The Worksheet, a fantasy football overview by Rich Hribar, breaking down everything you need to know for the Week 2 Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles Monday Night Football game.
|29.51%||6||Opp. Rush %||42.42%||21|
|70.49%||27||Opp. Pass %||57.58%||12|
- The Vikings averaged a league-high 8.6 yards per play on first down in Week 1. Minnesota ranked 16th in yards per play on first down in 2021 (5.6 yards).
- The Eagles posted a 57.1% success rate per rushing play in Week 1 (first) after a 45.4% rate in 2021 (second).
- A.J. Brown accounted for a league-high 72.8% of the Philadelphia intended air yards in Week 1, the highest rate in the league.
- Justin Jefferson accounted for 70.3%, second in the league.
- Philadelphia (47.6%) and Minnesota (39.4%) ranked second and eighth in play-action rate per dropback in Week 1.
- Kirk Cousins was 10-of-13 for 155 yards (11.9 Y/A) and two touchdowns with the use of play action after using play action on 25.9% of his dropbacks in 2021.
Trust = spike production for that player
Jalen Hurts: Hurts came out strong in Week 1, closing the week as the QB4 (24.7 points). While Hurts still only produced 9.7 passing points 27th among quarterbacks completing 18-of-32 passes for 243 yards and zero touchdowns but anchored his afternoon with a league-high 15.0 rushing points.
His game could have been stronger as well. Hurts was tackled on the 1-yard line on a scramble that set up a Miles Sanders touchdown. He was tackled on the 2-yard line, followed by a Kenneth Gainwell touchdown, and Dallas Goedert was tackled on the 1-yard line that set up a Boston Scott touchdown.
Though the passing stats did not come along for the ride, as expected the Eagles were much more aggressive through the air, finishing 12th in passing rate over expectation in Week 1.
This matchup provides an intriguing dynamic through the air for Hurts. In Week 1, no team played man coverage more than the Lions (54.2%). Against man coverage, Hurts averaging 10.1 yards per pass attempt. When the Lions did play zone, Hurts averaged just 4.2 yards per attempt.
His splits in 2021 were dead even against man and zone coverage (7.5 Y/A) so we don’t need to run away from a one-game sample, but the Vikings were in zone coverage on 77% of their defensive snaps (14th), something anticipated under Ed Donatell, who comes from the Vic Fangio tree.
Minnesota was in Cover 6 for 32.8% of the time (second in the league) and a combination of Cover 6 and quarters coverage on 49.2% of snaps (second). In 2021, Hurts was 16th in EPA per dropback against those coverages, averaging 7.3 yards per pass attempt.
With the rushing floor always in play, this game carries one of the highest game totals of the week, further pushing Hurts as a QB1.
Kirk Cousins: Cousins was the QB11 (19.1 points) in Week 1, completing 23-of-32 passes for 277 yards (8.7 Y/A) with two touchdowns. If the Packers were able to punch back, things could have been better as Minnesota had a 12-to-6 run-to-pass split in the fourth quarter.
In the first game under Kevin O’Connell, the Vikings were more aggressive (ranking 11th in pass rate over expectation) and used more play action (see above) than previous offenses Cousins was a part of in Minnesota.
The Eagles’ pass defense was leaky and underperformed on the peripheral level, but the game was also never in true doubt with the Lions pressing the issue in the second half. Philadelphia was 27th in pressure rate (25.6%) while allowing 14.6 passing points to Jared Goff (16th). ‘
Cousins was also second in the league in EPA per dropback versus zone coverage in Week 1, trailing only Patrick Mahomes. We also highlight this facing the Eagles, who have played zone coverage on 72.1% of their snaps under Jonathan Gannon, the eighth highest rate in the league.
With the way this Minnesota offense looked in Week 1 paired with the implied game environment are strong compliments to ditch the “Primetime Cousins” narrative and look for Cousins to be a fringe QB1 option again this week.
Dalvin Cook (TRUST): Cook did not light up the box score with 108 yards on 23 touches, but there were a lot of positives to take out of Week 1 if you drafted him.
The first is his 77.4% snap share ranked fourth among all backs in Week 1. That led to his 23 touches being tied for fifth at the position, while his 71.4% of team carries ranked sixth. Cook’s 16.7% team target share ranked 10th while his 69.7% route participation rate checked in fifth.
We also did see how the increased use of 11 personnel can aid Cook. Cook had nine carries with six or fewer defenders in the box (fifth among all backs), rushing for 61 yards (6.8 YPC) on those carries.
The Eagles’ run defense was one of the larger surprises in Week 1, as Detroit backs rushed 26 times for 172 yards and three touchdowns.
Miles Sanders: Sanders was the lead back on Sunday, logging 40 snaps (51.9%) compared to 23 snaps for Kenneth Gainwell and 14 for Boston Scott.
Sanders used that to turn 15 touches into 105 yards and his first touchdown since Week 16 of the 2020 season.
While Sanders did carry that edge in usage, game script was set up for him. He still has some fragility if things turn negative as he ran a pass route on just 42.9% of the team dropbacks.
