It’s hard to believe but with the NFL Draft officially in the rear view mirror, fantasy football drafts are right around the corner. In fact, for some unique situations with overly excitable owners, there are actually drafts that have already taken place.
For me, my first Dynasty Rookie Draft is coming up this next weekend, so I’ve been diving in deep to prep and get ready for what’s to come. With that, I figured, why don’t we do some of the prep together. Here’s a list five Minnesota Vikings players that are fantasy relevant including everything that you need to know about them for various formats of fantasy play.
Justin Jefferson – WR1-2 range
He’ll be 23 years old when the 2022 season kicks off in September and he’s already got two STELLAR seasons under his belt. Justin Jefferson is a beast, and he’s the most desirable player on the Vikings roster for fantasy football purposes. Depending on what sort of league your in, he could even be the number one overall selection. According to ESPN’s Mike Clay, Jefferson is slotted in as the #1 overall selection for Dynasty Startup drafts. He lands in that top spot because he’s the perfect mix of being young, being really good and being slotted into an offense that is dynamic, and some would argue that the Vikings offense is about to take another step forward with Kevin O’Connell at the helm. For Dynasty managers, the expectation is that Jefferson will produce on a high level for many years to come.
For re-draft leagues he’s also a slam dunk top-10 player and likely the WR2 only behind Cooper Kupp. He’ll almost assuredly fall of the board in the first round, with an average draft position (ADP) right around #5 overall.
In just two seasons at the pro level, Jefferson is averaging more than 1,500 yards, 8.5 touchdowns and nearly 100 receptions per season. Barring injury, there’s no reason why that should change heading into his third season in 2022.
Dalvin Cook – RB8 range
After Jefferson, the next most tantilizing Vikings player for fantasy purposes is clearly the running back, Dalvin Cook. The value here for dynasty leagues will vary rather wildly as the perception surrounding shelf life for running backs in the league is in the midst of a shift. When Adrian Peterson was in the fold, the shelf life for running backs was said to drop off severely after the age of 30. Today however, the churn and burn on the running backs appears to be much earlier with heavy use right out of the gate and shared backfields taking priority.
At 27 years old when the season starts, Cook in approaching that threshold which knocks his value in dynasty leagues back to #20 overall, the 9th running back off the board.
But when it comes to straight re-draft leagues, Cook is likely to push his way into the first round of most drafts. Presently, his ADP is right around #11 overall which is spot on for a guy who can run and catch out of the backfield. Cook is on a string of three straight 1,000+ yard seasons with 36 total touchdowns over that span as well. There’s always a level of injury concern with Dalvin who has missed 13 games over the last four seasons. Still, he’s a second, maybe third tier running back but still a running back #1 for your team if you can get him.
Adam Thielen – WR 40-50 range
It might be the most difficult question on this list to answer, what to do with wide receiver Adam Thielen when it comes to fantasy. On the one hand, he’s 32 years old this season and he’s always been looked down upon. That said, he just gets the job done.
In 2021, with all the experts doubting him into the season, Thielen went out and 726 yards and 10 total TDs. It’s those declining yardage and target numbers that have created the concern that you get from some, but it’s those touchdowns and the redzone targets he continues to get that keep him on everybody’s radar for spot starts or re-draft leagues. As long as Cousins is the quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings, Adam Thielen is going to get his. Even if he were to lose a step when it comes to his speed, Thielen is an ELITE route runner and will still find ways to get open on the field. Given the bond that they’ve created over the last few years #19 remains a solid WR3 for your team and could flirt with WR2 range.
Kirk Cousins – QB15 range
And that brings us to everybody’s favorite, quarterback Kirk Cousins. People love to hate on Kirk on the field but when it comes to fantasy football he continues to produce.
For re-draft leagues he still slots in as a starter even if he’s the #9 or #10 guy in your league. The yards and touchdowns were both Top-10 last season and there’s no reason to expect that to change this year. He’s got weapons on the outside with Jefferson and Thielen, has Dalvin Cook carrying the ball and coming out of the backfield and he’ll get Irv Smith Jr. back again this season for a big body over the middle. He’s got the weapons, he’s got the skill and the hope is that he’s finally got the right coach to boot. For a guy who already puts up big numbers, there is reason to believe that this year could finish as one of his bests.
Dynasty drafts are a little more difficult. There’s certainly a spot for Kirk on roster, but he’ll slide from a Top-10 QB in re-drafts back to a Top-25 option for dynasty based primarily on his age and years of service.
Irv Smith Jr. – TE
If you’re looking for some value that *could* (or could not) hit big when it comes to the Minnesota Vikings, tight end Irv Smith Jr. is going to be your guy. Coming off of a knee injury that kept him sidelined for the entirety of last season, Smith has the potential to become a big part of a high scoring offense with the Vikings.
He’s yet to prove much on the field as his first opportunity was about to come when he was injured last season, but he was highly touted out of Alabama and really has no competition right now in that tight ends room.
For a position in fantasy football where there are 3 or 4 elite players, Smith could be as good an option as anybody else if you’re filling out your roster spots.