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Fantasy Football Picks: Vikings vs. Saints DraftKings NFL DFS Showdown Strategy

Garion Thorne preps you for Friday’s 4:30 p.m. ET contest between the Vikings and the Saints with game-script analysis and Captain’s Picks.

Christmas. A day to cozy up around a roaring fire with family (on Zoom) and watch... Football? Sure. Why not? The NFL schedule has been 15 weeks of oddity to this point in December, so why stop now? Let’s all indulge in a matchup between the Minnesota Vikings and the New Orleans Saints.

Let’s also break it all down from a Showdown perspective.

Set your DraftKings fantasy football lineups here: NFL $1.2M Christmas Showdown Special [$300K to 1st] (MIN vs NO)


Captain’s Picks

Alvin Kamara ($17,100 CP) - I don’t want to pretend that Kamara is magically cured of all faults just because Drew Brees ($10,200) is back under center for New Orleans — it doesn’t change the looming presence of Latavius Murray ($4,800), for instance — but, at the end of the day, it certainly helps. Not only do the Saints have a higher offensive ceiling in general, but Kamara’s been a much more integral part of New Orleans’ passing attack when Brees is in the game. To wit, the running back’s target share is a team-leading 25.3% in Brees’ 10 starts so far in 2020, while that figure drops to 13.3% with Taysom Hill ($6,000) throwing passes. Another thing working in Kamara’s favor on Christmas is the matchup. Minnesota’s allowed an average of 143.3 opponent rushing yards across the past three weeks, culminating in David Montgomery rushes for 146 yards and two touchdowns last Sunday. Will Kamara ever see 32 carries? Heck no. But he’ll do some serious damage with 20 touches.

Kirk Cousins ($14,400 CP) - Look, there isn’t a “weakness” in the Saints D/ST ($4,200). The unit comes into Week 16 ranking second in rushing DVOA and third in passing DVOA. Make no mistake, they are the definition of stout and the front four can get pressure on a QB like no one’s business. Still, despite all that, I’d rather take my chances through the air with Cousins in the Captain’s spot than Dalvin Cook ($12,000). The salary savings are a huge part of the decision, but there’s also a reason teams have only tried to run the ball on 41.5% of snaps versus New Orleans: They generally are in the lead and have the script advantage. On top of that, Cousins has been sneaky good going back to Week 9, a span that’s seen the pivot sit as the sixth-most valuable QB in standard scoring formats. It’s a stretch where Cousins is third in the NFL in adjusted completion rate (82.1%) and hasn’t scored fewer than 18.0 DKFP. I understand Cousins’ reputation, but that’s some pretty good stuff.

Value FLEX Plays

Irv Smith Jr. ($5,200) - It’s not like Smith’s set the world ablaze since he traded places on the inactive list with Kyle Rudolph (foot) back in Week 13, but he’s done enough where people should be paying attention. In his last two games, Smith’s caught seven of his eight targets for 100 yards and a touchdown. Again, solid, but not overwhelming. However, the potential for something greater is apparent when you dig a little deeper into the stats. We’d be more vocal in singing the sophomore’s praises if he didn’t drop a sure touchdown during last week’s loss to the Bears — a poor play, yet a positive indication of his red zone role. Also, Smith logged a massive 82.4% snap share in that contest, a figure that is easily a season-high. With the Saints conceding the third-most opponent targets to the tight end position (111), Smith is in a very nice spot at a very nice price.

Saints D/ST ($4,200) - I already spelled out what makes New Orleans’ defense so ferocious, but here are a couple of numbers to back up that claim. The Saints are in possession of the league’s highest adjusted sack rate (8.9%) and they’ve also collected the fifth-most QB hits through 14 games (97). Not to dumb things down too much, but pressure is what creates turnovers and fuels fantasy defenses, and New Orleans seemingly has the ability to create it at will. Speaking of turnovers, Minnesota comes into this matchup having thrown an interception or lost a fumble on 14.6% of its drives — the fifth-highest rate in football.

Juwan Johnson ($2,200) - If people are searching for a place to save some salary on this slate, the back-end of the Saints’ receiving corps is a pretty obvious starting point, as Michael Thomas (ankle) and Tre’Quan Smith (ankle) have both been ruled out for this game. That’s where Johnson and Lil’Jordan Humphrey ($2,600) enter the fray. I’ll be honest, it basically feels like you’re flipping a coin trying to choose between these two wideouts, but that’s why siding with Johnson is important. With Humphrey having caught the touchdown last weekend — and having enjoyed the more illustrious college career — I guarantee he’ll be the more popular play; despite Johnson having led all New Orleans WRs in snap share against the Chiefs (76.4%). The depth of his floor is clear, yet that doesn’t mean Johnson isn’t viable.


Taysom Hill ($6,000) - This should be obvious considering Hill is no longer starting at quarterback for the Saints, but a goal line rushing touchdown in last week’s game might have some people confused. Yes, back when Hill was checking into these Showdown contests with a price tag below $2K, he was an interesting salary-saving asset with how devoted Sean Payton seems to giving the BYU product high-leverage opportunities. However, now that’s he’s priced like a backup QB, that is no longer an option. Honestly, that’s a good thing, because he’s always been a headache in this format.


While Drew Brees didn’t look anywhere close to 100% in his return to action last week, I’m still trusting the Saints to take care of business on Christmas Day. The Vikings defense is a mess right now and the team is 0-5 ATS dating back to Week 11. Meanwhile, New Orleans is 9-2 ATS in its past 11 games against an opponent below .500. The Saints have to win this one to have any chance at regaining the No. 1 seed in the NFC, and I believe they get it done.

Final Score: New Orleans 30, Minnesota 21

Set your DraftKings fantasy football lineups here: NFL $1.2M Christmas Showdown Special [$300K to 1st] (MIN vs NO)

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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is theglt13) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.