NFL Grind Down Week 13: Vikings vs. Seahawks NFL DFS Picks

Welcome to the RotoGrinders NFL Grind Down, an all-encompassing preview of the week ahead in the NFL from a daily fantasy sports perspective. We’ll provide all the statistics, insights and analysis you need to set your lineups for this week’s contests.

NOTE: Games will be published as they are completed. Primetime matchups are free for all users. Main slate breakdowns can only be accessed by Premium subscribers.

Every game will be broken down statistically, with several key elements highlighted in our charts. Vegas lines are broken down to show projected team totals, to give you an idea of who is favored to win, and often more importantly, how many points they’re expected to score. Each contest is then analyzed team-by-team, with a focus on finding matchups to exploit and trends to follow.

Vegas Overview

MIN @ SEA Team Spread Total Implied Moneyline
SEA -3 49.5 26.25 -156
MIN 3 49.5 23.25 136

Betting Quick Take: This will be a really fun game. It’s a key game in the NFC playoff race, with both of these teams currently occupying Wild Card spots. Both are also still alive in their respective divisions. Both offenses are efficient. However, in games like this, things tend to start conservatively. I expect both teams to run the ball quite a bit in the first half. The spread seems about right, indicating that these teams are essentially even on a neutral field. I’ll take the under.

UNDER 49 1/2
Confidence Level: 8 out of 10

Injury Situations

Player Team Pos Status Part Impact
Luke Willson SEA TE Q Hamstring 4
Adam Thielen MIN WR Q Hamstring 10

Injuries to Monitor:

Minnesota VikingsAdam Thielen is obviously the big name to monitor in this one. The Vikings had their bye last week and this is a Monday game, so the situation is hard to gauge. Starting CB Trae Waynes also remains banged up. If he is out, it would upgrade the Seattle offense.

UPDATE: Adam Thielen is OUT.

Seattle SeahawksLuke Willson has an outside shot to return for this game, which would thrust Jacob Hollister back into DFS irrelevancy. Hollister is also a bit banged up right now and has been added to the injury report. The other big injury here is Jadaveon Clowney. The Seahawks seem optimistic about his status. An absence would be an upgrade for the entirety of the Minnesota offense.

Other News and Notes: Weather is definitely a potential issue in Seattle in December. Current forecasts call for clear skies and temperatures around 40 degrees, which should not affect play.

Matchup Factors, Team Identity Metrics, and Game Flow Expectations

Expected Game Pace and Tempo: Current pace through Week 12: Minnesota 28.15 seconds per play (20th) / Seattle 28.12 seconds per play (18th). Expect an average play volume in this game, but the Vegas total is high because these offenses are so efficient. Not all plays are created equally. Again, though, I’m leaning toward a quick moving clock and the under.

Seattle Seahawks Projections Breakdown

Team Projections

QB Team Rank Proj ProjAtt ProjYds
Russell Wilson SEA 20.68 QB3 35.71 284.73
RB Team Rank Proj ProjRu% ProjTar%
Chris Carson SEA 17.02 RB8 67% 11%
Rashaad Penny SEA 3.57 RB67 13% 3%
WR/TE Team Proj Rank ProjTar% ProjTar
Tyler Lockett SEA 16.55 WR14 25% 8.93
D.K. Metcalf SEA 13.27 WR32 21% 7.50
Josh Gordon SEA 8.86 WR66 14% 5.00
David Moore SEA 4.91 WR93 8% 2.86
Malik Turner SEA 3.23 WR114 5% 1.86
Jacob Hollister SEA 6.35 TE24 10% 3.57

MIN 18-19 Fpts Allowed: QB Rank 19/RB Rank 28/WR Rank 2/TE Rank 20

Rushing Opportunity Metrics of Note:

SEA Team Rush Play Percentage = 42.5% (6th)

Rushing Efficiency Metrics of Note:

SEA Team Rushing EPA = -47.9 (30th)
Chris Carson YPC = 4.2
Rashaad Penny YPC = 5.9

Seattle has not been the most effective rushing offense in 2019, but they have stayed committed to it. That has helped open up games for Russell Wilson, and overall success has followed. Chris Carson was a popular fantasy option for weeks on end thanks to his consistent, secure volume. Prior to last week, Carson had logged at least 18 touches in seven straight games. He was playing on a large majority of snaps every single week, and this was despite some early season fumble woes.

