2020 Preview: Minnesota Vikings


Dalvin Cook says he's NFL's 'best back,' wants to stay with ...

The 2020 NFL Season is nearly upon us, and in anticipation of the new season we’ll be previewing the action team-by-team, using the draft order from last season. The previews will kick off with the Bengals and run right through the reigning champion Chiefs. Come back each day to check out your favorite team. All ADP and Rankings reflect PPR scoring. 2020 Projections are based on a 12-team league (i.e. WR1 (Top 12), WR2 (13-24), WR3 (25-36)).

            The Vikings made a splash prior to the 2018 season when they gave a large, guaranteed contract to free agent quarterback Kirk Cousins. It didn’t pan out that year as the Vikings missed the playoffs. But things went differently in year two for Cousins, as the Vikings improved to 10-6 and earned a Wild Card slot. The team didn’t stop with just making the playoffs.

            The Vikings shocked many in the Wild Card round as they eliminated the 13-3 New Orleans Saints, and Cousins proved some doubters wrong by leading his team to a playoff victory. The Vikings’ run was stopped the following week by the stout San Francisco 49ers, but it was a big improvement on the 2018 finish. Now, after an up-and-down off-season, the Vikings are looking to make a run again in 2020.

Off-Season Changes

            The biggest change this off-season was to the receiving corps. Stefon Diggs had become discontent with the Vikings and his role, and prior to the NFL Draft he was shipped to Buffalo. The Vikings got a First-Round pick back, and with one of their two First Round picks they snagged LSU receiver Justin Jefferson. Jefferson caught 54 passes for 875 yards and six TDs as a sophomore, but he really exploded last season with Joe Burrow. Jefferson snagged 111 passes for 1,540 yards and 18 TDs. He figures to compete for a starting role opposite Adam Thielen and give the Vikings a passing game weapon for Cousins.

            The Vikings didn’t make many other moves. They did move on from former First Round pick Laquon Treadwell but added a veteran receiver in former Titan Tajae Sharpe. Sharpe caught 41 passes for 522 yards as a rookie, but hasn’t had more than 26 receptions in the two years since. He’ll be competing for targets with Jefferson and Bisi Johnson. The Vikings drafted another receiver—K.J. Osborn out of Miami—and quarterback Nate Stanley in the draft as well.

Fantasy Impact

            The Vikings will rely upon Cousins to lead the passing attack, and he’s steady at the position and in fantasy. He was QB18 in 2019, throwing for 3,603 yards and 26 TDs. He’s a QB2 for fantasy. The real prize on Minnesota is running back Dalvin Cook, who rushed for 1,135 yards and 13 TDs, catching 53 passes for 519 yards. He is an RB1 if he’s there, but a contract dispute could lead to a hold out. His primary backup is Alexander Mattison, and if you own Cook you should snag Mattison. If the Cook owner hasn’t taken Mattison, he’s worth a snag and stash regardless.

            In the passing game, the Vikings will be led by Thielen. The top receiver struggled through injuries in 2019, and was limited to just 10 games, catching 30 passes for 418 yards and six TDs on just 48 targets. The Vikings need Thielen back healthy, and if he is, I think he is a low-end WR1. Jefferson is a good piece for the future, but for 2020 I think he’s more of a WR4 and could split time with veterans Johnson and Sharpe. Jefferson is the only one of the three I’d roster. At tight end, the Vikings have veteran Kyle Rudolph and second year player Irv Smith. Both figure to be involved in 2020, and I think both are TE2s. In Dynasty, I’d roster Smith, but Rudolph has shaky value beyond 2020.

Prediction

            The Vikings made an investment in Cousins to lead the team, and recently extended Head Coach Mike Zimmer. The Vikings were 8-7-1 in 2018 and 10-6 in 2019. They face stiff competition in the NFC North from the Lions, Packers and Bears. It’s a thin line between 10 wins and the playoffs and being around .500. I think the 2020 version of this team takes a small step back, around .500, and falls short of the playoffs.

Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast, a proud member of the Drive-In Podcast Network.

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