Minnesota Vikings at Denver Broncos
- Spread: Broncos -2
- Total: 43.5
- Vikings implied points: 20.5
- Broncos implied points: 23
Joshua Dobbs: Two top-five finishes at the position, multiple viral moments on social media, and a pair of victories — the “Passtronaut” is having himself a hell of November.
Dobbs has at least 10 rushing points in both of his games with Minnesota and has seen his completion percentage rise by 4.4 percentage points from his time in Arizona despite not having his top receiver.
That’s likely to change this week, with Justin Jefferson trending in the right direction. It’s impossible not to be impressed with what Dobbs has been able to do, but it’s just as hard to rank him as a fantasy starter this week, even in a good spot. Here’s why:
- Bye-week QBs: Desmond Ridder, Gardner Minshew, Mac Jones, and Derek Carr
- Brock Purdy (vs. TB) and Trevor Lawrence (vs. TEN) face pass funnels
- Sam Howell (vs. NYG) is in a great spot
- Kyler Murray is back, and Justin Fields is expected to be
So, how high can you realistically rank Dobbs? I just mentioned three fringe QBs in great spots and two unique talents with ceilings that are tough to quantify. At the bare minimum, we have eight locked-in QB starters (Mahomes, Hurts, Allen, Tagovailoa, Prescott, Burrow, Jackson, and Herbert), and I’d argue that list should be 10 deep (Goff and Stroud).
Yes, I like Dobbs. And yes, I’m more of a believer than I was 14 days ago … and seven days ago. That doesn’t make ranking him as a fantasy starter any easier of an exercise. The tier of QB that Dobbs is in right now (for fantasy) is a crowded one, and if the excitement around him results in inflated value, move him!
There might be a desperate manager in your league looking at this matchup and next week (vs. Bears) and salivating. The odds are good that you at least have a QB in the same tier as Dobbs, so if you can flip him into a strong Flex piece right now, I would. The Week 13 bye dings his ROS value, and matchups with the Bengals and Lions (Weeks 15-16) aren’t overly friendly when you need his production the most.
Russell Wilson: With five straight games of over 20 rushing yards and six multi-touchdown pass games on his 2023 resume, Wilson is atoning for his struggles a year ago in a nice way.
While the production has been reasonably consistent, it’s not enough to be counted on weekly. The Vikings’ defense is a unit on the up-and-up, and with the Broncos ranking 23rd in time of possession, I’m not sure there is enough quality or quantity for Wilson to crack the top-15 at the position in this spot.
Alexander Mattison: Is a lack of efficiency finally resulting in a change of role in Minnesota’s backfield? For a third game in a row (40-carry sample size), Mattison failed to produce a run of longer than 10 yards, and his touchdown-less carry count for the season is up to 130.
His struggles resulted in Ty Chandler nipping at his heels (33-32 Mattison edge in snaps and 19-13 in routes run in Week 10), and while the 2022 fifth-rounder wasn’t any more efficient with his opportunities (15 carries for 45 yards), he did punch in a touchdown off of a direct snap.
This is a matchup against a leaky run defense that is operating on a short week — the only way a team fails to offer a viable fantasy RB in that spot is due to a dead-even committee. Sadly, that might be the situation here.
I still lean toward Mattison and have him as a viable Flex play, but the gap between the two is only 10 spots in my ranks. Chandler needs to be rostered, even if he doesn’t have a direct path to your starting lineup.
Minnesota has playoff dreams, a backup QB, and a late bye (Week 13). That makes for an interesting recipe coming down the fantasy stretch where its run game could well be featured in a meaningful way:
- Week 14 at Raiders: Plus matchup
- Week 15 at Bengals: Need to stay on the field
- Week 16 vs. Lions: Need to stay on the field
- Week 17 vs Packers: Plus matchup
I’m not saying that Chandler emerges as “the guy,” but it’s certainly within the range of outcomes. It didn’t cost them much, but it’s worth remembering that the Vikes did trade for Cam Akers in a move to take some work off of Mattison’s plate. My eyebrow is raised, and that makes Chandler a great depth option for competitive fantasy teams (and he replaces Mattison in my ranks should Mattison be ruled out).
Javonte Williams: Minnesota’s ranking as the fifth-best per-carry run defense makes starting a running back against them inherently dangerous, but with over 20 carries in consecutive games and 3-plus catches in three straight, Williams owns a role that you can trust.
He’s in no danger of losing work on the ground, and with Russell Wilson opting for the short pass game, his 3-4 targets feel safe.
