up to kickoff.
- Akayleb Evans, Defensive Back – Doubtful (Calf)
- Greg Joseph, Kicker – Probable (Personal)
- Alexander Mattison, Running Back – Probable (Concussion)
- Jaren Hall, Quarterback – Doubtful (Concussion)
- Justin Jefferson, Wide Receiver – OUT (Not activated off IR)
- Nick Mullens, Quarterback – Probable (Back)
- Joshua Dobbs, Quarterback – Probable (Ankle)
- K.J. Osborn, Wide Receiver – Probable (Concussion)
- P.J. Locke, Defensive Back – OUT (Ankle)
- Ben Powers, Guard – Probable (Foot)
- Baron Browning, Linebacker – Probable (Wrist/Knee)
- Marvin Mims, Wide Receiver – Probable (Ankle)
- Ronnie Perkins, Linebacker – Probable (Quad)
- Jerry Jeudy, Wide Receiver – Probable (Hip)
- Garrett Bolles, Offensive Tackle – Questionable (Ankle)
- Samaje Perine, Running Back – Questionable (Ankle)
NFL DFS MVP/Captain
This is one of the first Showdown slates in a long time where one of the three most expensive players on the slate is not listed at Captain. To be fair, Justin Jefferson is the most expensive but he’s out for this matchup. And then DraftKings decided to price up the quarterbacks for… some reason, I’m sure. The Broncos grade out as a great matchup for tight ends. But the numbers are skewed a bit simply because Travis Kelce had 19 catches for 221 yards in two games against this defense and Cole Kmet caught a pair of touchdowns against them in Week 4. But Hockenson had a massive game last week even though we all thought he’d be limited last week. Yet he still went off for 11 catches for 134 yards and a score. Over the last three weeks Hockenson has a 38.2% first read target share. And strangely enough, Trey McBride is tied with Hock for that number. Joshua Dobbs just came over from Arizona prior to the trade deadline. Clearly Dobbs likes getting the ball to his tight ends and with no Justin Jefferson for one more week, Hockenson is in line for a big game.
Volume, Volume, Volume. We are simply chasing every carry and every reception with Javonte Williams. Williams has just two touchdowns on the year and they both came in the last two weeks. He has 18+ touches in three straight games. The Vikings have been very tough to run on. That would normally be a concern, but Williams has 10 receptions in his last three games and his snap share has increased as he’s played over half the snaps each of the last three weeks since returning from injury. On paper, the matchup isn’t great as the Philadelphia Eagles are the only offense to rush for more than 100 yards on the Vikings. But the workload is certainly there for Williams and he’s in shape for 18+ touches for the fourth straight week.
It’s weird with Sutton. I normally love targeting players at Captain that have touchdown equity. Sutton has scored in four straight games including six of his last seven. But only once all year has he gone for more than 20 fantasy points on DraftKings. He’s really only come close to the 100-yard bonus on just one occasion. Sutton does command a sizable target share, but Russell Wilson hasn’t thrown more than 30 passes in a game since Week 5. You can now imagine why I’m higher on Javonte Williams at Captain than any other player on Denver. But the touchdown equity catches our eye, so he warrants some consideration. I’m not going to write up Jerry Jeudy ($7,800) simply because I feel like I include too many players in this article at times. But the Vikings have allowed opposing offenses WR2 to score in two of their last three games. A.T. Perry managed to find the end zone for his first score against this secondary. So while Jeudy isn’t a great Captain option because the ceiling and target share is limited, I’m fine mixing him in as a flex.
Originally I had Ty Chandler in this spot under the presumption that Alexander Mattison would miss the game. But with Mattison trending towards playing, and Justin Jefferson not activated off IR, I’m inclined to pivot to Addison as a Captain candidate. Addison’s target share hasn’t really waned with the loss of Kirk Cousins. However, the likelihood of a touchdown has dropped a bit. Addison has four straight games with at least seven targets and he has nine receptions for 121 yards over his last two games. That’s obviously not great, as we need more of a ceiling to play someone at Captain and on top of that, there’s a chance he’s shadowed by Pat Surtain, who has been a thorn in the side of those he’s covered. So Addison is more of a contrarian Captain suggestion but if you wanted to go with the next player in this article, I wouldn’t fault you.
