Vikings fantasy football primer

Picture this: After months of persuading and possibly a bit of bribing, you finally accepted your father-in-law’s invite to join his fantasy football league.

Now you need to win the whole thing. Imagine suffering through the holidays with a last-place squad.

Anyway, it’s the third round of the draft and you don’t know what to do — but you want a Minnesota Vikings player on your roster before they’re all gone. Do you select Minnesota’s own Adam Thielen or Stefon Diggs, Mr. Minneapolis Miracle?

You look at the stats: Thielen caught just four touchdowns last year, but he saw a team-high 27.4 percent of the red-zone targets. Diggs is explosive when he’s on the field, but he’s struggled to stay healthy at times during his three-year career.

So which Vikings players should be drafted and how can you plan to get them on your team?

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 opinions of experts and results of online drafts around the country.

There are two numbers to keep in mind here: the overall ADP (average of all five sites) and which round that pick corresponds with, based on (and this is important) a standard snake draft in a 12-team league.

In your standard re-draft leagues with normal scoring and rules, there are eight Vikings players that should be selected: receivers Diggs and Thielen, running backs Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray, quarterback Kirk Cousins, tight end Kyle Rudolph, kicker Daniel Carlson and the Vikings D/ST.

Player ESPN CBS Yahoo! FFC FantasyPros Overall ADP Round (12-team draft)
RB Dalvin Cook 13.5 14.5 17.3 12.1 12.8 14.0 Round 2, Pick 2
WR Stefon Diggs 32.6 33.2 31.1 29.7 31.0 31.5 Round 3, Pick 8
WR Adam Thielen 31.6 41.7 25.5 37.7 33.4 34.0 Round 3, Pick 10
TE Kyle Rudolph 78.7 75.8 64.9 77.1 78.2 75.0 Round 7, Pick 3
QB Kirk Cousins 90.7 77.8 67.8 84.8 83.6 80.9 Round 7, Pick 9
D/ST Vikings 104.0 98.7 73.6 109.3 112.3 99.6 Round 9, Pick 4
RB Latavius Murray 133.5 147.2 123.4 117.1 141.4 132.5 Round 12, Pick 1
K Daniel Carlson 146.9 165.7 135.3 171.2 224.8 168.8 Round 15, Pick 1

So overall, the experts say Diggs should be selected ahead of Thielen – although the gap is only two picks. ESPN and Yahoo ranked the Minnesota native higher than Diggs, and the latter site slotted Thielen as a borderline second-round pick.

Cook should be the first Vikings player off the board without question, even with the unknown surrounding his comeback from an ACL tear suffered a year ago. Rudolph is a great mid-round option if you missed out on the few elite tight ends like Rob Gronkowski and Travis Kelce. Murray, especially considering Cook’s — dare we say it — injury history, might be a productive late-round steal.

Additionally, the Vikings defense is ranked as a top-four fantasy unit in the league, always a threat for piles of sacks and turnovers. And rookie Carlson could be the answer to your kicker position. He did nail a 57-yard field goal in Week 1 of the preseason, and ESPN slots him as the 13th-best fantasy kicker.