This week's Fantasy Index Weekly is available now.
Posted Oct. 17 at 10:06 AM
MINNESOTA (at Arizona): Playing at home against an Arizona offense with plenty of problems, the Vikings should punch out a win -- but Minnesota probably won’t put up big numbers. The Cardinals have been solid on defense for most of the year, allowing fewer than 20 points five of their six games. Christian Ponder is having a solid year, completing 69 percent of his passes, with 8 TDs and 4 interceptions and averaging 239 passing yards. That’s solid production for a second-year quarterback. But he’ll face what might be a top-5 pass defense. The Cardinals inexplicably allowed 431 passing yards against rookie Ryan Tannehill, but otherwise they’ve been very stout against quarterbacks. Tom Brady passed for 316 yards against them, but with only one touchdown and putting only 18 points on the board. They’ve allowed only 5 TD passes in six games. Michael Vick was down at 217 yards against them, and three
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quarterbacks were under 160 -- Russell Wilson, Sam Bradford and Ryan Fitzpatrick. Opponents have completed less than 54 percent against this defense. We don’t see how anybody could look at this matchup and not forecast Ponder to finish with lesser numbers than usual. About 220 yards and 1.3 TDs is what we come up with. ... With the lesser passing forecast, the pass catchers go lower than usual. Percy Harvin, Kyle Rudolph and Jerome Simpson don’t land quite as high as usual. Simpson missed last week with back and leg injuries but says he’ll play. Harvin and Rudolph are still tough to keep out of lineups. Harvin is on pace to finish the year with 131 catches, plus he’s scored touchdowns as a runner and kickoff returner. Rudolph has caught 5 of the team’s 8 TD passes. ... Adrian Peterson looks good. Arizona’s defense isn’t as good against the run, and it just gave up 165 rushing yards last week. The knee surgery Peterson underwent last year doesn’t seem to be a big factor. He’s carried the ball 17-plus times three weeks in a row, and he’s averaged 4.9 yards per attempt in those games. He’s also averaging 22 yards per game as a receiver. He hasn’t scored since Week 1, but chances are he’ll change that on Sunday. ... The Cardinals are switching from Kevin Kolb to John Skelton at quarterback, and that significantly reduces the value of the Vikings Defense. Skelton is like Ryan Fitzpatrick; he’ll throw balls into coverage, but he doesn’t hold onto the ball and take sacks. He’s played about two games this year, and he’s been sacked only once. Behind the same line, Kolb has been sacked 27 times in the four games he’s started -- about 7 per game. So if Kolb were in there, we’d be trumpeting that the Vikings might get a half dozen sacks. Now, it’s far more likely to be 1-2 sacks. The interception potential goes way up. Skelton averages a pick about every 20 passes, while Kolb is at one every 40. But Minnesota doesn’t have any ballhawking guys in its secondary -- just 11 interceptions in its last 22 games. Look for 1-2 interceptions in this game, and one looks far more likely than two.
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