The Minnesota Vikings are set to battle the Miami Dolphins this Sunday, and while the game itself has huge playoff implications for both sides, many viewers of today’s game may be playing fantasy football, or they may be gambling on this matchup. The fantasy playoffs are upon us, and the Vikings opened and closed with interesting betting lines in this game, so let’s break down the aspects of the games within the game.
FANTASY FOOTBALL: WHO TO START? WHO TO SIT? WHO ARE SOME SLEEPER PICKS?
START: DALVIN COOK
The Vikings young running back hasn’t been healthy much this season, but since he has been back, he’s averaged over 13 points-per-game and found himself in the endzone last week against Seattle. All of the signs in today’s game point to Dalvin Cook having a good day. The Dolphins’ defense ranks 29th against the run this season, giving up 138 yards-per-game. Cook also finds himself catching the ball nearly 5 times a game since his return in week 9, so in a PPR league, I think he’s a near lock to deliver a 17-point game, minimum.
SIT: KENYAN DRAKE
The Dolphins’ young running back doesn’t have as many factors playing to his advantage today. The Vikings’ defense ranks 12th against the rush, and in recent weeks the defense has been playing some of the best football in the NFL. Another factor playing against Drake this week is that Vegas is predicting a large Vikings win, and if the Dolphins get down multiple possessions against the Vikings, suddenly the ground game will disappear, and the Dolphins will be a one-dimensional team. Drake has averaged 17 points-per-game since the team’s week 11 bye, but without his fluke “Miami Miracle” touchdown last week, he would’ve only put up a measly 8 points.
SLEEPER PICKS: RYAN TANNEHILL AND KYLE RUDOLPH
As mentioned above, Vegas is picking a large Vikings win. If the Dolphins are playing from behind late, Mike Zimmer’s defense has a tendency to allow “garbage time” touchdowns. While these TDs don’t affect the actual game, they could determine a win and a loss for your fantasy team. I think Tannehill’s stat line will look like this: 260 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT. While this stat line won’t set your team on fire, it could be a decent enough performance to win you a playoff game. My other sleeper pick is Kyle Rudolph, because new offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski spent all of last season seeing Pat Shurmur utilize the Vikings’ big tight end. I believe Stefanski will use Rudolph to take advantage of the double teams drawn by Thielen and Diggs, and Rudolph will end the day with 7 catches, 70 yards, and 1 TD.
GAMBLING: THE SPREAD! OVER/UNDER!
THE SPREAD: TAKE THE DOLPHINS (+7.5)
While many people, including myself believe the Vikings will win this game today, I don’t know if they will win by 8-points or more. Under coach Mike Zimmer, the Vikings win their games close, by running the ball and playing defense. When you predominantly run the ball, you aren’t going to put up 28+ points, and a good defensive day is holding a team to 20 or fewer points. I see the Vikings winning this game 24-17, but the Dolphins score their final touchdown late and it doesn’t matter, unless you bet the spread.
OVER/UNDER: BET THE UNDER
As stated above, this game will most likely be a lot of the Vikings running the ball, and the Dolphins trying to just move the ball. The Dolphins are near the bottom of the league in most offensive categories and the Vikings are near the top in most defensive. The Vikings offense hasn’t been anything to write home about either, with their run game coming in at 30th in the NFL. This game could be an ugly one to watch as two struggling offenses see who can “get good” first. I like the under because as I said above, I think the Vikings’ defense will only give up a maximum of 17 points to this Dolphins’ offense, and the Vikings will play conservative and try to chew the clock.