Who is the WR1 in dynasty?

Is Davante Adams the best WR in dynasty?

By: Zach Kurt

Who is the best wide receiver in dynasty? I bet when I ask this question quite a few names pop into your head. Profiles like A.J. Brown, Tyreek Hill, Calvin Ridley, and many more are in the running but who is the top dog? I was very curious about who the Fantasy community thought was the dynasty WR1. I didn’t just poll their number one WR, I polled their top five dynasty WRs and 90% of them had A.J. Brown, Justin Jefferson, Tyreek Hill, and Davante Adams. Other WRs included in the top 5 were: Calvin Ridley, DeAndre Hopkins, D.K. Metcalf, Ceedee Lamb, Stefon Diggs, Ja’Marr Chase, Terry McLaurin, Michael Thomas.

However, I am going to eliminate the list that I just shared. Not because they aren’t able to be the dynasty WR1 but the community seems to have narrowed it down to these 4 WRs. Each of these WRs were Hill, Adams, AJB, and Jefferson, who all received 20% of the top vote in the poll. It is fair to say that each one of these WRs has the talent, opportunity, and situations to be THE WR1 but there is only one. So who will it be? Let’s break down each player in terms of production, age, injury history, and future outlook.

First on the podium, is Tyreek hill. Hill is in the best offense and will be until he retires. He is 27 years old and is truly a beast at the position, as he has elite yards per catch, and has found the endzone 35 times the last 3 years. Plus he has a small rushing upside that none of these other guys have. Tyreek has a brief injury history and also has had some trouble with the law. Patrick Mahomes is throwing him the ball and that immediately puts him at the top of my list because he has the best QB of the group for the foreseeable future.

Next, Adams is a target machine and a red zone monster. If he was 25 I don’t think that there is any question about who the WR1 is. However, he is 28 and has an injury history and that is something that is taken into consideration when making this decision. Last season he had 149 targets in 14 games. Did I mention he is a red zone monster? 18 Tds in 14 games, that’s more than a TD a game. According to Draftsharks.com Adams has a 94% of an injury in 2021. The older he gets the more likely to increase that rate and at 94% that’s tough to rely on. When Adams is on the field he is the best fantasy WR in football. There is a chance that he and Rodgers don’t play together next year and that could have serious implications on his fantasy value.

Next is AJB stud WR who has a higher YPC than Tyreek. He is 24 years old and a solid red-zone option and has a great QB but not an elite one. Entering his third year his ceiling is very high. However, his targets don’t come very close to Hill and Adams. Brown has averaged less than 100 targets in his first two years. With Julio coming into the team it took the opportunity he had to be the Clear #1 on this team away. Tennessee also doesn’t throw the ball a lot and that makes AJB’s target share high but his volume of targets is low when comparing him to the other guys. He has had a few minor knee injuries over his career but nothing that has set him back more than a few weeks.

Finally, we have Justin Jefferson a breakout guy in year one 125 targets 1400 yards but only 7 TDs. JJeff is 22 years old and super safe because of his yardage floor. He is going to get the targets and do great things with them as we saw last year. A stipulation with Jefferson is that he has only done it one year, and could face regression. His TD’s seem to be a cause for concern only getting 7. Adam Theilen is a red zone monster but will slowly fade in the next few years. JJeff is the #1 target on his team and has room to grow! Can JJeff be better than he was last year? Absolutely he can, but the unknown is rough with him. Now as we look back at all 4 receivers all of them have some concerns and they all have incredible upside.

Have you figured out who the Dynasty WR1 should be? Drumroll, please! It’s not Adams, It’s not AJB……. It’s Justin Jefferson, with Tyreek a close second. Justin Jefferson in his rookie year with no training camp or preseason was a top 6 WR and he has room to grow and improve. He will be a top 5 WR in the NFL for the next 8-10 years. Tyreek and Adams will probably be better than JJeff over the next 2-3 years. However, JJeff will be right behind him, his competition for targets is slowing down and most WR’s show better results in year 2. Jefferson has longevity, he is elite, and has the best floor without an injury history.

