A Vikings fan’s guide to fantasy football, 2019
Drafting this weekend?
Be at least a little wary of Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs
It’s time, regrettably, to pump the brakes slightly on the Vikings’ dynamic duo. Both Thielen and Diggs are currently being drafted as fringe WR1s after racking up 1,000-plus receiving yards and nine touchdowns each last season. That’s a pretty great fantasy line — Thielen finished as the WR7 in standard, while Diggs was the WR12. Both finished top-10 in targets. The high-flying Pittsburgh offense, which led the league with 689 pass attempts, was the only other unit to support two players targeted in the top 10 (Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster). The Vikings finished sixth with 606 pass attempts, while head coach Mike Zimmer mentioned, seemingly every week, his desire to run a more balanced offense. And while an improved offensive line and another year of familiarity for starting quarterback Kirk Cousins could offset these concerns, regression is a real worry. It may have started last season. Thielen was an elite fantasy option during the first half of 2018, going over 100 receiving yards in eight straight games and scoring six touchdowns. He was on pace to break the NFL receptions record. He had just 448 receiving yards and three touchdowns from Week 9 on. Don’t take them off your draft board, but if an overzealous Vikings fan decides to reach for Thielen or Diggs in the second round … well, that might work out in your favor.
If you’re not, give Kirk Cousins a second look
On the other hand, if you believe in Thielen and Diggs’ ability to set the world on fire again this year, you believe in Cousins by association. Last year’s QB13, Cousins is currently going as the QB18, with an ADP towards the end of 12-team drafts. There’s either significant value to be mined here, or an extreme overreaction happening in the case of Thielen and Diggs. The latter could be true (see above). The Vikings’ stated goal nearly every week last season was to run the ball more, while just three teams (The Vikings, Rams and Steelers) supported multiple 1,000-yard receivers last season. He struggled mightily at times in the second half, but Cousins was the QB6 from Weeks 1-8, and averaged 20.6 points per game over that span in standard. If you’re hitching your fantasy team to either of his top targets, picking Cousins up as either a backup or a streaming option could pay dividends.
If you’re going to draft Dalvin Cook, handcuff him with Alexander Mattison
Cook’s abilities aren’t up for debate, and with Latavius Murray out of the way he heads into 2019 as a clear-cut featured back. At RB10, that’s pretty solid value. The soft-tissue injuries to which Cook is prone, however, should give you pause. If they don’t, or if he falls and becomes tough to pass on, be sure to add Mattison as insurance. A third-round pick out of Boise State, Mattison rushed for 1,415 yards and 17 touchdowns last season, and would hold RB1/RB2 potential each week were Cook to go down at any point this season. The Vikings are giving Ameer Abdullah, Mike Boone and De’Angelo Henderson plenty of run in the preseason, so there’s a chance that this could devolve into a full-blown committee in Cook’s absence. Monitor the situation accordingly, but Mattison is a solid bet to assume a major role if Cook goes down.
If you don’t land Cook, take a flyer Mattison anyway
For all those reasons, consider making Mattison a late-round lottery ticket regardless. Cook has appeared in just 15 of a possible 34 games since joining the Vikings in 2017, while his primary backup is going virtually undrafted as the RB51. And while a committee approach is possible if Cook goes down, the Vikings recently invested a third-round pick in Mattison, one of just three backs in FBS to crack 300 carries last season. If there’s another workhorse back on the roster, it’s Mattison.
Kyle Rudolph is a good NFL tight end. There are better fantasy options.
Rudolph could, conceivably, hold a certain appeal to Vikings fans from a fantasy perspective. He went off in his last fantasy-relevant outing — Week 16 at Detroit — racking up 122 yards and two touchdowns to finish as the TE2 in standard for the week. Meanwhile, there was a local outpouring of Rudolph love when it appeared the Vikings would deal him during contract talks. All Rudolph will cost you at this point is a roster spot — he’s going largely undrafted in standard — but there are better players to stash on your bench. Also cutting into Rudolph’s limited fantasy upside: Rookie Irv Smith Jr., a second-round pick who had 710 receiving yards and seven touchdowns last season.
Stay away from Vikings kickers. Seriously.
Should you take a Vikings kicker? No. Why? Because the team doesn’t even know what they’re doing at kicker. Minnesota traded a fifth-round pick for Kaare Vedvik on Aug. 11 and still haven’t figured out if he’s a punter or kicker. You don’t want to waste a draft pick on either Vedvik or Dan Bailey and have one of them not be on the roster Week 1.
So, where are the Vikings being drafted?
We looked at five leaders in the fantasy industry — ESPN, CBS, Yahoo Sports, Fantasy Football Calculator and Fantasy Pros — to search each site’s average draft position (ADP) assigned to Vikings players, based on the results of online drafts thus far.
|PLAYER||ESPN||CBS||Yahoo!||FFC||FantasyPros||Overall ADP||Round (12-team draft)|
|RB Dalvin Cook||23.9||18.9||18.7||16.1||19.0||19.3||Round 2, Pick 7|
|WR Adam Thielen||31.6||26.7||30.2||25.4||25.0||27.8||Round 3, Pick 4|
|WR Stefon Diggs||40.2||37.4||36.7||38.9||37.0||38.0||Round 4, Pick 2|
|Vikings D/ST||117.1||105.5||92.3||133.2||129.0||115.4||Round 10, Pick 7|
|QB Kirk Cousins||160.6||129.8||125.6||141.7||141.3||139.8||Round 12, Pick 8|
|RB Alexander Mattison||169.4||145.8||129.4||126.4||154.0||145.0||Round 13, Pick 1|
|TE Kyle Rudolph||154.3||138.3||120.3||162.1||163.0||147.6||Round 13, Pick 4|