Koerner: Fantasy Football Start/Sit Strategy for Redskins-Vikings

Koerner: Fantasy Football Start/Sit Strategy for Redskins-Vikings article feature image

Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Terry McLaurin

  • Sean Koerner is here to help you make your Thursday Night Football fantasy start/sit decisions.
  • See which Washington Redskins and Minnesota Vikings players are must-plays (or stay aways).

There’s more strategy to Thursday Night Football fantasy sit/start decisions than people realize.

The No. 1 rule? Don’t use your Flex spot (if you can). It offers you flexibility come Sunday, so blocking the utility of this lineup spot on TNF only hurts you.

Now let’s run through whether to start or sit key fantasy players tonight. For more specific sit/start decisions, you can use my updated rankings.


Kirk Cousins, Vikings

With Patrick Mahomes out, Matt Ryan a true game-time decision, and Dak Prescott and Lamar Jackson on bye, Cousins enters the QB1 discussion this week.

The Vikings as massive 16.5-point favorites tonight, so the potential for a run-heavy game plan lowers Cousins’ ceiling. Still, he’s a fairly safe low-end QB1 who should be extra motivated to stick it to his former team. Cousins will be without stud wide receiver Adam Thielen, but that just means he’ll target Stefon Diggs, who is every bit as good, that much more.

falcons-vikings-betting-odds-picks-cheat-sheet-nfl-week 1-2019
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Kirk Cousins

The key sit/start decision involving Cousins would be if you’re debating between him and Ryan. I have Ryan projected slightly higher if he’s able to suit up, however, it would be smart to lock in Cousins for a surefire QB1 play rather than having to scramble for a QB2 to plug in if Ryan is ruled out. The risk just isn’t worth it.

Case Keenum, Redskins

Keenum ranks dead-last in my QB rankings this week, though it’s interesting that it doesn’t necessarily mean he’s the most likely to put up the worst score at QB according to my player rank simulations.

I’m giving him just a 6.5% chance of claiming that honor; Joe Flacco is the most likely to finish as the QB30 at 9.2%. Still, Keenum is the least likely to put up a QB20 score or better at just 40.4%.

TL;DR don’t play Keenum this week.

Running Backs

Dalvin Cook, Vikings

Cook is my No. 1 overall RB this week and should be started in all leagues, except for the “low ball” league idea I came up with last week…

I want to start a "low ball" fantasy football league where the lowest score wins, but if a player gets a 0 exactly you get a 20 point penalty (so you can't just start an injured player).

I wonder what the 1st round of that draft would look like? Who would be your top 12?

— Sean Koerner (@The_Oddsmaker) October 15, 2019

My player rank simulations give Cook a 14.2% chance to be the top scoring RB this week.

Alexander Mattison, Vikings

Mattison is a sneaky play tonight if you’re desperate at RB.

While he’s arguably the top handcuff in fantasy football, he could put up RB2 numbers if the Vikings take a commanding lead early tonight. It’s a very real possibility he sees the majority of the work in the second half when they go extremely run heavy to put the game away.

This makes him a higher-ceiling yet low-floor play that would be advisable if you’re a considerable underdog and thin at RB.

Adrian Peterson, Redskins

As of writing, it’s still not 100% clear whether AP will even suit up tonight. I’m guessing since the game is in Minnesota, where he played most of his future Hall of Fame career, he’ll do everything in his power to play.

Based on the tough matchup and expected negative game script, though, I would avoid starting him at all costs. He’s ranked in a range where we’re more likely to see players pop up in value between now and Sunday, so it’s usually better to not lock in a play like AP if possible.

Wendell Smallwood, Redskins

Smallwood would become an interesting RB3/Flex option in deeper PPR leagues if AP is ruled out. This game sets up much better for a pass -catching back like Smallwood, who has taken over the Chris Thompson role since Thompson has been out with an injury.

We can’t read too much into Smallwood’s Week 7 stat line as that game was played in a monsoon. Tonight’s dome environment sets up much better for a RB like Smallwood. Check my updated rankings once we know AP’s status before making any sit/start decisions involving Smallwood.

Wide Receivers

Stefon Diggs, Vikings

With Adam Thielen out, it’ll be Diggs who dominates in targets for the Vikings, though they may not have to air it out much to put away the Redskins. Still, Diggs is likely to have a huge first half and is a top 10 WR this week.

Olabisi Johnson, Vikings

Johnson should get extra snaps/targets with Thielen out. As I mentioned, the Vikings aren’t likely to throw too much tonight but Bisi should see enough work to be a WR4/Flex play with added value in PPR formats.

He’s a nice streamer if you’re in a pinch at WR.

Irv Smith-Olabisi Johnson
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Irv Smith Jr., Olabisi Johnson

Terry McLaurin, Redskins

The only pass catcher worth playing from the Redskins comes in as a low-end WR2 this week despite the tough matchup.

He’s likely to struggle in the first half while the Vikings play at max effort and potentially double team him. However, in the second half when the defense softens up and plays more of a prevent type zone, McLaurin should rack up some stats.

He’s a beast against zone coverage, which means garbage-time mode will be when he shines. It’s important to at least keep this game flow in mind so you don’t panic if he gets off to a slow start.

Tight Ends

Kyle Rudolph, Vikings

Rudolph showed some signs of life with a breakout 5/58/1 game last week after Thielen went down. Now Rudolph should benefit from Thielen’s absence, but still remains a fairly low-floor TE streamer option as he’s likely to split pass catching duties with Irv Smith Jr.

Rudolph is worth a TE flier if you have Mark Andrews and need a bye-week fill-in.

Irv Smith Jr., Vikings

Smith has a similar outlook to Rudolph in that Thielen’s absence opens up quite a few targets for periphery options in the passing game. Smith is a low-floor TE with an elevated ceiling who makes as a solid flier in deeper leagues if you want to roll the dice getting a four- to five-catch game.

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