Thank you for sticking with me to figure out who the Dynasty Wr1 Should be. While I still love all the WRs mentioned in the article and all of them have the potential to be the top dog, Jefferson is the clear answer for me. I hope this research helped inform your decision as well. As I always say, send trade offers because Dynasty Never Rests!

Which Vikings WRs Are Making cases for roster spots?

Which Vikings WRs will surprise?

By: Grant Schwieger

The wide receiver position is often one of the most heavily scrutinized positions when it comes to training camp position battles across the NFL. Teams almost always carry a minimum of five WRs on their 53-man roster with 6 WRs being fairly common as well. The 2020 Vikings actually carried 7 wideouts on their initial roster: Adam Thielen, Justin Jefferson, Chad Beebe, Bisi Johnson, Tajae Sharpe, KJ Osborn, and Dan Chisena. So, which pass-catchers will make the 2021 Week 1 roster, and how many will there be in total?

Six of the seven WRs from 2020 are on the 2021 Vikings training camp roster to this point, with Sharpe being the only one no longer in Minnesota. The Vikings did take a hit to their depth when it was announced that Bisi Johnson tore his ACL in practice last Friday and is going to miss the 2021 season. Johnson has proven to be a capable backup outside WR so far in his career, amassing 836 snaps in the last two seasons since being a seventh-round pick in 2019. Minnesota will now have to look elsewhere on the roster to fill Johnson’s role, however, they thankfully have a few alternatives that could suffice.

Less than a week before Johnson went down, the Vikings signed former Jaguars wideout Dede Westbrook to a one-year deal. With the Minnesota WR room not having much spunk outside of Jefferson and Thielen, the Westbrook move was much applauded at the time. Now, with one less able body to catch passes, the move looks even better. Westbrook has yet to practice fully after tearing his ACL last season, but the hope is he will be a full-go once the season begins. He caught 66 passes in back-to-back seasons for Jacksonville in 2018-2019, so for the sake of this article, we will assume, if healthy, he makes the roster.

The only other two locks at the position to make the team are obviously Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen. Jefferson has looked absolutely fantastic based on reports coming out of camp, and Thielen has not shown any signs of slowing down quite yet either as he turns 31 later this month.

If the Vikings were to keep six WRs on the 53-man roster, that leaves three spots left for Chad Beebe, KJ Osborn, 2021 5th round pick Ihmir Smith-Marsette, Dan Chisena, and 2021 UDFAs Blake Proehl, Whop Philyor, and Myron Mitchell. After about of week of camp, the leader among that group appears to be Osborn. After not registering a single offensive snap in 2020, he has been the talk of camp seemingly every day, making big play after big play.

A positive development from Osborn would be a very welcome sight to see for Vikings fans, as he did not impress on special teams in 2020 and the team sorely needs a third receiver to make any sort of impact on the team. With Westbrook not healthy yet and Beebe not a lock to remain WR3 by any means, Osborn has taken full advantage of his opportunities thus far in 2021.

As for Beebe, he was the Vikings de facto WR3 in 2020, however, his 314 snaps all year trailed CJ Ham and Tyler Conklin’s snaps, so he was not necessarily a vital piece of the offense. He has excelled at getting open from the slot in short-yardage situations with 21 of his 27 targets coming between 0-9 yards downfield per PFF. Kudos should be given to Beebe for carving out a role in the NFL with limited size and speed, but when it comes to roster spots in 2021, he does not exactly scream “lock.”

Ihmir Smith-Marsette came out of Iowa boasting a 4.43 40-yard dash time and after a few days of camp has shown off his speed on multiple occasions. Most of his reps have come against the 2nd and 3rd string defense but regardless it is alleviating to see him make plays already. The majority of his snaps in college came from the outside, and with Beebe and Westbrook playing mostly out of the slot in their careers, Smith-Marsette may find himself battling with Osborn to replace Johnson as the backup outside WR.

