Detroit Lions cornerback Justin Coleman (27) celebrates an interception against the Green Bay Packers with teammates Darius Slay (23) and Will Harris (25) during the second half of an NFL football game Monday, Oct. 14, 2019, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)
Detroit Lions wide receiver Kenny Golladay (19) makes a leaping catch while covered by Green Bay Packers cornerback Kevin King, right, during the second half of an NFL football game Monday, Oct. 14, 2019, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford throws a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers, Monday, Oct. 14, 2019, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, left, throws a pass as he is pressured by Minnesota Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter (99) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)
Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook scores on a 1-yard touchdown run ahead of Philadelphia Eagles inside linebacker Zach Brown, left, during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs (14) runs from Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Rasul Douglas (32) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
DETROIT (AP) The Detroit Lions are thankful they have a short week to prepare to play Minnesota in a possibly pivotal NFC North matchup.
A quick turnaround gave the Lions less time to lament critical calls that didn't go their way on Monday night in a loss at Green Bay.
''It's kind of a blessing in disguise because we don't have time to think about anything but Minnesota,'' Lions center Frank Ragnow said. ''And, the Vikings are really good - especially on defense.''
The Vikings (4-2) have won two in a row, leaning on one of the NFL's best defenses and an offense that is starting to perform up to its potential.
Minnesota has averaged 33 points the past two weeks with a grinding running game led by Dalvin Cook that helps Kirk Cousins make big plays through the air. After a slow start, Cousins had six touchdown passes and one interception in wins over Philadelphia and the New York Giants.
''That team is on fire right now,'' Lions coach Matt Patricia said.
Detroit (2-2-1) has dropped two straight after an unbeaten, three-game start because it failed to keep double-digit leads against the Packers and Kansas City Chiefs.
''You can't let it stick around in your head because there's a long season left,'' Flowers said.
If the Lions don't win Sunday at home, though, their chances to contend in the competitive division will take a hit.
Minnesota, meanwhile, wants to avoid starting 0-3 in the NFC North after playing its first three division games as visitors.
''We get them all at home at the end, so it all evens out,'' Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said.
Here are some things to watch when the Lions face the Vikings:
STACKS OF SACKS
Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter leads the league with eight tackles for losses. He set an NFL record with a sack against the Eagles that gave him 46 for his career, the most in history by a player younger than 25. Hunter has two more games before his birthday, and the Lions have provided him plenty of pass-rushing opportunities in the past. Hunter has seven sacks in six games against them, plus three fumble recoveries and one he returned for a 32-yard touchdown.
The Lions lost to the Packers at least in part because they scored only one touchdown and had to settle for Matt Prater's five field goals. That followed a trend.
In goal-to-go situations, Detroit ranks 30th in the NFL with four touchdowns in nine chances.
''That's not good enough,'' quarterback Matthew Stafford acknowledged.
Inside the 20, Detroit has gotten into the end zone on half of its 16 opportunities to rank among the bottom third of the league.
The problem may be ominous for the Lions because they were relegated to scoring only on field goals in two losses to Minnesota last year.
Stafford is 87 yards passing from setting a record for the fewest games to reach the 40,000-yard mark. Matt Ryan reached that number in 151 games, five more than Stafford has played.
''When you step back and look at stuff like that, I think it's just pretty amazing,'' Patricia said.
Stafford has bounced back from a lackluster year with a solid season so far as the league's ninth-ranked passer. He has thrown nine touchdown passes and two interceptions, both coming in a Week 2 win over the Los Angeles Chargers.
''Stafford is playing outstanding, maybe the best I've ever seen him,'' Zimmer said. ''He's throwing the ball into a lot of tight windows. He's pulling the trigger. He's still scrambling.''
Though Minnesota hasn't been stung by questionable late-game calls quite like Detroit was at Green Bay, penalties have been an uncharacteristic problem for the team.
The Vikings had four penalties for 30 yards against them in their win over the Eagles last week, both season lows for a team that has been charged with the third-most penalty yardage in the league (456) and irritated its discipline-driven coach in the process.
