Following a division winning, 11-5 season that ended prematurely when Blair Walsh missed a 27-yard field goal in the final minute against the Seahawks in the playoffs. The Vikings lost that game 10-9, but looked poised to take the next step in the 2016 season, as potential Super Bowl contenders.
Those hopes were killed by a constant stream of injuries beginning when quarterback Teddy Bridgewater suffered a devastating knee injury during practice. The Vikings traded a 2017 first and 2018 conditional draft pick to the Philadelphia Eagles for Sam Bradford.
For the first time in 10 seasons, Adrian Peterson is no longer the face of the Minnesota Vikings. Who is the face now though? We’ll examine the Vikings offense and identify who you should target on draft day.
Let’s start with the running back position. Following a year where he only played in three games due to injury, the Vikings release Adrian Peterson. A future Hall of Famer, Peterson was not playing up to his contract before the injury. The Vikings signed Latavius Murray during the offseason.
Murray looked to be the man in Minnesota, following a 12 touchdown season in Oakland where he was forced to split carries in a pass first offense. That was until Florida State running back Dalvin Cook slid into the second round and the Vikings traded up and selected him.
Dalvin Cook excelled at creating yards after contact last year. pic.twitter.com/suw6UTYx5g
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) July 7, 2017
Usually teams are motivated to get players on the field they draft in the early rounds. This is especially true when they give up draft picks for the player. Cook offers the three down versatility that Murray doesn’t. While Murray may be a potential touchdown vulture at the goal-line, Cook is the back to own.
Bust: Latavius Murray
— Fantasy Sports Boss (@ROTOBOSS) July 8, 2017
Murray had off-season ankle surgery and has only recently shed his walking boot. If he enters camp a step behind, Cook could earn the starter role and never look back. Murray is being drafted as RB30 and Cook as RB33. This spot is the part of your draft filled with crowded backfields. If you can get Cook as an RB3/FLEX, he has major upside. In PPR he should be drafted as an RB2 with check down specialist, Sam Bradford at quarterback.
The wide receiver position in Minnesota is no easier to figure out. Last season, Sam Bradford broke the NFL record for single season highest completion percentage at 71.6%. Wow all of his receivers definitely had great seasons then, right? Not exactly.
Stefon Diggs burst out of the gates, scoring 50 points in the first two games. Then scored only 22 points in his next four games. First round pick Laquon Treadwell caught one pass for 15 yards. Undrafted receiver Adam Thielen enjoyed a breakout season, but was up and down as well.
The Vikings signed veteran receiver Michael Floyd to one-year deal this offseason. Floyd is coming off a down year where he was cut by the Cardinals following an arrest for a DUI. Floyd adds to a core that has talent but lacks a star.
Stefon Diggs saw his role change drastically from 2015 to 2016 pic.twitter.com/FNnwv1A0y2
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) July 1, 2017
Diggs is the most talented out of the bunch and is the only receiver you can trust in your lineup. His ADP is WR36, a good value for him, between Corey Davis and Randall Cobb. He’ll have his big games, and some duds, due to the Vikings offensive scheme. Don’t depend on him to be one of your starting receivers unless you draft consecutive receivers with your first two picks.
Sleeper: Adam Thielen
I've got more time to share some thoughts.
I think people are sleeping on these WRs
— Jeff Haseley (@JeffHaseley) July 7, 2017
Thielen has value in PPR leagues, catching all but one of the 95 targets he saw last season. He offers Bradford a security blanket but showed his big play upside at times.
We've seen Kyle Rudolph's ceiling & i'll take his discount over any TE. Several rounds after Gronk/Reed. He commands 22% of his teams tgts.
— Justin Lonero (@JustinLonero) July 8, 2017
Kyle Rudolph enjoyed the change at quarterback last season. Finishing as the second highest scoring tight end with Bradford at quarterback. As the top redzone target, Rudolph will see plenty of scoring chances and will definitely be a top 10 tight end.
The Vikings had the top fantasy defense last season and should be one of the first defenses off the board this season.