StaTuesday: Vikings’ Thielen turning into bonafide superstar

As each week passes, the list of wide receivers around the NFL you’d take over Adam Thielen gets smaller and smaller.

Antonio Brown? Ok, likely. Odell Beckham, Jr.? Maybe. DeAndre Hopkins? It’s close. Michael Thomas? Ehh.

The Minnesota Vikings’ homegrown surprise has fully emerged from a feel-good story to a bonafide superstar that strikes fear into secondaries on a weekly basis.

After five games, Thielen is tied for the league lead with 66 targets, tops all receivers with 31 catches for first downs and ranks second with 589 receiving yards, trailing only Hopkins by a measly five yards.

PLAYER TGT REC YDS TD 1ST DOWN
DeAndre Hopkins 57 39 594 2 29
Adam Thielen 66 47 589 3 31
Julio Jones 55 34 564 0 26
Michael Thomas 49 46 519 3 27
Odell Beckham 59 39 462 1 23

He’s done so while breaking records along the way. According the Pro Football Reference, Thielen is the 22nd player to log five straight games of 100+ receiving yards, but he’s the only player to do so in the first five games of the season in the Super Bowl era. He’s also the first Vikings player to have a five-game streak of 100+ receiving yards, as Cris Carter, Jake Reed and Randy Moss (twice) managed runs of four straight games.

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If you’re curious, former Detroit star Calvin Johnson owns the record of eight straight 100-yard games, set while catching passes from Matthew Stafford in 2012. With matchups against Arizona, the New York Jets and New Orleans the next three weeks — defenses that have allowed a combined eight 100-yard receivers this season — another record isn’t out of the question for Thielen.

The Detroit Lakes, Minn., native has accounted for 42.05 percent of the Vikings’ air yards (a measure of the number of yards the ball covers between the line of scrimmage and the point of the initial catch) this season, per Pro Football Focus.

While he’s gaining plenty of yards through the air, he’s also doing damage after the catch.

Thielen gained 43 yards after the catch on his 68-yard grab during the Vikings’ win over the Eagles, the fourth-most of any player in Week 5. He’s tied for third among receivers with 207 yards after the catch, deadlocked with teammate and best buddy Stefon Diggs.