Sun Nov 17 4:52pm ET
By DAVE CAMPBELL
AP Pro Football Writer
Players: Joe Flacco, Kirk Cousins, Kyle Rudolph, Brandon McManus, Ameer Abdullah, Brandon Allen, Andy Janovich, Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, Troy Fumagalli, Tim Patrick, Courtland Sutton, Drew Lock, Noah Fant
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) is sacked by Denver Broncos defensive tackle Shelby Harris (96) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)
Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph celebrates after catching a 32-yard touchdown pass during the second half of an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs (14) celebrates with teammate Bisi Johnson, right, after catching a 54-yard touchdown pass during the second half of an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) fumbles as he is sacked by Denver Broncos defensive tackle Shelby Harris (96) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Minneapolis. The Broncos recovered the fumble. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Denver Broncos fullback Andy Janovich (32) scores on a 1-yard touchdown run in front of Minnesota Vikings middle linebacker Eric Kendricks, right, during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) The Minnesota Vikings erased a 20-0 halftime deficit with touchdowns on each of their four drives in the second half, fending off the Denver Broncos by forcing three straight incomplete passes in the end zone over the final 10 seconds to preserve a 27-23 victory on Sunday.
This was the first time in five years - a span of 100 games including the playoffs - that an NFL team won after trailing by 20 or more points after two quarters.
Kirk Cousins went 29 for 35 for 319 yards and three scores for the Vikings (8-3), overcoming a system-wide failure in the first half that included a lost fumble of his during a sack that led to one of three field goals by Brandon McManus for the Broncos (3-7).
Cousins hit Stefon Diggs for a 54-yard touchdown pass that brought the crowd noise to a deafening level and cut the lead to 23-20. McManus went wide right from 41 yards on his fourth attempt, and Cousins found Kyle Rudolph wide open for a 32-yard score on the next possession with 6:10 left. Both of those throws by Cousins came off bootleg rollouts to his left, the type of passing play he has long thrived on.
Brandon Allen, the fill-in quarterback after the injury to Joe Flacco and the impending debut of rookie Drew Lock, admirably drove the Broncos to the cusp of a comeback of their own with a drive that included three fourth-down conversions.
With first-and-goal from the 4, but only 10 seconds and no timeouts remaining, Allen had three chances at the winner. Trae Waynes knocked down the first one, Jayron Kearse had a hand on the second one and the last try for Noah Fant sailed past the rookie tight end after he and Kearse tussled for position.
The Broncos have not scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter for six straight games. The last team guilty of such a severe second-half collapse was Atlanta on Oct. 26, 2014, when a 21-0 lead at home turned into a 22-21 victory for Detroit. According to Sportradar, this was only the 14th time in NFL history that a 20-plus-point halftime deficit turned into defeat.
The Vikings hardly could have played more poorly over the first two quarters. They punted on their first four possessions and already trailed 10-0 when they finally got a first down, finishing with just 47 total yards in the first half. With the deficit at 17-0, Cousins hit Diggs for a 34-yard gain that was wiped out by a holding penalty on left tackle Riley Reiff, who had a particularly difficult time against the pass rush.
The Broncos drove 90 yards for their first touchdown, a third-and-goal throw to tight end Troy Fumagalli for his first career score. They spiced up their play calling with repeated success, using a 38-yard reverse pass by Courtland Sutton to fellow wide receiver Tim Patrick. Sutton kept the ball on two more end-around plays during that drive, including a fourth-and-1 run from the 7 to set up their second touchdown.
One break went Minnesota's way, an ominous end to Denver's momentum. The kickoff after the field goal that followed the fumble by Cousins was fumbled and lost by Ameer Abdullah at the 17 by Josey Jewell with 60 seconds left. Allen's pass for Noah Fant on the next play was intercepted by Andrew Sendejo, preventing the Broncos from taking a four-score lead.
Broncos: FB Andy Janovich, who bulled his way into the end zone on a third-and-goal run from the 1 in the second quarter, hurt his elbow while being tackled at the end of a short reception and did not return.
Vikings: SS Harrison Smith hurt his hamstring in the fourth quarter and didn't return. LB Ben Gedeon suffered a concussion in the first quarter and was done for the day. Four other starters were already inactive: Adam Thielen, RG Josh Kline (concussion), NT Linval Joseph (knee) and FS Anthony Harris (groin).
Broncos: Facing a stretch of four road games in five weeks that began here in Minnesota, the Broncos play at Buffalo next Sunday. They've lost their last two road games against the Bills in 2017 and 2011.
Vikings: After the second-latest bye week on the schedule in team history - in 1991, they were off the weekend of Dec. 1 - the Vikings return to action on Dec. 2 at Seattle. This is their second straight year with a Monday night game on the road against the Seahawks in December.
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.