2021 Fantasy Football Minnesota Vikings Preview

by Tyler Mulligan

Much to the chagrin of Vikings fans, the NFC North has been owned by Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers for the better part of the past decade.

In fact, the pretty boy from South California has led the blue-collar franchise to seven first-place finishes in the last ten years.

Although the Vikings are no slouches (two first-place NFC North finishes in the past five years), this year’s outlook on the season seems dramatically different from years past. A big part of this is the potential for a Rogers-less Packers and a Chicago Bears franchise that is to test the waters with a newly drafted quarterback.

Also, let’s be brutally honest for a minute— the Detroit Lions haven’t been a contender in decades. While I think Jared Goff is a quality quarterback, they’ll likely be nowhere near playoff contention, especially after losing Kenny Golladay to free agency.

Head coach Mike Zimmer will look to build off a disappointing 7-9 with a talented corps of young skill players— and Kirk Cousins.

2021 Fantasy Football Minnesota Vikings Preview


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  • Kirk Cousins
  • Kellen Mond

Okay, I just took a shot a Kirk Cousins with the previous line,  but even with his talent, at 32 years old, he isn’t young. He has, however, registered respectable numbers in his career, especially since donning the purple and gold.

Cousins has thrown 91 touchdowns in three years as a Viking. Since 2018, he has thrown for the fifth-most passing touchdowns behind Mahomes, Wilson, Rodgers, and Brady.

Being in this elite company translates to quality fantasy value and is indicative of durability. Cousins hasn't missed a game

In 2020, Kirk Cousins was ranked QB11 in fantasy football, throwing a career-high 35 touchdowns while averaging 266 yards per game. On the other side of the coin, he also threw 13 interceptions which were tied for the most in his career.

With a talented stable of receivers at his disposal, fantasy owners should expect Cousins to air it out. The former MSU QB could be in for another big year, yet he's often overlooked for bigger-name players.

When drafting quarterbacks, you don’t need someone flashy—you need someone consistent. Kirk Cousins is a model of consistency and is worthy of a late-round grab in re-draft leagues.

Running Backs

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Over the last two seasons, Dalvin Cook has transformed into one of the elite running backs in the NFL. Although he’s not as dynamic as Christian McCaffrey and he won’t bowl over the competition like Derrick Henry, the Florida State alumnus’ skillset falls in between the two.

He’s able to break tackles and catch the ball out of the backfield. In the last two seasons, Cook has used his ability to carve defenses for 2,692 yards on the ground and 880 receiving yards. He did this while missing a total of four games due to injuries.

He’s also a scoring machine, averaging over a touchdown per game during the aforementioned two-year span.

He’ll be a high first-round pick in just about any league and anyone who is lucky enough to have him will reap the benefits. His only issue has been the fact that he has dealt with a few nagging injuries since entering the NFL. Fantasy owners might want to take a good look at Alexander Mattison as a handcuff option.

Mattison stepped up when Cook was sidelined due to a groin strain in Week 5 last year. He gashed the Seahawks for 136 total yards once Cook left the game. Mattison is frequently utilized within Zimmer’s gameplay but his only consistent value comes when Cook is out of the lineup.

Wide Receivers

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After a rough 2019 season plagued by injuries, Adam Thielen looked as though he’d emerge as one of the top fantasy wide receivers heading in 2020. Although he had a respectable 918 receiving yards on 74 catches, it was his rookie teammate that turned heads in Minnesota.

Justin Jefferson became the first rookie receiver of the Super Bowl era to top 1,400 yards in his inaugural NFL season. With 88 receptions and seven touchdowns, the former LSU Tiger sent shockwaves through the fantasy and NFL landscape, becoming the first wideout since Randy Moss to be selected to the NFL All-Pro team as a receiver.

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Jefferson (deservedly so) will be one of the most coveted receivers in both dynasty and redraft leagues. As a result, Thielen might be going under the radar despite offering a solid value option. Thielen is a scoring machine, reaching the end zone 38 times since 2016—ranking sixth among receivers. Only DeVante Adams, Tyreek Hill, Mike Evans, Antonio Brown, and DeAndre Hopkins have scored more during this span.

For those who believe that Thielen will have trouble competing with Jefferson, I’ll bring your attention to his previous partner in crime: Stefon Diggs. Diggs, like Jefferson, may have been an elite receiver while in Minnesota, but it didn’t stop Thielen from seeing an astronomical target share (295 targets between the 2017-2018 campaigns).

Outside of the dynamic duo, the talent in the receiving corps drops off a cliff, but Bisi Johnson and Chad Beebe churned out some solid performances last year. In a pinch, these two could offer fantasy owners waiver-wire solace given the right matchups.

Tight Ends

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The tight end position has one of the shallowest talent pools when it comes to fantasy football. Outside of a handful of producers like Travis Kelce and Darren Waller, tight end production drops off a cliff.

Often, those who don’t have the luxury of rostering an elite TE will have to resort to playing the matchups.

Irv Smith Jr., who is still finding his stride in the NFL could be one of the breakouts this season. Jefferson and Thielen will garner ample defensive attention. Smith Jr. might become one of Cousins’ favorite targets as a safety valve.

Smith Jr. had 30 receptions on 43 targets in 2020. He’s bound to see a significant uptick in targets with Kyle Rudolph no longer in the picture. Fantasy managers may want to consider selecting Smith Jr. should he still be available in the back-end of drafts.

Final Verdict

The Vikings are stacked with offensive weapons. Bettering their 7-9 record should come relatively easily. The big question mark surrounding Green Bay’s starting quarterback situation will also have massive implications for the NFC North.

With regards to fantasy value, the hype around Jefferson could help those who have an eye on Thielen— a pillar of consistency within the Vikings offense. As mentioned earlier, Smith Jr.’s lack of competition at the tight end position combined with my anticipation of NFL defenses deploying more manpower to their dynamic receiving duo could lead to a breakout season.

Expect the Vikings to shake things up and make it to the playoffs, and if you’re looking to make your playoffs, Minnesota is a treasure trove of talented players.

Check out the rest of our 2021 Fantasy Football content from our great team of writers!

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