Thursday Night Football
Washington @ Minnesota
Re-anointed the Vikings' starter almost by default, Christian Ponder is an attractive two-QB-league play due to this game's favorable environment and matchup. We're into November now, when playing indoors becomes a fantasy plus. The traveling Redskins rank 28th versus the pass with a 17:9 TD-to-INT ratio permitted to enemy passers. A Jeff Garcia-ish talent, Ponder has rushed for four touchdowns over his past three starts and is clearly being encouraged by OC Bill Musgrave to scramble. Averaging nearly 30 rushing yards per game, Ponder has devolved into a one-read quarterback who takes off when his first option is covered. I'd still stop short of crowning Ponder a QB1 streamer, particularly after he lost safety valve Kyle Rudolph to a broken foot. ... The Vikings will look to control this game on the ground, where Adrian Peterson is red hot again and put Minnesota on his back in last Sunday's near-upset of Dallas. Peterson has 188 yards and two touchdowns on his last 35 carries (5.37 YPC). He broke off several monstrous runs against the Cowboys, confirming there is no reason to worry about All Day's health moving forward. ... Ponder's target distribution on the season: Greg Jennings 31, Jerome Simpson 29, Rudolph 24, Peterson 18, Cordarrelle Patterson 14, Jarius Wright and John Carlson 13, Toby Gerhart 7.
Even in fantastic matchups like this, Vikings pass catchers are crapshoots always more likely to bust than boom. Start 'em at your own risk. ... Carlson replaces Rudolph, who averaged 36.6 yards in Ponder's five 2013 starts and never topped 51. Most likely, Carlson will only pay off if he scores a red-zone touchdown. This is the case for a lot of bottom-barrel fantasy commodities. ... DeAngelo Hall has quietly had a strong season, and I expect we'll see him follow Jennings around the formation on most of Thursday night's snaps. Simpson would be my pick if I were to gamble on a Vikings receiver. Redskins RCB David Amerson was a chronic burn victim at N.C. State, and that has continued into his rookie season. Keenan Allen smoked Amerson relentlessly last week. Simpson runs most of his routes against right corners, and beyond Peterson has the premier matchup of Minnesota skill-position players. ... Patterson's 26 snaps in Week 9 were a season high, though he was still only a 37% player in the Vikings' offense. So he's a third receiver on a run-first team with a below-average quarterback. Patterson is going to break a long touchdown before the season over. I just have no clue when it'll be and don't expect to. Patterson is a WR5 worth stashing in 14- and 16-team leagues in hopes of an increased role for the fantasy playoffs.
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Although neither of these teams' offenses is functioning at an elite level, this game has sneaky shootout potential because the defenses are so porous. Vegas' 48.5-point over-under on Skins-Vikes is fourth highest among 14 Week 10 games. Robert Griffin III is a better bet for a big box score than not versus Minnesota's 29th-ranked pass defense, a unit permitting an 18:8 TD-to-INT ratio to enemy quarterbacks. The Vikings are tied for 27th in sacks. This is an attractive matchup for RG3. ... Fantasy owners should view FB Darrel Young's hat trick of Week 9 red-zone scores similarly to how they treated Roy Helu's three TDs from Week 7, albeit from an inferior player. There is some possibility that Young re-finds pay dirt at Minnesota on a gimme goal-line carry, but it isn't something you can hang your hat on in fantasy football. I personally wouldn't bother picking Young up. ... Griffin's targets since Washington's Week 5 bye: Pierre Garcon 45; Jordan Reed 34; Leonard Hankerson 20; Santana Moss 12; Helu 10; Aldrick Robinson and Logan Paulsen 5; Josh Morgan 4. ... Garcon's four-game touchdown drought is a fluke. He is third in the NFL in targets and has at least five receptions in every game this year. Garcon is a locked-and-loaded WR1/2.
The Vikings have allowed the fifth most fantasy point to tight ends and are dealing with multiple injuries at safety. Reed owners couldn't ask for a better Week 10 matchup. ... You know the drill with Hankerson by now. He is capable of making big plays off play action. He plays big and could catch a red-zone score in any given week. Ultimately, however, Hankerson is a weak fantasy investment because he's not a big part of Washington's passing offense at Z receiver. He has one touchdown over his last seven games and has cleared 60 yards in 1-of-8 weeks this season. Hankerson is a boom-or-bust WR3. ... Slot receiver Moss and streak-route specialist Robinson are complementary role players unworthy of fantasy roster spots. ... Alfred Morris has 646 yards and four TDs on his last 122 carries (5.29 YPC). In Week 10, he faces a Vikings defense that's coughed up nine rushing scores through eight games. Although the vulturing of Young and Helu has been frustrating for his owners, Morris is still the No. 7 overall fantasy back over the last three weeks. He's a borderline RB1 play at Minnesota. ... Helu has managed just nine touches for 54 scoreless yards since the Week 7 three-touchdown fluke. Helu is much more of a stash/handcuff than fantasy flex option.
Score Prediction: Redskins 27, Vikings 21