That leaves Chisena, Proehl, Philyor, and Mitchell as potential odd men out if Minnesota rolls with only six wideouts. Chisena was a bit of a shock to make the roster in 2020 so he cannot be ruled out at this point. While his position is listed as WR, he is more of a special teams player that just needs a designated position. It remains to be seen if the Vikings will need Chisena to be a core special teamer again in 2021 as the team’s overall depth is much better now than it was a year ago.

Proehl and Philyor both had solid college careers at East Carolina and Indiana, respectively. Neither one has been bad by any means so far in camp, they just have an uphill battle to climb when it comes to the wideouts in front of them on the depth chart. They have both performed well enough to possibly garner a spot on the practice squad, which might be a more attainable goal for them. Injuries and covid can easily derail a position’s depth, though, and Proehl and Philyor will surely both be eager to step up if needed.

As for covid, Myron Mitchell is unfortunately currently on the Reserve/Covid-19 list so his first training camp out of UAB will have to be put on pause for now. That will put him at a disadvantage once he is eventually able to return, and a practice squad spot might be what he ends up battling for as well.

Once preseason games begin and we are able to see this group play live, the cream of the crop will start to rise to the top and we will have a better understanding of how the coaches view the WR depth chart. As for now, everyone behind Jefferson and Thielen will continue to slug it out for the final four or five roster spots. My current prediction? The Vikings will roster six wideouts come Week 1: Jefferson, Thielen, Westbrook, Osborn, Smith-Marsette, and Beebe.

Why the Vikings and not the Buccaneers have the best skill players

RB Dalvin Cook leads the best skill group in the NFL

By: Jake Rajala

The professional football league showcases many elite groups of weapons and more talent is undoubtedly being displayed on the field in 2021 than in any previous time period. Bill Barnwell, who is an iconic staff writer for ESPN, recently put out a list of the 32 groups of NFL offensive weapons. At the very top of the list, he marked the Tampa Bay Buccaneers skill group as the utmost best unit in the league. 

I believe the defending Super Bowl champions carry players with elite talent and prominent depth all around, but I believe it’s far-fetched to put them at number one. In my opinion, the true number one group is clear. The top offensive skill group is none other than the Minnesota Vikings. To further state my case, I will give three reasons why the Vikings and not the Bucs display the top weaponry in the NFL. 

  • Vikings have a stronger WR duo 

The stories and myths surrounding Vikings WR Adam Thielen may have started to slowly fade, but he can still operate at a high playing level. The Bucs number one WR in Mike Evans may have hauled in a whopping 13 touchdowns last season, but the Vikings number two WR unveiled 14 receiving touchdowns on the table. Thielen’s career-high touchdown count and 926 yards clearly show he’s one of, if not the best WR2 in the league.

Chris Godwin may have been a stat machine in the days of Jameis Winston leading the league in passing yards, passing touchdowns, and then interceptions, but he hasn’t shown to be a dominant force of late. Godwin had 840 yards and likely would have been floating around 1,000 yards if he stayed healthy for the long season, but his touchdown count was just half (7) of what the freakish Thielen was showing. It’s fair to say that Thielen’s resume and talent is a step ahead of Godwin and he’s been playing in a far less explosive passing attack. As far as the number one WR spot between the Bucs and Vikings, the honors actually go to Vikings Justin Jefferson. 

Jefferson was fourth in the whole NFL last season in receiving yards (1,400). The Vikings WR was just a rookie last season and didn’t get into sync until a short period into the season. Going into year two, Jefferson could realistically show he’s the best WR in the NFL. Evans screams consistent high-level play, but he’s not quite rubber-like when it comes to route running, nor can he take the top off a defense as the second-year Vikings WR can. Buccaneers Antonio Brown is a very quality number three WR, but I believe the Vikings WR duo can take over games individually. Thielen’s clutch ability and Jefferson’s explosion with any route concept deep down the field make them very reliable and hard to cover with one or two defenders.

