Last updated: November 13th at 4:48pm ET.
Team Totals: Vikings 24.5, Broncos 14.5
Even after Brandon Allen game managed Denver’s offense capably enough to beat the underachieving Browns before Week 10’s bye, this sets up as an eruption spot for Minnesota’s D/ST at home facing a Broncos offense that has yielded the NFL’s fourth-highest sack rate (9.6%) and ranks 28th in points per game allowed (16.6). Mike Zimmer can deploy the same game plan he used last Sunday night in Dallas with SS Harrison Smith as a full-time box safety to stamp out the run; the Vikings stymied Cowboys backs for 21/43/0 rushing (2.05 YPC) even without run-stopping NT Linval Joseph (knee). As rookie Drew Lock (thumb, I.R.) resumed practicing this week, Allen’s leash will soon shorten. … Denver ran a season-low 43 offensive plays in its pre-bye win over Cleveland, badly skewing its backfield usage numbers. Phillip Lindsay managed nine carries and zero targets and was out-snapped by Royce Freeman 50% to 49%, while Freeman rushed five times and was targeted once. As two-score road underdogs locked into a near-even RBBC in a bad matchup, Lindsay and Freeman are both low-floor Week 11 flex options.
Allen’s Week 9 target distribution: Courtland Sutton 8; Noah Fant 4; Diontae Spencer 3; Freeman, Troy Fumagalli, and Devontae Booker 1. … After leading Denver in targets and Air Yards (70) and Mossing Denzel Ward for a 21-yard touchdown in Allen’s first start, Sutton is the Broncos’ lone semi-trustworthy pass-catcher play. Amid shoddy quarterbacking all year, Sutton has 70-plus yards and/or a touchdown in 8-of-9 games. His Week 11 matchup is also softer than it may seem; Vikings outside CBs Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes, and Mike Hughes have been collectively cooked for 1,172 yards and a 9:1 TD-to-INT ratio on 150 targets this year. All have allowed passer ratings over 100. Due to Allen’s under-center presence, Sutton will have almost no DFS-tournament ownership even as a plus-draw volume hog. Sutton also leads Denver in red-zone targets (11), and Vikings opponents have a league-high 70% pass rate inside the ten-yard line this season (Sports Info Solutions). … Although Fant’s big Week 9 (3/115/1) was largely a gift via atrocious Browns tackling on his 75-yard catch-and-run TD, Fant promisingly ran routes on 21-of-23 Allen dropbacks and played a season-high 85% of Denver’s offensive snaps. Tight end matchups don’t get tougher than the Vikings – they’re the only team yet to allow a tight end touchdown while containing Travis Kelce (7/62/0), Zach Ertz (4/54/0), Dallas Goedert (5/48/0), T.J. Hockenson (3/32/0), and Jason Witten (2/17/0) over the last five weeks – but Fant’s usage is still trending upward as a potential stretch-run TE1 in a Broncos offense where target competition is soft behind Sutton. … Broncos wide receiver route totals in their Week 9 win over Cleveland: Sutton 23; DaeSean Hamilton 17; Spencer 16; Fred Brown 1. Tim Patrick (hand) is due back from I.R./return in Week 11, but Denver’s passing game will struggle mightily to support more than two box-score assets.
Fresh off another high-efficiency effort in Sunday night’s thrilling road win at Dallas, Kirk Cousins enters Week 11 having completed 133-of-186 passes (71.5%) for 1,701 yards (9.2 YPA) and a sterling 15:1 TD-to-INT ratio over his last six starts, committing just one turnover in that span. Cousins’ hotness will be tested by Vic Fangio’s Broncos, who’ve yet to allow a single top-12 QB1 fantasy week while permitting the NFL’s sixth-fewest points per game (18.9). Adam Thielen (hamstring) still seems another week away, and Stefon Diggs will have his hands full with Chris Harris. Cousins is a low-end season-long-league starter. … As big home favorites against a Broncos offense that seems highly unlikely to generate many points, this game sets up much more positively for Dalvin Cook. Collectively, enemy backs are averaging 29.9 touches per game when facing the Broncos, suggesting Alexander Mattison could even push for a double-digit workload off the bench. Cook still projects for the obvious heavylifting with 18-plus touches in 10-of-10 games and 115-plus total yards in 8-of-10. Cook has also dominated passing-game work with Thielen out, tallying consecutive receiving lines of 5/73/0 > 4/45/0 > 7/86/0 in Weeks 8-10. The Broncos have coughed up 5.7 receptions per game to enemy backs, and Mattison has drawn just five targets all year. As usual, Cook is Week 11’s No. 2 fantasy running play behind only Christian McCaffrey (vs. ATL).
Cousins’ Weeks 8-10 target distribution: Cook 20; Stefon Diggs 17; Irv Smith 15; Kyle Rudolph 13; Bisi Johnson 8; Laquon Treadwell 7; Mattison and C.J. Ham 4. … Their bye on deck in Week 12, holding out Thielen through Minnesota’s open date makes all the sense in the world. … Diggs failed to capitalize on Thielen’s Weeks 9-10 absences on stat lines of 1/4/0 and 3/49/0, and matching up with Broncos top CB Harris bodes negatively for Diggs in a game where Cousins seems likely to level off. Ultimately, Diggs would be a bet-on-talent, fade-matchup WR2 play. The Vikings haven’t been forcing him the ball, and haven’t needed to with the run game rocking. Only three receivers (Tyrell Williams, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Odell Beckham) have cleared 75 yards against Fangio’s secondary this year. … Only two tight ends have cleared 45 yards against the Broncos – Darren Waller (7/70/0) and Jack Doyle (4/61/0) – yet Smith and Rudolph’s enhanced sans-Thielen roles have given them streamer life. Smith has drawn six targets in three of Minnesota’s last four games, and Rudolph has likewise hit pay dirt in three of four. Rudolph is a touchdown-or-bust fringe TE1 and Smith a PPR-specific, lower-ceiling play. … Held under 30 yards in three straight games, Johnson is deep-league WR5 option in this difficult passing-game draw.
Score Prediction: Vikings 23, Broncos 10