Week 14 Thursday Night Football blueprint

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Special to Yahoo Sports

Yahoo’s single-game offering has a roster construction of one “Superstar” that scores at a 1.5 multiplier, while the remaining four FLEX roster spots accumulate points at the normal rate. This is half-point PPR scoring and the “Superstar” salary does not change from the Utility. All scoring and rules can be found here.

The quarterbacks in today’s game will be doing their best Mary Tyler Moore impression when Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota Vikings welcome Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers to Minneapolis-St. Paul.

It is vital to remember that single-game slates are not simply a “max salary, play as many big names as possible, and submit” format, especially in larger tournament fields. We need to identify players who can be pieces in their offense’s success, whether in the lead or trailing, as well as the players who could be focal points in a neutral game script. The ability to then take those players and identify who will succeed in the single-game format will put us in a better position to succeed as daily fantasy players.

Vegas Total and Spread

Minnesota is a three-point home favorite with an Over/Under of 44 points. The Vikings have an implied team total of 23.5 points, while the Steelers have an implied team total of 20.5 points.

Potential Game Flow Scenarios

The big news centers on Dalvin Cook ($28). Cook is trending toward playing despite dislocating his shoulder less than two weeks ago. If he plays, it alters the usage of Alexander Mattison ($25) and Kene Nwangwu ($10). Both could still see close to their expected workload to keep Cook out of harm’s way any more than he needs, or it could render Nwangwu fantasy-irrelevant and keep Mattison in his elite backup role.

[Play in Yahoo’s $100K Single Game Baller for Vikings vs. Steelers]

What makes Mattison and Nwangwu relevant is a strong start from the passing offense. Kirk Cousins ($31) will be peppering Justin Jefferson ($32) early and often with Adam Thielen out (high ankle sprain). K.J. Osborn ($15) and Tyler Conklin ($14) round out the concentrated Vikings passing offense that needs to click if the Vikings want to win and keep Cook’s workload in check. The Vikings have the 6th-worst running matchup using 4for4’s offensive line rankings compared to schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed (aFPA).

Minnesota will be without rookie first-round pick OT Christian Darrisaw, a flashing red alert with T.J. Watt and the Steelers defense ($10) ready to pin their ears back and rush Cousins. In Watt’s Week 13 return from COVID-19, he logged 3.5 sacks and the defense collected seven overall.

Najee Harris ($31) has a slightly better matchup than the Vikings backfield and is much easier to project with little to no competition for snaps and touches; Harris has played 83.47% of snaps this season and is averaging almost 23 total touches per game. His success alleviates pressure on human parking cone, Ben Roethlisberger ($22).

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris (22)

Najee Harris could be the key for the entire Steelers offense, as he usually is. (AP Photo/Justin Berl)

Big Ben has been forced to keep his passes to a concentrated group as receivers have been on and off the field due to injuries. Luckily for Ben, Chase Claypool (foot, $21) logged a full practice Tuesday and will line up with Diontae Johnson ($28) and Pat Freiermuth ($16). Minnesota is 32nd in aFPA to wideouts but has logged an interception in 8 of 12 games.

Close, low-scoring game

Kirk Cousins

Dalvin Cook

Alexander Mattison

Justin Jefferson

Vikings defense

Najee Harris

Diontae Johnson

Steelers defense

Close, high-scoring game

Kirk Cousins

Dalvin Cook

Alexander Mattison

Justin Jefferson

Tyler Conklin

Ben Roethlisberger

Najee Harris

Diontae Johnson

Chase Claypool

Pat Freiermuth

Blowout for home team

Kirk Cousins

Dalvin Cook

Alexander Mattison

Justin Jefferson

Tyler Conklin

Vikings defense

Najee Harris

Diontae Johnson

Blowout for road team

Ben Roethlisberger

Najee Harris

Diontae Johnson

Chase Claypool

Pat Freiermuth

Steelers defense

Dalvin Cook

Justin Jefferson

Tyler Conklin

Cheap/Unique Stacking Option

Traditional stacks such as QB/WR1 or WR2, QB/TE, and RB/DEF are stacks seen used in winning lineups. The obvious choice is not always the winning choice. Below is a cheap stack with at least one unique quality that could break the slate.

Alexander Mattison ($25) and Vikings Defense ($14)

We just saw Darrell Henderson play cheerleader for Sony Michel as an active on paper but not on the field. There could be gamesmanship happening here and if Cook is active, he could play as many snaps as you and I. If that ends up happening, Mattison’s rostership will be lower, making him a lock in tournaments. The Vikings’ defense has its issues but has been opportunistic in creating turnovers. The Steelers offensive line is questionable at best and Ben Roethlisberger is an easy target.

[Visit 4for4, where 92% of subscribers made the playoffs, for more]

If Cook is inactive, shifting rostership to Kene Nwangwu makes sense. We have seen his speed and vision amplified on special teams, and he is not the first back to explode in an offense after succeeding on special teams.

Low-Salary Volatile Plays

James Washington ($13) and Ray-Ray McCloud ($10)

Both are outside Pittsburgh’s concentrated offense with Johnson and Claypool healthy. If the Steelers want to win, taking advantage of the attention given to Johnson, Claypool, and Harris should leave one of these receivers on an island against a poor secondary.

Dede Westbrook ($10)

Minnesota runs three-wide sets 46% of the team, one of the lowest in the league, but Westbrook is the next man up for the Vikings. Much like Washington and McCloud, Westbrook’s success will come with the attention not given to him.

Kene Nwangwu ($10)

Nwangwu is talented but stuck in a loaded backfield. Cook’s status will tell you whether or not to roster the rookie.

Superstar Picks

Justin Jefferson ($32)

Jefferson is the best player in this game. Pittsburgh will be without CB Joe Hayden (foot), meaning a poor secondary will have to face one of the best wideouts in the game without its best option. Jefferson has double-digit targets in three of his last four games and had a career-high 11 receptions and 182 yards without Thielen on the field.

Najee Harris ($31)

The Steelers have every reason to make this game ugly and slow. Harris is a usage monster and should be asked to be the reason Pittsburgh wins on offense.

Diontae Johnson ($28)

Johnson is a top-10 receiver in fantasy points despite missing one game. Few receivers are as vital to an offense as Johnson. If the Steelers have to put up three-plus touchdowns to win, Johnson sticks out as the pivot to Jefferson at Superstar.

Tyler Conklin ($14)

Jefferson’s monster Week 13 is the talked-about story for Minnesota, but the second most important story to come from that game is Conklin’s 7-56-0 line. His nine targets were his most since Week 3.

Other Superstar Options to Consider

Alexander Mattison, Dalvin Cook, Kirk Cousins, Chase Claypool, and Ben Roethlisberger

This article originally appeared in its full form on 4for4.com

Jeff has played fantasy sports since 2001. He has covered fantasy and traditional sports at the pro, semi-pro, and amateur level for the better part of a decade. Born in Illinois and currently living where James Robinson made a name for himself in college, Jeff enjoys running (establish it), followed by doing absolutely nothing.

More from 4for4.com: The Rookie Report: Week 13

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