Kickoff: Thursday, November 24th at 8:20 PM ET
Location: U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN
Betting Odds: MIN -3, 42.5 O/U total via Oddsshark
Writer: Dustin Ludke (@TheDunit13 on Twitter)
New England Patriots
Mac Jones (Sit)
If you are considering starting Mac Jones. your season is probably over already. In his six full games, he only has four touchdowns and six interceptions. While the Vikings are giving up the ninth-most points to quarterbacks at 18.64, it’s still not a game in which you can start Jones. While the second-year quarterback is completing 66% of his passes this season he doesn’t have the volume or playmakers to be fantasy relevant. He has only cracked the QB2 range once, and that was back in Week 3 where he barely made it in with 15.94 points. There have to be better options even in super-flex leagues for you this week. He is a full sit. There is also the option that the Patriots could go back to Bailey Zappe since they are in the wild card hunt. It’s probably something that will happen mid-game with no time for fantasy managers to prepare. Just another reason to not start Mac Jones.
Rhamondre Stevenson (Start, RB2), Damien Harris (Start, Flex)
The Rhamondre Stevenson takeover of the New England backfield continues this week even with Damien Harris returning. Stevenson played on 78% of the snaps compared to Harris’s 24%. He out carried Harris 15 to 8 and saw 6 targets compared to 2. It’s a great sign for Stevenson going forward as he comes into Thanksgiving facing the Viking’s rush defense. The Vikings are giving up the tenth most fantasy points to running backs at 24.22. It’s a good matchup for both Stevenson and Harris. I think you can trust Stevenson as an RB2 and Harris as a Flex play. There is some thinking that Harris could get more work as he gets healthier, but he has only played over 40% of the team’s snaps in three of his eight games. The offense as a whole is lackluster and low scoring so there isn’t a lot of hope for massive week-winning weeks from either, but they both have solid floors that can be counted on.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Jakobi Meyers (Start, WR2), Tyquan Thornton (Sit, FLEX), DeVante Parker (Sit), Nelson Agholor (Sit), Hunter Henry (Sit, TE2), Jonnu Smith (Sit)
Mac Jones only had 27 attempts in Week 11, and that number isn’t that much lower than his season average. The Patriots are a low-volume offense, so there isn’t much opportunity to go around. You are starting Jakobi Meyers since he has led the team in targets in most games this season. He ran the most routes on the team with 32 and the next closest receiver was at 21. He is getting plenty of opportunity and facing the Vikings who are giving up the fifth most points to wide receivers at 38.54. He will have to get away from the coverage of perennial all-star Patrick Peterson to truly capitalize on Thanksgiving night. I’m going to start him as a WR2. Meyers played in the slot on 66.7% of his routes in Week 11, and that would get him away from Peterson.
If Meyers is in the slot I, expect Peterson to be across from Nelson Agholor or Devante Parker. Both have been very unproductive this season for the Pats. Combined they have only two touchdowns and 54 targets in 15 games. I’m not starting either. One of them could end up in the end zone but there is no way of predicting who. I do think this could be a week where Tyquan Thornton shines. He only played on 10% of the team’s snaps in Week 11 but he should be drawing coverage from fellow rookie Andrew Booth Jr who rates at 41.7 in coverage. The Pats project to be playing from behind, so long pass plays could be what they need to stay in the game. That is Thornton’s specialty.
The tight ends in New England continue to be a nightmare. Hunter Henry played more snaps (84%) and ran more routes (25) than Jonnu Smith (54%, 11), yet Smith out-targeted him four to one. Minnesota is giving up the tenth-most points to tight ends at 12.88, so there is an opportunity for them to shine. It’s just a matter of which one. I will lean towards Henry, as he has earned the snaps and routes and targets should follow. He is still a sit even though he will probably get into the TE2 range. Smith is a full sit for me.
Kirk Cousins (Sit, QB2)
Kirk Cousins has been….. well, Kirk Cousins. He is the type of player you generally start but aren’t excited about it. He’s coming off a week where he failed to throw a touchdown and only completed just over half of his passes. He has a dynamic receiving group and can produce high numbers, but we have only seen that twice this season. He does not have a game with more than two passing touchdowns. He is an efficient passer who protects the ball with only eight interceptions on the year, and three of them coming in one game. He gets the Patriots’ defense who are giving up the 12th-fewest points to quarterbacks at 15.4. It’s not a great matchup for Cousins on a short week. It shouldn’t matter but we have seen Cousins be really bad in prime-time games so if that trend continues he will hurt you this week in fantasy. I’m going to sit Cousins this week. There are no teams on byes so you should be able to find someone with a better matchup with all the other issues going on with this team I believe that Cousins will be in the QB2 range but not very high in it.
Dalvin Cook (Start, RB1), Alexander Mattison (Sit)
The Patriots are known for taking away one thing on a team and this week it looks like it could be the rushing game and Dalvin Cook. The Pats are giving up the fewest fantasy points to running backs at 16.05. While they aren’t giving up a ton of points, overall they only rank 20th on PFF.com in run defense at 54.4. You are still going to start Dalvin Cook. He is seeing plenty of work. In the Week 10 blowout loss to the Cowboys he still saw 11 carries even when the game script called for all passing. He is averaging just over five yards per carry. Given the volume and efficiency of his carries, you can start Cook as an RB1. It’s a range he has been in twice in the past four weeks.
Alexander Mattison has become an afterthought on this offense. He doesn’t have any pass-catching work. He has only seen more than one target twice this season. He is only averaging 3.73 yards per carry. He is nothing more than a rotational back who gets work when Cook needs a rest. You can’t start him but you should roster him as a handcuff if you own Cook.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Justin Jefferson (Start, WR2), Adam Thielen (Start, WR2), K.J. Osborn (Sit), T.J. Hockenson (Start, TE1)
Justin Jefferson is dealing with turf toe, but played in week 11 against the Cowboys. He had a disappointing day, and while some will point to the toe, it had more to do with Trevon Diggs covering him. Coming off a short week and now facing the Patriots who are giving up the second-fewest points to the wide receiver position at 26.75, there might be more concern for Jefferson managers. You can’t sit him. He’s too great for that but I do think you need to temper expectations. If Jefferson gets coverage from Jonathan Jones it could be a long day. Jones is rated at 82.1 in coverage by PFF.com. I have Jefferson as a WR2 considering the possible coverage and the lingering toe issue.
Adam Thielen could benefit from the tough coverage on Jefferson. If Jones is lined up across from Jefferson then Thielen will see Jalen Mills. Mills only rates at 39.9 in coverage. The veteran receiver did only see three targets in Week 10 which was a season-low. He was averaging 7.5 targets on the season. I think he could easily be the go-to guy to keep the chains moving as the Vikings’ offense looks to get back on track and keep pace in the hunt for the number-one overall seed in the NFC. Thielen can be trusted and will be in the WR2 range this week.
Tight-end T.J. Hockenson has easily taken over the second option in the passing game if not the main weapon. He has made K.J. Osborn a nonfactor. Hockenson has seen 28 targets in the three games he has been in the purple and gold. He will continue that as the Patriots are giving up the eight most points to tight ends at 12.9. You will continue to see league-winning numbers from Hockenson as he continues to be a big part of the Vikings’ offense. He is a TE1 this week and probably most weeks.