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 Minnesota Vikings Defense is one of the top plays at the position in Week 14. They will square off with undrafted rookie quarterback David Blough and the Detroit Lions at home in an important divisional battle. Blough played well in a narrow loss to the Bears in his debut in Week 13, but he did throw an interception and took two sacks in the game. The Vikings average 2.8 sacks per game and have a chance to get after the rookie with the Lions offensive line struggling. The Vikings secondary has been atrocious lately and the Lions have some deep-threat weapons, but it's safe to count on Mike Zimmer's defense to rebound at home after last week's brutal effort against the Seattle Seahawks. Start them with confidence in Week 14 as they have a great chance at picking up sacks and turnovers for your fantasy squad.
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs is a WR2 with a wide range of outcomes in Week 14. It's been up-and-down for Diggs since Adam Thielen (hamstring) has been out as he has registered three monster fantasy outputs while also mixing in three very modest efforts. Detroit has struggled to defend the pass this year as they rank 26th in pass DVOA and are in the bottom-five in fantasy points allowed to the position. Though Diggs will likely see a lot of Darius Slay in coverage, the Vikings will find ways to scheme him open as their top receiving option. It should be noted that the passing game volume could take a slight hit with the Vikings favored by 13 points at home. Keep Diggs locked in as a solid WR2 with elite upside and a lower floor than most receivers in his range.
Don't let his touchdown reception last week fool you; Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Dede Westbrook has had limited upside all season and while he's unlikely to bottom out like he did in Gardner Minshew's first game as quarterback for the Jags, he's not a great option in Minshew's return to the starting role. Westbrook's targets and yardage have been smaller than most expected coming into this season, which makes it difficult to trust him, especially in shallower leagues.
Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette should be in line for a solid performance in Sunday's meeting with the Los Angeles Chargers. The Chargers allow the ninth-most PPR points to opposing running backs, and while in years past that PPR part of the equation wouldn't mean much to Fournette, he's been targeted 23 times in the passing game over the last two weeks. He's going to get a lot of touches on Sunday, and the Chargers are a team that he can exploit. Feel confident using Fournette as an RB1.
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Olabisi Johnson remains in the mix as the Vikings No. 2 receiver with Adam Thielen (hamstring) out. Johnson had been playing at least 70% of snaps every week Thielen has missed, but he put up a 56% snap count in Week 13 as Laquon Treadwell carved out an increased role. Johnson finished with one catch for one yard in a loss to the Seahawks. "Bisi" has a much better chance to produce this week as the Lions Defense has gotten torched all season and shutdown corner Darius Slay will likely stick with Stefon Diggs all game long. As a reminder, Johnson is one game removed from catching six of nine targets for 35 yards in a comeback win over the Broncos in Week 11. There could be some volume concerns this week with the Vikings favored by 13 points, but Johnson is the Vikings backup receiver to take a chance on if you're in desperate need.
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers had his best game in a month last week when he completed 69% of his passes, but the Chargers still found a way to lose at the last second. This week, he'll face a porous Jacksonville defense that has been sliding recently. Though mediocre for the season, the Jaguars have fallen apart recently, allowing 26 or more points in four straight games. They've been ripped by opposing quarterbacks, allowing the ninth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks in the last month. With LA desperately looking to nail down a win after so many close losses, expect Rivers to have the opportunity for a big game.
The New York Giants ruled out both tight ends Evan Engram (foot) and Rhett Ellison (concussion) for Monday night. That means Kaden Smith will get another start. He could be put into DFS Showdown slates, but he's not a recommended option in season-long playoffs given the Giants' full complement of healthy wide receivers.
New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones will miss Monday night's game with an ankle injury. As has been expected all week, Eli Manning will get the start and becomes a low-end QB2 option in season-long leagues. This improves Saquon Barkley's value a little since Manning dumps off to running backs more than he runs, but it doesn't do much to the value of the Giants' wide receivers. Perhaps a slight bump down for Golden Tate since the two have never played together.
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Laquon Treadwell will likely see extended playing time again this week in the absence of top wideout Adam Thielen (hamstring). Treadwell caught one of his two targets for a wide-open 58-yard score last week, but he should not be considered as a starting option in Week 14. The fourth-year wideout has seen one or zero targets in five of his seven games played - that fact alone should have you looking elsewhere for desperation streaming options. He'll compete with Olabisi Johnson, Kyle Rudolph, and Dalvin Cook for (likely) limited targets behind Stefon Diggs this week. If you must have a backup receiver from this game, look to Johnson with his higher snap count and target-share.
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew is the starter again, but his first start since reclaiming that role comes in a bad situation. The Jags play the Chargers, who've allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to opposing passers this season. The safest bet for you in a season-long fantasy league is to do what you can to avoid playing Minshew this week, though he's not the worst option in a two-quarterback league. He threw for 147 yards and a touchdown in one half of play against Tampa.
