From the elite tier to the “stashable upside” tier, the Vikings have, in my opinion, seven players who belong on fantasy rosters to start the 2022 season. I will explore these players’ 2022 ADP (Average Draft Position), as well as how they rank positionally. Further, I will make some general notes about their relevance in dynasty leagues. Each player’s ADP and position rank is based on the rankings on FantasyPros.com, as of August 6th.
K.J. Osborn (ADP 183, WR 71)
There is a lot of excitement surrounding K.J. Osborn this season. He emerged last season as the clear-cut Vikings WR number three. In a run-first offense last season, Osborn put up an impressive 50 catches for 655 yards. Assuming the offense airs it out more this year, Osborn could be in line for career highs, and potentially FLEX value in fantasy.
His real value and relevance, however, would come if either Thielen or Jefferson need to miss time. Thielen has been known to miss a few games in recent seasons, so this potential volume for Osborn could make him a WR two on some weeks.
Redraft relevance: Draft late for good value. Don’t pass up on players that have more consistent volume, but Osborn should be considered a player with high upside if you have the space on your bench.
Dynasty relevance: He has the youth (25 y.o.) and the ability that dynasty managers love; he just needs the opportunity. Definitely worth a roster stash for the moment.
Irv Smith, Jr. (ADP: 127, TE 14)
We have all been waiting for Irv Smith, Jr. to break out. Many think last season would have been the year, but Smith missed the entire season due to injury. There has already been a scare this season as Smith, Jr. had recent thumb surgery. However, the Vikings expect Irv Smith, Jr. to be back in time for Week 1. As the Vikings’ clear first-string TE, Irv Smith could be a solid fantasy pickup in 2022. If you miss out on some of the proven top tight ends, Smith, Jr. could be the sleeper that can help you win your league.
Redraft relevance: There is a significant dropoff in TE production after the elite 3-6 TEs. If you don’t like the value of TEs earlier in the draft, take a flyer on Irv Smith, Jr. He has all of the upside in the world to produce as a top 12 TE by season’s end.
Dynasty relevance: At only 24 years old he is still a solid TE to have on your dynasty rosters. All it takes is one productive (and healthy) season, and we may be talking about him as a top 10 dynasty TE for the next few years.
Alexander Mattison (ADP: 118, RB 41)
Mattison has been one of the more productive RB handcuffs in the league over the past few seasons. He also has had opportunities. We can count on Dalvin Cook to be amazing, but also to miss a couple of weeks, and Mattison almost always makes the most out of these moments. Last year he posted 719 total yards from scrimmage, which is his best to date.
Mattison is in the last year of his four-year deal and will be an unrestricted free agent in 2023. It will be hard for the Vikings to keep him here next year, and players have been known to post career numbers in potential contract years. We do not know precisely how he’ll be used with the new coaching staff, but I think we already know what his floor is.
Redraft relevance: He is still the clear backup which limits his upside. I would strongly recommend drafting him if you draft Dalvin Cook. However, I think he is worth a late-round flyer even without Cook, simply because you know what you’ll get from him while he plays. As I mentioned above, his worst-case scenario is what he’s been producing. If he gets even a few more touches each game this year, he could potentially be a low-end FLEX player.
Dynasty relevance: It is hard to gauge his value since he is a backup. I kind of view him like I view Tony Pollard in that they could be RB1s if they were the lead guys on their team.
Kirk Cousins (ADP: 107, QB 14)
We can debate the merits of Kirk’s stats over the years in terms of how they’ve equated to wins, but not as statistics themselves. In fantasy all you care about are stats, so Kirk Cousins is a very relevant fantasy quarterback.
He’s currently the 14th QB taken on average, but last year he finished in the top 12 in fantasy points per game. He does not have the rushing upside of some of the better fantasy quarterbacks, but he has posted back-to-back 4000+ yard seasons with 30+ touchdowns.
Redraft relevance: Specifically in one-QB leagues, Kirk Cousins is for those who like to wait on the quarterback position. If you don’t like reaching for a QB, or you can’t resist an RB/WR’s value earlier in the draft, go ahead and wait to take someone like Cousins. He can easily help you compete for a fantasy title in 2022.
Dynasty relevance: For dynasty, there isn’t too much value in a 33-year-old gunslinger. However, if you play in a 2QB/Superflex league, then you could do way worse than Kirk as your QB2.
Adam Thielen (ADP: 73, WR 31)
Over the past few seasons, many have wondered when Thielen will finally start to drop off. He has missed substantial time in two of the last three seasons, but he is still quite productive as a fantasy WR. Why?
His uncanny ability to find the endzone, that’s why. He only played in 13 games last season but scored 10 touchdowns. The previous season saw him score 14 times in 15 games. As long as he is targeted near the endzone, he can produce easily at the WR2 level.
Redraft relevance: I’m happy to draft Thielen at or below his ADP. I’m not reaching since he has to compete for volume with Justin Jefferson, but as a proven player there’s little reason to avoid him at a good value in your draft.
Dynasty relevance: A 31-year-old, injury-prone wideout isn’t exactly someone you should target. That said, his track record for getting into the endzone means he should at least be rostered.
Dalvin Cook (ADP: 8, RB 6)
Speaking of injury-prone, we have Dalvin Cook as the second-highest-rated fantasy player on the Minnesota Vikings. Because even though he gets injured almost every season, his play when healthy is elite. A back that can rush with the best of them, and catch balls out of the backfield, is quite possibly the most valuable type of fantasy player.
I’ll be honest; as a Vikings fan I’m not sure I’m taking him in the top 10, but I worry about injuries perhaps more than others. The reason people ignore his injury history? In 2019, Dalvin Cook finished #5 in total fantasy points among running backs. In 2020? He finished 3rd. Last season saw him finish #15 in just 13 games, but he was 8th best in terms of fantasy points per game at 13.4.
Redraft relevance: The bottom line is that you should be drafting him at ADP until proven otherwise. Could he start to trail off at any point in the coming seasons? Yes. Should you avoid him? No.
Dynasty relevance: At 26 years old he does not seem too old, but for runningbacks that is, unfortunately “getting up there.” I’m still content to have him on my team, but if I’m not a contender this season I’m looking to sell while his value is still pretty high.
Justin Jefferson (ADP: 6, WR 2)
It’s pretty much pointless to throw stats around with this guy, but I suppose I should at least entertain a few. As a rookie, Justin Jefferson finished 6th in total fantasy points for WR. He followed that campaign up last year by finishing 4th. The fact that he is still ascending into his prime while putting up these numbers is ridiculous.
Jefferson managers have to be salivating at the new coaching regime as well because he was putting up those numbers on a supposed “run-first” team.
Redraft relevance: The only dilemma you have if he’s available is whether or not to take Cooper Kupp if he is also available. I also like Ja’Marr Chase, but I’m worried he’s set his bar too high. Or maybe I’m too big of a Vikings fan to put Chase ahead of JJ? I suppose you should also consider Jonathan Taylor, among others, before making your pick. But honestly, you would do well to put Justin Jefferson on your squad.
Dynasty relevance: When you factor in age along with production, there are only two guys who can be considered WR1 for dynasty: Ja’Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson. Let’s not overthink this. Jefferson is an elite dynasty asset, and I’m only selling him if the offer is absurdly overpriced.
Good luck to all of you in your fantasy drafts this season! Let me know if there’s another player I left off the list. You can also find me @Jlime8 on Twitter if you want to agree and/or disagree with any of my takes.