Minnesota Vikings at San Francisco 49ers
Game Time: Saturday, January 11th at 4:35pm ET
Spread: 49ers -7
Kirk Cousins – It wasn’t any sort of a stellar day for Cousins, but he didn’t turn the ball over and that was what counted. He also dropped the ball in a bucket to Adam Thielen then threw a perfect jump ball to Kyle Rudolph to win the Wild Card game against the Saints. Cousins threw for 242 yards and that touchdown against one of the better pass defenses in football. Well, it is about to get even tougher as the 49ers are one of the top two defenses in the league, and they are about to get healthier. The Vikings are very likely to try to control this game on the ground and keep the San Francisco offense off the field as much as they can. It is going to be really tough to ask Cousins to lead the team to victory on the road again versus another great pass defense. He won’t be great for fantasy purposes, and if he topped 250 passing yards and one touchdown you should be surprised.
Dalvin Cook – He made his return last week, and for the most part looked great. He certainly had more burst than he had for most of the second half of the season, although towards the end of the game it did appear he was shying a little away from contact. He took to the sideline when he could have plowed for a first down, and on another run took a dive instead of going into two defenders. That is understandable, of course, but at the same time we want our fantasy players to play hard regardless of their health. The 49ers are a very strong defense, but you can run on them some and the Vikings are sure to give him close to 30 touches in this one. Cook will be one of the better running back plays in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.
Alexander Mattison – With Cook back healthy and looking like he did earlier in the year, Mattison was only given six touches in the Wild Card game. He would need an injury to Dalvin Cook to have a real role. He is a dart throw for this weekend, and not a good one at that.
Adam Thielen – After being an afterthought for most of the second half of the season, we kind of saw the old Thielen again on Sunday afternoon. His highlight was a 43 yard catch that Kirk Cousins put right in his basket that set the Vikings up for the game winning score. His nine targets were very encouraging, and perhaps he is back feeling like his old self again. This week will be a nightmare matchup against the 49ers, and Thielen will be facing one of the best secondaries in the game. The Vikings are likely to want to control the ball on the ground, but short passes to Thielen will also likely be in the game plan. He won’t be a high confidence play for the Divisional Round games, but he won’t be the worst guy to use either. He could easily have six catches for 60 yards in this one, and if he should happen to get deep again he could be worth more.
Stefon Diggs – He couldn’t get going the entire game, and was barely even looked at with just two catches and two rush attempts. As usual, Diggs handled his small role like a child, by throwing his helmet and yelling at people on the sidelines. He likely will have to deal a lot with Richard Sherman on Saturday, and that isn’t exactly a recipe for success. Kirk Cousins is going to have to target Diggs more if they want to pull off a second upset in these playoffs, but he again will be a guy that likely won’t be worth his price tag. Diggs is unlikely to break 50-60 yards in this one with three or four catches.
Kyle Rudolph – Once again, without the touchdown Rudolph would have left you less than satisfied with his four catches for 31 yards. Of course, he left Vikings fans oh so satisfied as he caught the game winning touchdown. The Niners are actually one of the softer defenses against the tight ends, as they allowed 70 receptions and seven touchdowns to the position this season. He will be a big bodied target for Cousins over the middle of the field, and he showed all season that he is a great red zone target. Rudolph will be a decent option if you decide to go cheaper on your tight end this weekend.
San Francisco 49ers
Jimmy Garoppolo – He is a bit of a conundrum from a fantasy perspective. Garoppolo is capable of having monster fantasy days, but most of the time he centers around average. He had six games with multiple touchdowns, but also ten with one or zero scores through the air. It is still a run first team, and he threw the ball fewer than 30 times in nine of 16 games this season. You should expect a pretty balanced attack on Sunday, which likely doesn’t lead to a huge fantasy day for Jimmy G. He won’t be the most exciting fantasy quarterback of the weekend, but will certainly be capable of 260 yards and a couple touchdown throws.
Raheem Mostert – Raise your hand if you drafted Raheem Mostert back in August! He is perhaps the biggest example in 2019 of a guy leading you to victory that you likely didn’t hear of when the season started. But make no mistake about it, he is the 49ers lead back heading into the playoffs. He has scored in six straight games, and has eight touchdowns over that span. He doesn’t quite get the usage of a normal starting back with 15 carries just once in the last five weeks, but he makes the most of his chances. The Vikings largely shut down the Saints running game last week, but they also struggled on the ground most of the season. Mostert rarely puts up eye popping stats, but the Niners are going to use him, use him strategically, and at this point it would be a surprise if he didn’t score again this week. He isn’t one of the higher salaried running backs this weekend but should give you a nice return even against a tough defense.
Tevin Coleman – He hasn’t had five carries or found the end zone since Week 12. He is a name you know, but right now he isn’t enough of a part of the offense to even consider for fantasy purposes barring an injury to Raheem Mostert .
Emmanuel Sanders – He is still a threat down the field, but Sanders certainly seems to be settled into the third most important target in the Niners passing game. He has only broken ten fantasy points once since Week 9, and hasn’t had more than three catches in the last three games. He will likely deal with a lot of Xavier Rhodes on Saturday, which isn’t as intimidating as it once was, but he is still a quality corner. Even on a short slate of games, Sanders doesn’t appear to be a great selection as his salary is still a little based on a his well-known name more than his production of late.
Deebo Samuel – He is now the most dangerous wide receiver on the team. Head Coach Kyle Shanahan seems to love to design plays to get Deebo the ball in space, and the rookie seems to take advantage of it a great deal. They have also now incorporated running plays for Samuel, as he has at least one carry in five straight games, and has scored on runs in two straight weeks. He is a handful to game plan for, and not easy to take down when he gets the ball in space. Samuel is becoming a very exciting player to watch on a weekly basis and appears to be set up for a solid DFS game on Saturday.
George Kittle – This guy is just an absolute beast, and outside of the Ravens game in a driving rain, has been the focus of the 49ers offense since Halloween weekend. He has had a minimum of five catches and 67 yards in seven of the last eight weeks, and seems to be getting better every week. The Vikings gave up 54 yards to Jared Cook last Sunday, and Cook can’t hold Kittle’s jock. You can basically put it in stone now that he will be the most targeted receiver, and despite only allowing one touchdown to tight ends this year, the Vikings gave up a ton of yards and catches. Even with Travis Kelce playing as well, Kittle could very well be the most productive tight end this weekend.
Summary: I picked the Vikings to get crushed last week by the Saints, and boy did they prove me wrong! It was an amazing game, and Kirk Cousins showed a poise we hadn’t seen from him before. He will have to be even better this week though against a 49ers defense that hopes to welcome back Kwon Alexander , Dee Ford , and Jaquiski Tartt . That would make the San Francisco defense basically whole again for the first time in a long time. Dalvin Cook should still be able to run on them, as the Niners defense has been leaky against the run at times. However, will they be able to pass much, and will the Vikings defense be able to stand up to George Kittle and the playcalling of Kyle Shanahan. Unless the Vikings are able to make Jimmy Garoppolo make several poor decisions it will be hard for them to win on the road again. This might be a little closer than anticipated, but the 49ers win this one with a little breathing room.
Prediction: 49ers 31, Vikings 23