As someone who is relatively new to the NFL, having only followed the league for four years. Also, as a Leeds United fan who hasn’t had much success to speak of in the last 15 years or so, I obviously chose one of the few teams never to win a SuperBowl before in the Minnesota Vikings, just to pile on the misery a bit more. At least I’ll get to enjoy the ups and downs of both teams at each side of the Atlantic. For my first piece I’m writing about the Vikings for dynasty purposes, as after the Chiefs won SuperBowl 54 that concluded my second season of fantasy and my first playing in dynasty leagues with Kickers Matter.
QB – As the Vikings are a predominantly run first offence, which we’ll get onto later, Kirk Cousins as a 8 year veteran is seen as having a reputation of a 0.500 QB over his time at both the Washington Redskins and the Minnesota Vikings. Over the two seasons I’ve watched him behind Centre of the Vikings, the play calling has a fairly large impact on his performances as well as the protection he gets from his offensive line. The run game will have to be back to it’s best consistently and better protection from the o-line is possible with the addition of Ezra Cleveland in the draft, this is if Cousins is going to be afforded the time to get the ball out of his hands. Cousins is a safe reliable QB 2 in fantasy who could be used as a matchup dependent QB 1. Although, interestingly after John De Filppo was fired, the Vikings offense improved with Kevin Stafanski as offensive coordinator. However, with Stefanski leaving to become the new Browns coach, Super Bowl 50 winning head coach, Gary Kubiak, steps in to fill the position. I believe Kubiak will be given pretty much free reign over the offence with Head Coach MikeZimmer mainly focussing on the defensive side of the ball.
RB – Dalvin Cook had an excellent 2019 regular season finishing the year, rushing for 1135 yards and receiving for 519 yards as well as 13 touchdowns, which led to him becoming RB 6 in PPR leagues and RB 5 in standard scoring leagues, all while only playing 14 of 16 games due to injury. For the 2020 season I believe that Cook can repeat these numbers but with never managing to complete a full season without injury, that doubt still hangs over him and with him being in a contract year and while there is still time to get a contract signed, there is currently no sign of one in the near future. Therefore, this detracts from his elite RB status but he is still a high class RB as proven last season but if he does hold out for a new contract or picks up another injury, the cowbell number of carries left by Cook will fall onto Alexander Mattison’s shoulders. As a 2nd year RB, he is one of the best RB handcuffs to own. In his rookie season, he rushed for 462 yards, 82 yards receiving and 1 touchdown in 13 games. From the glimpses we got to see of Mattison throughout his rookie year it’s hard to tell if he’ll be able to carry the bulk of the weight of the Vikings run first offense but could definitely be a championship winning player to have on your team if Cook goes down injured towards the end of the season.
WR – The Vikings wide receiver landscape has changed since the season ended with one of the members of the Minneapolis Miracle in Steffon Diggs being traded to the Buffalo Bills. Whereas a new addition to the Minnesota WR room at the TCO performance centre, through the draft process is 1st round pick Justin Jefferson. Although Jefferson is a new target for Cousins to throw to, Adam Thielen still remains the number one wide receiver in the Vikings offence. With Cousins at QB, Thielen became the first player in the Super Bowl era to record 100 yards receiving in each of his team’s first seven games in 2018, which unfortunately he couldn’t match in 2019 as he missed a fair chunk of it through injury, which meant he only made 30 receptions for 418 yards although he did manage 6 touchdowns. If Thielen can stay healthy he has proven he can be productive and even though he is 30 years old, he still has two or three years left in him at the highest level. With wide receivers added to teams through the draft immediate production isn’t often expected, which isn’t necessarily the case for Justin Jefferson as he slots into the Vikings offence as WR 2 and will have substantial portion of the targets left behind by Diggs, it just remains to be seen if Kubiak can figure out how to fit both Thielen and Jefferson together as both do their best work in the slot. With Thielen being Cousins’ go to target in previous seasons it may mean Jefferson is forced out wide. The Vikings WR 3 slot isn’t likely to be fantasy relevant but for deeper leagues it is a wide open competition with various players such as Chad Beebe, Bisi Johnson, Dillon Mitchell, K.J. Osborn and Tajae Sharpe look to fight it out in training camp (whenever that is) for the spot.
TE – As much as there might be a competition for the WR 3, the 3rd or 4th most likely receiving target on the team behind the main two WRs in Thielen and Jefferson and possibly receiving RB Dalvin Cook is probably going to be Irv Smith Jr who could be breakout star this year. With Kubiak probably looking to use two Tight End formations it could mean that as Kyle Rudolph focuses more on blocking which was often reported last year in Vikings media circles, that the receiving work is left mainly for Smith Jr, with extra targets to go around on the back of Diggs’ departure. However, as seen in the NFC Wild Card game that went to overtime, Rudolph appears to be a comfort blanket to Cousins in the red zone with him receiving the game winning touchdown which could mean Irv Smith Jr isn’t as productive as one might hope while Rudolph remains on the team.