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The Vikings tried to hand this game to the Browns about 50 different times, and like a homerun ball hit by the opponent at Wrigley Field…the Browns kept chucking the gift back. The Browns got too close to victory and immediately imploded from the mere sight of it in the 2nd-half. Another ‘Best Bet’ in the books for The Computer (that went 5-0 Blazing Five this week and sits 75% YTD…but who’s keeping track?).
If the Browns management doesn’t fire Hue Jackson on the plane ride home to take advantage of a two-week break between games, then they have no intention of making a move on Hue. The more they lose the more they close in on a #1 overall pick to use on Sam Darnold…and he’s not a franchise QB, so more ‘Browns’ forever!!
The Vikings enter the BYE 6-2…one of the luckiest teams in the NFL. Consider that statement ahead for betting purposes when the public gets too trustworthy on the Vikes…
They’ve beaten the Browns (and looked terrible doing it). They beat the Ravens and didn’t play all that well doing so. They beat Green Bay by ending Aaron Rodgers’ season on the first series. The luckily beat the Bears on MNF in Mitchell Trubisky’s debut. That’s their four-game win streak…four favorable circumstance wins…and not playing all that great in any of the wins. I know the Vikings are good, but they are not 6-2 good. They are also poorly coached. Four of their next five games are on the road with playoff contenders. A 1-4 run ahead, considering Case Keenum at QB, in these upcoming five games…would not shock me.
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- If you watched this game, you could have no other conclusion than – Jerick McKinnon (14-50-1, 6-72-0-/10) is the best Vikings RB and it’s not even close…and I like Latavius Murray (19-39-0, 1-8-0/1) but McKinnon is (and has been) a superstar pent up in Mike Zimmer’s bizarro world.
McKinnon has the patient running style of Le’Veon Bell, but the athleticism of David Johnson in a smaller body. I pray he leaves the Vikings cold in free agency. He should…Mike Zimmer has screwed him for years. This is why I was so excited when he became a starter last season…but crestfallen when he didn’t shine. As we learned from the Rams/Jeff Fisher era – head coach/offensive philosophy and O-Line matter. All RBs failed for Minnesota last season. Better O-Line this year, and now more production. It’s still Zimmer, so McKinnon can only go so far this season -- as in…Latavius 19 carries to nowhere in this game and McKinnon 14 carries, and every other one a big play was forming…but still, Latavius starts and is the supposed lead RB.
Also consider, McKinnon sat behind Dalvin Cook…while being the superior RB talent. JMK will run not walk away from Minnesota in free agency -- and the Vikings will be worse for the wares because of it. The Patriots will really be pleased with it, however.
McKinnon is getting very good touches and is outplaying Murray, so JMK should be fine all FF 2017. The beautiful thing is that fantasy GMs who own him, the non-FFM ones, still don’t appreciate what they own…he’s still an RB2 valuation to acquire. People don’t trust McKinnon and think they’re ‘dumping’ him on you. You should be acquiring as I’ve pushed for weeks.
Also, note…McKinnon had a great receiving day but left another 2-3 catches for 40-50+ yards of lost opportunity because Case Keenum had two screen passes batted down.
-- DeShone Kizer (18-34 for 179 yards, 0 TD/0 INT, 5-18-1) is comically bad at QB, so the beginning game plan from Cleveland is now all safe screen passes…which makes Duke Johnson (6-33-0, 4-10-0/5) a legit RB1 in PPR.
In his last 5 games with Kizer starting the game at QB – Duke is averging 9.6 FF PPG (15.2 PPR) on 5.6 rec. (6.8 rec.), 41.0 yards, 0.20 TDs, 19.2 yards rushing and 0.40 rush TDs per game.
-- We all know Adam Thielen (5-98-1/10) is terrific, but I am loving his targeting pattern rising…even with Stefon Diggs (4-27-0/6) back this week. Thielen has 11.7 targets per game the past three weeks…all games with double-digit targets. He had 8.0 targets per game the first five games.
Thielen should be sneaking inside the top 15 PPR WRs in PPG after this week when the dust settles.
-- Case Keenum’s (27-43 for 288 yards, 2 TDs/1 INT) limitations kept Cleveland in this game way too long…between his interception early and just stalled drives in general. It’s going to be interesting to see what Mike Zimmer does with a choice between Teddy Bridgewater and Keenum…and then what happens if Bridgewater plays well and Sam Bradford is ready to return?
Bridgewater’s last season of play was 2015, a season in which he went 11-5 with 65.3% completion percentage but just 14 TDs/9 INTs in 16 games.
Can Bridgewater walk back in after a year and a half and not miss a beat? Is an off-beat Bridgewater better than fully-fine Keenum? Do you pull the plug on Bridgewater a few games in if Bradford is back? Because of Bridgewater’s recent history; as well as Bradford’s – do you keep a 3rd QB on the roster in Keenum?
My guess would be…
If Bridgewater is cleared and healthy, you throw him out there Week 10 with these perfect two weeks of prep. Let him go against Washington…let him shake the cobwebs. Why? Because you need Bridgewater to have any shot of beating the L.A. Rams Week 11…and that could be a home field advantage game in the playoffs type of contest. You can always go back to Keenum. You can always insert Bradford if things aren’t going well with Bridgewater. I’d want to see Bridgewater ASAP so I know whether to rush Bradford or not.
That’s what I would do…and it means a bump for the whole offense, if Teddy is ‘right’, because Bridgewater is a really good QB.
What will Mike Zimmer do?
He will say he does not want to mess with success…the Vikings have won four games in a row, albeit with a lot of fortune shining on them, and he’ll keep Keenum in and claim not to want to rush Teddy. The Vikings will lose their next two games and chaos will ensure as to what to do at QB.
At some point, Bradford or Bridgewater is taking over because Keenum is awful. It will mean fantasy upgrades for Diggs-Thielen, somewhat. The offensive game plan is still as dull as when Teddy last played.
-- Vikings 2nd-year TE David Morgan (3-28-0/3) came out of nowhere to get career highs in everything in this game.
I don’t think there is anything to see here for fantasy – a 6’4”/265 TE prospect out of Texas-San Antonio. He ran a 5.02 40-time at the 2016 NFL Combine, very slow, but paired that with an odd 6.93 three-cone, which is very good…a strange bird of a TE that runs straight like a glacier but has the agility of a WR.
If Kyle Rudolph went down, I suspect Bucky Hodges would get called up and be the TE receiving threat that mattered.
**POST-PUBLISH CORRECTION: Bucky Hodges got signed by Carolina mid-Sept. to their practice squad. That's one step up for Morgan.**
-- You were maybe intrigued when I said Joe Schobert (11 tackles, 1 PD) would have a chance to lead the league in tackles, based on what I saw from him early in the preseason.
He’s #2 in the league in tackles after this week (70), behind only Zach Brown/Washington (75).
-- You know who is a great, unheralded (even by his own team) IDP prospect – the Browns DL Carl Nassib (3 tackles, 1.0 sacks, 1 TFL, 2 PDs)…forced to start with three key DLs out of action in this game. He’s a great player, who can play DE or DT effectively. However, he’s just a rotational guy/backup with this deep DL group in Cleveland right now.
Snap Counts of Interest…
33 = Crowell
22 = D. Johnson
32 = DeValve
24 = Njoku
54 = McKinnon
31 = Latavius
36 = David Morgan
31 = Treadwell
06 = Michael Floyd