The Minnesota Vikings have been very solid the past few seasons, but they have never been true Super Bowl contenders. They have been hovering right at average to above average, never being able to see their offense and defense click on all cylinders at the same time. The team experienced a good amount of turnover on the defensive side of the ball this offseason, but they were able to keep most of their key pieces in that unit. They also addressed that side of the ball heavily in the draft. They are looking to be just as dominant as they were on the defensive side as they were during their Conference Championship game run.
On offense, we saw the team pick up right where it left off with Justin Jefferson replacing Stefon Diggs. We’ve now seen a bit of a youth movement on offense with Justin Jefferson supplanting the alpha wide receiver role, and now Irv Smith Jr. looking to be the alpha tight end with the departure of Kyle Rudolph. The team also selected Kellen Mond at the beginning of the third round, potentially signifying that Kirk Cousins’ time with the Vikings is coming to an end. Maybe Cousins has taken the team as far as it can go, or maybe the team can finally hit all at the right time for a deep playoff run. The talent is on the roster if they can put it all together.
2021 Fantasy Preview Minnesota Vikings- Projected Depth Chart
- Justin Jefferson: What is there to say about Justin Jefferson? He’s only 22 and already has a 1400 yard season under his belt. He broke the NFL record for receiving yards by a rookie and franchise record for catches by a rookie in a season. It should be wheels up for Jefferson again in 2021 as an established alpha wide receiver from the start of the season. At such a young age, Jefferson is a stud in both redraft and dynasty formats.
- Dalvin Cook: If Dalvin Cook can stay healthy, he is an absolute beast on the field and a locked-in top-end RB1. The past two seasons he has stayed relatively healthy, only missing two games each season. But his injury history looms over him, which is potentially unwarranted at this point in his career. He is a locked-in stud in redraft, but he is at the age of 25. Probably another couple of top-end years in store for Cook in those dynasty leagues.
- Adam Thielen: Despite Justin Jefferson taking over the alpha wide receiver role last year, Thielen still produced a top 10 WR finish. He’s still a talented wide receiver and demands targets. At the age of 30, we could see some decline in his production, but he should still be a consistent high-end WR2 for fantasy teams. In dynasty, his value has tanked due to his age, but for contending teams he can be a valuable contributor.
- Kirk Cousins: Cousins isn’t the flashiest quarterback out there, but he has consistently put up fantasy numbers, being in the top 12 quarterbacks more often than not. It helps that he has two great wide receivers in Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen to throw to now as well. At the age of 32, Cousins looks to have a few more years of fantasy relevance left in the tank. Look for Cousins to be a borderline QB1 this year in fantasy.
- Irv Smith Jr.: Smith is heading into his 3rd year in the NFL, generally a make-or-break year in terms of tight end breakouts. He’s shown flashes of his playmaking ability over the past two years. And he finally started taking over the pass-catching tight end role from Kyle Rudolph towards the end of last season. Now that Kyle Rudolph has moved on to another team, Irv Smith appears to have the TE1 role on lock. With the lack of consistent options at the tight end position, Irv projects to have a high ceiling with a usable fantasy floor. Plus he’s still only 22 for those dynasty managers.
Keep an eye on
- Alexander Mattison: Mattison has been considered a top-end handcuff to Dalvin Cook over the past two seasons. But those two seasons have been Dalvin Cook’s most healthy years. He is still a top-end handcuff and his contract is up in two years. We could see him on a new team following the completion of his contract and potentially in store for a bigger workload. He’s additionally worth a stash in dynasty leagues for that reason, because he is a very talented running back.
- Kellen Mond: Even though Cousins is in front of Mond for the next two years, Mond is a great stash for dynasty leagues. He is a mobile quarterback that flashed greatness in college, albeit inconsistently. Day 2 draft capital isn’t great for a quarterback, but it’s definitely enough to pay attention to. If Cousins can’t lead this team to the next step in the playoffs this season, the organization might be looking to their potential future quarterback sooner than later.
- Ihmir Smith-Marsette: Smith-Marsette was a later-round versatile speedster wide receiver. His immediate impact isn’t very appealing without injuries to the wide receiver room, but there is an opportunity for him in the future. Despite Thielen’s long contract, the organization can drop it without much dead cap. Thielen is now 30 and not getting any younger. We could see Smith-Marsette create a role for himself in 3 wide sets and potentially start eating into Thielen’s role in the coming years. He’s a deeper dynasty league stash as his path to relevance requires a decent amount of projections and events to fall his way.
***Note: All projections and discussions are assuming full PPR formats.***
IDP Analysis With IDPIggy
Patrick Peterson, Sheldon Richardson, Stephen Weatherly, Bashaud Breeland, Nick Vigil, Dalvin Tomlinson, Xavier Woods
Fantasy Football Starters
Danielle Hunter (DL), Eric Kendricks (LB), Anthony Barr (LB), Harrison Smith (DB), Xavier Woods (DB) and Nick Vigil (LB) in deeper leagues
The Minnesota Vikings 2021 defensive roster looks nothing like their 2020 roster. For starters their best IDP, DL Danielle Hunter has returned from surgery and is ready to fulfill his hype as one of the best pass rushers in the game. He will be joined by DL Dalvin Tomlinson whom the vikings spent big money on. DL Sheldon Richardson declined more money to play with a good unit, and to play for Coach Mike Zimmer, long regarded one of the great defensive minds in the league.
IDP starters, LBs Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr are hoping for a healthy season, and will have the veteran presence of LB Nick Vigil rounding out the starting LBs. This is one of the better starting 4–3 LB units in the league, however there is a significant drop off in the backup unit. Health will be crucial to their success.
The strength of the defense, and the most reliable Viking for a decade will be captaining the secondary. DB ‘Hitman Harry’ (Harrison) Smith has long been one of the most undervalued players in the NFL. The former All-Pro delivers at the line of scrimmage, in the running game, in the passing game, and roams sideline to sideline. He is a top 5 safety and has been for the past 9 years.
Smith will be joined by future Hall of Fame inductee DB Patrick Peterson, which will be a huge improvement for their secondary. DB Xavier Woods will be in the free safety position and will be asked to cover the NFC North’s elite Tight Ends and pass catching RBs. 2 of the 4 members of the secondary are new, and it could take a few weeks for them to develop rhythm, but they will have one of the most complete units in the NFL once they do.
2021 Fantasy Preview Minnesota Vikings- Stat Projections
Irv Smith Jr.
***Note Player Projections are only fantasy relevant players. Team totals may not add up as we left out players that may not have a significant impact on the season. Projections provided by Rich King and are based on 16 games.***
|Rushing Att||Rushing Yards||Rushing TDs||Passing Att||Passing Yards||Passing TDs||Total Yards||Total TDs|
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Image Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn – USA TODAY Sports