Minnesota Vikings Team Outlook
(Editor’s note: This is the free preview of the Minnesota Vikings team outlook. If you already are a premium subscriber to FullTime Fantasy, click here for our premium expanded Minnesota Vikings Team Outlook. The expanded team outlook also includes sections covering the coaching staff, offensive line, schedule, free agency, 2019 draft picks, defense & more.)
Vikings Offense Outlook
The Vikings made a QB change in 2018, but they lost their ability to make plays in the run game. Minnesota ran the ball 37.1 percent of the time while averaging only 22.2 runs per game. Even with talent at QB, WR, and TE, they still need to run the ball at a much higher level. A healthy Dalvin Cook and better play by the offensive line should be the stepping stones to a better offensive season.
Fantasy owners that invested in Cousins in 2018 came away with an empty feeling in too many weeks. He finished as the ninth highest scoring QB in four-point TD leagues. Cousins passed for fewer than 265 yards in nine of his final 11 games. Kirk had two games with over 300 yards passing and two games with 400+ yards with three of those games coming over the first five games. He had three TDs or more in four contests (only two games came over the final 12 games). Cousins did set a career high in completions (425), completion rate (70.1), and passing TDs (30) while matching his top level in passing attempts (606).
In the end, Kirk gained 4,421 combined yards with 31 TDs and ten Ints. In 2019, he has two studs at WR plus a steady TE and a RB with pass-catching upside. At the bare minimum, Cousin should finish with 4,500+ yards with a run at 35+ TDs. The keys to his success will be the play of his offensive line. The Vikings need balance with their running game.
Other Options: Sean Mannion, Kyle Sloter, Jake Browning
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The Vikings eased Cook into action in September. After the first four games, which included a DNP in Week 3, Cook gained 205 yards with no TD and nine catches while receiving 43 touches. He missed four more games due to a hamstring injury. Over his final five games, Davlin started to show his explosive upside (520 combined yards with three TDs and 21 catches). Over this span, he gained 5.7 yards per rush with one impact game (19/136/2 with one catch for 27 yards). Even with a bump in success, Cook only averaged 17.8 touches per game.
There’s a lot to like in Cook’s resume at Florida State. He rushed for 4,464 yards on 687 carries over three seasons while scoring 48 TDs. Dalvin even chipped in with 79 catches for 935 yards. His looked more explosive rushing the ball in 2015 (7.4 yards per rush), but he gained an astounding 14.8 yards per catch last season. His running style has something in common with Devonta Freeman, who also went to FSU. The key for his upside will breaking free at the second level of the defense where his vision and his open field quickness will create huge plays. Cook will make plenty of yards after contact due to his strength and ability to break arms tackles. Dalvin will be a massive threat in the passing game, but he needs to improve his technique and toughness in pass protection.
So far in his NFL career, Cook averaged 4.7 yards per rush and 7.7 yards per catch. These numbers show his explosive upside with a bigger workload. The Vikings have a potent offense with playmakers to move the chains and create scoring chances. The offensive line isn’t great, but it should be improved in 2019. Two years ago, Vikings RBs gained 2,484 yards with 16 TDs and 84 catches despite gaining 3.95 yards per carry. Last year, Minnesota’s backs lost over 18 percent of their opportunity in yards and close to 28 percent of touches. Minnesota will get Dalvin the ball 20+ times a game this year. This could possibly set up a push for 2,000+ yards with double-digit TDs and 60+ catches. At the very least a top-eight RB this year in PPR leagues, but Cook needs to prove he can stay healthy for a full season.
Last year Abdullah played his way out of the league, which led to only four touches for 29 yards and three catches. In his three seasons with the Lions, Ameer offering some value in catches while failing to show enough explosiveness on early downs. Only a veteran back who would be tough to trust over the long haul.
Other Options: Mike Boone, Roc Thomas
For the second straight year, Thielen was one hell of a ride early in the year, but he left Fantasy owners at the doorstep of victory in the championship rounds of the high-stakes market. The change to Kirk Cousins helped him set career highs in catches (113), receiving yards (1373), TDs (9), and targets (153) with success in his catch rate (73.9). Over the first eight games, Adam gained over 100 yards in each contest (6/102, 12/131/1, 14/105, 8/135/1, 7/116/1, 11/123/1, 9/110/1, and 7/103/1). He remained steady over the next four games (4/22/1, 7/66, 8/125/1, and 5/28/1).