As our old college football friend Lee Corso would say… we’ve hit the stage of “Not so fast my friend.”

Rashaad Penny emerged out of the darkness and split snaps virtually down the middle with Carson last week in Philadelphia, as Carson put the ball on the ground not once but twice — on consecutive plays, no less. In those snaps, Penny looked surprisingly spry with a 14/129/1 line, while Carson struggled to get to three yards per carry on the day along with the fumbles.

The question becomes: What do the Seahawks do moving forward? Pete Carroll has of course offered little to no definitive word on the subject, but it would be foolish for them to push Penny back to the bench after his big game a week ago. If Carson happens to fumble early in this game, it might be pine time for him. If this game was available on a full slate, this would be an easy spot to completely pass on given Minnesota’s solid rush defense. However, the Seahawks are committed to the ground game, and we have to evaluate this spot on a single game slate. If I go anywhere here, it will likely be with a (projected) lower owned and lower cost Penny, but I don’t feel great about it.

Passing Game Opportunity Metrics of Note:

SEA Team Pass Play Percentage = 57.5% (27th)

Passing Game Efficiency Metrics of Note:

SEA Team Passing EPA = 51.0 (10th)
Russell Wilson YPA = 8.3

A few weeks ago, Russell Wilson was the front-runner for NFL MVP. A couple of underwhelming games have lowered his chances quite a bit, but he is still capable of being a big time play-maker, and the Seahawks will need him at his best in this pivotal Monday showdown. While they don’t throw at great volume, the Seahawks still grade out very well statistically in the passing game, as they rank inside the top five in the NFL in pass offense DVOA, pass success rate, and explosive pass percentage.

The matchup isn’t as bad as you might think, either. Minnesota’s defense is better at stopping the run than the pass, and they are actually allowing the sixth highest pass success rate in the NFL this season. Xavier Rhodes isn’t the shut down corner that he used to be. There is potential for Wilson and company here, especially since Wilson is very much capable of escaping the pocket and making plays with his legs.

The addition of Josh Gordon has changed up the usage of the pass catchers a little bit, but not as much as you might think. Here is a look at the snap percentages for the Seattle wide receivers last week in Philadelphia:

D.K. Metcalf – 57 (88%)
Tyler Lockett – 56 (86%)
Josh Gordon – 22 (34%)
David Moore – 18 (28%)
Malik Turner – 17 (26%)

Gordon received just two targets and caught just one pass on his 22 snaps. He’s not a fantasy option at this point. Metcalf and Lockett remain the stalwarts here, with Lockett being the safer option and Metcalf being the upside play. As the matchups stand now, Metcalf would see the most of Xavier Rhodes, should you be looking to avoid that matchup. Metcalf has lined up at LWR on 60% of snaps this year, while Rhodes plays RCB about 80% of the time. I wouldn’t expect Rhodes to shadow Lockett, particularly since Lockett runs out of the slot so often. While Rhodes isn’t the shut down player that he used to be, I’d still rather avoid him with most lineups. Lockett has also been much more efficient this year, catching over 80% of his targets, while Metcalf sits at a meager 54%.

We do need to monitor injury status at tight end. Both Jacob Hollister and Luke Willson are ailing, which could put Tyrone Swoopes on the deep punt, touchdown dependent showdown radar. I’ll need to update this further as we get more clarity.

Team Quick Summary: The running game will likely struggle against the Minnesota front seven, and we also don’t know who to trust between Carson and Penny now that Carson’s fumble woes have returned and Penny had a coming out party in Week 12. I’ll lean on the passing game, with Wilson and Lockett being elite options and Metcalf being a risk/reward GPP play.

Minnesota Vikings Projections Breakdown

Team Projections

QB Team Proj Rank ProjAtt ProjYds
Kirk Cousins MIN 19.93 QB5 38.69 299.90
RB Team Proj Rank ProjRu% ProjTar%
Dalvin Cook MIN 20.77 RB3 70% 18%
Alexander Mattison MIN 3.81 RB63 20% 2%
WR/TE Team Proj Rank ProjTar% ProjTar
Stefon Diggs MIN 17.46 WR8 25% 9.48
Adam Thielen MIN 17.98 WR5 26% 9.87
Olabisi Johnson MIN 3.88 WR107 6% 2.32
Kyle Rudolph MIN 6.8 TE23 10% 3.87
Irv Smith MIN 8.08 TE15 13% 4.84

