Kickoff: Sunday, November 8th at 1:00 PM ET
Location: U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN
Betting Odds: ATL -4, 52.5 total via Oddsshark
Matthew Stafford (Sit, COVID-IR), Chase Daniel (Sit)
Matthew Stafford has been placed on the COVID-IR and is looking questionable for Week 9. If Stafford plays, he would slot in as a mid-range QB2.
In Stafford’s absence, the Lions will turn to Chase Daniel as they prepare for the Vikings this week. Daniel has started just five games throughout his NFL career and Week 9 will make start number six. Daniel is a backup NFL QB for a reason and the entire offense will likely take a step back with Daniel at the helm. It would stand to reason the Lions will scale back the offense and lean more on the running game to minimize the chances for Daniel to make a mistake. Fantasy managers should look elsewhere for their fantasy QB production this week.
D’Andre Swift (Start, RB2), Adrian Peterson (Sit, Deep Flex), Kerryon Johnson (Sit)
As the season progresses, Detroit has given D’Andre Swift more and more snaps resulting in a season-high 62% snap percentage in Week 8. Swift struggled against a tough Colts defense that week but he was still involved in the gameplan despite the team turning pass-heavy to try and claw back from a large deficit. Swift is involved in the passing game garnering 4-5 targets each game and generally turning those targets into 2-3 receptions. Minnesota ranks in the middle of the pack in rushing yards allowed on the season but has been stingy in rushing TDs allowing just five on the season. Swift’s usage has been trending upward since Detroit’s BYE and that should continue into Week 9 making Swift a solid RB2 for fantasy managers.
Swift’s increased role in the offense has led to an equal decrease for future Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson. Peterson was on the field for just 12 of Detroit’s 61 snaps in Week 8 though some of that can be attributed to the team moving away from the running game due to the large deficit. The trend is there, however, and Peterson is losing touches to Swift making him a dicey proposition for fantasy managers. Peterson sees enough snaps to be an emergency flex option for fantasy managers in Week 9 but expectations should be held in check for Peterson.
The biggest loser in the past eight weeks for Detroit’s RBs has been Kerryon Johnson. Johnson has been essentially phased out of the offense the past two weeks despite a TD reception in Week 9. Johnson simply can’t be trusted to see any significant usage and can safely be benched if not outright dropped in all formats.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Marvin Jones (Start, low-end WR2), Danny Amendola (Sit), Marvin Hall/Quintez Cephus (Sit), T.J. Hockenson (Start, TE1)
It is widely expected for Kenny Golladay to miss this contest making Marvin Jones the de facto #1 WR for Detroit against Minnesota. Jones will benefit from a depleted Minnesota secondary but the absence of Stafford will limit his ceiling. Minnesota has given up big games to WRs this season and has allowed two or more receiving TDs to WRs in five of their seven games. Jones isn’t among the elite tier of WRs but he might get enough opportunities to provide fantasy managers with a decent WR2 week.
The biggest beneficiary of Golladay’s early exit in Week 9 was T.J. Hockenson. Hockenson saw a team-high 10 targets last week and has been an integral part of Detroit’s offense throughout the season. Hockenson leads the team in targets with 41 and receiving TDs with four and has yet to have a game with fewer than four targets. In Week 8, Minnesota surrendered 125 receiving yards to Green Bay’s TE duo and Hockenson arguably has more upside than both of them. It is widely assumed that the TE is a rookie or a new QB’s best friend and that may be the case for Daniel this week. Fantasy managers should feel comfortable slotting Hockenson in as a solid TE1 this week.
The trio of Danny Amendola, Marvin Hall, and Quintez Cephus will likely be competing for scraps given the expected targets for Jones and Hockenson. Both Hall and Cephus have had decent stats with Golladay sidelined, but deciphering who will be the biggest contributor week to week is anybody’s guess. Amendola has been a good player for Detroit but nearly useless for fantasy managers due to his role in the offense. Fantasy managers should leave all three of their WRs on benches in Week 9.
Kirk Cousins (Sit)
What happens when you take a team that passes the ball at the third-lowest percentage (50.37%) and combines it with a team that averages the fewest plays per game (57.9)? You get the 2020 Minnesota Vikings. For those reasons alone, fantasy managers should avoid Kirk Cousins in Week 9. Detroit has been average against opposing QBs, allowing just one 300-yard passer although they have been generous to passing TDs allowing 14 on the season. Nonetheless, Cousins is hard to recommend even in leagues that allow for two starting QBs. Minnesota’s stellar rushing attack plays into Detroit’s biggest weakness on defense and makes Cousins an easy sit in Week 9.
Dalvin Cook (Start, RB1), Alexander Mattison (Sit)
Dalvin Cook has been a full participant in six games this season. Cook trails only Derrick Henry in rushing yards on the season (775 to 652) on 39 fewer rushes and is the only RB with 10 rushing TDs this season. Yeah, Cook is pretty good. As we touched on above, Minnesota is behind only Baltimore and New England in the percentage of plays that are rushes meaning Cook is almost guaranteed a solid floor. I don’t need to convince fantasy managers who have Cook to start him. Cook has #1 overall RB upside this week and should be started in all leagues.
In the only game, Cook missed, Alexander Mattison looked like an easy RB1 for fantasy managers. Mattison struggled to a meager 26 yards and was a huge disappointment. Mattison is a solid handcuff for managers with Cook but is hard to trust for anybody else. Mattison typically sees 3-6 touches and is barely used in the passing game. Mattison should remain on benches in Week 9.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Adam Thielen (Start, high-end WR2), Justin Jefferson (Start, WR2), Irv Smith (Sit)
When Stefon Diggs went to Buffalo it opened the door even wider for Adam Thielen to assert himself as a consistent option at WR for fantasy managers. While Thielen has been good enough for fantasy managers this season, he’s been a bit TD dependent to reach WR2 levels every week. Thielen has surpassed 100 yards twice on the season but has been held to 51 yards or fewer on four occasions. Again, fortunately for fantasy managers, Thielen found the end zone in two of those games salvaging a decent fantasy output. Given the low-volume passing attack and the efficiency of Cook, Thielen is best viewed as a solid WR2 with WR1 upside in Week 9.
So far this season, Justin Jefferson has been really, really good or borderline unstartable. Jefferson has games of four receptions for 103 yards, seven receptions for 175 yards and one TD, and nine receptions for 166 yards and two TDs. He also has games of three receptions for 23 yards and three receptions for 26 yards. These huge swings make it tough for fantasy managers to confidently put him in starting lineups. Fortunately for Jefferson, Minnesota really doesn’t have another viable receiving option beyond Thielen which should give Jefferson enough of a floor to creep into WR2 territory in Week 9.
It can be argued that the baton has officially been passed from Kyle Rudolph to Irv Smith as the primary receiving TE in Minnesota. Smith regularly sees more snaps than Rudolph and has been the more targeted player thus far in 2020. Unfortunately for fantasy managers relying on Smith at TE that doesn’t equate to a lot of targets. Smith is fourth on the team with a paltry 17 targets and simply is not a consistent part of the Minnesota offense. Fantasy managers can safely sit Smith in Week 9.
Snap counts courtesy of Fantasy Data.
-Bryan Sweet (@FantasyFreakTN on Twitter)