2019 Fantasy Football Team Previews: Vikings want to be old school

After the investment in Kirk Cousins, Minnesota missing the postseason in 2018 is easy to categorize as a disappointment. Cousins did wind up setting personal bests in completion percentage, passing touchdowns, and interception rate, though. With perhaps the best wide receiver tandem in the league, this offense has a solid floor with some room to exceed expectations in Cousins' second year with the team.  

2018 Review

Record: 8 - 7 - 1 (15th in NFL)
PPG: 22.5 (19)
YPG: 345.6 (20)
Pass YPG: 252.3 (13)
Rush YPG: 93.3 (30)
PAPG: 37.9 (6)
RAPG: 22.3 (27)

2018 Fantasy finishes

QB: Kirk Cousins - QB12
RB: Dalvin Cook - RB30; Latavius Murray* - RB37
WR: Adam Thielen - WR7; Stefon Diggs - WR11; Aldrick Robinson* - WR93
TE: Kyle Rudolph - TE7
*No longer with team

Number to know: 35.6%

The Vikings ran the ball on just 35.6% of their offensive snaps in 2018, fourth lowest rate in the league. That number would have been lower if not for a late-season offensive coordinator change. After firing John DeFilippo, the Vikings ran on a whopping 48.0% of offensive snaps in the final three games. The offensive coordinator for those contests, Kevin Stefanski, got his interim tag removed this offseason and will be the full-time coordinator for 2019. 

2019 Offseason

"We want to be great running the football… but it's not always about running for 200 yards. The defense was on the field four minutes more a game [in 2018], I think that's what it was. It's time of possession, it's controlling the game, it's the mentality, the physicality of all that." - Mike Zimmer

Head Coach: Mike Zimmer (6th year)
Offensive Coordinator: Kevin Stefanski (1st year - previously QB Coach/Interim Offensive Coordinator, MIN)  

Draft Picks 

1. (18) Garrett Bradbury, C
2. (50) Irv Smith Jr., TE
3. (102) Alexander Mattison, RB
4. (114) Dru Samia, G
5. (162) Cameron Smith, LB
6. (190) Armon Watts, DT
6. (191) Marcus Epps, S
6. (193) Oli Udoh, T
7. (217) Kris Boyd, CB
7. (239) Dillon Mitchell, WR
7. (247) Olabisi Johnson, WR
7. (250) Austin Cutting, LS

Additions

QB Sean Mannion, WR Jordan Taylor, OL Josh Kline, OL Dakota Dozier, DL Shamar Stephen

Key Departures

QB Trevor Siemian, RB Latavius Murray, WR Aldrick Robinson, OL Nick Easton, OL Mike Remmers, OL Tom Compton, DL Sheldon Richardson, DB Andrew Sendejo, DB George Iloka, DB Marcus Sherels

Rankings and Projections

Player
Kirk CousinsQB23QB21QB24
Dalvin CookRB12RB13RB10
Alexander MattisonRB51RB44RB54
Stefon DiggsWR14WR14WR12
Adam ThielenWR15WR13WR16
Kyle RudolphTE18TE19TE21
Dan BaileyK17K12K28
Vikings DSTDST5DST2DST2
 
Heath Cummings' projected offensive stats
QBKirk Cousins3,504 YD, 24 TD, 10 INT
RBDalvin Cook247 ATT, 1,162 YD, 7 TD; 47 REC, 360 YD, 2 TD
RBAlexander Mattison146 ATT, 583 YD, 4 TD; 13 REC, 94 YD
WRStefon Diggs134 TAR, 93 REC, 1,011 YD, 7 TD
WRAdam Thielen115 TAR, 82 REC, 1,045 YD, 7 TD
WRLaquon Treadwell38 TAR, 23 REC, 322 YD, 1 TD
TEKyle Rudolph62 TAR, 46 REC, 453 YD, 5 TD

Biggest Question

Which Adam Thielen will show up this year?  

"You know Thielen was on fire for 13 weeks, then finished 2018 with a whimper after the Vikings changed coordinators. The hunch is that he'll still get over 130 targets, 90 catches and 1,000 yards, but his touchdowns should sink. That's based on the Vikings focusing more on a balanced offensive approach without leaning too much on their run game. The best version of Thielen will be found in PPR formats." - Dave Richard

One sleeper, one breakout, and one bust

Sleeper: Alexander Mattison

It's Mattison by default. The jury's out on whether Mattison was worth the third-round pick the Vikings invested in him, but the simple fact they made that move after using their returning reserve running backs sparingly in 2018 seems to argue Mattison won't have much competition for the No. 2 job. All three of his biggest competitors for that job -- 2018 UDFAs Mike Boone and Roc Thomas and former second-round pick Ameer Abdullah -- saw game action with Minnesota last season, but the trio combined for just 24 touches, even despite Cook's injury troubles. That means Mattison is likely one more Dalvin Cook injury away from a significant workload on a team that wants to run the ball. 

Breakout: Dalvin Cook

With apologies to Stefon Diggs, Cook is in a fantastic spot to be a huge 2019 storyline if he can just stay healthy. A popular 2018 Super Bowl pick, the Vikings have enough talent to bounce back from a disappointing season, which could create plenty of opportunity for the backs. Given his primary backup Mattison isn't much of a pass-catcher and Cook has 51 catches in his 15 career games, he should have a solid grip on the all-important passing work. With 4.7 yards per carry on his first 207 rush attempts showing he has the ability as a rusher, it's just a matter of staying healthy for 16 games.  

Bust: Adam Thielen

Thielen likely won't be a bust, but for as long as the Fantasy community has waited for Diggs to surpass him and be the clear No. 1, that day is still coming. Last year, they played like two No. 1s in the same offense, and that may well continue. But Thielen, a former UDFA who had to work his way up the depth chart, will already turn 29 in August, while Diggs, an ultra-young prospect who contributed right away as a rookie, will be 26 in November. On an offense that will likely give back scores of targets from last year's volume and has two receivers going in the top 15 at the position, the better bet is the ascending one entering his prime. That's Diggs.

So which Fantasy Football breakouts should you be all over? And which rookie running back is set to explode? Visit SportsLine now to get Fantasy Football cheat sheets from the model that has simulated the season 10,000 times, and find out.

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