Kickoff: Sunday, January 3rd at 1:00 PM ET
Location: Ford Field, Detroit, MI
Betting Odds: MIN -7, 54.5 total via Oddsshark
Kirk Cousins (Start, QB1)
Heading into Week 17, Kirk Cousins has already set a new career-high for TD passes in a season with 32…but has also matched his career-high in INTs for a season with 13. When these two teams met back in Week 9, Cousins had his third-worst passing yardage of the season with 220 but did toss three TDs in the victory. This game is meaningless for both teams with each team’s draft position being the only factor that could change. We already know Dalvin Cook will miss the game, so it may be a higher-volume passing game than normal. Coupled with a bad Detroit defense and Cousins should manage a QB1 finish this week.
Alexander Mattison (Start, borderline RB1/RB2), Ameer Abdullah (Sit), Mike Boone (Sit)
As mentioned above, Cook has been ruled out of this game as a result of his father’s sudden passing on Tuesday and we here at QB List send all the positive vibes and prayers to Cook in this trying time. For fantasy managers with a game this week, that makes Alexander Mattison an intriguing option at RB. Mattison has missed three weeks with various ailments, the latest being a concussion. Mattison practiced in full on Wednesday and looks headed for an all-clear designation ahead of the game. Detroit is equally bad defending both the run and the pass, so Mattison should have an opportunity to put forth a solid game. Mattison is not typically involved in the passing game, and if that remains the case his ceiling is capped a bit. As such, expect Mattison to finish right around the RB1/RB2 line in Week 17.
With Cook out, there is a chance Ameer Abdullah or Mike Boone will see a little additional action but not likely enough to push them into serious fantasy consideration. Now, if Mattison is ruled out then both become low-end RB2 options but all signs point to Mattison getting the bulk of the action and Abdullah and Boone getting snaps to give Mattison a breather or as the preferred receiving option.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Adam Thielen (Start, WR1), Justin Jefferson (Start, WR1), Irv Smith (Sit, TE2)
In Minnesota’s passing game, there are Adam Thielen, Justin Jefferson, and everybody else. Those two have both more than doubled any other receiving option in targets on the season as Thielen has 103 targets while Jefferson has 113. The results of those two target shares are considerably different, however, as Thielen has made his mark in the end zone with the third-most receiving TDs on the season with 14 but has just 868 yards. Jefferson, on the other hand, leads all rookie WRs with 1,267 yards but has a surprisingly low seven TDs. Both players were mostly unnecessary when these teams met in Week 9 as Cook did all the heavy lifting but with Cook missing, both should be asked to do more this time around. Given the high usage in the passing game, look for both to finish as WR1s this week.
With Kyle Rudolph already ruled out of this week’s game, Irv Smith will look to continue to expand upon his excellent game in Week 16. Smith saw a season-high in both targets and receptions with nine and six, respectively, and had two TDs for the second time this season. Unfortunately for Smith, Jefferson and Thielen absorb so many targets he needs high-value opportunities to warrant solid fantasy production and the poor Detroit defense might not slow Minnesota down enough to get those targets. Smith has shown his upside but he’s best viewed as no better than a TE2 in Week 17.
Chase Daniel (Sit, QB2)
As of this writing on Wednesday night, Matthew Stafford hasn’t been ruled out of this week’s game but given the lack of impact this game will have on the season, it seems foolish to risk serious injury to the team’s star QB. If Stafford misses, the start will go to Chase Daniel who was able to muster just 86 yards on 13 completions in relief of Stafford last week. This game will mark Daniel’s fifth career start and he is simply not an inspiring option for fantasy managers. Minnesota doesn’t have a very good defense, but I can not, in good conscience, recommend Daniel as anything other than a sit this week.
D’Andre Swift (Start, RB1), Adrian Peterson (Sit)
As the season has progressed, the second-round investment Detroit made in D’Andre Swift looks like it will provide solid returns soon. Swift’s role has steadily grown over the past few weeks and he shows good vision and footwork and has been an asset in the passing game. Swift has 808 total yards on the season and has provided nine TDs in 12 games and should be able to take advantage of the NFL’s 28th-ranked run defense. One of the best friends of an inexperienced QB is a good RB and Detroit may lean a bit more on the rookie to wrap up the season. Swift should return RB1 value for fantasy managers needing him in Week 17.
There was some speculation back in Week 9 that Adrian Peterson would perform well in the “revenge” game against the team that drafted him back in 2009 and he promptly went out and provided fantasy managers with 43 total yards. Peterson has slowly been phased out of the offense in favor of Swift and unless Detroit decides to save some wear and tear on Swift look for Peterson to see spot duty and be a non-factor for fantasy managers this week.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Marvin Jones (Start, WR2), Mohamed Sanu (Sit), Danny Amendola (Sit), T.J. Hockenson (Start, TE1)
In the absence of Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones has put together a solid season and has regularly been a viable WR3 or better for fantasy managers every week. Jones leads the team in every statistical receiving category with 104 targets, 68 receptions, 798 yards, and seven TDs. Of course, those numbers have primarily come with Stafford at QB and it makes sense to expect a dip in production with Daniel under center. Still, outside Jones and T.J. Hockenson the receiving cupboard is pretty bare in Detroit which should lead to enough volume for Jones to finish the 2020 season as a WR2 for fantasy managers.
Earlier this week, Hockenson was named as a first-time Pro Bowler and the first Detroit TE to earn the honor since 1999. Hockenson is second to Jones in all the receiving categories and, like Swift above, a solid TE is another great friend to an inexperienced QB. Hockenson is in the top five at TE in receptions and receiving yards and is 8th in TDs and has consistently been a TE1 weekly. Look for more of the same as the season comes to a close and expect another TE1 finish from Hockenson this week.
The remainder of Detroit’s receiving options are low-floor and low-ceiling options and don’t move the needle in fantasy. Both Mohamed Sanu and Danny Amendola can’t safely be ignored by fantasy managers in Week 17.
Snap counts courtesy of Fantasy Data.
-Bryan Sweet (@FantasyFreakTN on Twitter)