The Thursday Night Football schedule is winding down here in Week 14, but we get a matchup tonight with a number of fantasy relevant players just in time for the fake football playoffs. Game flow has some owners worried about star players like Carson Palmer and Adrian Peterson. The Vikings come into this game down three key players on defense, and face an intimidating task of slowing down the roaring progress of David Johnson. Peterson and the Cardinals offense are big reasons fantasy teams in the postseason got this far, but what can they expect from their cornerstones tonight? Let's look at all the fantasy relevant players in this game.
Minnesota Vikings at Arizona Cardinals
Hampered behind a poor pass-blocking offensive line and lacking any true reliable threats on the other end of his passes, Teddy Bridgewater cannot be a fantasy factor in this offense. Couple that with his own below average play and 18.75 completions per game and you should have zero interest or fantasy investment in Bridgewater. In a snooze-worthy season despite his team's success, the second-year passer is on pace for 10 passing touchdowns this season. Those kind of numbers make only Jeff Fisher green with envy.
There seems to be some panic in the fantasy Twitter streets on Adrian Peterson after his eight-carry, 18-yard game in Week 13. It's as if he didn't just run for 158 yards and two scores against the previously No. 1 ranked Falcons rush defense the week prior. There's a scenario where Peterson could turn in another subpar outing, especially since the Vikings project for a good boat racing courtesy of Arizona tonight. However, Peterson publicly lobbied for more work after this game, an act that netted him 31 touches after a similar airing of grievances following a Week 1 13-touch game. A dynamic game from their Hall of Fame running back is the only chance the Vikings have at an upset here. If you want to bench Adrian Peterson in the fantasy playoffs, well, this is your "choose your own destiny" game. It's hard to imagine living with that for an entire offseason if he goes berserk in an island game costing you a shot at advancement.
The fun little run where Stefon Diggs was an unknown rookie shining as his team's No. 1 receiver is long over. It came to a screeching halt five weeks ago, to be exact, the same stretch wherein Diggs has only one game with more than six targets. This passing offense doesn't come with the volume for him to succeed, and teams caught up to him after watching the tape. He's unplayable, especially in this spot.
The mercurial Wallace has exactly four catches since Week 8. He belongs on a milk carton, not in your fantasy lineup.
The veteran tight end had a two week stretch with 19 targets, and solid fantasy lines. However, that was the only part of the season he did anything of worth, and reminded us of that with a 3-13 line in a pristine spot against the Seahawks.
Another player that there seems to be an inordinate amount of questions on coming in from the Twitter machine. There is never a spot to bench Carson Palmer. Period. Palmer's lowest point output this season was a 16-point outing all the way back in Week 4. Palmer averaged 22.83 points in his last five games played. His floor is tremendous, and with the Vikings dealing with injuries at every level of their defense, this is a great week for his ceiling. Bruce Arians throughout this season leaves his top players in despite the score, continuing to put it on the opposition.
As mentioned, the Vikings come into this contest reeling with defensive injuries. Linval Joseph, their run-stuffing nose tackle, Anthony Barr, their do-it-all linebacker, and middle of the field general Harrison Smith were all ruled out Wednesday. Even before that, the Vikings run defense was fading, allowing 563 total yards to running backs over the last four weeks. David Johnson saw 22 touches last week despite losing a fumble, and went for 120 total yards and receiving touchdown. It's worth getting into some Thursday start DFS contests just to get some exposure to Johnson. He's a legitimate top-five play this week at running back, and may be so for the rest of the season in this offense.
The veteran receiver is the safest floor play of the Arizona receiving corps, although the full cast of healthy running mates does hamper his ceiling. You still love Larry Fitzgerald in this spot as a secure WR2 play, at worst.
Looking fully recovered from his hamstring injury, the impressive John Brown has 11 catches for 212 yards over the last two games. Splitting the secondary pecking order with Michael Floyd makes him a bit volatile, but Brown is the more consistent player of the two right now. Brown should see the majority of his routes against 37-year old Terence Newman, and has every chance to smoke the fading veteran. A few big plays by Brown should be a big part of the Cardinals building an insurmountable lead.
For this game, and for the rest of the season, it's wise to break ties in favor of finding ways to get these Arizona pass catchers into your lineup. Brown and Floyd could cannibalize each other's upside in any given week, but their attachment to the NFL's best passing game is impossible to pass up. One caveat: Floyd may come with the toughest cornerback opponent, as he may square off with Xavier Rhodes more often than not in this game. Rhodes is finally playing like his old self, after looking like he struggled with his confidence for a stretch. Nevertheless, you play Floyd and chase his ceiling in this game.
If you play in a deep league, or need a high-upside flex play, Nelson should be a weekly consideration. He's playing good football right now, and moving into the deep threat role as John Brown becomes more of a well-rounded receiver. You could legitimately take a zero from Nelson, but he could also tilt your week if you're desperate.