Minnesota Vikings 2020 Preview
Can Kirk Cousins make a playoff push without Stefon Diggs?
QB Kirk Cousins and offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski orchestrated an impressive offense that ranked in the top six in all of our efficiency metrics last season. With Stefanski departing Minnesota to become head coach of the Cleveland Browns, the Vikings chose to promote Gary Kubiak to offensive coordinator. Kubiak spent 2019 as an offensive advisor and assistant head coach for Minnesota, and given how successful last season’s offense was, it made perfect sense to hand over play-calling duties to Kubiak. Building on a rushing attack that averaged the sixth most yards per game will be crucial given the departure of WR Stefon Diggs, who led the Vikings in virtually every receiving category last year. Replacing a player like Diggs is nearly impossible in the short-term, but Minnesota retained enough of their 2019 playoff roster to make another run at an NFC North title.
2019 TEAM DATA & FANVEST’S 2020 ESTIMATES
MIN 2019 REGULAR SEASON AGAINST THE SPREAD (ATS) PERFORMANCE
FANVEST’S 5 FANTASY IMPACT PLAYERS
No Vikings player will be relied on as heavily as RB Dalvin Cook. The Florida State product averaged a career best 20.9 PPR points per game last year while finishing the season as fantasy RB6 in just 14 total games. Cook is headed for another 300 touch season, making him an easy top-5 pick in all season-long formats.
Kirk Cousins is the 21st QB off the boards in fantasy drafts right now and considering the Vikings threw the ball at the fourth-lowest rate last year, Cousins simply won’t see the passing volume necessary to place him in starting QB territory. In high-total games where we can foresee an uptick in Minnesota’s pass attempts, Cousins can be viewed as a potential DFS or waiver-wire option.
WR Adam Thielen is poised for a bounce-back year after a disappointing 2019 season saw him only earn 48 targets in 10 games. Since Thielen mostly works out of the slot, his fantasy value relies more on target volume than big plays. So, since Stefon Diggs is leaving a massive 94 targets behind as he heads to Buffalo, Thielen is in an optimal position for a huge season. In 2018 and 2017, Thielen received a total of 298 targets, so he’s no stranger to a #1 role. His current 3rd-round draft position is highway robbery.
The rest of the receiving group is made up of WRs Bisi Johnson, rookie Justin Jefferson and TEs Irv Smith and Kyle Rudolph. Jefferson projects as the #2 WR after posting an 85.4 Pro Football Focus (PFF) grade in his final season at LSU, ranking 29th among FBS WRs. Bisi Johnson never recorded double-digit targets in a game last season and in such a low volume passing offense, he can’t be viewed as a fantasy asset. Minnesota ran two TE sets at the second-highest rate in 2019 (per sharpfootballstats.com), so both Irv Smith and Kyle Rudolph will see the necessary playing time to make each of them fantasy relevant. The problem for fantasy drafters is that neither player will command a big enough target share to make them truly reliable on a week-to-week basis. If forced to decide between the two, the 22 year-old Smith possesses superior athleticism and is projected by ESPN for 16 more targets than Rudolph which would make him the preferred option.
MIN 2020 WIN TOTAL & OUTLOOK
While the Fanvest model is 0.5 wins ahead of the current line at FanDuel Sportsbook, the massive -165 (62.3% implied odds) juice on the over prevents us from recommending bettors risk anything at these odds.