This is a breakdown of one-game DFS contests for the NFC Divisional Round matchup featuring the Minnesota Vikings at San Francisco 49ers on Saturday at 4:35 p.m. E.T. on NBC. Be sure to check our Models up until kickoff for up-to-date projections that reflect the latest breaking news.
Cash Game Strategy
After being fed 31 touches in the Wild Card Round, Dalvin Cook enters this contest with the highest median projection of any Vikings or 49ers player in our DraftKings Showdown Models. Cook is averaging 22.2 touches per game on the season and figures to be leaned heavily upon against a 49ers defense that fared better vs. the pass (second in Football Outsiders’ DVOA) than the run (11th).
With Cook in the Captain spot, you can also work in Jimmy Garoppolo, Kirk Cousins, Raheem Mostert, Tevin Coleman and Irv Smith Jr. In Coleman, you’re getting the No. 2 back on what’s been one of the run-heaviest offenses in the league. Smith provides cheap exposure to a player who has ran a route on more than half of the team’s dropbacks last week.
On FanDuel, you have to fade one of the starting QBs or RBs. As I mentioned in our 49ers-Vikings betting guide, this is a daunting matchup for Cousins, who tends to struggle against defenses without blitzing. Fading Cousins and going with a Cook-Garoppolo-Mostert core along with Coleman leaves enough salary to gain some degree of exposure to Cousins via Stefon Diggs.
Core GPP Plays
Note: These are in addition to the players already mentioned in the cash write-up and generally has a focus on pass-catchers, though sometimes players from the cash section will be re-highlighted as appropriate. On FanDuel, QBs generally make for the top plays in the 1.5x slot because the half PPR format creates a wider gap in scoring between QB and RB/WR/TE; on DraftKings, a RB/WR/TE who hits the 100-yard bonus is the ideal play.
RB Dalvin Cook, Vikings: Cook has posted at least 20 DraftKings points in 8-of-14 healthy games and has the top projected ceiling of any non-QB.
RB Raheem Mostert, 49ers: Mostert is 14.0 touches per game over the past five and has scored in each of the past six. He’ll likely be game-script dependent, but has a sneaky-good matchup against a Vikings defense that ranked 25th Adjusted Line Yards (4.59) and 32n in early-down rushing success rate allowed (50% per Sharp Football Stats).
TE George Kittle, 49ers: The floor is lower than usual against Minnesota’s top-ranked defense in DVOA vs. tight ends, but the ceiling remains intact, especially given the versatility he brings and the extra time Kyle Shanahan had to prepare. According to Pro Football Focus, in addition to 600 snaps as an inline tight end, Kittle also spent 113 snaps in the slot, 70 out wide and 19 lined up in the backfield.
49ers DST: It’s difficult to trust Cousins here, which puts the 49ers DST squarely in play. According to Pro Football Reference, their defense finished second in pressure rate (28.7%) while blitzing at the fourth-lowest rate (20.9%), which could lend itself well to sacks and interceptions if Cousins presses. The 49ers posted six games of 14-plus points early in the season prior to injuries taking their toll, but their upside should be back intact with key cogs such as pass rusher Dee Ford (quad/hamstring) and safety Jaquiski Tartt (ribs) slated to return.
Note: Individual player correlations can be found in the player cards in our NFL Player Models. Team positional correlations can be found in our NFL Correlations Dashboard. Unless otherwise noted, all player correlation data is from the past 12 months and team correlation data is from the start of 2019.
- Garoppolo-Sanders +0.64
- Garoppolo-Bourne +0.45
- Garoppolo-Kittle +0.25
- Garoppolo-Samuel +0.25
- RB1-DST +0.09
- Garoppolo-Mostert -0.07
- Bourne-Kittle -0.11
- Sanders-Kittle -0.13
- Sanders-Samuel -0.21
- Garoppolo-49ers DST -0.31
- Samuel-Kittle -0.34
Deebo Samuel and Emmanuel Sanders both figure to get their shots at Xavier Rhodes, who has surrendered a 84% catch rate this season according to PFF, so I wouldn’t hesitate to pair them despite the negative correlation — particularly in spots in which I’m fading Kittle. Samuel is the least necessary to stack with Garoppolo thanks to his involvement in the run game; he’s averaging 1.8/24.0/0.4 on the ground over the past five weeks.
Shanahan has cycled through running backs way too much to put much weight behind any of the RB correlations, but I love Mostert-49ers DST due to the tough matchup for Cousins. Given that Garoppolo’s best games have tended to come when the defense isn’t playing as well, I’d lean on Mostert-DST plus one of Kittle/Samuel/Sanders in three-man stacks to get some differentiation from Garoppolo stacks with two pass catchers. If I could envision either side blowing the other out, it would be the 49ers, so the four- or five-man onslaught stack with the DST is also an option.
