The score wasn't indicative of how much of a beating the Vikings put on Tampa Bay in this game. It was one of those games I've seen a couple times this year – one team is so much more dominant or ready or whatever you want to call it – they just seize control right away and it's so obvious who's got the better team that day that the losing team just kinda rolls over as the winning team cruises and coasts to victory.
Maybe it was a bad day. Maybe it was the mounting injuries happening to the defense – Brent Grimes was a shocking inactive Sunday morning. Kwon Alexander was out and Lavonté David got lost during the game. Whatever it was that it was like the Buccaneers had no interest in playing in this game. Receivers were wide open all over the place. Up for grabs passes wound up with Stefon Diggs putting on a leaping catch clinic as the Bucs defenders looked glued to the ground. No fight in this Tampa Bay team whatsoever.
If Tampa Bay is to be taken seriously – this is the kind of game they've got a win or at least put up a fight. The Vikings had to roll with a backup quarterback again, and the Bucs still allowed in Case Keenum to look like Dan Marino. Keenum looked so good the announcers were questioning whether there was now a QB controversy in Minnesota one Bradford came back. I don't think it was Keenum as much as it was Tampa Bay was out to lunch in this game.
Jameis Winston, fearless leader of men, did his usual act in this game – stalling drives leading to punts and field goals, plenty of turnovers, and getting blown out but racking some semblance of numbers late against prevent-ish defenses. This game was 28-3 at one point before Tampa started putting up some points 2nd-half.
If Tampa Bay loses to the Giants this week at home, and I think they will, this Tampa Bay love affair the media has is going to be a tailspin.
On the other hand, this Vikings group found a way to 2-1 despite losing its starting QB again. Minnesota is the team I did not like at all coming into the season, but they look a heck of a lot better than I projected. It may be just who they played (wins v. NO and TB) – but Minnesota looks like a contender again… Of course, we all thought that last year about that time.
Fantasy player notes…
-- The most impressive thing I've seen from Minnesota this season is a willingness to open up the passing game and switching the positions of Stefon Diggs (8-173-2/11) and Adam Thielen (5-98-0/8). Again, it may just be the level of competition but Keenum was airing it out like a madman all game. I've never seen Zimmer-Minnesota so open-minded with their offense as they were in this game. And that's an extension of them being pretty high-flying in Week 1 with the Bradford v. Saints looking like in-prime Tom Brady. Something has changed with the Vikings offensive philosophy and it may just save coach's jobs and win them the NFC North. I believed Zimmer was not capable of change – but it looks like he's on the brink of proving me wrong.
The highflying offense is showcasing how great a WR duo the Vikings have assembled. Stefon Diggs has been on the verge of stardom for years, while I think Adam Thielen is making a case that he might be one of the 5-7 best wide receivers in the NFL. The Vikings are like a video game and WR right now -- if you wonder what would happen if Antonio Brown and Jordy Nelson in his prime played on the same team at the same time… You're watching it unfurl in Minnesota. If only they had a higher functioning QB.
They do…he was just the backup in this game…
Everyone has bought into Diggs so there are no fantasy bargains, etc., to be had. However, people still do not believe in Adam Thielen. Part of that is that Diggs is overshadowing him with the big game here, and part of it is the bias against white wide receivers. Thilen has WR 1.5 possibilities with Sam Bradford…maybe, WR1 in PPR. However, he trades like a WR 2.5 right now. The window on him will be closing fast if Bradford returns so if you're going to make a move it's a good time to do it.
I've also been burned by love for these two Vikings receivers before. Zimmer always gets me in the end. Beware.
-- Besides fawning over Thielen and Diggs, and watching Kennum look like the greatest QB ever, I really don't have a ton of fresh/radical notes for fantasy from this game. Nothing has changed.
Jameis Winston (28-40 for 328 yards, 2 TD/3 INT) is still sloppy and erratic, and overrated.
Dalvin Cook (27-97-1, 5-72-0/5) is getting all the carries while Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon sit back and watch…which is a crime against humanity -- but it is what it is. It's not changing anytime soon.
Jameis Winston throws every other pass to Mike Evans (7-67-0/12) and sometimes throws to the other guys, and usually not to O.J. Howard (1-12-0/1). Adam Humphries (6-68-0/10) has these kinds of game occasionally when TB is down a lot and Winston is dump passing agaisnt prevents. He's like his Danny Woodhead about 2-3x a year.
Three things I would leave you with to close out my notes here…
-- Chris Godwin (3-44-0/3) got a few more targets because Mike Evans had to leave the game for a little bit at one point. Godwin looked really good. He's a very talented WR that's going to get totally wasted on this team until DeSean Jackson (4-84-1/7) goes down. Once DJax goes down, I think Goodwin could find his way to some WR3 value.
-- This week it's possible that the Buccaneers will be missing both of their starting linebackers. Which means rookie Kendall Beckwith (8 tackles) is in line for a nice IDP day.
-- Last year, Danielle Hunter (3 tackles) was all over quarterbacks – this year I watch Minnesota games and I barely realize he's playing. That was an issue back in college at LSU. All the physical tools but no productivity. He just proved his upside in the NFL last year becoming a pass rush menace -- but starting the season he's yet to register a sack. I'm not sure if it's a trend, but Hunter has been known to disappear from games/seasons so beware.