Go ahead and lock in Williams as a strong RB2 every week moving forward. Trust the talent and the role to prove productive throughout the game.
Justin Jefferson: The All-Pro was back on the practice field last week after being designated to return from IR (hamstring), but he was unable to progress enough to feel comfortable in taking the field against the Saints. He stated on multiple occasions that he wouldn’t return until he was 100%, something we, as fantasy managers, very much appreciate.
Of course, being 100% healthy pre-game is no assurance that he will make it through the entire contest. Combine re-injury with a new QB and a matchup with Patrick Surtain — there’s more risk in Jefferson’s portfolio than usual. Understanding that, he’s still a top-15 play for me and one that you’re not benching.
Minnesota has a long week after this (MNF vs. CHI in Week 12), and then it’s bye, something that gives me more confidence in his role this weekend. With an extra day to recover for the next game followed by a week off, the Vikings can, theoretically, be aggressive with their star this week and see how his body reacts.
Jordan Addison: The more things change, the more they stay the same. Per the Week 11 Cheat Sheet:
- Target share over the past two weeks (Dobbs’s debut): 20.9%
- Target share in his four games prior (starting with Jefferson’s injury): 20.9%
The usage seems reasonably safe (between five and eight targets in seven of 10 games) regardless of who is under center or who is healthy among his pass-catching teammates. Naturally, the combination of Dobbs and Jefferson both being on the field is something we’ve yet to see and leads to some fragility when it comes to projecting Addison.
I would take the “under” on seven targets for Addison when Jefferson returns, and that makes him a little more big-play-dependent than I am comfortable with. He ranks in the same tier as Courtland Sutton (in this game) and Jahan Dotson — all three are receivers with a path to Flex production but also a clear risk of not producing top-50 numbers.
K.J. Osborn: After a scary hit in Week 9’s win in Atlanta, Osborn navigated protocol, but the team did elect to hold him out (concussion) last week. Brandon Powell earned five targets in Week 10, though it was something of a committee behind Addison with Osborn sidelined.
All signs point to Osborn being healthy enough to return this week, but fantasy managers need not worry.
Osborn has one game with 50+ receiving yards this season, and his usage is likely to decline with Jefferson set to return. Osborn can be sent to waiver wires in most formats.
Courtland Sutton: I called him Sutton the “Brian Robinson of the WR position” last week, and guess what? He scored another touchdown – a thing of beauty that had a 3.2% expected completion percentage per NextGenStats. That’s four straight games with a score and a TD in seven of nine games this season.
Like Robinson, the floor if/when the scoring regression monster appears is worrisome, but the 37.9% target share against Buffalo last week gives me some hope that he can survive that mathematical likelihood.
Sutton is well ahead of teammate and fellow WR Jerry Jeudy these days, and he grades out as a Flex play for me in this spot against an improving defense.
Jerry Jeudy: In games in which the Broncos don’t allow 70 points, Jeudy has yet to reach 65 receiving yards in a game this season. Without much in the way of yardage upside, Jeudy needs scoring chances to pay off your trust. Those opportunities are almost exclusively going to Sutton.
The Alabama product is on the fringe of my top 40 at the position in this increasingly difficult matchup, and I’m not sure I’m low enough.
T.J. Hockenson: After last week, it is pretty clear that fantasy managers and the Minnesota Vikings evaluate “key situations” pretty similarly. Reports came out on Sunday morning that Hockenson (ribs) would play but that the team would be careful in how they used him.
Man, imagine if they unleashed him.
All he did against the Saints was see 46.9% of the targets, take hard hit after hard hit, and finish with 24.9 fantasy points. Hockenson is to be viewed as nothing short of elite, and that isn’t going to change with Jefferson coming back.
The volume creates a nice floor that is rare for the position and puts him in the conversation with Travis Kelce when it comes to a true difference-making TE.
Should You Start Brock Purdy or Joshua Dobbs?
As good as the Dobbs story is, Purdy, with his trio of pass catchers against a pass funnel defense, is too much to ignore. The 49ers are a different offense with Deebo Samuel active, and that elevates Purdy’s floor far higher than that of Dobbs.
Should You Start Chris Godwin or Jerry Jeudy?
Do I have to pick? Godwin is pacing for under 1,000 yards this season and has one touchdown, but I think his reasonably stable catch count is enough to justify him being ranked just over Jeudy in the low-end Flex ranks.
Jeudy’s next finish as a top-25 receiver will be his first this season. It’s been a brutal season if you invested in Jeudy this summer, and I’m not sure that changes any time soon.
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