The Vikings and the Bengals matchup in Cincinnati on Saturday, as we get into the holiday season. Both teams are still in the playoff race and winning is the only thing they can do to help their chances.
The 7-6 Vikings come into this game with a playoff spot in hand, but are also coming off a game they won 3-0 against a bad Raiders team. They also switched quarterbacks and will start Nick Mullens over Joshua Dobbs.
The Bengals are also 7-6, but so are a lot of AFC teams right now. They aren’t currently in the playoffs, but are just on the edge. They’ve been pleasantly surprised by QB Jake Browning’s play after losing Joe Burrow for the year and hope he can continue to play well and make a playoff run.
Today we’ll take a look at some of the value plays available to you in the DraftKings Showdown between the Vikings and Bengals.
Injuries to look out for
Justin Jefferson, WR, Vikings
Jefferson is dealing with a chest injury, but says he will play on Saturday.
Alexander Mattison, RB, Vikings
Mattison is dealing with an ankle sprain and started the week by not practicing.
Value flex options
Ty Chandler, RB, Vikings ($5,800)
The Bengals rank 6th-worst in DVOA against the run and if Mattison can’t go, Chandler will likely be a must play for his price. He would be the every down back, giving him plenty of opportunities in a good matchup.
Chase Brown, RB, Bengals ($3,800)
Brown’s price here is too low in comparison to his usage and big play ability of late. He saw 11 touches last week behind Joe Mixon and turned those into 105 yards, three receptions, and a touchdown. Of course, we can’t rely on another 54 yard touchdown catch and run, but it’s not out of the question and his workload without big plays is still worth rostering him at such a low price point.
Tanner Hudson, TE, Bengals ($4,000)
Hudson isn’t getting a ton of targets, but he’s been consistently catching those targets when given a chance. Last week, his four targets were his lowest number since Week 4, but he also found the end zone for the first time on the season. He leads the Bengals tight ends in targets despite not getting many snaps. He is being used almost exclusively as an offensive weapon, so when he’s out there, he’s usually running a route.
D/ST and Kickers
Jake Browning has been playing well enough to not be able to target the Bengals with any old D/ST, but the Vikings under Brian Flores have been getting after the quarterback of late. They rank 8th overall in D/ST scoring on the season, and have 12 sacks, 3 interceptions, and 4 fumble recoveries over their last four games and are worth a start on Saturday.
The Bengals D/ST has been more down than up this season, but are coming off a solid game against Gardner Minshew and the Colts. Nick Mullens has 23 interceptions and 8 fumbles in his 25 games played throughout his career. He’s good for a turnover or two and makes me also want to get the Bengals D/ST into lineups when I can.
Greg Joseph has only hit double-digit fantasy points in three of 13 games this season, while Evan McPherson has hit that number three times in his last five games. I like him over Joseph and the Vikings have been 10th-worst at giving up fantasy points to kickers this season compared to the Bengals at 15th-worst.
Overall Showdown strategy
We have a battle of the backups here, but we also have Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase along with Jordan Addison and Tee Higgins needing targets through the air. The Vikings could be down to their third-string running back, who is also useful in the passing game and not a bell cow between the tackles.
The Vikings defense is statistically much better than the Bengals and the spread is small enough to not be able to call a winner with any confidence. We can’t rely a run oriented game plan for either team even with backup QBs in play. That means I’ll be mixing things up in my Showdown lineups. The biggest question mark is Mullens and how effective he can be. He gets a good enough matchup that I’m not worried about playing Jefferson, Hockenson and Addison, while Browning has played well enough that I’m on board with playing their top receivers as well.
Joe Mixon is still getting a big workload despite Brown’s involvement. Over the last tow games he’s had 40 rushing attempts, three rushing touchdowns, and caught 9-of-11 targets for 95 yards. He’s in play with that kind of workload, but he does get a much tougher matchup this week.
Overall I don’t see one single way I want to attack this game, but I do know I will risk playing the Vikings offense in tournaments.