Mid-Tier & DFS Value Plays
Dobbs is very much in play at Captain especially if you look at his recent game log on DraftKings…
He’s averaging 25+ fantasy points in his last three games and in one of those he wasn’t even the starting quarterback. He has a rushing touchdown in four straight games, which dates back to his time with the Arizona Cardinals. In order for this play to work he will need to provide production on the ground. He is averaging 36.8 rushing yards per game but be mindful he does have 10 fumbles on the season, six of which have been lost. I know I fully endorse quarterbacks with rushing upside at Captain, so it seems hypocritical to not list him there. But on the road, at elevation, I’m going to go the conservative route and likely just stack him with any other Vikings pass catcher at Captain.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The Broncos have won three straight games and it’s come on the backs of turning Russell Wilson into more of a game manager. Wilson is averaging just over 26 pass attempts per game over his last six contests and while he’s provided some production on the ground (30+ rushing yards in four of his last five games), he doesn’t have a rushing touchdown on the season. But he also has just one turnover during Denver’s three-game winning streak. So as long as he’s avoiding costly mistakes, this team is winning the game on the ground. Wilson pairs nicely with Courtland Sutton at Captain. But you don’t necessarily need to correlate the play if you’re playing Williams at Captain. Wilson’s ceiling is drastically lowered if he’s struggling to throw it over 30 times per game because he may only be completing about 20 of those.
Update: So I have to add a note. This section on Ty Chandler was written prior to the Saturday night report that Mattison will play. So the following paragraph was written with Chandler in play at Captain. This play is dependent on the status of Alexander Mattison’s status. Mattison left last week’s game with a concussion. Denver’s defense can be run on as we’ve seen numerous times this season. The Buffalo Bills backfield managed to run for 179 yards last week and Denver is allowing 158.3 rushing yards per game on the season. Sure, that number is inflated because of the 351 rushing yards they allowed to Miami back in Week 3, but Chandler shapes to be a great, affordable Captain that still allows us to build a lineup without dipping too low into the player pool. He received 78% of the running back opportunities last week after Mattison left, and while he wasn’t efficient, he did find the end zone against the New Orleans Saints.
I really don’t know how much Mattison gets involved for this game, but if he’s been cleared from the concussion protocol then I imagine he gets the usual workload. Sometimes a player can be in concussion protocol but not have a concussion. That’ll probably never be the case with Tua Tagovailoa, but it does happen every so often. And with that said if Mattison is in the clear then they probably get him the ball a dozen times at the very least, and as we discussed for Ty Chandler when we thought Mattison might miss the game, the Broncos are a great matchup for opposing running backs. But he’s averaging just 3.5 yards per carry on 130 attempts this season and all three of his touchdowns have come through the air. Another Update: You came for the analysis but stayed for the color-coded updates. While Mattison is trending towards playing we did get this update from Tom Pelissero so read into it however you see fit.
Osborn took a scary hit a couple weeks ago against the Atlanta Falcons and had to be carted off. However, he did log some practice sessions this week and carried no injury designation into this matchup. Most weeks he actually fares pretty well and is good for five-to-seven targets but he hasn’t really been developing chemistry with Joshua Dobbs these last few weeks. However, with Justin Jefferson out again, that bodes well for Osborn as he’ll stay on the field for two-wide receiver sets. If Jordan Addison is drawing most of the coverage from Pat Surtain, then that may get Osborn some extra looks.