The Bills Defense had an ideal matchup against the lowly Dolphins in Week 11, but came out with a somewhat underwhelming fantasy day. The highlight was their ability to come up with seven sacks on Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. However, they allowed 20 points in the game, the third-most points they've allowed all year. Additionally, they only came up with one turnover, a fumble recovery. Next up for the Bills is a home game against another struggling offense, the Broncos, so make sure to keep them in your lineup.
Minnesota Vikings tight end Irv Smith Jr. caught all three of his targets for 20 yards and a touchdown in a 27-23 win over the Denver Broncos in Week 11. The touchdown was a 10-yarder in the third quarter and it was the first career touchdown for the rookie tight end out of Alabama. He's seeing 4.8 targets per game in his last five games and has been a decent desperation streaming option with Adam Thielen (hamstring) out. The Vikings have their bye next week and Thielen should be back for Week 13, but Smith Jr. has put himself in the TE2 conversation moving forward with his recent production.
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Chris Conley caught six passes for 58 yards in Sunday's loss to the Indianapolis Colts. He was targeted eight times, making it the fourth game in a row where Conley saw at least seven targets. Conley's not going to light the world on fire, but he's got some deep league appeal based on his current target share. With Nick Foles back at quarterback, the Jaguars offense should be trending upwards, so maybe we'll see some more solid performances out of Conley moving forward.
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Dede Westbrook (neck/shoulder) returned to the field in Week 11, but he wasn't able to get much going. Westbrook caught four passes for 32 yards in the loss to the Colts. His six targets were fourth on the team, and it's become apparent that Westbrook isn't the top fantasy receiver that many guessed in the preseason that he might be this year. He's got appeal in deeper PPR leagues, but it's looking like it's time to fade Westbrook in shallower formats.
In Week 11, Buffalo Bills tight end Dawson Knox found the end zone for the first time since Week 3. He caught two of his three targets for 32 yards against the Dolphins in Week 11. Meanwhile, fellow tight end Tyler Kroft caught his only target for six yards. Knox has only exceeded two receptions in a game once since Week 4 and has only topped 40 receiving yards three times all year. He could be a low-end starting tight end option in deep leagues going forward but he's very risky with a very low floor. His next matchup is at home against the Broncos in Week 12.
Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison was pretty much silent in Week 11 as he had just three carries for five yards in a comeback win over the Denver Broncos. Mattison was just not involved in the game plan and lost work due to the Vikings playing from behind for almost the entire contest. Mattison has had some nice outputs backing up star Dalvin Cook this season, but Week 11's tough matchup against the Broncos Defense wasn't the spot to stream the rookie. He won't be a recommended start when the Vikings return from their bye in Week 13 against the Seattle Seahawks, but he remains a high-priority handcuff.
Dallas Cowboys kicker Brett Maher made all of his kicks in Week 11, making two field goals and three extra points. He wasn't needed for any long kicks this time, making a long of just 34 yards, but he still showed the consistency that makes him one of the better kickers in fantasy football.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie was second on the team in targets with six in Week 11. He had two more targets than Cole Beasley and only trailed John Brown, who had a whopping 14 targets in the game. Unfortunately, McKenzie did very little with his six targets, catching just three for 21 yards. Duke Williams was inactive for the game and Robert Foster went without a catch. So McKenzie appears to be the team's de facto No. 3 receiver for now. He can be left on waivers in all leagues until he shows he can do something productive with his workload.
The Dallas Cowboys Defense was disappointing again in Week 11. They managed a win, 35-27 over the Detroit Lions, but with Matthew Stafford (back) out for the Lions, the Cowboys defense was one of the top predicted units of the week. Instead, they allowed 27 points and did not record an interception or a fumble recovery. They were only able to sack backup quarterback Jeff Driskel three times. The Cowboys are unlikely to be a recommended fantasy defense next week against the New England Patriots.
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver D.J. Chark was the bright spot for the Jaguars in Sunday's loss to the Indianapolis Colts, catching a pair of touchdowns and finishing with 104 yards on eight catches. He led the team with 15 targets. There was question about whether or not Chark would remain Jacksonville's top wide receiver with Nick Foles back, but Sunday provided some evidence that Chark's role is safe. He's a strong WR2 option moving forward.
