Kirk Cousins’ 4.3 percent touchdown rate and 6.6 adjusted yards per attempt are the lowest of his Vikings career. It’s strange that the Vikings have such a good record this season and Cousins is having his least efficient season with the team. Most fantasy football managers know it.
While Justin Jefferson has been excellent and other players have had their moments, we can all admit there has been meat left on the bone.
Most of the talk around the Vikings this offseason centered on the offense taking a huge leap under Kevin O’Connell’s coaching. That hasn’t materialized. The offense hasn’t been bad by any means, but they've only been slightly above average. There isn’t a tangible difference between this year’s scoring unit and that of the Mike Zimmer days.
Even when you watch them on film, it doesn’t feel any different, or rather, as if there is a truly dangerous element to the unit.
In a strange way though, Cousins’ lower efficiency metrics actually make me feel good about the team moving forward.
They are this good while their quarterback is playing below expectation. Given Cousins’ history, we can expect the touchdown rate and yards per attempt to regress toward his mean. That will be a welcome development for Justin Jefferson and all the Vikings players. With T.J. Hockenson wasting no time to get fully integrated, his presence can only help the touchdown chase for all involved, including Cousins.
DeVonta Smith had an 18% target share over the last two weeks
That’s a solid number, despite some slow weeks in fantasy. The problem, however, is that Smith averaged just 5.1 air yards per target. For comparison, A.J. Brown is at 15 in the same span.
That massive gap doesn’t feel likely to hold much longer. Smith has actually been more of a downfield-oriented receiver over the course of the season. We can expect him to get working in the vertical game in the coming weeks. He is never going to push for more than 18 to 20% of the targets so we need him ripping it downfield, not five yards beyond the line of scrimmage.
I like Smith for a bounce-back game against a Washington team that he got over on in Week 3. This is a good week to chase his ceiling.
Dak Prescott had 34 yards and a TD last game against the Bears
It was just his second rushing score since a three-touchdown game against the Falcons in Week 2 of 2020. It was just the second time he’s gone over 30 yards between 2020-2022.
I’m hesitant to buy into Prescott suddenly returning to his running ways. The yardage total is inflated by a play where Prescott was attempting a sneak but the Bears lost him in the scrum and he took off for big yardage.
However, this Cowboys offense has been efficient all year and Prescott’s played well the last two weeks. Any boost by his legs, especially around the goal line, would make this unit even more dangerous.
The Packers are a run-funnel defense and we can expect Tony Pollard to be the lead back with Ezekiel Elliott still banged up coming out of the bye. It could be a big ground game for Dallas — and maybe Prescott gets in on some of that.
Jeff Wilson and Raheem Mostert split the Week 9 snaps, 27-24
Both backs ran 13 routes while Raheem Mostert got the only goal-line carry. Jeff Wilson sported a 22% success rate and Mostert checked in at 33%.
I was not expecting Wilson to turn this into a straight committee in his first game with the team but here we are. His knowledge of Mike McDaniel’s running game was apparent from the jump.
This development knocked Mostert down a few pegs to a volatile flex type but moved Wilson into the same area he was previously buried. It’s a good offense though, so you can still chase touchdowns and big plays here.
Justin Herbert ranks 29th in yards per attempt since Week 6
The only quarterbacks who rank lower are Matt Ryan, Kenny Pickett, Mac Jones and Brett Rypien. It’s painful.
The Chargers offense was already too quick-game-heavy. Justin Herbert is a mega talent but this offense is based on short routes and stick concepts. Now, with the injuries to the top receivers on the team and the striking lack of depth, the ceiling has been moved just above the floor. This team will never take the top off in its current construction.
It’s obvious this coaching staff was holding Herbert back, too. The personnel has just made it worse. He’s not 100% blameless in all this but the environment around him has been poisoned.
The Chargers have some good players, notably Austin Ekeler, so all hope is not lost. It’s just going to look different than we imagined in an ideal world.
Three RBs have 20+ targets since Week 7
Those players are: Ekeler, Alvin Kamara and Rhamondre Stevenson.
All of the fantasy community’s hopes and dreams about Stevenson taking over the James White/passing-down role in this offense have come true. Stevenson has been such a dangerous player because, unlike previous players in this role for New England, he’s massive (6 feet, 230 pounds).
Based on opponent record, the Patriots have the second-hardest remaining strength of schedule. And Stevenson is about the only thing they have going for them on offense right now, outside of a sprinkling of Jakobi Meyers. Expect to see Stevenson catching plenty of balls moving forward.
Sam Ehlinger ranks 31st in EPA per dropback the last two weeks
Remember when the Colts said they intended to start Sam Ehlinger for the rest of the season?
Are they sure about that?
In fairness, that is only about the fifth-weirdest thing this team has done the last few weeks. Unless Jeff Saturday really intends to take this job, be an auditor for Jim Irsay and a public joke in the meantime, I’m not sure how long Ehlinger will remain under center. Matt Ryan isn’t what they hoped for and Nick Foles is Nick Foles but at least they’re professional quarterbacks.
Jacoby Brissett ranks 12th in EPA per dropback on the season
Jacoby Brissett is a different style of quarterback than Baker Mayfield but his success for this team feels quite similar to the former starter’s run in 2020.
Kevin Stefanski does a great job designing offense and the running game sets a fantastic tempo. Brissett has just done his job and hit the open windows provided for him.
Brissett has more than kept the ship afloat. He might make for a decent streamer in Week 10 against a Dolphins team that ranks 28th in dropback success rate allowed.
Travis Etienne has played on 80% of the Jaguars’ snaps rate since Week 7
Only Saquon Barkley and Dalvin Cook have a higher snap share among backs in that span. That’s the company Travis Etienne keeps right now.
It’s wild that Etienne has been as good in fantasy the last few weeks despite not really getting much use in the passing game. That was supposed to be the big appeal to his game as a starting back.
More of that might be coming in Week 10. The Jaguars get the Chiefs and should be in negative game script throughout. Etienne has passed every test as a runner with flying colors. Checking off the receiver box would be another huge win.
JuJu Smith-Schuster led the Chiefs in routes per dropback at 89% last week
Marquez Valdes-Scantling checked in at 72% and Mecole Hardman at 58%. It’s clear that JuJu Smith-Schuster has put some distance between himself and these other Kansas City receivers. He has 22 catches on 25 targets over his last three games. His role as zone-beating chain-mover is important and secure.
Hardman is also playing too well to lose his job. However, he missed practice this week with an abdominal injury. If he misses time, it would open up the door ad give one of Skyy Moore (26%) or Kadarius Toney (8%) a chance to shine.
Which one the Chiefs give first priority to would be telling.
When Hardman is back though, the Chiefs may turn right back to him. He doesn’t deserve to lose his job. Just prepare yourself for that.
Chris Olave hasn’t gone under 26% targets per route run since Week 1
It feels like the NFL world still doesn't know how good Chris Olave is at this stage. The guy runs routes like a 10-year pro. He’s so technically advanced for a rookie and anyone who watched his film at Ohio State could see that on display.
We haven’t seen many explosive plays from Olave of late but Week 10 might change that. The Steelers are one of five teams who have allowed 70-plus explosive plays on the season and most of that has been through the air. Pittsburgh is also tied for the most passing touchdowns allowed. Wheels up for Olave.