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Fantasy Football: Kyle Rudolph and Jerick McKinnon matchup outlook

By Bo Mitchell

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.

Five weeks ago — before a single regular-season game had been played and before a single regular-season beer had been spilled in US Bank Stadium — the Vikings’ fantasy football outlook was pretty straightforward.

Reigning NFL rushing leader Adrian Peterson was an every-week fantasy starter, as was the Vikings team defense, which everyone in Purple country knew was one of the league’s best. Stefon Diggs had the look of someone you could plug into fantasy lineups most weeks in leagues that required at least three starting wideouts and/or leagues with at least 12 teams. Blair Walsh? If you could stomach the misses, enough field goals would be there to make him a regular fantasy starter.

That was it.

No other Vikings receiver, running back, tight end or quarterback was part of any serious fantasy discussion.

In short, things have changed.

The change at quarterback notwithstanding, Peterson’s knee injury was the biggest domino to fall. His absence opened up the playbook to other contributors, other game-plans and other possibilities. The two most significant changes: Kyle Rudolph and Jerick McKinnon are both in the weekly fantasy lineup conversation. They are matchup plays – when the matchup looks favorable, rotate them into your lineup.

Rudolph is tied for the league lead amongst tight ends with three touchdowns and is also among the tight end leaders in targets, receptions and yards. Thus far, he is a top-three fantasy tight end. He went undrafted in a lot of leagues, but he is now owned in 79 percent of ESPN.com fantasy leagues.

However, I am not ready to label him an every-week fantasy starter yet. Let’s see him get through the next three weeks first.

This Sunday, Rudolph faces a Texans defense that ranks top-three in terms of fewest fantasy points allowed to tight ends. In four games, they have allowed a total of 12 receptions, 92 yards and no touchdowns to tight ends – and they have played some of the best in the league: Travis Kelce, Delanie Walker, Martellus Bennett and Zach Miller (aside from Rudolph, the only other tight end with three touchdowns already). After this week, the Vikings are on bye. And after that, they face the Eagles, a defense that ranks No. 1 against tight ends this season in terms of fantasy production allowed. So the next three weeks promises to be rough sledding for Rudy. Should you sell high? You could if you get a great offer; however, the Vikings still get to play against the Lions twice this season. Why is that a big deal? No team allowed more tight end touchdowns last season than the Lions (12) and none have allowed more this season (6). Tentatively plan to bench Rudolph for now and break him back out the second half of the season.

McKinnon is an interesting fantasy player, especially in PPR leagues and especially in a season like this where running backs are dropping faster than balls in the Twins outfield. Two years ago when Peterson missed 15 games, McKinnon was a rookie and Matt Asiata outscored him 10 touchdowns to zero. It’s worth noting that McKinnon scored on a 4-yard run against the Giants and had a 2-point conversion against the Panthers the week before. The goal line is no longer Asiata’s sole domain. Thus, McKinnon is the primary running back on first and second downs, catches passes and gets occasional work at the stripe. That’s not a bad combo.

Against Houston, the stats suggest clearly McKinnon is a solid fantasy play. The Texans allowed DeMarco Murray to rush 25 times for 95 yards and two touchdowns last week and LeGarrette Blount to rush 24 times for 105 yards and two touchdowns the week before that. And you can still get him pretty cheap in daily fantasy leagues… but I’ll leave that discussion to John Tuvey this week (keep reading).

— Bo Mitchell

DFS Week 5 Values

For those of you down with Daily Fantasy Sports—or DFS, if you’re into abbreviations—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 2V has uncovered for Week 5 DFS success.

QB: Trevor Siemian vs. Atlanta

DraftKings: $5,200

FanDuel: $7,600

FantasyDraft: $10,200

The Falcons’ secondary hasn’t stopped anyone yet, giving up an average of 323 and 3 and a minimum of 28 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. Look, they gave up 172 and 2 to Derek Anderson in one half of football; they can be had. Siemian has demonstrated his ability to take advantage of the Broncos’ array of passing game weapons, and if his banged-up non-throwing shoulder doesn’t hold him back he’ll extend Atlanta’s streak of defensive frustration. Should Siemian be a late scratch, sub in rookie Paxton Lynch; he sports the same price tag at Draft Kings and FantasyDraft and is marked down $600 from Siemian’s price at FanDuel.

QB: Carson Wentz at Detroit

DraftKings: $6,400

FanDuel: $7,500

FantasyDraft: $12,100

Wentz has been everything the Eagles hoped for when they traded up to draft him, and much sooner than anyone anticipated. He’s already posted two multiple touchdown games and topped 300 yards against the vaunted Steelers as Philly headed to the bye. Rested and refreshed, Wentz faces a Detroit defense that’s given up four-TD games to studs Andrew Luck and Aaron Rodgers and two-TD outings to Marcus Mariota and Brian Hoyer. At his current level of play Wentz skews more towards the former, with the latter grouping providing a solid fantasy floor.