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Nick Foles returned on Sunday from a collarbone injury that had kept him out since Week 1. His first game back didn't go greats for the Jags on the scoreboard, but Foles did end up with some solid numbers. He was 33-for-47 throwing the football, finishing with 296 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. Foles should have a higher fantasy ceiling than Gardner Minshew had, but he's likely no more than a mid-tier QB2 at best moving forward.
Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten caught five passes in a Week 11 win over the Detroit Lions, gaining 33 yards. Witten did his usual thing, catching the ball then falling to the turf. Second tight end Blake Jarwin gained 38 yards on his two targets, but Witten was still clearly quarterback Dak Prescott's first choice for short gains. Witten will continue to be a low-ceiling option but should maintain his decent non-zero floor each week.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley caught all four of his targets in Week 11 against the Dolphins for 38 yards. He was third on the team in targets behind John Brown, who went for a whopping 137 receiving yards in the game, and Isaiah McKenzie, who earned six targets. This was the second straight week in which Beasley caught exactly four passes. He hasn't had more than four catches since Week 4, when he caught seven against the Patriots. He's a WR3 or flex option in PPR leagues but his upside is limited due to his low yardage outputs.
Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette struggled to get going on Sunday against the Colts, finishing with just 23 yards on eight carries. He also added 34 receiving yards on seven catches. The receiving total helped make up for the slow rushing game in PPR leagues, but owners in standard scoring leagues can't be happy about Fournette's lack of production. The game script didn't favor the run, though Fournette should still be a high-end RB2 with RB1 upside moving forward.
Dallas Cowboys tight end Blake Jarwin was targeted twice in Week 11, catching both passes for 38 yards. He fell significantly behind starter Jason Witten, who saw seven targets and caught five passes. Jarwin can do way more after the catch than Witten at this point in their respective careers, but Witten has proven to still be the safety valve for Dak Prescott. Jarwin could have a fantasy significant role if Witten were to miss time, but unless that happens, Jarwin's role is too unpredictable to trust in any fantasy format.
Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook carried 11 times for 26 yards (2.4 yards per carry) and a touchdown in Week 11 against the Denver Broncos. He tacked on five catches for 31 yards in the 27-23 comeback win, but he was just not that involved in the offense as his 16 touches were the lowest he's had all season. His three-yard rushing touchdown was his 11th of the year and it saved what was an otherwise nondescript fantasy day for the third-year back. Look for Cook to rebound in a big way against the Seattle Seahawks and their below-average run defense in Week 13 after the bye.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Gallup caught nine of his 13 targets in a Week 11 victory over the Detroit Lions. He gained 1448 yards, leading the team in receptions and yards by a wide margin. Amari Cooper wasn't able to do much in this one, leaving Gallup to run wild through the Lions secondary. Gallup will have a tough matchup against the Patriots next week, but he's moving further and further up the WR2 ranks.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Randall Cobb played another great game in a Week 11 win over the Detroit Lions. He caught four of his seven targets, gaining 115 yards and scoring a touchdown. Cobb's touchdown came on a 19-yard pass at the end of the first half. Cobb has been racking up yards lately and could have another significant role next week if Amari Cooper is still not at 100%.
Buffalo Bills running back Frank Gore received 11 carries in Week 11 against the Dolphins, but failed to do much with them, gaining just 27 yards, good for only 2.5 yards per carry. His biggest offensive contribution on the day was an 18-yard reception, his only reception in the game. Devin Singletary led the team in carries (15) and rushing yards (75), but he had two fumbles in the game, which likely led to Gore's increased workload. Gore is the clear No. 2 back on the team for now and would need either an injury to Singletary or quite a few more Singletary fumbles in order to regain fantasy value.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver John Brownwent wild against the Dolphins in Week 11, catching nine of his 14 targets for 137 yards and two touchdowns. Nearly half of quarterback Josh Allen's 33 passing attempts went in Brown's direction and no other Bill had more than 38 receiving yards in the game. Brown is a solid WR2 going forward who should be locked into your lineup on a weekly basis. His next matchup is at home against the Broncos in Week 12.