For each of the featured games, typically Sunday Night Football, Monday Night Football and Thursday Night Football slates, this column will provide free analysis for the single-slate action on DraftKings and FanDuel. This will include team capsules, player rankings, comments and NFL DFS picks for today. There are loads of information and NFL DFS Showdown picks to get into for both DraftKings and FanDuel on this Week 15 Monday Night Football slate featuring the Chicago Bears hosting the Minnesota Vikings.
NFL DFS Showdown Picks: Week 15 Monday Night Football
Minnesota will be without wide receivers Dede Westbrook, Dan Chisena, defensive lineman Danielle Hunter and running back Alexander Mattison, who are on the COVID reserve list. Adam Thielen is dealing with an ankle injury that was supposed to keep him out for a couple weeks, but he will be a game-time decision.
Chicago has several skill position players on the COVID reserve including quarterback Andy Dalton, running back Ryan Nall, tight end Jesse James and wide receiver Allen Robinson. The same goes for defensive backs Tashaun Gipson and Jaylon Johnson and defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. Offensive tackles Jason Peters (ankle) and Larry Borom (health and safety) are out, as is defensive back DeAndre Houston-Carson (arm) and wide receiver Marquise Goodwin (foot) is doubtful.
Kirk Cousins is quietly productive once again, with an excellent 27 touchdowns to just five interceptions while being sacked just 18 times. On the season he also ranks eighth in yards passing per game with 274.5, and he has 10 multi-touchdown games. The Bears have allowed 10 quarterbacks to record multiple touchdowns, and they rank 23rd in pass DVOA. Cousins should be in line for a productive night with so many Chicago defensive backs ruled out.
Dalvin Cook will once again be wearing a shoulder harness, though he was phenomenal in his last appearance against Pittsburgh, rushing for 205 yards and a pair of touchdowns on a whopping 27 carries. The absence of Alexander Mattison means that Kene Nwangwu will be the backup and fullback C.J. Ham may even be in line for a carry or two. Ham has just seven carries and 12 targets this season, and in 66 career games he has 32 carries for 90 yards and a touchdown. Nwangwu was a fourth-round selection in the most recent draft, and he has four carries and three targets in his three games.
Justin Jefferson is second in the league in yards per game with 99.1 and first in receptions of more than 20 yards with 22. Even if Adam Thielen is able to return early from his knee injury, it is unlikely he will be at full strength. K.J. Osborn should see 80% of the snaps if Thielen is out and 60-70% if he is in because Dede Westbrook and Dan Chisena are out. Rookie Ihmir Smith-Marsette has only seen the field on offense in three games for a grand total of 18 snaps.
Tyler Conklin has 17 targets over the last four games, including nine in Week 13. He has been on the field for 70% of the snaps during this stretch, with Chris Herndon and Luke Stocker seeing action on around 20-25%. On the season Conklin has 66 of the 76 targets that have gone to this position.
Chicago has allowed multiple sacks in their last nine games, and they are missing both of their offensive tackles. Minnesota leads the league in sacks with 41, and they are averaging just over one takeaway per game.
Justin Fields is dealing with a sore non-throwing hand as well as bruised ribs, neither of which will keep him from starting tonight. However, with a dilapidated offensive line and temperatures approaching freezing in Chicago with a stiff breeze, it certainly is not going to be fun. Fields picked his spots to run wisely last week, with nine carries for 74 yards against the Steelers. He also attempted a career high 33 passes, which led to his third 200-yard passing game and his first game with multiple touchdowns passing.
David Montgomery has taken control of the running back opportunities since returning from the injured reserve. In his last five games he has 75 carries, while the rest of the running backs have 16 combined. In his last two games he has a whopping 16 targets as well, which shows his ability to contribute in all facets of the game. Ryan Nall is out with COVID, so rookie Khalil Herbert and journeyman Damien Williams will split the handful of carries and targets that do not go to Montgomery.
Darnell Mooney has 36 targets in his last four games and with Allen Robinson out and Marquise Goodwin unlikely to play he should once again lead the team. Damiere Byrd and Jakeem Grant each scored last week though they had five combined targets.
Cole Kmet has been getting the volume with 23 targets in his last three games, and he continues to be the second-best pass catcher on the team. Jesse James is out, so that means the venerable Jimmy Graham should see a couple targets and potentially fall into the end zone.
Chicago is missing several key reserves, and the Vikings do a good job of limiting turnovers and sacks.
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Monday Night Football Single-Game NFL DFS Strategy
The rankings below are best utilized for building out single-entry and three-max lineups and for head-to-head and three-man formats. They provide a nice barometer for player value, but for those taking the MME approach, remember that correlation is key. This means matching a receiver or two with a quarterback in the Captain/MVP slot. This also works conversely with pairing a Captain/MVP pass catcher with their quarterback.
Week 15 Monday Night Football NFL DFS Rankings
Top 10 NFL DFS Showdown Picks
- Dalvin Cook: Even with the bad shoulder, he gets the nod as the top option at his lofty salary.
- Justin Jefferson: Deserving of the top spot on DraftKings with the full-PPR scoring if Thielen is out.
- David Montgomery: The volume will be there, and so too will the Minnesota defense.
- Kirk Cousins: Never exciting, but by the end of the game he will rack up the fantasy production.
- Darnell Mooney: Impressive season out of the blue.
- Justin Fields: Dinged up and behind a sketchy offensive line; still has shown glimpses of his future potential.
- Cole Kmet: Similar to Mooney, he has taken a step up to the next level.
- Cairo Santos: Used to kicking outside; not much for range, however, going 10-for-22 from beyond 50 yards in his career.
- Greg Joseph: Impressive from long range this year, going 6-for-8 from beyond 50 yards, benefited by kicking in a dome.
- Minnesota Vikings: Should be in line for multiple sacks and a couple turnovers.
Secondary NFL DFS Showdown Picks
- Adam Thielen: Even if he is active, it is hard to believe he will be impactful.
- Kene Nwangwu: If anything happens to Cook, he is the only other option; cheap enough on DraftKings that he can be used in all formats, even if he only sees half a dozen touches. Returns kickoffs and has two scores on just 10 attempts.
- K.J. Osborn: Salary has come up; this is an appropriate ranking with or without Thielen.
- Tyler Conklin: Average volume, but he does get all the targets going to the position.
- Damiere Byrd and Jakeem Grant: Will lightning strike twice? Awesemo has them each projected for a handful of targets with Robinson out.
Lottery Ticket NFL DFS Showdown Picks
- Jimmy Graham: Playing for a touchdown.
- Chicago D/ST: Will need a fortuitous pick-six or scoop and score. Grant did score the only punt return touchdown in the league last week.
- Khalil Herbert and Damien Williams: Marginal punt options; need something unfortunate to befall Montgomery to see more opportunities.
- C.J. Ham: Hoping for a random touchdown; only once in his career has he had more than three touches in a game, and that was in Week 8 this season when he had a carry and three receptions.
- Ihmir Smith-Marsette: Only if Thielen is out.
- Chris Herndon, Luke Stocker, J.P. Holtz: Backup tight ends seem to show up in prime-time games.
- Nick Foles: Dalton is out, and Fields is dinged up. Would it really be a surprise to see Foles under center at some point tonight?
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