When the lights turned on in the high-stakes playoffs (Week 14, 15, and 16), the Vikings only looked his way 15 times in three games leading to no TDs and three below par weeks (5/70, 2/19, and 5/80). Part of his fade was due to a December ankle injury that he played through. Last year the Vikings’ WRs caught 270 passes for 2,969 yards and 24 TDs on 388 targets. His trusted floor has moved to 100+ catches for 1,300+ yards with six to eight TDs. He runs excellent routes with the hands to make plays in tight coverage.
Diggs didn’t have the consistency factor of Adam Thielen, but he did match him in explosiveness at time. When at his best, Stefon posted five high-volume catch games (9/128/2, 11/123, 10/91, 10/119/1, and 13/126/1). On his down days, he had two short contests (4/17 and 3/33) while producing steady value over his final five games (5/49, 4/76, 4/49/1, 2/10/1, and 8/47/1). Diggs missed Week 8 with a knee issue. He set career highs in catches (102), yards (1021), TDs (9), and targets (149) with an exceptional catch rate (68.1).
There’s a lot to like here while also understanding he’s missed nine games in his four-year career. Diggs will be priced high based on his stats last season. With 16 games played, his floor should be 90+ catches for 1,000+ yards and an outside chance at double-digit TDs. His ceiling could be 20 percent high if his path pushes up one more step.
Last season Beebe turned heads in the Vikings’ training camp, but a couple of injuries led minimal playing time in his rookie season (4/39). For the second straight year, Chad received some press in the OTAs for his hard work. Over four years at Northern Illinois, He caught only 64 passes for 930 yards and three TDs. Possession type receiver with a long road to gain meaningful playing time.
Other Options: Jordan Taylor, Dillon Mitchell, Olabisi Johnson, Brandon Zylstra, Jeff Badet
The strength of the Vikings’ top two WRs led to Rudolph finishing with short targets (81 and 82) over the previous two seasons, which came after his breakthrough year in 2016 (83/840/7 on 132 targets). When given a chance, Kyle will catch the ball (66.6 percent in his career and 78.0 percent in 2018). Last year he ended up with 64 catches for 634 yards and four TDs, which ranked 7th at the TE position in PPR leagues. Minnesota signed him to a four-year $36 million contract in June.
Even with a respectable ranking at his position, Rudolph scored over ten Fantasy points in only five games (7/72, 5/48/1, 5/57, 7/63, and 9/122/2). Over his other 11 games, he averaged fewer than three catches for about 24 yards per game. When adding in an upside TE2 in the 2019 NFL Draft, Kyle is a tough investment this year in the Fantasy market. He should be the fourth option in the passing game in Minnesota behind the top two WRs and the running back position. Only worth a date, if his price point is just about free on draft day.
Based on explosiveness, Smith is a significant drop down for me compared to T.J. Hockenson. He comes to the NFL as an undersized TE (6’2” and 242 lbs.) while offering the speed (4.63 40 yards dash at the NFL combine) to test defenses over the long field. His movements in the 3-cone drill (7.32), 20-yards shuttle (4.33), and 60-yard shuttle appeared to be labored forcing Irv to make his plays with his legs in the open field or the deep passing game. In his junior season at Alabama, he caught 44 passes for 710 yards and seven TDs.
Smith needs to improve on his route running and blocking to earn more value in the passing game at the next level. His talent screams upside if he works on his subtle parts of his game that are needed to own the first ten yards past the line of scrimmage. Either way, his speed alone will help draw attention from defenses over the deep middle of the field and in the end zone. This season the Vikings will use him as their second TE to help stretch the field.
Other Options: David Morgan, Tyler Conklin, Cole Hikutini, Brandon Dillon
Over his first six years in the league with the Cowboys, Bailey made 89.5 percent of his field goals with strength from 50 yards or more (24-for-35). His leg lost value over the last two seasons (75.0 percent success rate in field goals) with three missed extra points in 59 chances. For multiple seasons in his career, Fantasy owners considered his automatic with his kicks, and a must own a top-five kicker. In 2019, he’ll look to revive his career in high scoring offense. Last year the Vikings scored 42 TDs while creating 32 field goal tries.
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