  • Dalvin Cook is significantly more impressive than the Bucs running game

The Bucs have an admirable duo with all-purpose back Ronald Jones and 2021 playoff hero Leonard Fournette, but both of them combined don’t match Dalvin Cook’s playmaking ability. Dalvin Cook was second in the league in rushing yards (1,416) and rushing touchdowns (16). It’s worth noting that Cook put this damage on defenses despite missing two games. Leonard Fournette compiled 367 rushing yards and six touchdowns during the span of the 16 game season, while Ronald Jones captured a stout of 978 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. The Bucs RB duo is a nice assist to Tom Brady’s passing game, but they don’t stack up to the production that Cook lays out with even a combined effort. 

All in all, the Buccaneers should be labeled as a Top 5 offensive group of weapons. Yet, I believe an overrated factor of the defending Super Bowl title on their nameplate combined with the fact that these slightly dissolving household players like Antonio Brown and Leonard Fournette just happened to make their biggest plays in the most recent game (Super Bowl), helped them garner the number one spot. The Vikings may have been a 7-9 squad with no impressive number three wideout, but I believe the talent is above and beyond to earn them the first place standing.

Do the Minnesota Vikings have a playoff contending roster

Is the Vikings roster elite?

By Christopher Thomas

The NFC playoffs are almost impossible to predict because there are so many teams in the middle of the pack that can easily sneak into the playoffs if they get hot towards the end of the year. Last year’s team who snuck into the NFC playoffs was the Chicago Bears who were led to the playoffs by their starting running back David Montgomery. This year that team could very also be from the NFC North.

The Minnesota Vikings are at an interesting crossroads with the way their current roster is projected. They have some elite talent spread throughout their roster. But they also have a combination of veterans past their prime and inexperienced young players filling out the rest of their roster. Head coach Mike Zimmer is one of the best and most respected at his position around the league. However, this current Vikings roster could have the Vikings finishing anywhere between picking in the top-10 and potentially winning the NFC North. Here is a deep dive of the Minnesota Vikings roster. 

Quarterbacks

Much like a majority of teams in the NFL the Minnesota Vikings playoff hopes are reliant on the play of their quarterback. During the 2017-18 offseason, the Vikings signed quarterback Kirk Cousins to a 3 year $84 million deal. Since signing Cousins the Vikings have made the playoffs once over the last three seasons and have a 25-21 -1 record when he is the starter. This offseason Minnesota gave him a two-year $66 million extension that will keep him in Minnesota until 2022. He has played at a borderline Pro Bowl level every season but has not played up to the expectations that the Vikings had when they signed him. Minnesota believed Cousins was going to be the piece to get Minnesota over the hump and into Super Bowl contending territory. Instead, the team has been stuck in between playoff contention and a restart. In the two seasons Cousins has thrown double-digit interceptions. The only season in Minnesota where Cousins did not throw double-digit interceptions he did not reach 30 passing touchdowns or 4,000 yards passing. This wouldn’t be a major issue except Cousins is being paid like one of the premier quarterbacks in the league. 

If Cousins can limit his turnovers while maintaining the production he put up during his first and third seasons with the team Minnesota could have a shot at the playoffs. However if Cousins begins to falter, the Vikings took Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond early in the third round to potentially take his place and become the team’s starting quarterback of the future. If Mond becomes the Vikings starting quarterback early in the season it is unlikely that he has a Dak Prescott-like impact on Minnesota despite being the fourth highest-ranked quarterback on Chris Simms 2021 draft rankings. Minnesota needs Cousins to play at a Pro Bowl level to make the playoffs. 

Running Backs

There is an extremely valid case for running back Dalvin Cook to be considered the best player on the Minnesota Vikings. It also isn’t too farfetched to say Cook is the best pure running back in the league overall. Over the last two seasons, Cooks has put up career-high numbers in every major running back category. He has finished top-10 in rushing over the last two seasons and was named to the Pro Bowl every year as well. 

