Kickoff: Sunday, September 19th at 4:05 PM ET
Location: State Farm Stadium, Glendale, AZ
Betting Odds: -1.5 ARI, 51 total via Oddsshark
Writer: Marc Salazar (@oldsnake77 on Twitter and Reddit)
Kirk Cousins (Start, QB2)
Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins attemped more passes in the Week 1 overtime loss, 49, than he did all of 2020. It was an unusual game script but not unlike last season in results. Cousins is a solid QB and is almost always in the mid-QB2 range for managers. Despite his 350 yard, two-touchdown game, Cousins finished as the QB16 on the week. He is a good play in 2QB leagues, as the Vikings may be forced to pass to keep up with an explosive Cardinals offense. However, we can’t start him in a single QB league until bye weeks begin.
Dalvin Cook (Start, RB1)
Another week, another explosive performance from Dalvin Cook. Cook lived up to his billing as the second overall selection in most fantasy drafts. While Cook managed just 61 yards on 20 carries, he salvaged his day with six receptions and another 43 yards. Cook also scored, but fumbled late in the game to shift momentum and ruining the chance for a go-ahead field goal attempt. Expect more of the same from Cook this week, in an A+ matchup.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Justin Jefferson Brown (Start, WR1), Adam Thielen (Start, WR2), K.J. Osborn (Sit), Tyler Conklin (Sit)
Adam Thielen did his best job quieting his naysayers that expected big touchdown regression in 21, finished with nine catches for 92 yards and two touchdowns, on 10 targets. Continue to start Thielen as a high-end WR2, with touchdown upside, and with his volume, he should be played every week. Second-year sensation Justin Jefferson had a quieter afternoon, but it’s clear that the passing game will be concentrated on these two receivers. Jefferson collected nine targets, as well, but only managed five catches for 71 yards. Don’t even think about benching him in this plus matchup. He’s a player that could easily win your week.
One big change in the Viking passing attack was the heavy use of three-receiver sets, instead of the typical two tight ends they are used to playing. That led to an 81% snap share for K.J. Osborn and he collected nice targets and a 7-76 receiving line. Tyler Conklin was the primary tight end, 59 snaps, but newly acquired Chris Herndon played just 12 snaps. Osborn’s play is something to monitor, and while he can’t be trusted as a flex played unless you are desperate, another week of the Vikings lining up three wide will put him squarely on the fantasy radar. Conklin can be rostered in deeper leagues and Herndon can be dropped.
Kyler Murray (Start, QB1)
Cardinals QB Kyler Murray opened the season in an explosive fashion, accounting for four touchdowns as a passer and one as a rusher. It was Murray’s eighth 30+ fantasy point performance of his career and catapulted him into second in NFL MVP odds behind Patrick Mahomes at +900. Last season’s overall QB2 is fully healthy, for the time being, and ready to continue dominating defenses. Murray should torch this Viking defense, and is a top option at QB again this week.
Chase Edmonds (Start, RB2), James Conner (Start, Low-end Flex)
Coming into the season, one of the biggest questions fantasy managers have is how big of a role would Chase Edmonds have. The answer in Week 1 was slightly more, but still not a dominant role. Edmonds out-snapped James Conner, 40 to 34. While Conner did have 50% of the team’s rushing attempts, Edmonds ran routes on 78% of his snaps. Edmonds did manage a slight upgrade in playing time vacated by Kenyon Drake, and most of the high-value opportunities, but he had a quiet day. Edmonds is talented enough to remain a weekly RB2 for now, and COnner is no better than a low-end flex play. Conner did operate as the lead back inside the 10-yard line, and nearly scored inside the 10 but his volume is just too low to trust without hoping for a score.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
DeAndre Hopkins (Start, WR1), Christian Kirk (Start, Low-end Flex), Rondale Moore (Sit, Low-end Flex), A.J. Green (Sit)
Star wideout DeAndre Hopkins looked like the best skill player on the field, dusting the Titans for two dynamic touchdowns, catching six of eight targets for 87 yards. The touchdown numbers are what was most encouraging, Hopkins only had six all last season. If Hopkins can become the touchdown scorer he was in Houston, his ceiling is WR1 in this offense.
In the first half of the game, when the game was still competitive, the Cardinals ran three or four side sets on 70% of their plays. That allowed A.J. Green, Christian Kirk, and rookie Rondale Moore to see plenty of action. Green ran the second-most routes on Sunday but he looks dusted. Green started the season just as he started last season, dominating playing time with almost no production. It will be interesting to see just how long the Cardinals stick with Green as a starter. Kirk ran just 25 routes on 39 snaps but he was fantastic in Week 1. Murray looked for him in the end-zone and he operated primarily in the slot, where he thrives. Kirk is solid flex-pay as long as he is operating in the slot, as he should again this week. If the team is forced to bench Green that will send Kirk to the outside where he struggles. Kirk should be rostered in all formats, in hopes that he can finally break out or gain enough value to bring fantasy managers something back in a trade. Moore was quiet in his debut, but he looks lighting quick and dynamic. Despite running just eight routes, Moore did manage two targets. Pay attention to this young player in the first few weeks and watch his role expand. For now, let him season on your bench.
-Marc Salazar (@oldsnake77)