2020 Fantasy Previews Part 21: Minnesota Vikings

The Minnesota Vikings were one of the hottest teams in the NFL heading into their Week 12 bye. They were 8-3 and one of the top teams in the NFC. The Vikings did the opposite of what teams usually do on their bye week as, after it, they went 2-3 to finish the season 10-6. The Vikings played against the New Orleans Saints in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs and they were not expected to win. They went to overtime and won on a controversial 4-yard touchdown pass from Kirk Cousins to Kyle Rudolph. This was a bit controversial as it looked like Rudolph pushed off the defender. The Vikings were in the middle of the pack when it came to yards allowed, but had a top 5 scoring defense. The Vikings let go of Xavier Rhodes in free agency and replaced him in the NFL Draft with Jeff Gladney. Their offensive coordinator, Kevin Stefanski left to coach the Cleveland Browns. The new coordinator is Gary Kubiak. Expect a very similar offense to Stefanski, but with a little more passing. The Vikings should have an underrated offense this year with Kirk Cousins, Dalvin Cook, and Adam Thielen.

Projected Depth Chart:

Quarterback: 1. Kirk Cousins 2. Sean Mannion

Running back: 1. Dalvin Cook 2. Alexander Mattison

Wide receiver: 1. Adam Thielen 2. Justin Jefferson 3. Bisi Johnson 4. KJ Osborn

Slot receiver: 1. Tajae Sharpe 2. Chad Beebe

Tight end: 1. Irv Smith 2. Kyle Rudolph

Quarterbacks - The first three games of the 2019 season were a bit weird last year. The Vikings averaged 21 passing attempts per game and averaged 34.3 rushing attempts per game. In the first game of the season, Cousins only had 10 passing attempts. This frustrated receiver Stefon Diggs, as he wasn't really getting thrown to. Cousins passed for under 200 yards in 2 of these three games and was only responsible for 4 touchdowns.

Cousins starting passing the ball more for the rest of the season. He finished with 3603 yards on 69.1% completion, 26 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions. This was the first season since 2014 he was under 4000 yards passing and this was likely due to that 3 game stretch at the beginning of the season. Cousins finished as the QB16, averaging 16.3 points per game and finishing with 244.42 fantasy points.

Kirk Cousins should bounce back in 2020 as he has a new offensive coordinator who will not be as run-heavy as the old one. Cousins is the QB20 this year in fantasy, and you can comfortably get him as a backup. Kirk Cousins is being slept on in 2020. Even though one of his top 2 receivers is gone, he should still produce. If you want to wait until the last possible moment to take a backup QB in fantasy, Cousins is your guy.

Running backs - Dalvin Cook is one of the most injury-prone players in the league. He has not finished a season in his 3 year NFL career. Dalvin Cook only played 4 games in his first season because he tore his ACL. He only played 11 games in 2018 because of a hamstring injury that he injured and re-injured. In 2019, he played his most games yet as he played in 14 games because of a shoulder injury. If you are counting, Dalvin Cook has only played in 29/48 regular-season games in his career.

2019 was Dalvin Cook's healthiest and best season of his career. He had 1135 rushing yards, 13 rushing touchdowns, 53 receptions, and 519 receiving yards in 14 games. He was extremely consistent as he had 13.4 or more points in every game he played but 1. The 1 game was where he got injured and had to leave early. Dalvin Cook was the RB6 with 292.4 fantasy points. He averaged 20.9 a game.

Dalvin Cook is going in the top half of the first round and that is way too high for a player that has not played a full game in the fantasy playoffs yet. If he was available at the end of the first round, I would consider it, because last year was his healthiest season. The Vikings running back that I am looking to draft late is Alexander Mattison. You can get him comfortably in the 12th round. Mattison will be an RB1 when Dalvin Cook goes down. If you draft Cook, you have to draft Mattison. If you draft a different running back in round 1, you will have 2 RB1's.

Wide receivers - The Minnesota Vikings have used 2 receivers over the last 4 years. Last year the #1 receiver was Stefon Diggs. He had 63 receptions for 1130 yards and 6 touchdowns. Diggs was the WR24 with 212.1 fantasy points. Diggs was very inconsistent last year as he had over 100 receiving yards in 5 games, but under 50 in 7. Diggs had under 10 fantasy points in all 7 of those games.

Adam Thielen was the WR2 on the Vikings last year after being the WR1 from 2016-2018. This was due to a nagging hamstring injury that forced him to miss 6 games. He had 30 receptions for 418 receiving yards and 6 receiving touchdowns. He also ran for a touchdown. Thielen finished as the WR63 with 114.4 fantasy points. If you take his average from before he got injured and use that to predict the rest of the season if that didn't happen, Thielen would've been the WR6 with 263.2 points.

Stefon Diggs got traded to the Buffalo Bills over the offseason and the Vikings selected Justin Jefferson out of LSU to replace him. Jefferson is going in the 10th round and I love that value as a sleeper. He will slide right into that WR2 role that has been very successful over the last 4 years. Adam Thielen will bounce back as he is now fully healthy. He is going early in the third round and I would love to have him as my WR1. Tajae Sharpe is playing in the slot and could be a deep sleeper if he has some good games.

Tight ends - From 2016-18, Kyle Rudolph was a solid tight end for fantasy football. He never had below 150 fantasy points or 80 targets. The lowest amount of receptions he got was 57. The lowest yards he got was 532 and the lowest amount of touchdowns he caught was 4. I found this a bit strange as I don't really remember Kyle Rudolph being a good tight end.

2019 was a bit different from 2016-18 as Rudolph only scored 113.7 fantasy points. He had 39 receptions for 367 yards and 6 touchdowns. Rudolph finished as the TE15 and was pretty bad outside of a 6 game stretch where he averaged 14.2 points per game. He had 10 games in which he had 3 or fewer targets. He never eclipsed 70 receiving yards the whole season. Irv Smith was the backup and pretty much did nothing. He caught 36 passes for 311 yards and 2 touchdowns and finished as the TE32.

The Vikings should run a lot of 12 personnel in 2020 with their lack of tight end depth. This should make both Kyle Rudolph and Irv Smith fantasy relevant. You can get both pretty much for free in leagues. It is hard to tell who will emerge this year but I would put both as deep sleepers. If I had to pick one, I would pick Irv Smith to emerge because he is younger and has more potential.

Fantasy Analysis:

Bounce back: Adam Thielen

Sleepers: Kirk Cousins, Alexander Mattison, Justin Jefferson

Deep sleepers: Tajae Sharpe, Irv Smith, Kyle Rudolph

Handcuffs: Sean Mannion, Alexander Mattison, Bisi Johnson, Kyle Rudolph

I hope you liked 2020 Fantasy Previews Part 21: Minnesota Vikings. Next up is 2020 Fantasy Previews Part 22: New England Patriots. Feel free to comment your thoughts on the Vikings' offense for fantasy 2020.

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