The Vikings’ offense could very well feature Cook as the focal point, but the major question about him is his health. Cook has dealt with multiple injuries that have not allowed him to play a full sixteen-game schedule over his first four seasons in the league. Cook has played in 43 of a potential 64 games since being drafted in 2017. Things did not look great for Cook early on after he missed 17 of his first 32 games he could have played during his first two seasons. However, Cook has been able to play in 28 of the last 32 games the Vikings have played.

If Cook is unable to play the Vikings have turned to 2019 third-round pick Alexander Mattison to lead their backfield. Despite being valuable in fantasy football as a replacement for Cook, Mattison is not as great of a runner as him and likely cannot be the focal point of the team’s offense. For Minnesota to make the playoffs next season Cook needs to play a majority of the team’s regular-season games. 

Pass Catchers (Wide Receivers and Tight Ends)

Even though Minnesota’s offense is based on the run, the Vikings have an extremely talented group of pass-catchers at their disposal. The Vikings have two Pro Bowl-caliber wide receivers in Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen along with a young talented tight end in Irv Smith Jr. 

A season ago Jefferson broke the rookie record for most receiving yards in a single season with 1,400. He did that off of 88 receptions and had seven touchdowns. Thielen fell 75 yards short of becoming the Vikings’ second 1,000+ yard receiver finishing the year with 925 yards in 15 games. However, Thielen was a scoring machine scoring 14 receiving touchdowns last season which was tied for fourth in the league. Smith Jr. finished the season with less than 400 receiving yards, but the former second-round pick looked more than capable of replacing Kyle Rudolph as the team’s primary receiving tight end at the end of last season. Over his last six games, Smith Jr. caught 19 of his 26 targets for 216 yards and all of his five touchdowns. Now that Rudolph is now a member of the New York Giants Smith Jr. can build on what he did a season ago, be the team’s starting tight end for an entire season, and become the team’s third receiving option on offense.

To make the playoffs Minnesota is going to need Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen to play the same level or better than they did last season. While it would be a major help if Irv Smith Jr. had a breakout season posting career highs in his first year as the team’s primary tight end. 

Offensive Line

For the last half-decade, it seems like the Minnesota Vikings have invested heavily into their offensive line. So far their investments have paid dividends. Some may say that the players they’ve drafted have not met the expectations Minnesota had when they drafted them. Minnesota has taken six offensive linemen in the first three rounds in the last five seasons. None of which have made a Pro Bowl in that time and outside of Brian O’Neill have been regarded as better than average. The Vikings took two offensive linemen inside the first three rounds this past draft that they expect to contribute right away. 

One of the biggest question marks on the Vikings offensive line is at left tackle. After trading down from 14th overall and passing on arguably the best interior offensive lineman in the draft Alijah Vera-Tucker, Minnesota took Virginia Tech tackle Christian Darrisaw 23rd overall. Darrisaw should be the Vikings starting left tackle from Day one. If he could anchor the offensive line and do a great job protecting the blindside of Kirk Cousins (or Kellen Mond, the Vikings’ offensive line could get the boost they need to remove themselves from the average or below-average territory it has been in for the last couple of seasons. Opposite Darrisaw on the right side is the most solid and best player along the Vikings offensive line Brian O’Neill. Since being drafted in 2018, O’Neill has entered the territory as one of the best young right tackles in the league. 

The interior of the Vikings offensive line starts with a player Minnesota took in the second round last year to potentially become their left tackle. After taking Darrisaw in the first round this past year it seems that Ezra Cleveland will likely stay on the interior for Minnesota. Cleveland was solid in his rookie season, if he progresses and develops into a better player this year that would go a long way to increasing the production of the Vikings line. Their center Garrett Bradbury has been a disappointment since being drafted in the first round in 2019. Bradbury was taken in the first round and has not played anything like the player many thought he would be coming out of NC State. Minnesota traded a sixth-round pick for former Arizona Cardinals center Mason Cole to push Bradbury for the team’s starting job. Cole was drafted in the third round by Arizona in 2018 and has started 32 of the 46 career games he has played in Minnesota. The biggest question mark along the Vikings offensive is at right guard. Minnesota is expected to have a competition for the right guard position between veteran Dakota Dozier and third-round pick Wyatt Davis. 