- Bailey-Vikings DST +0.56
- Cousins-Rudolph +0.54
- Cousins-Johnson +0.52
- Cook-Thielen +0.50
- Cousins-Diggs +0.49
- Cousins-Smith +0.44
- Cousins-Thielen +0.30
- Cousins-Cook -0.05
- Cook-Rudolph -0.06
- Diggs-Thielen -0.07
- Cousins-Vikings DST -0.26
- Cook-Diggs -0.29
- Cook-Vikings DST -0.39
In Weeks 1-12 with a healthy Tartt, who is expected to make his return from a rib injury, San Francisco ranked top-two in yards per target allowed to wide receivers (6.4) and tight ends (4.5), so I would lean on Cook stacks with one other pass catcher rather than Cousins stacks.
With Adam Thielen (ankle, questionable) banged up, Stefon Diggs stands out as a high-upside, high-leverage play who also has a silly low floor. He could end being their only means of passing offense, and perhaps get the squeaky wheel treatment with manufactured touches after last week’s sideline blowup. At the same time, he could also suffer from being the focal point of the defense. In multi-entry, I’ll have lineups with Cook and Diggs together, as well as lineups fading one or the other. Based on the correlations and what we saw last week, Kyle Rudolph makes the most sense as a pivot off the WRs in Cousins stacks.
Players whose production would benefit owners more than expensive or highly-owned players. Kickers and D/STs generally make for strong leverage plays, but those who stand out will be highlighted below.
RB Tevin Coleman, 49ers: Now the No. 2 back but still seeing a half-dozen touches a game.
RB Matt Breida, 49ers: Third in the pecking order, but he’s shown explosiveness. And as my colleague Sean Koerner eloquently put it on this week’s Fantasy Flex pod: “Never trust a Shanahan.”
“I’ve been playing fantasy for 25 years .. I know not to trust a Shanahan… 😂” – @The_Oddsmaker@ActionNetPod Divisional Round Fantasy Flex has arrived: Sean, @ChrisRaybon & @MattFtheOracle talk fantasy/DFS for this weekend’s action: https://t.co/zZkmWjQ38v
— The Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) January 8, 2020
RB Alexander Mattison, Vikings: Fourteen snaps, five carries, and two targets last week.
K Dan Bailey, Vikings: Five games with 12 or more points this season.
Vikings DST: Quarterbacks tend to struggle in their first postseason starts, and garoppolo committed multiple turnovers in 5-of-16 games (31.3%) during the regular season.
Dart Throw Rankings
Ranking the low-cost, complementary players not already discussed in the leverage section by likelihood of having a worthwhile fantasy stat line.
- WR Olabisi Johnson, Vikings: Ran 37% of the routes last week and benefits if Thielen is limited.
- TE Irv Smith Jr., Vikings: Ran 52% of the routes last week but will likely garner more ownership than Johnson on DraftKings due to pricing.
- WR Kendrick Bourne, 49ers: Routes per dropback have been in the 40-70% range in each of the past seven games.
- FB Kyle Juszczyk, 49ers: Averaging 2.0 touches per game but has gained 49 or more scrimmage yards in 3-of-12 games.
- FB C.J. Ham, Vikings: 26 targets and 17 carries in 17 games with vulture potential.
- WR Richie James Jr., 49ers: Returner/gadget player.
- TE Tyler Conklin, Vikings: 10% of routes last week but saw his first red-zone target of the season.
- WR Laquon Treadwell, Vikings: Scratched last week but could be active with Thielen banged up. UPDATE: Alexander Hollins is INACTIVE.
- TE Ross Dwelley, 49ers: Routes have been in the 4-13% range since Kittle returned.
- TE Levine Toilolo, 49ers: 17% of routes in Week 17, 3% in Week 16.
- RB Ameer Abdullah, Vikings: Three snaps, one carry last week.
- RB Mike Boone, Vikings: No snaps on offense last week.
- WR Dante Pettis, 49ers: Dog-housed.
Chris Raybon finished No. 4 in FantasyPros’ weekly fantasy football rankings accuracy contest in 2019. He is a Senior Editor and NFL analyst at the Action Network, as well as a co-host of “The Action Network” on Sirius XM Fantasy Radio on Thursdays and Fridays at 10 a.m. ET. He also hosts the weekly NFL Betting edition of The Action Network Podcast and is featured each week on The Fantasy Flex edition of the pod, as well. He has watched every snap of every NFL game since 2010 — even the kneel downs. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisRaybon and be sure to read about how he quit his accounting job and got paid to watch sports.