The Worksheet, a fantasy football overview by Rich Hribar, breaking down everything you need to know for the Week 12 New England Patriots at Minnesota Vikings Thanksgiving night game.
- New England has scored a touchdown on 2-of-39 (5.3%) drives over their past three games, the lowest rate in the league.
- The Patriots have allowed a touchdown on 13.9% of opponent possessions, second in the league.
- Just 21.4% of the drives against the Vikings have failed to gain a first down or touchdown, the lowest rate in the league.
- 40.0% of the drives against New England have failed to gain a first down or touchdown, the second-highest rate in the league.
- The Patriots have scored a touchdown on 42.9% (12-of-28) of their red zone possessions, 31st in the league.
- Opponents have scored a touchdown on 71.4% (20-of-28) of their red zone drives against Minnesota, the highest rate in the league.
Kirk Cousins: Cousins and his deal with the devil this season have hit a roadblock the past two weeks as his inefficiency has caught up in the fantasy outcomes.
As we have been highlighting, Cousins has been getting by based on matchups despite subpar production. Cousins is now 26th among all passers in EPA per dropback (-0.06) while he continues to post career lows as a full-time starter in completion rate (63.4%), yards per pass attempt (6.5 Y/A), and touchdown rate (3.7%).
Outside of the primetime narrative in play again for Cousins, this is another tough matchup on paper. The Patriots are third in the league in pressure rate (36.2%). Against pressure, Cousins has completed 42.3% of his passes (34th) compared to completing 73.6% of his passes when kept clean (seventh). With left tackle Christian Darrisaw out for Thursday, keeping Cousins clean will be a major inflection point in this game.
The Patriots are also allowing 11.3 passing points per game, seventh in the league. Cousins has faced three other teams in the top 10 in passing points allowed per game this season in the Eagles (QB26), Bills (QB19), and Cowboys (QB27).
Now, the Patriots have played one of the worst quarterback schedules so far if not the worst. They have faced Zach Wilson (x2), Sam Ehlinger, Mitchell Trubisky, Jared Goff, Jacoby Brissett, and Aaron Rodgers to go along with Tua Tagovailoa, Lamar Jackson, and Justin Fields. Tagovailoa having 14.8 passing points looks like a win in hindsight, but that also came back in Week 1. The Patriots defense still definitely has much to prove, but Cousins has also been on par with a lot of the quarterbacks from that front group this season.
Cousins still has stacking appeal on Thursday DFS but is a mid-QB2 option with every team in play this week for seasonal leagues.
Mac Jones: Jones completed a season-high 85.2% of his passes on Sunday for 9.1 yards per pass attempt, but the Patriots could not close any drives, keeping the lid on any fantasy points.
Jones did not throw a touchdown pass, giving him one or fewer touchdown tosses in every game this season. Jones is averaging just 0.295 passing points per attempt on the season, ahead of only Kenny Pickett (0.224).
Jones has faced the Jets in two of his three full games since returning as the starter with another start against the Colts.
Jones is stuck as a 2QB option, but this will at least be a lighter matchup than those. Minnesota is 31st in completion rate (69.0%), 31st in yards allowed per pass attempt (8.1 Y/A), and 21st in points allowed per pass attempt (0.431). The Vikings have allowed multiple touchdown passes in four of their past five games after allowing one or fewer in each of their opening five games.
Dalvin Cook: Cook rushed 11 times for 72 yards Sunday but was completely capped by the game script.
It was Cook’s first single-digit scoring game since Week 2 after averaging 18.3 points per game over his previous seven games.
This will be a strong test for Cook’s floor while challenging his ceiling. The Patriots are allowing 3.91 YPC to backs (sixth) while ranking fifth in success rate against running back carries (66.3%), and third in rate of those carries to result in a first down or touchdown (16.8%). The Patriots have allowed just two touchdowns to opposing running backs this season, the fewest in the league. New England is also allowing 7.6 receiving points per game to backs (sixth).
On the pro side, we are catching Cook attached to a home favorite and we know the workload will be here to keep around fringe RB1/high-end RB2 status.
Rhamondre Stevenson: Stevenson found little room to run Sunday, turning 15 carries into just 26 yards. But he once again showed a high receiving floor to lift his line, catching all six of his targets for 56 yards.
Stevenson now has 24.1% of the team targets since Week 7, the highest target share for any running back in the league over that stretch. Using that receiving role to elevate his floor, Stevenson now has double-digit PPR points in eight consecutive games, the second-longest streak among backs.
