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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Fantasy Football: Don’t Rest on the Vikings’ Defense

By Anthony Maggio

Anthony Maggio, John Tuvey and Bo Mitchell will be here all season delivering the edge you need to dominate your fantasy football league. Visit 1500espn.com each Thursday for a new column and a new episode of the Fantasy Football Party podcast.

One need not be a Mensa member to ascertain that the biggest reason for the Vikings’ 3-0 start has been their defense. They rank third in points against, allowing just 13.2 per game, second in takeaways with nine, first in sacks with 15 and first in D/ST touchdowns with three. With some exceptions, you’ll want to go out of your way to not start players facing the Vikings defense right now, including Giants players on Monday night.

Furthermore, it’s no surprise the Vikes have been the top defense in every fantasy football scoring system this season – and it’s not even close. Why bring this up? You know that if you have the Vikings defense, you are going to use them. End of discussion, Captain Obvious.

However, they have a bye in Week 6, so the time is now to start planning a Week 6 fill-in defense. When a fantasy defense is this elite, you don’t want to drop them to waiver wire on their bye. You’d have a better chance of covering Stefon Diggs one-on-one than of getting a defense this good back off waivers following its bye.

Gulp! That means between now and Week 6 you will need to open up a roster spot for a second team defense. This is pretty unusual, especially in leagues with small roster sizes and short benches. Extraordinary circumstances call for extraordinary measures, though.

Most of the good fantasy defenses are obviously already taken, but be ready to pounce if an owner drops the Eagles when they have a bye this week – or the Chiefs or Seahawks next week during their bye. Philadelphia leads the NFL in scoring defense at 9.0 points allowed per game, the Chiefs lead the league in takeaways with 10 and the Seahawks lead the league in yards allowed with 250 per game. All would make top-notch one-week substitutions.

Switching to the other side of the ball – you know, the one we usually discuss first when talking fantasy football – it’s time to give some props to Kyle Rudolph. He’s been overshadowed in the passing game by Diggs and in the overall narrative by the quarterback and running back situations, but the big tight end is off to a quick start this season. Rudolph is the second-most targeted tight end in the NFL through three games (26). He ranks sixth amongst tight ends in receptions (14) and yards (166) and is tied for the lead at his position with two touchdowns.

Oh, and he’s still available in a lot fantasy leagues – including more than 40 percent of ESPN.com fantasy leagues — so check your league’s free agent listings. He’s a TE1 for fantasy purposes as long as the Vikings keep targeting him so often, especially in the end zone.

— Bo Mitchell

DFS Week 4 Values

For those of you down with Daily Fantasy Sports—or DFS, if you’re into the whole brevity thing—we’ll provide the best values at QB/RB/WR/TE for DraftKings, FanDuel and FantasyDraft—host of the weekly DFS listener league—on a weekly basis. Click here to sign up for the listener league. And if you’ve never played on FantasyDraft before, use the promo code FFParty for a limited time for free $5 FantasyCash. Here’s what Maggio has unearthed for Week 4.

QB: Blake Bortles vs. Indianapolis (via London)

DraftKings: $6,400

FanDuel: $7,700

FantasyDraft: $12,000

Bortles was doing Bortles things at home against the Ravens in Week 3 (terrible interception, unconscionable late sack taken) and his high-water mark for fantasy points this season is his Week 2 game at San Diego with 329 yards, two touchdowns, an interceptions, and a lost fumble. That said, this London trip isn’t his first rodeo, and he’s had success against the Colts in his short career. In fact, he only went without an interception in four games last season, and two of them were against Indy. He’s not a cash-game consideration, but you could make a contrarian tournament lineup with Bortles at the top leaving money to spend elsewhere.

QB: Dak Prescott at San Francisco

DraftKings: $5,700

FanDuel: $7,200

FantasyDraft: $11,200

If going the cheap QB route I actually prefer this direction, though admittedly Dak doesn’t have the 350-yard/3-TD upside Bortles comes with. Potentially being without the injured Dez Bryant doesn’t help, either, but Dak’s been steady at the helm of Dallas’ offense with increased fantasy points each week. Now he faces a 49ers club that excels in the three-and-out while playing at a high pace, meaning Prescott and the Cowboys should run more plays than usual. We’ve already seen a two rushing scores from Dak and he’s yet to turn the ball over, so if you want to roll with Prescott in your cash lineup to spend up elsewhere, I can get behind it.

RB: Carlos Hyde vs. Dallas

DraftKings: $4,200

FanDuel: $6,800

FantasyDraft: $8,400

As the Associated Press’ Josh Dubow noted on Twitter, the 49ers’ 27 points in first 3 quarters is 3rd worst in NFL. Their 46 points in 4th quarter is league best. The good news about this is that Chip Kelly has no quarrel with those garbage time scores coming via the ground. Hyde’s one of the few San Francisco players who’s stood out this season, and if he’s going to continue to get totes regardless of game flow, it’s tough not to use him—especially considering his declining DFS price tag.