RB: Kenneth Dixon vs. Washington

DraftKings: $3,600

FanDuel: $5,800

FantasyDraft: $7,000

On the heels of Terrance West’s bustout game last week the Ravens kicked Justin Forsett to the curb. But while West is a decent value ($4,800/$6,400/$9,500), you can save even more with Dixon. Both backs face a Washington defense that’s given up more running back rushing yards than any other team in the NFL, including two 100-yard games and six outings of at least 60 yards from scrimmage. Dixon has been nursing a knee injury but is set to make his NFL debut here, and you can expect the Ravens to test drive him to the tune of a rewarding fantasy day against a defense ill-equipped to stop him.

RB: DeAndre Washington vs. San Diego

DraftKings: $3,400

FanDuel: $4,700

FantasyDraft: $6,700

Latavious Murray was already losing touches to the Raiders’ committee; now he’ll miss at least one game with a toe injury, and Washington is poised to capitalize. Worst-case he’ll be in a committee with Jalen Richard, himself a bargain at $3,300/$4,900/$6,400, in a matchup that offers more than enough to go around. The Chargers have given up six running back touchdowns in just the last two games and an average of 140 running back yards from scrimmage per game on the year. Washington’s potential share of that is a solid return on investment with the possibility of blowing up the scoreboard if he hoards the majority of Oakland’s backfield touches.

RB: Jordan Howard at Indianapolis

DraftKings: $5,200

FanDuel: $7,200

FantasyDraft: $10,200

Howard rushed for 111 yards in his first NFL start, which nudged his DFS price upwards. However, he’s still a bargain as the Bears’ primary offensive weapon in Indy this week. On paper this matchup lacks sex appeal, as the Colts haven’t allowed a runner to top 75 yards against them this year. But they’re surrendering 157 combo running back yards per game and have allowed six running back scores while facing teams largely devoid of marquee runners. Howard’s 224 yards from scrimmage the past two games suggest the versatility to take advantage of Indy’s defensive shortcomings—and at least one more week of a below-market price tag.

WR: Steve Smith Sr. vs. Washington

DraftKings: $5,300

FanDuel: $5,700

FantasyDraft: $10,500

Smith graced this very space last week, and he delivered 8-111-1 against the Raiders. The Redskins offer only slightly more resistance, giving up the fifth-most fantasy points to wide receivers compared to Oakland surrendering the second-most. Washington has given up three 100-yard games already this season, with six receivers topping 70 yards and a total of nine receivers either scoring or surpassing 55 yards. There’s your floor for Smith. But please, we implore you: don’t accidentally use Steve Smith Jr.

WR: Eddie Royal at Indianapolis

DraftKings: $4,200

FanDuel: $5,700

FantasyDraft: $8,400

Royal owns both of the Bears’ wide receiver touchdowns this season and is coming off a 7-111-1 performance last week—and his targets are about to increase with Kevin White being placed on injured reserve. As Alshon Jeffery’s wingman he’ll see plenty of balls against an Indy secondary that’s allowed at least 149 wide receiver yards in every game thus far. Clearly Brian Hoyer knows where to find Royal, helping him capitalize on matchup, opportunity, and a bargain-basement price.

WR: Sammie Coates vs. New York Jets

DraftKings: $3,600

FanDuel: $5,300

FantasyDraft: $7,000

Quick: which Steelers receiver has racked up at least 50 yards in every game this season? If you said Antonio Brown, clearly you suffer from short-term memory loss. Coates has hit the half-century mark in all four of Pittsburgh’s games thus far, including 6-79 last week, and he’s set for another solid showing in Brown’s shadow this week against the struggling Jets’ secondary. The targets should continue to pile up in Pittsburgh, and Coates is catching enough of them to deliver fantasy value. As an added bonus, his speed makes him a valuable DFS tournament play against a defense that’s given up long balls to the likes of Marquise Goodwin and Tanner McEvoy.

TE: Zach Ertz at Detroit

DraftKings: $3,500

FanDuel: $5,600

FantasyDraft: $7,000

No defense has given up more tight end touchdowns than the Lions, who have allowed at least one in every game this year and 15 of 20 games dating back to the start of last season. This year they’ve been scored on by Jack Doyle, Dwayne Allen, Delanie Walker, Richard Rodgers and Zach Miller, and with Ertz healthy after a few weeks off to let his displaced rib heal he’s next in line to join the fun.

TE: Cameron Brate at Carolina

DraftKings: $2,900

FanDuel: $5,400

FantasyDraft: $5,600

Brate’s a top-12 tight end in targets, receptions, yards and touchdowns; he’s everything Austin Seferian-Jenkins was supposed to be, without being a head case. He’ll be the latest tight end to abuse the Panthers, who have given up touchdowns to the position in three straight games including two last week to Atlanta’s starting and second-string tight ends. It’s a top guy against a bottom-feeding defense, and it’s all flying under the DFS radar at a price that lets you load up the rest of your lineup with studs.

Best of luck in Week 5! Check back next week for our Week 6 DFS values.

–John Tuvey

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

Follow The Fantasy Football Party podcast @TheFFParty

The post Fantasy Football: Kyle Rudolph and Jerick McKinnon matchup outlook appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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