The Minnesota Vikings are one of those solid offenses you rarely think of unless you follow the team. In the past year, the Vikings ranked 8th in total offense and while their go-to receiver, Stefon Diggs, left via a trade, there’s plenty to like about the Vikings.
If you bet on player productivity and want an idea where each player stands heading into the 2020 season or if you’re looking for strategies on who to target for fantasy football, this article has the answers.
For each article, a stud, sleeper, stumbler, and rookie or breakout player is chosen from each team, relaying you information of who projects to be hot, and not so hot, in 2020, who to bet the over on, who to bet the under on, and who to add to your fantasy team.
Here are 4 Minnesota Vikings to watch in 2020.
1 – Stud: Dalvin Cook, RB
- 250 carries
- 1,135 yards
- 4.5 yards per carry
- 13 touchdowns
- 53 receptions
- 519 yards
- 0 touchdowns
Cook is one of the top backs in football and is an outstanding back for fantasy. He’s also a complete product who can run the ball 200 to 300 times per season and catch passes out of the backfield, making him a threat to opposing defenses every time he touches the ball.
Cook was the top performer on the Vikings in 2019 and look for him to continue his trend in 2020 as he enters his 4th season and turns 25 in August, meaning he has a lot of tread left on the tires.
Despite his success, online oddsmakers and fantasy experts alike may place Cook’s projected statistics lower because of 2019 rookie Alexander Mattison’s emergence, and Mattison received almost half the amount of carries that Cook received.
However, Cook established himself as the featured back after injuries riddled his first 2 seasons, despite the potential he showed. He finally broke out in 2019 so the only caution you need to exercise is that there’s always the possibility that injuries derail his season.
If that’s the case it opens the door for Mattison, but with the durability and production Cook showed in 2019, he’s a safe one to bet the over with.
As for fantasy football, Cook is a definite 1st or 2nd-round pick. 2nd round at the latest, but many leagues project him to go in the 1st because of his 2019 production.
I’ve linked Cook’s projected statistics and the rest of the Vikings’ projections to ESPN.com’s 2020 fantasy football projections for you to gain an idea of what to expect in 2020.
Here are his current projections, per ESPN:
- 244 carries
- 1,050 yards
- 4.3 yards per carry
- 11 touchdowns
- 64 receptions
- 533 yards
- 1 touchdown
Cook is a safe bet for the over on total yards and yards per carry. He scored 13 touchdowns in 2019, and as the featured back he can go over that mark again in 2020. 64 receptions seems high, and it would be the only statistic I’d bet the under here for.
2 – Sleeper: Adam Thielen, WR
- 30 receptions
- 418 yards
- 13.9 yards per reception
- 6 touchdowns
Hamstring injuries derailed Thielen’s season in 2019, as they do any back or receiver from a production standpoint. Often, when a hamstring injury occurs, especially early in the season, a player won’t return to 100 percent until the following year.
In 2019 he only garnered 30 catches in 10 games. But, in 2017 and 2018 he caught 91 and 113 passes, respectively. He also had over 1,250 receiving yards in both seasons, making him one of the most productive receivers in football.
Because of a few factors, the Vikings went out and drafted Justin Jefferson in the 1st round of the 2020 NFL Draft. However, they also traded away former go-to receiver, Stefon Diggs, to Buffalo. This opens the door for Thielen to, at worst, return as a WR2 if not as a WR1.
If his hamstring returns to 100 percent, look for the 2017-2018 version of Thielen to return when he was among the league leaders in receptions and receiving yards.
While ESPN projects a bounceback season from Thielen, his numbers are still low although the team traded away Diggs. This makes Thielen a safe pick for the over on productivity if he proves his hamstring is back to normal and with minicamps being virtual in 2020, it means he has extra rest time.
Project Thielen to enter training camp at 100 percent and look for him to enter camp as the WR1 until Jefferson proves he can snag receptions away from him. And given Thielen’s past production, it will be hard for Jefferson to do so.
If you play fantasy football, Thielen’s gone by the 3rd round so if you like him and feel he’ll return to 2017-2018 form, grab him early. Given that the Vikings’ WR2 is a rookie further increases Thielen’s value.
Here are Thielen’s projected 2020 statistics:
- 78 receptions
- 1,099 yards
- 14.1 yards per reception
- 6 touchdowns
The safest bet for the over here with Thielen is touchdown receptions. Even with limited production in 2019, he still snagged 6 touchdowns. He should return to the 85-95 reception range in 2020 if he’s back to 100 percent and look for something near 1,200 receiving yards from Minnesota’s new go-to.
3 – Stumbler: Kyle Rudolph, TE
- 39 receptions
- 367 yards
- 9.4 yards per reception
- 6 touchdowns
Since posting 83 receptions in 2016, Rudolph’s production has dropped, bottoming out at just 39 receptions in 2019 while rookie Irv Smith Jr. logged 36. And Smith is poised to make the same leap a lot of tight ends have over the years.
Since Rudolph is older, he’s the odd man out in this scenario. So, from a productivity and fantasy standpoint, look for Smith to surpass Rudolph barring injury or a case of the yips in 2020.
So, he’s a safer bet for the under and from a fantasy football standpoint, he’s a waiver wire pickup when your TE1 is on a bye-week.
Here are Rudolph’s projected 2020 statistics:
- 36 receptions
- 358 yards
- 10.0 yards per reception
- 4 touchdowns
While Rudolph is already a safe bet for the under, if Smith performs well in training camp and the preseason, Rudolph is a shoo-in bet for the under.
4 – Rookie: Justin Jefferson, WR
2019 statistics (college):
- 111 receptions
- 1,540 yards
- 13.9 yards per reception
- 18 touchdowns
Jefferson was highly productive in college and it’s likely he’ll be highly productive in the NFL, but maybe not right off the bat which gives you even more of a good reason to believe in Adam Thielen, listed in the sleeper category.
Most rookie receivers see modest production during their 1st year in the league before going over the top.
Players like Julio Jones, A. J. Green, Calvin Johnson, and others saw a decent season before making the big leap, but every now and again you get guys like Michael Thomas and Odell Beckham, who log over 90 receptions during their rookie seasons.
Expect between 50 and 60 receptions from Jefferson in his rookie season, which is where many of your future stars land in Year 1.
Again, it’s possible he can log more production and it has happened in the past, but probability-wise, especially with Adam Thielen manning the WR1 spot and Irv Smith set to break out at tight-end, Jefferson’s production figures to be modest.
But, he’s a great receiver to bet the over for if your oddsmaker has pegged him to grab fewer than 55 receptions and to bet the under if he’s projected to catch over 55. Expect his yardage to be somewhere between 600 and 700 yards and his touchdown reception mark to be between 3 and 6.
For fantasy, he’s a great mid-to-late round pick up and in some leagues, he may drop to the last rounds where fantasy owners look for rookies, breakout 2nd-year players, and sleepers.
Per ESPN, here are Jefferson’s projected statistics:
- 56 receptions
- 686 yards
- 12.3 yards per reception
- 4 touchdowns
The Vikings are a team whose offense is under the radar. When you think of great offenses in football, you’re thinking Baltimore, Kansas City, Green Bay, and the New Orleans Saints, among other teams.
You’re often not thinking of the gems up in Minnesota with quarterback Kirk Cousins leading the way with a variety of talented skill players. But, they’re up there in Minnesota and this article didn’t include much about players like Irv Smith, Cousins, or Alex Mattison.
The Vikings are a deep team and a highly underrated fantasy football and productivity outlet. Don’t count this team out.