Stevenson still handled 67.7% of the running back touches, giving him rates of 63.9% and 62.2% to go along with that over his past three games. Harris is still a potential thorn near the goal line, but Stevenson has found footing as a high-end RB2 in full-PPR formats and RB2 play in all formats.
Minnesota is third in yards allowed per carry to running backs (3.73 YPC) but is 16th in the rate of those carries to result in a first down or touchdown (23.6%) while they are 25th in receiving points allowed per game (10.8) to backfields.
Damien Harris: Harris was out-touched by Stevenson 21-to-10 in his return to the field Sunday, but Harris did make the most of his touches. He rushed just eight times but turned in 65 yards on those carries while catching two passes for 28 yards.
Harris had 41 rushing yards over expectation on Sunday (the most in the league) while Stevenson had -34 (second to last). I still do not believe we have seen the last of Harris near the end zone while his efficiency this past week could get him more carries and we see more of a rushing split on a short week.
Harris still does not have a strong receiving role (five routes Sunday), which leaves him as a touchdown-dependent FLEX and contrarian play on Thursday DFS.
Justin Jefferson: Nobody survived the onslaught handed out to the Vikings on Sunday and Jefferson was no exception, catching 3-of-5 targets for 33 yards.
Jefferson had 98 or more yards in each of his previous six games, so we will wipe the slate clean this week and go right back to him as a WR1 option.
Jefferson still ranks fifth among all wideouts in target share (28.9%) and fourth in the share of air yards (40.8%). Jefferson is also second in the NFL among wideouts in routes run this season (408).
Jefferson did torch the Bills in Week 10 (10-193-1), but it is worth at least shining some light on him having two of his lowest lines this season in the three games that Cousins has played a top-10 pass defense for fantasy with this week and Week 2 versus the Eagles (6-48-0).
The Patriots are fourth in points allowed per game to opposing WR1 targets (11.9), but the only wideout they have been challenged by in Jefferson’s weight class is Tyreek Hill, who caught eight passes for 94 yards.
Jakobi Meyers: After a hot start to the season, Meyers has slipped back into the floor-based WR3 we have known him to be over his career.
Catching 4-of-6 targets for 52 yards Sunday, Meyers has been a WR4 or better in every game this season, but he has finished higher than WR33 in just one of his past five games.
The Vikings do not pose a matchup to hide from as they are allowing 9.3 yards per target (29th) and a 69.2% catch rate to opposing wide receivers (30th). Minnesota does play zone coverage on 83.1% of passing plays (second) which has impacted the splits for Meyers. Meyers has been targeted on 32.0% of his routes against man coverage, but just 19.0% of his routes versus zone. He still leads the Patriots with a 23.0% target share against zone, so we don’t have to run away at all.
Adam Thielen: Thielen pulled in 2-of-3 targets Sunday, mushed like everyone else in the offense.
Thielen has now received just 14.5% of the team targets since acquiring T.J. Hockenson after receiving 20.3% prior. He has not had more than 72 yards receiving in a game this season with just two touchdowns, which leaves Thielen as a fringe WR3/FLEX play.
The silver lining is that we still have a small sample playing with Hockenson and we have not seen Thielen’s playing time compromised. He has still run a route on 96.1% of the dropbacks by Cousins in those games.
Patriots WRs: None of the ancillary wideouts for New England are worth chasing in seasonal leagues, but you may entertain them as punt plays on Thursday DFS based on the efficiency Minnesota is allowing to wideouts.
The problem is that they are cannibalizing each other. This past week, Nelson Agholor (21 routes) Kendrick Bourne (12), DeVante Parker (11), and Tyquan Thornton (10) all rotated into action.
T.J. Hockenson: Hockenson has not lit things up with the Vikings, averaging just 7.1 yards per catch and 5.3 yards per target. That said, he still has sustained being a volume-based TE1 with weeks as the TE5, TE7, and TE10.
The move to Minnesota has elevated his target count, too. Hockenson has at least nine targets in all three games with the Vikings after clearing seven targets just once with the Lions. If he pulled in a dropped touchdown last week, his line would look much better.
New England has only allowed 6.2 yards per target to tight ends (eighth), but they have allowed a 9.9% touchdown rate (30th) to the position.
Patriots TEs: Jonnu Smith (20-194-0 on 27 targets) and Hunter Henry (20-260-1 on 29 targets) have nearly equal splits this season sharing opportunities in the passing game. The duo has combined for just one game in which they have scored double-digit fantasy points, leaving them as touchdown or bust fantasy plays.
If chasing the matchup, Minnesota is allowing 7.7 yards per target (22nd) and a 6.4% touchdown rate (22nd) to opposing tight ends.
More Week 12 Fantasy breakdowns from The Worksheet: