The Vikings went all in on a run-first approach in 2019, and they doubled down on that approach by sending Stefon Diggs off to the Bills this offseason. Dalvin Cook is going to be an elite Fantasy option as long as he's on the field, and Alexander Mattison figures to be one whenever Cook isn't. If all goes according to plan, it makes the passing game less inspiring, but a bounce-back season from Adam Thielen is certainly possible now that Diggs is out of the picture.
Record: 10-6 (8th in NFL)
PPG: 25.4 (8)
YPG: 353.5 (16)
Pass YPG: 220.2 (23)
Rush YPG: 133.3 (6)
PAPG: 29.1 (30)
RAPG: 29.8 (4)
2019 Fantasy finishes
Number to know: 8
Eight defensive players from 2019 — four starters and four role players — are no longer on the Vikings. A couple have been replaced by veteran free agents, but otherwise the team will turn to 2020 rookies and backups from 2019. That could be problematic for a Minnesota defense that's ranked in the top 10 in sacks five of the past six seasons and top 10 in pass yards allowed in three of the past four seasons.
1. (22) Justin Jefferson, WR
1. (31) Jeff Gladney, CB
2. (58) Ezra Cleveland, OT
3. (89) Cameron Dantzler, CB
4. (117) D.J. Wonnum, DE
4. (130) James Lynch, DT
4. (132) Troy Dye, LB
5. (169) Harrison Hand, CB
5. (176) K.J. Osborn, WR
6. (203) Blake Brandel, OT
6. (205) Josh Metellus, S
7. (225) Kenny Willekes, DE
7. (244) Nate Stanley, QB
7. (249) Brian Cole II, S
7. (253) Kyle Hinton, G
0 carries, 0 RB targets, 106 WR targets, 0 TE targets
Rankings and Projections
|Heath Cummings' projections|
|QB||Kirk Cousins||3,869 YD, 26 TD, 9 INT; 82 Rush YD, 2 TD|
|RB||Dalvin Cook||1,228 YD, 10 TD; 65 REC, 573 YD, 2 TD|
|RB||Alexander Mattison||539 YD, 1 TD; 11 REC, 94 YD, 1 TD|
|WR||Adam Thielen||132 TAR, 86 REC, 1,118 YD, 7 TD|
|WR||Justin Jefferson||81 TAR, 51 REC, 693 YD, 4 TD|
|TE||Kyle Rudolph||56 TAR, 42 REC, 403 YD, 5 TD|
|TE||Irv Smith||51 TAR, 39 REC, 348 YD, 3 TD|
How will first-round pick Justin Jefferson and Thielen coexist?
"Jefferson had an underrated sophomore campaign playing on the outside, but his raw stats really took off when he moved to the slot in LSU's historic 2019 season. Thielen does most of his damage in the slot as well, and Minnesota also features their inline tight ends in the passing game. They need an outside presence, and while both receivers can move around and Minnesota has flexibility, Cousins typically prefers his interior targets, meaning whoever winds up outside more will likely sacrifice some targets." - Ben Gretch
One sleeper, one bounce-back, and one bust
The Vikings used two tight ends more than 30 other teams last season (Philadelphia was first). Smith was involved plenty in the pass game, blocking on just 6.2% of pass snaps (Rudolph was at 16.7%) and lining up in the slot or out wide on 37% of his total offensive snaps. Minnesota needs all the help it can get with Diggs no longer on the squad, and Smith offers an aggressive size/speed mismatch for Cousins to lean on. 13% of his total targets were on deep throws, and he caught all three on-target tosses he received. It's a hint of how he might further contribute in 2020. Available with a late-round pick in every single draft, Smith's an easy low-risk gamble to take on Draft Day.
Trading Diggs is the best thing that could have happened to Thielen. For at least one more year, he figures to be Cousins' most trusted target. The issue isn't where he'll line up — expect him to be everywhere — the issues are whether or not the run game will overshadow the pass game again if the defense will be worse in 2020. If, for whatever reason, the Vikings can't be as effective on the ground, and if the defense, which lost several starters and contributors, isn't up to snuff, the door's open for Thielen to see as many as 150 targets. That's where he was right around in 2017 and 2018, and he was great. Draft him as a No. 2 receiver (Round 3 is fine, Round 4 is amazing) with upside to finish as a top-10 guy.
There's an asterisk here.
IF Cook's holdout is real and IF he misses training camp, I'll be nervous to draft him with a top-20 pick. We know Cook is dangerous when he's on the field, but if he's not going through the trials of training camp then, like past running back holdouts, his body could be unprepared when he does come back. That could lead to injury, and for a guy like Cook who has never played a 16-game season, that's really concerning. And what if his holdout extends into the season like Melvin Gordon's did? He'd still need a couple of weeks to round into game shape and he'd still be an injury risk upon his return. The new CBA makes holdouts kind of pointless for players, so here's hoping Cook either gets a deal he's happy with or shows up to training camp regardless. But we'll never know what he's thinking, which is why he's a challenging player to draft the longer he stays away from the team.
AFC East: Bills | Jets | Patriots | Dolphins
NFC East: Giants | Cowboys | Eagles | Redskins
AFC South: Colts | Texans | Jaguars | Titans
NFC South: Panthers | Bucs | Falcons | Saints
AFC North: Ravens | Steelers | Browns | Bengals
NFC North: Packers | Vikings | Bears | Lions
AFC West: Chiefs | Broncos | Raiders | Chargers
NFC West: Seahawks | 49ers | Rams | Cardinals
Which players are poised for breakouts, which sleepers do you need to jump on, and which busts should you avoid at all costs in your Fantasy football league? Visit SportsLine now to get early rankings, plus see which WR is going to come out of nowhere to crack the top 10, all from the model that out-performed experts big time last season.