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I don’t think there are any other two teams that deliver the same exact performance every week like the Cowboys and Vikings.
Dallas always takes control of the game and holds off their opponent. If they get behind, they come right back. I can’t remember the last time I watched a 2016 Dallas game and was on the edge of my seat wondering what would happen as the second half unfolded. They just put teams to sleep. They counterpunch as well as any team in the NFL.
Minnesota has had two offensive coordinators and two head coaches in the past four to five weeks, and they are the same exact team every week. They can’t block anybody. If it’s 3rd & 5+ for Minnesota you can forget it – Sam Bradford throws more three-yard passes on 3rd & long than any QB in the history of the NFL (someone can check if that’s a real stat or not because I’m not going to). They can’t run the ball, and they don’t get passes to their weapons in a position to do much with the ball because Bradford’s just trying to rid himself of the ball to the first thing he sees – mission accomplished when he dumps passes for three yards on every play, especially against prevent defenses.
You realize this Minnesota team has a young star RB in Jerick McKinnon, and probably the best, most dangerous WR trio in the NFL with Diggs-Thielen-Patterson…and their offensive (not defense or special teams) points in games the last seven games are 10-10-16-20-16-13-15. That is HORRIBLE coaching and it is AWFUL quarterback play. It’s a waste of assets. A team can still win it all with a great defense and weak offense, but this once vaunted defense has rolled over on the coach (my opinion) and the offense offers no respite.
The entire pregame all anyone talked about was ‘winning one for Zimmer’, and the emotion for their missing coach, etc., and then the Vikings went out and played the same exact game they have for seven weeks now. Missing coach, present coach…it doesn’t matter. It’s a mindset and it’s failing. I look at the Saints or Chargers and think ‘what might have been with better management’…but I don’t think they were Super Bowl teams, just playoff contenders. Minnesota is a legit Super Bowl team, and they have gone from best team in football to out of the playoffs at light speed…that’s coaching. That’s not inspiring your players. That’s not using resources properly. You have to work hard to take what many saw as the best team in the league to a bottom 10 team in just seven short weeks. It’s breathtakingly bad.
Minnesota has a chance to recover and get into the playoff hunt, but why do I have a feeling that they’ll get beat by Jacksonville on the road this week?
Really, nothing of fantasy note changed in this game. Two well-defined teams did exactly what you expected. I don’t have a ton of ‘wow’ notes here…
— Ezekiel Elliott (20-86-1, 4-190/5 targets) has had a fine season. As Dallas rolls to a first-round bye/#1 seed, assuming they get there in the next two weeks…don’t you feel like Elliott is going to get cut way back in workload as soon as they can? Two more wins and no one can catch Dallas. Possibly, just one more win. Weeks 16–17 are very likely not going to matter. I say this to keep in front of fantasy teams with a bye to Week 15 and have been rolling with Elliott – make sure you have a Plan-B RB for Week 16 and/or 17…and maybe 15.
If you are Jerry Jones, don’t you scale Elliott to half workloads and get Darren McFadden more up to speed in case you need him? Dak Prescott is almost assured not to play much Week 16 or 17, but maybe a half at best in Week 16 (if everything is clinched). Ditto Dez Bryant.
If you’re relying upon Dallas’s top fantasy weapons…you want them to lose a game or two the next two weeks to keep them engaged.
— Speaking of running backs…Jerick McKinnon (9-41-0, 5-15-1/6 targets) had some plays/made some moves that took my breath away in this game. The guy is such a gifted athlete, but in most cases, he has nowhere to run because defenses know most all Vikings plays happen around the line of scrimmage. They play up because they are not threatened deep.
— I’m not going to complain about Jerick McKinnon or Cordarrelle Patterson usage anymore. I’ll only note a reminder that it’s the same thing every week – always a little hope that maybe this week is different and yet the same results end up. Nothing changes.
Adam Thielen (7-86-0/9 targets) is changing a bit…trending upward. He’s seen a spike in targets with Stefon Diggs out Week 12, but with Diggs back this week he still had a good target count. In his last three games, Thielen has averaged: 6.7 catches (8.0 targets) for 68.0 yards and 0.33 TDs per game. He’s becoming a trusted member of Bradford’s quick-throw inner circle.
— Cole Beasley (2-23-0/4 targets) run of decentness has really tailed off. Just one TD in his last four weeks.
— Speaking of bad Vikings things – Laquon Treadwell (2 targets)…man, not good. One catch on three targets this season, after a preseason filled with drops. This was many draft analysts’ top WR for 2016, a top 10 overall NFL Draft projection at one point, and fantasy analysts’ #2 overall Dynasty Rookie Draft prospect (not for us!!). That worked out well…
— Byron Jones (10 tackles, 1 PD) is awesome, and no one hardly mentions him among the football announcer and analyst class, and yet they can’t stop talking about overhyped Tyrann Mathieu…it’s unconscionable. It is the clearest sign that not one of them know what they’re doing or watching. They’re winging it…just moving in a herd on player analysis. Mimicking whatever anyone else with gravitas says. Byron Jones deserves the TV commercials and recognition over Mathieu.
I thought Jones’s IDP numbers would start to tail off with starting safety Barry Church (9 tackles) back, but Jones once again led the Cowboys in tackles in a game with 10.