Despite Dalvin Cook (ankle) sitting this one out and Cousins throwing 34 passes against a soft pass defense, he had a middling fantasy performance by throwing just a single TD pass. On that score, it was a simple screen to Alexander Mattison, who was able to navigate through the Detroit defense for the score. Otherwise, Cousins heavily targeted Mattison (7 times) and his top WR, Justin Jefferson (8 times), with Jefferson frequently picking up large chunks of yardage that helped get Cousins to 275 yards on the day.
After starting the year with 7 TDs over his first 3 games, Cousins has cooled off with a single TD in each of his last 2 games. And that’s the problem of being a QB on a Mike Zimmer coached team. Whenever they can play defense and run the ball, they will, which means that Cousins will have to be extremely efficient while making explosive plays to reach his ceiling games. Also, he may be a QB that’s difficult to predict on a week-to-week basis because he’s often reliant upon unexpected game script.
Cousins finally had a down game in 2021 as he only completed 52% of his passes for 203 yards and 1 score. The biggest driver of this was the pressure the Browns got on him. In weeks 1-3 Cousins was only pressured on 27% of his drop-backs. That number doubled to 54% in week 4. Cousins only completed 32% of his passes and had a terrible 2.4 yards per attempt when under pressure. Even with all the pressure on him, Cousins still pushed the ball downfield, completing 3 deep passes.
This week things should open back up for the Vikings as they take on the Lions. The Lions have been league average in QB points allowed, but currently sit at 32nd with a ridiculous 10.6 yards per attempt allowed and 28th in TD% allowed so far in 2021.
Cousins showed in Week 2 that he doesn’t need 49 pass attempts to deliver the fantasy goods. He connected on 22 of 32 throws in Sunday’s narrow loss at Arizona, accumulating 244 yards and 3 TDs.
The 1st score came fairly easily, with Cousins finding a wide-open K.J. Osborn for a 64-yard catch-and-run TD on the opening drive. Cousins then found Adam Thielen from 7 yards out and Justin Jefferson from 14 before halftime.
After leaning further toward the pass than usual in Week 1 neutral situations, Minnesota leaned back toward the run in Week 2. We’ll ultimately take a split in the range of 32 pass attempts vs. 27 rushes, though.
A Week 3 home date with the Seahawks looks like another starting spot for Cousins in fantasy.
We won’t often see Cousins attempt 49 passes, but we’ll sure take it when he does.
Cousins was his usual efficient self. He completed 73.5% of throws for 351 yards and a pair of TDs -- both to Adam Thielen.
Falling behind by 14 points midway through the 3rd quarter plus limited rushing success for Dalvin Cook (3.1 yards per carry) likely helped drive Sunday’s volume. But the Vikings also increased their “early-down” pass rate vs. last year’s, according to RBSDM.com. They ranked 27th in that category for the 2020 season; 17th in the league for Week 1. The 6.2 percentage-point difference was 14th largest in the NFL for Week 1 vs. last year’s rates.
It’s just 1 game, of course, and that could go back to last year’s rate. But it also wouldn’t be a crazy shift going forward -- especially considering we’re in Year 2 of the Justin Jefferson Era.
We’ll keep an eye on that aspect. In the meantime, we’ll continue treating Cousins as a common low-end starting option.