Thursday Night Football: Vikings at Eagles

DeVonta Smith

Thursday Night Football

Well week 1 was something, wasn’t it? It’s great to have football back but boy was it an eventful start to the season. We’re in Philadelphia this week as the Eagles (1-0) host the Minnesota Vikings (0-1), who will be looking to bounce back after a surprising home loss to Baker Mayfield’s Buccaneers. We started our season by going 3-1 with the Chiefs’ loss to the Lions, hampered only by the Chiefs offense forgetting how to catch the football and narrowly missing Mahomes’ TD over. As always, we’re playing on the Underdog Fantasy App, as they offer a ton of options for player props for each game, as well as in-play.

TJ Hockenson Over 4.5 receptions

If there’s one thing Kirk Cousins did plenty of this past week, it was throw the ball. He finished with 44 attempts, 33 completions, and 344 total yards. What’s notable here is that TJ Hockenson received 9 targets and caught 8 of those for a less-than-inspiring 35 yards. Nonetheless, he had 8 receptions. I believe Jordan Addison will become a 1b to Justin Jefferson, in a very similar fashion to the pairing of tonight’s opponents AJ Brown and Devonta Smith, but for right now I believe Hockenson will be Cousins’ 2nd option when needed. What was surprising to see was the Eagles allowed Mac Jones to throw for 316 yards, this is a guy that’s only topped 300 yards 4 times in his first 2 seasons, so he’s not your usual gunslinger. As well, they allowed both Patriots tight ends multiple receptions, Mike Gesicki (3rec 35yds) and more notably Hunter Henry (5 rec 56 yds 1 td). Both Henry and Hockenson are almost identical in build, both 6.5” and just under 250lbs, though TJ is more prolific on offense. In 2022 he ran 31.9% of routes as opposed to Henry’s 21.2%, and he commanded 129 targets, over double that of Henry (59). So the Patriots may once again struggle with somebody of Hockensons size and ability. With a quick turnaround and Cousins having something to prove after last week, I think he comes out firing, though I do think the Eagles win, it may be closer than the current -7 line.

Kirk Cousins Over 0.5 interceptions

As I mentioned, Kirk Cousin should come out firing in this one, and I believe he’ll have a decent game. The problem, is that he’s coming up against a strong Eagles defense, and the likelihood is if he attempts 40+ passes, he’s going to get picked off. In 2022 Cousins threw 14 interceptions (tied 3rd w. Allen & Carr) and was 7th in the league for deep ball attempts (67). His style of play and the fact that they could be chasing the game late on gives me a good indication of him being picked off at least once. As well as this, the Eagles were tied 3rd last season for interceptions (17), and even started this year off with 1 after Darius Slay picked off Mac Jones for a 70-yard return touchdown. Our FantasyData projection tool even has Cousins down for 1.7 interceptions this week, I’d get on this early before they remove it altogether.

Jake Elliot Over 1.5 field goals.

The point line for this game started at 48.5 which means we’re in for a reasonably high-scoring game. Last season the Vikings ranked 31st in opposition field goal attempts per game (2.5), this is likely due to a combination of factors. Their defense in 2022 ranked 21st in rushing yards allowed per game (124.2) and 31st in passing yards allowed per game (266.9), so they let most offenses up the field with little resistance. Combine this with Cousins persistent interceptions as I mentioned earlier, they’re giving teams ample opportunity to get into scoring positions. Elliot went 4 for 4 on field goals in week 1, as they struggled to break down the Patriots defense. More so, 3 of the 4 field goals were from 48+ yards, so they really made Elliot work for each one. I imagine they’ll have a slightly easier time against this Vikings defense, but like I said I expect this to be closer than the spread suggests so field goals may be very important for both sides.

Devonta Smith 5+ receptions.

I’m never crazy about taking lines that have the ability to push, but realistically i’d still take this line at over 5.5. AJ Brown is viewed as the WR1 in Philadelphia but Devonta Smith has firmly placed himself as the 1b and has continued to improve in his short time in the NFL. Although Brown finished 2022 with 300 more yards than Smith, Smith ran an extra 1% of routes and had an extra 5% snap share. Smith seems to find himself in the game more than Brown,  and in 2022 he had 7+ targets in 13 regular season games (+2 post-season) and he also had 5+ receptions in the same amount of regular and post-season games. He started off this season with 7 receptions from 10 targets, but just 47 yards. His yardage amounts can vary quite drastically, of his 13 games with 5+ receptions, he had 5 games over 100 yards and 4 games with 50 or less. The consistency here is he gets plenty of targets and it showed last year as he averaged 5.6 receptions per game. Expect him to continue this against a Vikings team as mentioned earlier that ranked 31st in passing yards allowed per game (266.9) and 28th in completions allowed per game (24).

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