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Saints vs. Vikings Matchup Statistics, Wild Card round

We take a look at the defensive statistics vs. QB, RB, WR and TE for the Saints and Vikings in preparation for their Wild Card round match.

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins calls a play during the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Chargers at Dignity Health Sports Park.  Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Now that we are in the playoffs, we can dig a little deeper into the defensive statistics for each playoff matchup. It is true that statistics can lie or at least obscure the truth we need to see, but on the whole, they can give us a decent idea how teams are attacked on average.

If a team gives up a ton of rushing yards, we can infer that their opponents have a reason to run against them. Maybe they just can’t stop the run or their pass defense is so good teams need to run or maybe game flow has them trailing more often than not and teams look to salt away the game on the ground. At this point in the season we can feel somewhat confident in what a team’s strengths and weaknesses are.

These stats should help us when we go to set our DFS lineups, especially the Showdown slate for this game. Below I have given us the statistics allowed for each position on the season and just below that, for the last eight games of the season for some context on how team defenses are doing more recently. I’ve also opened up the comments on these posts if you have any questions about the statistics.

Below we will look at the Saints and the Vikings.

Quarterback Stats Allowed Season/Last 8 Games

Season Opp Rank DKP/G COMP ATT YDS TD INT YPA ATT YDS TD YPC
Season Opp Rank DKP/G COMP ATT YDS TD INT YPA ATT YDS TD YPC
Vikings @NO 9 16.3 393 598 4061 23 16 6.79 26 92 0 3.54
Saints MIN 21 19.6 370 602 4166 26 13 6.92 40 215 4 5.38
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Last 8 Opp Rank DKP/G COMP ATT YDS TD INT YPA ATT YDS TD YPC
Vikings @NO 7 14.9 195 307 2087 9 9 6.8 12 29 0 2.42
Saints MIN 17 19.5 195 317 2148 16 10 6.78 17 92 0 5.41

The Saints and Vikings have both improved against the pass in the second half of the season, but the Vikings remain the better statistical pass defense. But the Vikings have also had trouble against wide receivers and the Saints have the best in the business. The way Drew Brees has been playing and the wide receiver numbers Minnesota has given up of late likely are more important that these numbers against quarterbacks.

The Saints pass defense has been below average but does have Marcus Lattimore playing well against No. 1 receivers, which has helped the defense overall. They’ve had breakdowns though and their offense keeps opponents needing to score and throw the ball, giving them more chances to put up fantasy numbers.

Running Back Stats Allowed Season/Last 8 games

(Season) Opp Rank DKP/G ATT YDS TD YPC REC YDS TD TAR YPT Catch %
(Season) Opp Rank DKP/G ATT YDS TD YPC REC YDS TD TAR YPT Catch %
Vikings @NO 14 23.7 361 1585 8 4.39 79 586 4 109 5.38 72.5
Saints MIN 6 20.3 285 1039 7 3.65 95 628 4 120 5.23 79.2
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
(Last 8) Opp Rank DKP/G ATT YDS TD YPC REC YDS TD TAR YPT Catch %
Vikings @NO 26 28.3 201 946 7 4.71 46 287 1 61 4.7 75.4
Saints MIN 15 23.6 155 547 4 3.53 49 370 4 64 5.78 76.6

The Saints allow just 3.6 yards per carry to running backs and the sixth-fewest DK points to the position. Both teams have gotten worse at giving up DK points in the second half of the season but the Vikings have had the biggest fall, as they rank 26th over the second half and have given up 4.7 yards per carry while the Saints fall has been more to receiving backs, as they’ve given up four receiving touchdowns in the second half of the season while actually lowering their yards per carry allowed. Dalvin Cook should be healthy and gets enough work as the every-down back to still put up good numbers, but his upside is going to be tougher to reach.

Alvin Kamara gets the better of the two matchups and we know he’ll get usage as a receiver and near the goal line, so his upside remains sky high this week, especially as he looks to have found an extra gear over the last few games.

Wide Receiver Stats Allowed Season/Last 8 games

(Season) Opp Rank DKP/G REC YDS TD TAR YPT Catch %
(Season) Opp Rank DKP/G REC YDS TD TAR YPT Catch %
Vikings @NO 25 39.7 231 2727 18 343 7.95 67.3
Saints MIN 27 40.4 204 2801 18 344 8.14 59.3
* * * * * * * * * *
(Last 8) Opp Rank DKP/G REC YDS TD TAR YPT Catch %
Vikings @NO 27 41 117 1511 7 182 8.3 64.3
Saints MIN 29 42.1 107 1444 9 174 8.3 61.5

Both of theses defenses have been weak against wide receivers, giving up nearly equal statistics. The one advantage the Saints have is Lattimore, as he can slow down the opponent’s best receiver. We aren’t sure if he’ll shadow anyone, but Stefon Diggs should see more of his coverage due to where the two line up most, but Diggs has put up good stats on the Vikings.

Xavier Rhodes has fallen off a cliff and will be little more than a speed bump for Michael Thomas. They will need to expend multiple defensive resources to slow down Thomas and Sean Payton would make them pay for that big time. They’ll hope to keep Thomas’ yardage down while giving up plenty of receptions.

Pro Football Focus has their fantasy points allowed to receivers by where they line up as:

WR Fantasy Points Allowed by position

Team Opp Left WR PPG Right WR PPG Slot WR PPG
Team Opp Left WR PPG Right WR PPG Slot WR PPG
Vikings Saints 25 12.6 5 8.5 30 22.4
Saints Vikings 30 14.3 30 14 12 16.7

The Vikings rank 30th against both right and left receivers. They’re best against the slot with Mackensie Alexander and Anthony Harris manning the middle but Alexander doesn’t look like he’ll play. That will be an upgrade for whoever is in the slot, but no one receiver is stuck in the slot as they all move around quite a bit. Tre-Quan Smith has spent more time than others there, so it could be a slight upgrade for him.

Tight End Stats Allowed Season/Last 8 games

(Season) Opp Rank Pts/G REC YDS TD TAR YPT Catch % DVOA
(Season) Opp Rank Pts/G REC YDS TD TAR YPT Catch % DVOA
Vikings @NO 7 10.6 84 786 1 128 6.14 65.6 1
Saints MIN 10 11.1 72 772 5 107 7.21 67.3 8
* * * * * * * * * * *
(Last 8) Opp Rank Pts/G REC YDS TD TAR YPT Catch %
Vikings @NO 3 8.8 33 327 1 52 6.29 63.5
Saints MIN 16 12.6 40 369 4 64 5.77 62.5

Anthony Harris has been great this season and he should see a lot of Jared Cook this Sunday. The Vikings have allowed just one touchdown all season to a tight end and rank first in DVOA. You can’t fade Cook, as he and Brees have been on fire, but we should lower expectations.

The Saints are a little easier to attack with tight ends but they’ve also played well against them. And when you add in the fact that Irv Smith Jr. and Kyle Rudolph split work, it will be difficult to trust either.