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins is in line for a big game in Week 14 against the Detroit Lions. Cousins has become a model of consistency, tossing multiple touchdowns in seven of his last eight games played and completing 69.3% of his passes to this point in the season (at 8.5 yards per attempt). The Detroit Lions Defense has been getting demolished by opposing fantasy quarterbacks all season, including in Week 7 when Cousins exploded for 338 yards and four touchdowns. The only possible concern for his outlook this week is volume as the Vikings are favored by 13 points and may look to lean on the run. He'll need David Blough and the Lions offense to put up some points in order to approach his ceiling this week, which shouldn't be counted on. Still, start Cousins as a low-end QB1 in this extremely favorable matchup at home.
Houston Texans wide receiver Will Fuller (hamstring) isn't even a guarantee to suit up against Denver in Week 14, but if he does, he faces a Broncos Defense that's allowing the fifth-fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. Fuller played 75 percent of Houston's snaps last week, but had just one catch for eight yards. His other target was an end zone one that was initially ruled a touchdown, but two targets for the speedster isn't great. I'd expect we see a little more usage if he plays this week, but if he's not at 100 percent, it'll be tough to trust him in your lineups in shallower leagues.
Houston Texans wide receiver Kenny Stills caught his first touchdown since Week 1 in last week's meeting with New England, but his inconsistent role means you're unlikely to get much out of him in Week 14 against Denver. If Will Fuller (hamstring) misses the game, Stills has value, but it's worth noting that Stills has 50 or more receiving yards in just four games this year and has major fantasy downside.
Houston Texans tight end Darren Fells caught another touchdown last week. He also finished with two catches for 23 yards, his fourth game in a row with two or fewer catches. It's clear that Fells has a very defined role in this offense: quarterback Deshaun Watson will look for him near the goal line or in short yardage situations, and that's about it. Of his 28 catches, nine were in the red zone, and seven of those went for touchdowns. If you need a prayer, Fells is as likely as any non-elite tight end to score, but he won't put up huge yardage totals, so you're assuming a lot of risk.
Houston Texans running back Duke Johnson saw his most targets and tied for his most carries of the season against the Patriots in Week 13 while playing a season-high 67 percent of offensive snaps, a sign that the pass-catching back might be moving towards a larger role in this offense. That gives him some intriguing upside in Week 14 against a Denver team that's done better against running backs on the ground than through the air. This could be a game that favors Johnson over teammate Carlos Hyde, though Johnson's still no more than a PPR RB3 because of the downside he presents, like the fact that in Weeks 11 and 12 he combined for just 12 receiving yards.
Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins faces a tough one on Sunday, as Houston faces a Broncos team that allows the fifth-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers. Add in that Hopkins has been targeted eight times in each of the last two games after a five-game stretch with double-digit targets and you get some reason for concern. Not enough concern to even think about benching Hopkins, as his upside is just too big. Maybe you don't play him in your DFS lineup this week because of the matchup, but you have to play him in season-long leagues and hope his talent and his usage help him to a strong day.
Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson is currently the fantasy QB4, and while his opponent this Sunday -- the Denver Broncos -- are allowing the fourth-fewest fantasy points to opposing passers this season, you've still got to trust Watson and deploy him as your starting fantasy quarterback. He's coming off a strong performance against New England's league-best defense in which he threw for three touchdowns and also caught one on an option play, so we've definitely seen Watson succeed in tough spots.
Houston Texans running back Carlos Hyde is coming his worst performance of the season, a 10-carry, 17-yard outing against a strong Patriots Defense. Now, he's about to face a Broncos Defense that's allowing the eighth-fewest yards per carry to opposing running backs, which is bad news for Hyde, who's shown a tendency to struggle at times this season. His volume should give him a chance to produce something, but he still shouldn't be considered more than a low-end RB3 this week.
Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph has scored a touchdown in his last four games played and is now up to six for the season. He'll look to keep the scoring streak going against the Lions Defense as the nominal No. 2 "receiver" in the offense with Adam Thielen (hamstring) again out. Rudolph has clearly gained the trust of Kirk Cousins in the red zone and has seen at least five targets in five of his last six games played. Though his yardage totals will never blow anyone away, few tight ends can match his propensity for finding the end zone and he has to be kept in lineups as a low-end TE1 at this point (as long as Thielen remains out). Start him as such in Week 14's home matchup against the Detroit Lions.
Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison has a chance to see an increased workload in Week 14's home matchup against the Detroit Lions. Starter Dalvin Cook (chest) was removed from the injury report and is in line to start, but the risk of re-injury certainly remains. The Vikings are favored by 13 points and have the highest projected total this week, and Mattison has had some of his best fantasy performances in blowouts this season. They could also choose to rest Cook completely if they build a big enough lead. Mattison has made the most of his opportunities this season (4.8 yards per carry), and you'll want him in your flex spot if he's going to get more than his typical 5-12 touch workload against the shoddy Lions Defense. He's not for the faint of heart, but Mattison is startable in deep leagues as a flex option in Week 14.