And while I have your attention, let’s take a second to ask ourselves a very important question…
What has Marvin Mims done lately to warrant a significant bump in pricing? He has netted ZERO points on DraftKings the last five games for Denver and is hardly getting looked at. With this abysmal workload he should be priced below $1,000. I don’t know how we can talk ourselves into playing this one…
Vegas is giving this game an implied total of 41 points and the Broncos are favored by a field goal. So if it’s a low scoring, tight game then that plays into the favor of both kickers, but unfortunately both are priced up for this game. Greg Joseph ($5,200) has been great lately. He’s attempted at least three field goals in five straight games with a dozen extra point attempts in that span as well. Now Tyler Bass didn’t attempt a field goal last week against Denver, but prior to the team’s bye week, opposing kickers had attempted 14 field goals from Weeks 5-8. I’m not saying the Broncos defense is great by any means. But we like that teams can easily move the ball on them, but if they can play stiff red zone defense then that’ll open the door for Joseph to get more volume as we’ve seen in recent weeks.
With Denver taking a more ground-heavy approach during their three-game winning streak, we’ve actually seen that benefit Wil Lutz ($5,000). The Broncos aren’t really getting involved in blowouts. They’re bringing competitive games to everyone. They only beat the Bills by two points last week. They did win by two possessions in Week 8 against the Kansas City Chiefs, but that was a flu game for Patrick Mahomes. Prior to that they beat the Green Bay Packers by two points. Half their games have been decided by three of fewer points. A couple early swings in their favor in the first two weeks of the season and maybe we’re looking at a 6-3 Broncos team right now. But regarding Lutz, all these close games are to his benefit. He’s attempted 10 field goals during Denver’s winning streak while putting up 15 fantasy points in two of those three games. I normally don’t recommend playing a kicker at Captain, nor do I really want to play both in the same lineup. But if this is a low-scoring competitive game, then I might have to recalibrate my normal way of approaching Showdown slates.
There’s certainly appeal with both D/ST’s in this game and as always, this is a position of variance. The Vikings have been more difficult to run on of late and they have 14 sacks with 11 takeaways in their last five games. However, with Russell Wilson not throwing the ball as much, we don’t have the sack/turnover upside as we’ve normally seen from Minnesota. Denver is running much more which is where the unstoppable force meets the immovable object. Denver’s had success running the ball while Minnesota is hard to run on. This Vikings secondary is fairly weak though and normally you need to establish the run to create and effective passing attack. But Minnesota’s secondary can be beaten so it remains to be seen how much Sean Payton lets Russell Wilson air it out.
I have almost zero interest in Denver’s defense. They’re allowing 26.7 points per game and over 400 yards of offense each week as well. Now, the counter to that is they have NINE takeaways in their last two games against the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs. Those teams have quarterbacks who, in general, are good at their job. Denver’s pass rush is fairly inconsistent. Some weeks they can go out and get three or four sacks. Other weeks they’re struggling to get one. I’m more inclined to play the kickers in this matchup but I won’t completely rule out either defense because the implied total is still very low for this game.
NFL DFS Dart Throw Bargains
The Dart Throw Bargains aren’t as cheap as we normally see them on Showdown slates which is unfortunate. We don’t have too many options under $1,000 to consider so these are the players I’m considering that are cheaper than the D/ST’s and kickers.
Powell may take a backseat to K.J. Osborn this week so he’s a bit of a gamble because he likely isn’t on the field for two-wide receiver sets. However, no Justin Jefferson still means that Powell can take the field on three-wide receiver sets and he did manage to work in more reps with Joshua Dobbs last week, which Osborn did not do.
Perine’s good for a little production out of the backfield with at least two receptions in every game this year. He doesn’t get much in terms of rushing attempts, but for a $3,200 play he’s had at least three targets in all but two games this season and he’s had at least seven fantasy points in three of his last five games on DraftKings.
I may actually prefer McLaughlin over Perine. Their profiles in the passing game are somewhat similar but McLaughlin seems locked in for a few more carries over Perine and he’s $400 cheaper. He has at least six touches in six straight games with 13 receptions in that span.