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Frigga Fantasy Football Friday: Week 4 vs DEN

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The Daily Norseman breaks down the statistical projections for the Vikings against the Broncos and what it all means for fantasy football.

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Peterson might be the only fantasy relevant Vikings player yet again...but certainly this week.
Peterson might be the only fantasy relevant Vikings player yet again...but certainly this week.
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Editor's Note: FanDuel is running a $2,000,000 fantasy football league in week 4. The top 90,800 teams win cash with $150,000 paid to first place on Sunday. JOIN NOW!

The fourth week of fantasy football is a crucial week for statistical modeling. Why? Because we finally have a complete set of data to work with now that three weeks of NFL football has transpired.  After week 3, we stats nerds get to hunker down and try to find patterns in the 3-week usage of player production to find that elusive rule that defines the Fibonacci sequence that would unlock the Da Vinci Code Safe secrets of statistical production.  Remember from your elementary math classes, that any set with less than three terms will be impossible to find a pattern, so now that we have three weeks we can begin to find one.  For example, one week of fantasy production is unremarkable.  Two weeks of fantasy production could be a coincidence.  But three weeks of fantasy production is a genuine pattern, and that kind of evidence is gold for stats nerds.

And so here we are at the beginning of the 4th week of the season and we've got pretty good early returns on the fantasy football fortunes (f'in alliteration intended!) of our Vikings players.  Before we get to all that though, we need to consider their opponent this week: the Denver Broncos.  The Broncos have an elite real-life defense, ranked in the top 5 of nearly every statistical category that matters: yards per game allowed, points per game allowed, passer rating allowed and rushing yards per carry allowed.  They have a pair of great pass rushers in Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware and their secondary is stacked too. This is a scary defense on paper and they get to play at home, which is always an added advantage.  But thankfully it doesn't look nearly as bad in fantasy football, well, for some of it.

In terms of passing, it looks downright frightening for Teddy Bridgewater and company.  The Broncos are the #1 defense against quarterbacks AND wide receivers.  And this week Charles Johnson and Jarius Wright are both banged up (though not ruled out yet as of Thursday night).  Our offensive line is still gelling after injuries in the Preseason, so yeah, it looks bad.  However, the Broncos are only average against tight ends (ranked 17th) and running backs (ranked 18th).  So if we can get Adrian Peterson going, that may open up some lanes in the middle of the field for Kyle Rudolph with some play action passes.  But it's also notable that they are ranked 23rd against fantasy defenses, meaning the Denver offense has been a pretty soft matchup for opposing defenses.  Through the first three games, Peyton Manning and company have given up eight sacks, three interceptions and a fumble to go along with two touchdowns.  So there could be opportunities for our defense and special teams to pick up the slack from what will surely be struggles in the passing game.  In any case, let's take a look at what the experts have in store for us by considering the consensus projections found at Fantasy Pros.  These are a consensus of the following sources: ESPN, CBS, NumberFire and FFToday.

Minnesota Vikings Fantasy Projections for Week 3

Vikings Player

Rush Att.

Rush Yds

Rush TDs

Rec.

Rec. Yds

Rec TDs

Pass Yds

Pass TDs

Pass INTs

Total Points

Season

Average

QB Teddy Bridgewater

3.6

17.0

0.1

n/a

n/a

n/a

211.7

1.0

1.1

11.6

9.9

RB Adrian Peterson

18.

76.7

0.6

2.6

20.6

0.1

n/a

n/a

n/a

13.2

15.7

WR Mike Wallace

0.0

0.1

0.0

3.6

49.3

0.2

n/a

n/a

n/a

6.1

5.0

WR Charles Johnson

0.1

0.4

0.0

2.5

33.7

0.1

n/a

n/a

n/a

4.1

1.5

WR Jarius Wright

0.1

1.2

0.0

2.8

30.3

0.1

n/a

n/a

n/a

3.6

3.4

TE Kyle Rudolph

n/a

n/a

n/a

3.8

37.6

0.4

n/a

n/a

n/a

6.2

5.2


Remarkably, everyone except for Adrian Peterson is projected higher than their season average, which doesn't seem to make sense.  As mentioned above, Teddy figures to have a tough day on the road against the Broncos defense.  And his projection is very low...so low the following quarterbacks are projected to do better: Kirk Cousins, Josh McCown, Jameis Winston, Ryan Mallet, Brandon Weedon and Blake Bortles.   In fact there are only two starting quarterbacks projected to do worse in fantasy this week than Teddy Bridgewater: Nick Foles and Jimmy Clausen.  I said it last week, but in case you're drinking the purple cool aid a little too much and need to take off the purple shades, do not start Teddy this week.  He looked respectable in Week 2 thanks to a rushing touchdown, but otherwise the volume is just not there in the passing game as it's been the Adrian Peterson show the last two weeks.