Also, although he did get to paydirt on Sunday, we also saw both Gainwell and Scott log goal line opportunities while Hurts himself added a 1-yard touchdown run. There will surely still be plenty of hallow yardage weeks from Sanders when he fails to reach the end zone.
That said, Minnesota once again struggled to defend the run in Week 1 after they were 32nd in EPA against the run in 2021. 47.1% of the Green Bay rushing attempts resulted in a first down or touchdown, the highest rate in Week 1. League average was 25.1%. Minnesota allowed 6.3 yards per carry to running backs, 29th in Week 1.
Attached to a home favorite, Sanders has a solid outlook as an RB2 option.
Kenneth Gainwell: Gainwell served as the backup to Sanders, turning seven touches into 32 yards, anchored by his touchdown plunge.
The Eagles led throughout, so Gainwell’s services as the long down and distance and two-minute back were hardly pressed into action. He ended up running just 10 pass routes, but he did play on 6-of-9 third downs and 7-of-8 snaps in the two-minute offense. Gainwell is a more game script sensitive FLEX, with added appeal in PPR leagues.
Justin Jefferson: We were excited to see what Jefferson could do in a non-archaic offense and it was refreshing to see him being schemed around in the passing game. There were multiple points where Jefferson was running free, while he had these catches highlighted with the primary Packer defender in assignment…
22-yard catch vs rookie LB Quay Walker
36-yard TD catch vs safety Adrian Amos
5-yard TD catch vs safety Adrian Amos
64-yard catch vs safety Darnell Savage
Notice what you do not see? Any catches where Jaire Alexander was the closest defender. Jefferson had just three catches for 31 yards as part of his 9-184-2 line against actual cornerbacks in primary coverage. All in all, Jefferson caught 8-of-10 targets for 164 yards and both touchdowns against zone coverages.
If the Eagles are going to play heavy zone coverage like Green Bay a week ago and like they have under Gannon, we could see a repeat performance from Jefferson as the WR1 overall.
A.J. Brown: Brown had a stellar debut with the Eagles, catching 10-of-13 targets for 155 yards. It was the most yards a player had in his first game with Philadelphia. Brown’s 48.2% target share was second in the NFL in Week 1.
In an inverse fashion from Jefferson, Brown wrecked the Lions when they played him straight up, catching 5-of-7 targets for 105 yards against man coverage. The Vikings played a lot of off coverage in Week 1 under Donatelle, so anticipate Brown to shed some of his unsustainable Week 1 target share on Monday Night but keep him in play as a WR1 option.
DeVonta Smith: With the addition of Brown this offseason, we were concerned about what that meant for Smith since he ended 2021 52nd among receivers in receptions per game (3.8) without Brown on the roster. Smith cleared six targets in a game just six times as a rookie and only saw four targets come his way on Sunday, with zero receptions in the game.
Smith was still on the field for 97.6% of the Philadelphia dropbacks and Brown will not carry a target share as lofty as Week 1, but this was one of our worst fears for Smith when Brown was added to the roster. We are getting deep into the bag of how many pass catchers Hurts is going to support with consistency. That makes Smith a volatile WR4/FLEX and better DFS stacking option on Showdown slates with so many looking to go right back to Brown.
Adam Thielen: Thielen secured 3-of-4 targets for 36 yards in Week 1. The good news is that Thielen was in on 100% of the team dropbacks. The bad news is that we already know that Thielen has been a touchdown or bust option.
With Jefferson on the team, things have been feast or famine based on finding the end zone for Thielen. In now 11 games without a touchdown over that span, Theilen’s highest scoring week has been WR34, while he has finished higher than WR62 in just two of those weeks.
K.J. Osborn: Osborn also caught 3-of-4 targets on Sunday, turning in just 14 yards on those opportunities. Osborn was a near full-time player in the new offense that centers around 11 personnel, participating in route on 84.9% of the team dropbacks. There will be better days for Osborn as teams focus on Jefferson, but he is stuck as a wideout that is better in best ball formats, needing an injury opening to can predictable targets.
Dallas Goedert: Goedert only saw four targets (14.8%) come his way on Sunday as he also was watching the A.J. Brown show. Goedert did catch three of his looks for 60 yards and his day could have been better if he reached the end zone instead of being tackled on the 1-yard line on a catch and run.
Goedert ran a route for 90.5% of the team dropbacks, which ranked fourth among all tight ends in Week 1.
His 20 yards per catch follow up averaging 14.8 yards per grab a year ago. Goedert is a splash play TE1 but comes along with lower volume than some of his front-end TE1 peers.
Minnesota allowed Green Bay tight ends to catch 6-of-8 targets for 67 yards in Week 1.
Irv Smith: Smith did not record a catch in Week 1. The Vikings eased him back into action after he missed the entire preseason with a thumb injury. Smith played on just 19 snaps (30.6%), running just 14 pass routes (42.24%).
Kevin O’ Connell said after the game that Smith was not involved by design. With Johnny Mundt such a strong blocker and the Vikings leaning into heavy 11 personnel, we will have to watch Smith’s involvement moving forward. If you want to hold Smith another week to see if usage climbs that is fine, but there is no guarantee that he has a full-time role in this offense.
More Week 2 Fantasy breakdowns from The Worksheet: