USA Today/Pete Rogers Illustrations

Minnesota Vikings 2021 Fantasy Football Preview

Trust the Vikings offense to be more of what we saw in 2020. Here's a breakdown of the roster for fantasy this season.

It has been a long time since the Super Bowl, and remembering exactly how things left off last year can be a challenge. So, I’ll be writing up a fantasy preview for each NFL team to give us a quick refresher on what happened last year, and what changes took place in the offseason. All fantasy stats will be in ESPN scoring format unless otherwise noted.

If I missed any change or left out any big notes, throw them down in the comments for me!

What Did They Do Last Year

Justin Jefferson and Dalvin Cook were the big stories for the Vikings last year. I list Jefferson first because his rookie season production was historic, breaking the rookie receiving yards record (nice story from Lindsey Young here). Cook posting the most fantasy points per game in standard scoring (excluding Christian McCaffrey’s three game run) rewarded drafters who shrugged off concerns over his touchy injury history. 

Stability is the word of the day for the Vikings offense, and that is cat-nip for those early round picks. While Gary Kubiak has retired (again), Klint Kubiak (yes, Gary’s son) is stepping in as offensive coordinator. We can expect the system to remain the same, of course the results… we’ll see. 

Mike Zimmer will return for his eighth season as head coach, and his son Adam Zimmer will be back for his second year as defensive coordinator. It’s good to be king, eh?

Quarterback
OVR
Rank
PlayerGCOMPATTYDSTDINTATTYDSTDFFPFFP/G
11Kirk Cousins163495164,2653513331561296.218.5

Who had “Kirk Cousins as the only QB to support two top-10 receivers (standard scoring)” in the pool? If you go .5PPR or full-PPR, Only Cousins and Russell Wilson got two receivers into the top 10 for the year. 

Cousins serves as a great example for two key points in fantasy: end of year finish is only a mildly informative stat and in 1-QB, 12-team leagues we should be considering the top-6 quarterbacks as QB1s. 

While Cousins finished 11th overall, he only had three weeks where he finished as the QB6 or better. One of those weeks was the Vikings Week 17 matchup against the Detroit Lions where Cousins ended up as the QB1. So, even though Kirk “finished as a QB1”, your QB position was worse than average all but two weeks when you started Cousins in fantasy.

For 2021, Cousins will be a streaming option, but not worth drafting in 1-QB leagues. In 2-QB/Superflex, I’d still be disappointed walking away from the draft with Cousins as my QB2. Currently Cousins is ranked QB20 in our staff rankings.

Wide Receivers
PPR
Rank
STD RankPlayerGTGTRECYDSTDSTD PTSSTD PTS/GPPR PTSPPR PTS/G
76Justin Jefferson16125881,4007182.211.4270.216.89
108Adam Thielen15108749251417811.925216.8
116116Chad Beebe102920201230.1350.15.01
135136Olabisi Johnson81914189018.92.432.94.11
220220Tajae Sharpe330000000

The big question with the Vikings receivers is will the touchdown disparity between Adam Thielen and Jefferson remain unusually slanted in Thielen’s favor, or will the randomosity of touchdowns bring the two closer together in 2021?

Justin Jefferson is going off the board at 3.02 (third round, second pick), and Adam Thielen is sitting at 4.09 per fantasyfootballcalculator.com .5PPR ADP. Jefferson will be 22 years old for the 2021 season, while Thielen will turn 31 just before the season kicks off. 

Related: Regression Candidates Based on Touchdown Dependency

Both receivers are likely to be viable fantasy options again. The Vikings offense is not a high-flying leviathan, but the target tree, or distribution of targets and yards, is very narrow. While both receivers will be week-to-week fantasy starters, I’d much rather pay up for the younger, more explosive Jefferson. The relatively low touchdown total from Jefferson leaves a lot of room for improvement, while Thielen’s 14 TD mark last year will be tough to replicate (his previous highest TD mark was 9 in 2018, then 6 in 2019). 

Jefferson is our WR9 in our staff rankings while Thielen is much further down at WR25.

Running Backs
PPR RankSTD RankPlayerGATTYDSTDTGTRECYDSTDSTD PTSSTD PTS/GPPR PTSPPR PTS/G
23Dalvin Cook143121,5571654443611289.820.7333.823.84
5550Alexander Mattison139643421513125173.95.786.96.68
9393Ameer Abdullah68420108582223.7305
9899C.J. Ham11518014897117.51.625.52.32
122112Mike Boone5115912210012.92.614.92.98

Dalvin Cook is an explosive, do-it-all, workhorse back in an offense that runs through the running back. He going as the RB2 in .5PPR redrafts—which is exactly where we have him in our staff rankings—and I’d be weary of anyone arguing too hard he doesn’t deserve to be in the tier just after Christian McCaffrey.

Tight End
PPR
Rank
STD RankPlayerGTGTRECYDSTDSTD PTSSTD PTS/GPPR PTSPPR PTS/G
2322Irv Smith124330365566.55.596.58.04
3841Kyle Rudolph123728334137.43.165.45.45
5056Tyler Conklin72619194125.43.644.46.34
111110Brandon Dillon111600.60.61.61.6

After Travis Kelce, Darren Waller, and George Kittle, the tight end landscape is a whole bunch of hopin’ and squintin’ and tryin’ to convince yourself your divining rod actually works. 

Irv Smith is one of many ‘maybes’ at tight end. This Vikings offense is the same zone run, play action scheme run by the Shanahans and Gary Kubiak. (I assume that will be ‘the Kubiaks’ this year.)

That offense leaves a lot of room for a talented tight end to dominate. Will Irv Smith be able to take advantage now that Kyle Rudolph has moved on? I say pay up at tight end, but Smith is a fine consolation prize with an ADP 12.01, TE15. 

The Schedule

The Vikings ended up with a middle of the road schedule when it comes to forecasted opponents wins and opponents defensive efficiency. The Vikings will have a couple of cupcake matchups against the Chicago Bears and Lions, but they’ll have the Green Bay Packers to contend with, too. 

What Does It All Mean?!?! (AKA – Bold predictions)

We have plenty of fairly priced fantasy options on the Vikings again this year. Even though we have a new offensive coordinator in Klint Kubiak, we have a good idea of how this offense will at least try to distribute touches. That little bit of certainty is worth a lot, so go draft your Vikings at these reasonable ADPs.

_____

Thanks to FFToday.com for hosting such great stats info!

Thanks to TheHuddle.com for their great Coaching Change Tracker