Speaking of Peterson, he's beginning to look like his old self. It goes without saying, but you're starting him and hoping for the best, even against this great defense, and even with a down projection.

As Teddy goes, so go his receivers.  If there's any Vikings receiver to own at this point, it's Mike Wallace and no one else.  I have to admit to being wrong about Charles Johnson.  I hyped Charles Johnson all off-season, but Teddy isn't looking his way, and when he does Johnson isn't winning the jump balls.  If you don't believe me just look at the stats: Charles Johnson has only 8 passing targets through the first three games.  It's not like Wallace is seeing a ton of targets either, but his 14 targets are quite a bit more than Charles Johnson.  Still, you're not starting any Vikings receiver for the foreseeable future, and certainly not on the road against what is maybe the best secondary in the NFL.  It's possible this wide receiver group just isn't as talented as we thought.  Even if Charles Johnson and Jarius Wright sit with injuries (both were limited in practice this week) I wouldn't expect Mike Wallace to suddenly produce.  While this could mean that Cordarrelle Patterson and even Stefon Diggs see some action this week, neither is worth a start in anything but the deepest of the deepest (of the deepest) leagues.

Man, I was almost right about Kyle Rudolph last week, as the usually sure-handed tight end dropped a would-be touchdown last week.  But still, if there's any pass catcher worth a start on the Vikings it's Rudolph, who is the most targeted player through three weeks.  Despite the anemic pass attack, Rudolph is averaging 6 targets per game and is turning that into 4 catches and 32 yards per game with a 33% chance for a touchdown on average.  I'm not real high on him this week, so if you have other options you should roll with those.  But if you don't have any other options, like maybe Gronkowski is on a bye or something, feel free to take a chance with Rudolph.  If anyone is going to get some looks in the passing game, it will probably be Rudolph.

I recommended that you start the Vikings D/ST last week, and if you took my advice you were rewarded with the 6th best fantasy defense of the week.  While the Broncos offense hasn't looked sharp and they represent the 6th worst team versus D/ST in fantasy, I would avoid the Vikings D/ST this week.  Again, there is some potential for points, but with them being on the road and having the risk of Teddy not playing well I would find another option.  Oh and hey, Blair Walsh didn't miss anything last week.  But his performance was still not good enough to crack the top 15.  I'm still waiting for three games in a row without a miss until I'd consider starting him, so that's one week...and counting.

It's onto to my league-wide picks!  I like to highlight one player that I think will outscore their consensus projection by giving them the "Well Played" designation, and then also highlight one player I think will fall short of their projection by giving them the "Oops" designation.  Here are my picks for this week:

Well Played of the Week

Well Played

WR Marvin Jones vs KC

This is a pick that could very well blow up in my face, just like last week when I chose the #2 wide receiver on a prolific passing offense with a good matchup in Michael Crabtree.  But hear me out.  Andy Dalton is averaging over 30 pass attempt per game, a healthy total for a QB not really known as a gunslinger, and with those attempts he has targeted Jones 3, 5 and 7 times in the first three weeks.  That is an increasing usage pattern, and his standard fantasy points have correlated right along with them: 1.9, 11.1 and 15.4.  And bonus: he's caught a touchdown the last two weeks.  Granted, he's the #3 option in the passing game behind A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert based on targets, but the Bengals get the worst fantasy defense against wide receivers this week: the Kansas City Chiefs...and the Bengals are at home.  If the trend continues and Jones target share increases for the 3rd week in a row, he could have another solid outing.  Fantasy Pros projects him for only 5.9 standard fantasy points this week, but I see that as his fantasy floor and I expect him to beat that projection.

Oops of the Week

Oops Award

RB DeMarco Murray vs WAS

With DeMarco Murray a full participant in practice this week, all signs point to him returning to the lineup. But this is not someone that should be starting for your fantasy team.  He faces the Redskins, who are 3rd best against running backs in fantasy.  While it's true that they haven't exactly faced elite competition, with only Lamar Miller, Benny Cunningham and Rashad Jennings "running" on them, they still have only allowed 10.1 fantasy points to opposing running backs on average.  When you also consider the three-headed monster that is the Eagles rushing attack, and that Ryan Mathews looked great last week, it begs the question of how much volume Murray will get, and how effective he will be with whatever work he does get.  Still, the consensus projection for Murray is 10.2 fantasy points this week, and I think that seems a bit high.  I would find an option other than Murray.

