The NFL kicks off Week 8 on Thursday Night Football with Washington at the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings are huge 15.5-point favorites on DraftKings Sportbook, and the game has been given a total points of 42, one of the lower total points for a Thursday game this season.
There are a few notable players listed on the injury report, most notably Adam Thielen (hamstring), who has been ruled out. With Thielen limited to just nine snaps in Week 7, Olabisi Johnson was the primary beneficiary at WR for the Vikings, playing on a season high 71% of the Vikings’ offensive plays and seeing a solid eight targets, double his previous high. Johnson is just three percent owned in mainstream seasonal leagues and is a potential emergency fill in at WR in deep leagues. For Washington, Adrian Peterson (ankle) is questionable, and Chris Thompson (toe) and Vernon Davis (concussion) are out. Despite the questionable tag, Peterson told the NFL Network that he expects to play.
This is a matchup that could get out of hand, as Washington has one of the worst offenses in the league, ranking third worst in points per game and fourth worst in yards per game. Given Washington’s issues moving the ball combined with the Vikings being huge home favorites, Vikings RB Dalvin Cook is in a smash spot and is an obvious start. Here are some other players fantasy owners can consider starting or sitting in their leagues:
Start: QB Kirk Cousins
Cousins has been incredible lately, tossing four TDs in each of his last two games while exceeding 30 DKFP and 300 passing yards in each game. He now owns an adjusted passer rating that is 25 percent better than league average, which is tied for best among starting QBs. Cousins draws his former team, Washington, in a revenge narrative setting. Washington has a below average defense, and Cousins has the advantage of being the home team on the short week. The downside is that passing volume could be limited in this matchup, as the Vikings are huge favorites over a team that struggles to score. However, Cousins has been so efficient lately that he has not needed big passing volume to accumulate fantasy points. Cousins has completed at least 70% of his passes in six of his seven games this season.
Start: WR Terry McLaurin
McLaurin had a season-low one catch on just two targets last week in a brutal matchup vs. the 49ers, but he is in a better position this week against a Vikings pass defense that ranks towards the middle of the pack and has allowed the eighth most fantasy points per game to WR. McLaurin has flashed dynamic playmaking ability in his rookie season and has received 43% of Washington’s air yards, fourth highest among all receivers. McLaurin is one of the few appealing fantasy options on a lousy Washington offense.
Sit: RB Adrian Peterson
Peterson enters the game with an uncertain status as he deals with an ankle injury, but provided he plays, he has had some consideration as a starter due to increased touches under the new coaching staff. Interim head coach Bill Callahan said he wanted to run the ball more and has given Peterson at least 20 carries in each of his last two games. Peterson also has a narrative setting in Minnesota, where he spent the prime of his career. However, it will be tough for Peterson to overcome an excellent Vikings defense that has limited RBs to the fifth fewest fantasy points per game. In addition, Washington’s offense is poor, and being large road underdogs is generally not a good sign for running volume.
Start: WR Stefon Diggs
Diggs got off to a turbulent start to 2019 as he was reportedly unhappy with his role in the offense and had a mysterious absence from practice. Diggs has turned things around lately, recording over 140 receiving yards in each of his last two games on 19 total targets. With Thielen ruled out, Diggs could see an expanded role in terms of target volume and red zone looks, as Thielen leads the Vikings in red zone targets this season, opening up more red zone volume for other Vikings players.
Sit: QB Case Keenum
Keenum is set to start at QB again for Washington against his former team in Minnesota, who he played for in 2017. Despite the narrative setting, Keenum is an easy sit as the road team on a short week against one of the better defenses in the league. Washington has made a philosophical change under interim coach Bill Callahan, electing to run the ball more, which has also hurt Keenum’s passing volume lately. Keenum attempted just 12 passes last week in a shutout loss to the 49ers.