SEA 18-19 Fpts Allowed: QB Rank 15/RB Rank 22/WR Rank 13/TE Rank 3

Rushing Opportunity Metrics of Note:

MIN Team Rush Play Percentage = 48.7% (3rd)

Rushing Efficiency Metrics of Note:

MIN Team Rushing EPA = -7.3 (8th)
Dalvin Cook YPC = 4.8

The Vikings are just as committed to the run as their opponents, as they rank inside the top three in the league in rush play percentage for the year. Dalvin Cook has consistently played on around 70-80% of the snaps this year, with Alexander Mattison occasionally being used as a change of pace and do give Cook a breather. Even though he is not an every play back like Christian McCaffrey, Cook is still a threat for 20+ touches and big games on a weekly basis.

Seattle’s rush defense doesn’t grade out quite as well as their surface numbers indicate, and they can be beaten by good opposing rush games. They have not faced a lot of elite ground games this year, though, so our sample size of data is small. Baltimore rushed for 199 yards on 5.7 yards per carry against them, while San Francisco averaged just 3.2 yards per rush and was held under 90 on the ground as a team.

The other question we need to answer is whether or not Dalvin Cook is starting to wear down a bit. Over the last three games, here are his lines:

Week 11 vs. DEN – 11 carries, 26 yards
Week 10 at DAL – 26 carries, 97 yards
Week 9 at KC – 21 carries, 71 yards

Three game totals – 58 carries, 194 yards (3.34 YPC)

Those numbers are a bit alarming, but the good news is that the Vikings are coming out of a Week 12 bye with this being a Monday game. Cook has had plenty of time to rest and should have fresh legs for this one. He’s not my first priority play in this game, but he’s certainly the top running back option in the contest. If you are playing single game slates, he’s not a must have, but he’s a solid option in this contest.

Passing Game Opportunity Metrics of Note:

MIN Team Pass Play Percentage = 51.3% (30th)

Passing Game Efficiency Metrics of Note:

MIN Team Passing EPA = 74.6 (4th)
Kirk Cousins YPA = 8.6

Remember when it seemed like all of Minnesota wanted to have a coup against Kirk Cousins? The receivers weren’t happy. The fans weren’t happy. It was time for a change. This occurred about three or four weeks into the season.

My, how times have changed. Cousins and the Minnesota passing attack has been rolling ever since, and the Vikings now sit at 8-3 with a chance to still win the NFC North title. Cousins leads the NFL in passer rating and ranks third in yards per attempt — behind only Ryan Tannehill and Patrick Mahomes. Cousins has 21 touchdowns and three interceptions on the season and continues to play nearly flawless football right now. That should continue against an underwhelming Seattle pass rush and secondary. The Seahawks rank 30th in pressure rate and 29th in sack percentage, and they rank 9th in pass success rate allowed. I have no issues loading up on some Minnesota passing game weapons here.

The big issue that we need to monitor here is the status of Adam Thielen. If I had to guess, I would presume that he sits. This would allow Olabisi Johnson to continue to serve as the team’s #2 wide receiver, while Stefon Diggs is the clear #1. Diggs has 16 targets over the last three games, while Johnson has 15. The team has also been using double tight end sets more often with both Kyle Rudolph and Irv Smith on the field. A lot of this hinges on Thielen’s status. I will likely roll with Diggs plus another cheap pass catcher if Thielen sits, while things get a lot more complicated if Thielen suits up. I will update this space as we get more clarity.

Team Quick Summary: The matchup is solid here against a Seattle defense that is no longer elite despite the fact that they showed well against the Eagles last week. Their pass defense and pass rush stats are below average, meaning Kirk Cousins should be able to keep his good numbers rolling. He is a fine option along with his pass catchers, though we have to wait for confirmation on the status of Adam Thielen before making final decisions there. Tread a bit carefully with a scuffling Dalvin Cook, but he should have fresh legs coming out of the bye week.

DFS Recommendations

Optimal DFS Plays: Russell Wilson, Tyler Lockett, Kirk Cousins, Stefon Diggs

Leverage Plays: Rashaad Penny, D.K. Metcalf, Olabisi Johnson (if Thielen sits)

Secondary Plays: Chris Carson, TBD on Seattle tight ends, Dalvin Cook, Kyle Rudolph, Irv Smith (if Thielen sits), both kickers

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