Last Week: 1-1, Season so far: 4-2

HELP ME FRIGGA

I got a good question from Sam Schreier on twitter about his running back corp, who you can follow @BizonNation13, who asks:

Well first of all Sam, as I mentioned on twitter, I gasp in horror at your stable of running backs.  That said, Chris Ivory is a no-brainer start among this group.  He looked fantastic week 1, then trailed off in Week 2 after trying to play through a groin injury, and then missed last week all together.  The Dolphins have an average run defense, but just based on potential volume, Ivory is your best bet this week.  As I mentioned above with DeMarco Murray, it's tough to project the volume for Sproles in a 3-headed monster.  So unless it's a PPR, I really can't recommend starting Sproles in a bad matchup.  Obviously, Antonio Andrews is on a BYE, so you're not starting him.  That leaves you with a coin flip between Doug Martin and Rashad Jennings.   Between the two, Martin is averaging 4 more carries per game and almost a full yard per carry more as well.  Just on pure volume alone, Martin should be averaging almost 2 more fantasy points per game than Jennings, but the reality is that Jennings has found the end zone once while Martin has not, and Jennings is featured in the passing game a little more than Martin (although neither sees the field much on 3rd down).  Jennings though, is in a 3-headed time share with Andre Williams and Shane Vereen and the volume is just not there.  In addition the Giants face a stout Buffalo defense on the road, while the Bucs are at home against an average Panthers defense.  So because of the volume and matchup I'd lean towards Doug Martin as the least worst option.  According to Fantasy Pros, 93% of fantasy experts rank Martin ahead of Jennings too. This is assuming Martin is healthy enough to play.  So if it were me, I'd be starting Chris Ivory and Doug Martin, and crossing my fingers.  Good luck!

Daily Norseman Fantasy League

Somehow, my team just keeps winning and I am currently in a three-way tie with MarkSP18 and TINO24 for the longest win streak.  I feel as though my fortunes may wane this week, but we'll see.  Speaking of MarkSP18, not only is his one of only three teams still undefeated, he has the most Points For of any team in the league, and has earned the most "trophies" of any team in the league.  He's been riding the Julio Jones train for a while, and scored some extra juicy points with Devonta Freeman and Keenan Allen last week too.  On the flipside, Arif Hasan is the only winless team still left.  It's not for lack of trying as he has the 2nd most roster transactions of any team in the league, but his team was auto-drafted and landed some pretty suspect talent with his top picks in the draft consisting of Eddie Lacy, T.Y. Hilton and Drew Brees.  In a PPR league he's been playing from behind ever since the draft.  In any case below are the latest standings for your curiosity:

Rank

Team

W-L-T

Pts For

Pts Against

Streak

Division 1

1

MarkSP18 - Jules Winnfield

3-0-0

524.32

423.28

W-3

7

vikingarmy - Zim Reaper

1-2-0

375.78

395.86

W-1

8

Christopher Gates - Joe Webb Still Sucks

1-2-0

359.74

411.64

L-2

11

Typically Lazy - TheBlairWalshProject

0-3-0

338.14

450.56

L-3

Division 2

2

TINO24 - Heath Miller Time

3-0-0

476.28

306.48

W-3

4

Eric Thompson - 2 Glovez

2-1-0

429.08

366.82

W-2

5

Viketoryordeath - MayTheNorseBeWithYou

2-1-0

403.5

344.26

L-1

12

Arif Hasan - We're Ball Wittenses

0-3-0

296.44

426.04

L-3

Division 3

3

CCNorseman - Diggs Darklighter

3-0-0

432.2

306.72

W-3

6

RedHat16 - CrisCarters FallGuys

1-2-0

381.12

383.78

L-2

9

DADAIR25 - HitmanHarry

1-2-0

359.38

395.16

W-1

10

Jackson McIntire - Jackson's Team

1-2-0

322.22

487.6

L-1

If you're interested in joining my Week 4 Fanduel League, join here!  After missing the cash in Week 2, I landed in the money last week with the help of Larry Fitzgerald, James Jones and Adrian Peterson.  It's a 12-team league and still a $2 entry fee with the top 4 finishers earning a payout.  Don't forget if you want to see your fantasy football question featured here in the Frigga Fantasy Football series, hit me up on twitter @CCNorseman with the hashtag: #helpmefrigga on Wednesdays or Thursdays.  Feel free to leave your sit/start questions in the comments below for myself and others to chime in.  And if you're looking for league-wide picks, go check out our new front-page writer's first article.