RB: Jordan Howard vs. Detroit

DraftKings: $3,700

FanDuel: $5,600

FantasyDraft: $7,300

This one’s not rocket science: Jeremy Langford’s out, Howard is in. Now, Ka’Deem Carey could return from his hamstring injury to throw a monkey wrench in this one, but if Carey’s out Howard will get most of the work. Detroit has yet to allow a running back touchdown this year, but the Titans and Packers both went over a hundred rushing yards the last two weeks. And with volume on his side, Howard’s a reasonable punt play at the position to spend up elsewhere.

RB: Melvin Gordon vs. New Orleans

DraftKings: $6,300

FanDuel: $7,600

FantasyDraft: $12,000

His price is up, but Gordon’s still a value against a Saints defense that has no answer for running backs. New Orleans has already allowed seven running back touchdowns in three weeks, and Gordon’s shown that his end zone woes from 2015 were nothing more than variance and small sample size. Now more of a factor in the passing game with Danny Woodhead on IR, Gordon is one of my favorite running backs this week regardless of price. I’ll also note that the Chargers have the highest Vegas implied team point total in Week 4.

WR: Travis Benjamin vs. New Orleans

DraftKings: $5,900

FanDuel: $6,600

FantasyDraft: $11,000

While Gordon’s enjoying life against the Saints defense, Benjamin shouldn’t have any problems, either. This is a start-your-Chargers Sunday, and at seven targets per game Benjamin has the highest floor in San Diego’s receiving game. He’s not quite the must-play in formats that aren’t full PPR (like FanDuel), but still makes for a great tournament play.

WR: Steve Smith Sr. vs. Oakland

DraftKings: $4,500

FanDuel: $6,100

FantasyDraft: $8,800

Smith was still knocking off some rust in Week 1 from his 2015 Achilles injury, but he looked every bit the reliable possession receiver we’ve come to know the last handful of seasons in Week 3 against the Jags. He’s got 26 targets in three games and his yardage keeps creeping up. He’s not nearly the red zone threat he used to be so this is more of a cash game play. But there are few cash game options I like as much as Smith this week against a leaky Oakland secondary.

WR: Cole Beasley at San Francisco

DraftKings: $3,900

FanDuel: $5,200

FantasyDraft: $7,700

The aforementioned Prescott has enjoyed his NFL infancy in part because he’s found himself a binky—that binky being Cole Beasley. Killer Beas (no idea if anyone calls him that, but they should) and his killer locks have been targeted 25 times in three games, resulting in 20 receptions for 213 yards. He just missed a touchdown against the Bears in Week 3, but those will be tougher to come by since he’s not a downfield threat. That said, even Beasley’s low water marks for the year—six catches, 65 yards—would be 12.5 PPR points, more than enough to make him worth a shot at his price point considering the Cowboys will run more plays than usual this week AND could be without Bryant.

TE: Hunter Henry vs. New Orleans

DraftKings: $2,700

FanDuel: $4,500

FantasyDraft: $5,300

I could keep piling on the Saints defense, but they’ve actually been decent against tight ends statistically this year. But they’ve also faced the Raiders, Giants and Falcons, three teams who historically don’t lean much on tight ends. And I’ll note that Larry Donnell dropped a touchdown in Week 2. But since Henry’s so cheap, caught all five of his targets last week (though did lose a devastating fumble), and will be needed in Antonio Gates’ stead again this week, I trust Henry’s floor and like his ceiling.

TE: Kyle Rudolph vs. NY Giants

DraftKings: $3,400

FanDuel: $5,600

FantasyDraft: $6,700

If you’ve got a little extra cap room, paying up from Henry to Rudolph isn’t a bad idea. I was stunned to look after Week 3 and see him sitting at No. 2 among tight ends in fantasy scoring. And I have a hard time calling it fluky since he’s played on nearly 95 percent of Minnesota’s snaps and has a league-leading target share among tight ends. This week he gets a Giants defense that allowed the second most fantasy points to tight ends last year and has been peppered with targets already this season (29 combined for Jason Witten, Jordan Reed and Coby Fleener) because that’s where you attack New York. I’ll have a good amount of Rudolph shares this week—while he’s still healthy!

Good luck in Week 4! Check back next week for Week 5 DFS values.

–Anthony Maggio

Anthony Maggio, John Tuvey and Bo Mitchell co-host the 1500ESPN Fantasy Football Party podcast. Bookmark the podcast page for upcoming episodes and subscribe to the podcast now! Don’t act like you’re not impressed.

Maggio hosted Fantasy Football Sunday on 1500ESPN from 2012-2013 and is the Fantasy Football Editor at Zoneblitz.com. Mitchell is Vice President of Content for Sportradar. And Tuvey is Director of Content at SportsHub Technologies. All three men are kind of big deals, enjoy leather-bound books and have woodwork at home that smells of rich mahogany.

Follow Maggio @MPLSMaggio
Follow Bo @Bo_Mitchell
Follow John @jtuvey

The post Fantasy Football: Don’t Rest on the Vikings’ Defense appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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