If Minnesota puts their best five offensive linemen out there to protect their quarterback and open holes for the running game efficiently that could very well be what the Vikings need to get back into the playoffs next season. 

Defensive Line

Last season the Vikings’ defensive line was atrocious. The lack of production from this unit impacted the rest of the roster. However, this unit has been almost completely revamped and could easily be the strength of their defense. Their sack leader from a season ago was Yannick Ngakoue who had five sacks in six games in Minnesota before getting shipped to Baltimore near the trade deadline. From there on out it is fair to say Minnesota had one of the worst defensive lines in the league last season.

A healthy Danielle Hunter is about as good as it gets at defensive end. If all goes well Hunter should have double-digit sacks for Minnesota, a Pro Bowl nob, and possibly recognition as an All-Pro. Opposite Hunter is expected to a rotation of a few players off the edge. Veteran defensive end Stephen Weatherly started all nine games he played in Carolina last season. He returns to the Vikings as the favorite to land a starting defensive end job. A rookie third-round pick out of Pittsburgh Patrick Jones could compete with Weatherly for the starting job and will likely rotate with him throughout the season. Janarius Robinson out of Florida State could get on the field this year as well. The fourth-round pick has all the traits to be an NFL defensive end but needs to be coached up. Robinson landed in an ideal situation getting coached by one of the better defensive coaches in the league Mike Zimmer. 

A dark horse candidate to take some snaps and potentially start at defensive end is former Pro Bowler and 2013 Defensive Rookie of the Year interior defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson. The Vikings reunited with Richardson a few weeks after being released from the Cleveland Browns. Since Minnesota has an elite duo on the interior of their defensive line they may experiment with lining up Richardson as a base defensive end. Richardson has always been a better pass rusher than run defender during his career. The opportunity to rush off the edge on an elite defensive line may be what Richardson needs to rejuvenate his career. 

Minnesota will get to see both their major free agent signings from the past two seasons playing for them for the first time this upcoming season. Last year Minnesota replaced Linval Joseph with former Baltimore Ravens nose tackle Michael Pierce. Minnesota signed Pierce for three years $27 million. The former Raven was an elite-run defender due to his size and ability to plug up holes created by opposing offensive lines. The Vikings did not get to see Pierce play last season due to him opting out of the 2020 NFL season due to Covid-19 concerns. This offseason the Vikings spent big again on the interior of their defensive line bringing in former New York Giants Dalvin Tomlinson on a two-year $22 million deal. Tomlinson was a part of a dominant defensive line in New York that almost singlehandedly carried the Giants defense and team overall to the playoffs last season. He has been an elite-run defender as well during his time in New York and also has been able to rack up 3.5 sacks in each of the past two seasons. 

There is a lot of talent on the Minnesota Vikings offensive line. If Mike Zimmer can coach each of these players to their potential it would put overwhelming pressure on opposing offenses. A defensive line this talented could be what carries the Vikings into the playoffs next season. 

Linebackers

Since 2015 the Minnesota Vikings have had one of the better linebacker duos in the league between Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr. Over the last couple of seasons, both have been to multiple Pro Bowls and have been major parts of the Vikings’ defense. Both missed time due to injury last season. Both need to remain healthy for the Vikings to contend next season. 

Kendricks has been a tackling machine over the last couple of seasons averaging 106.5 combined tackles a season since being drafted. He is also no stranger to creating turnovers when factoring in his four career forced fumbles and seven career interceptions. Three of Kendricks’ career interceptions came last season. Over a couple of year stretch Barr was considered one of if not the best 4-3 outside linebacker in football. However, there has been a slight decline for the former 2014 first-round pick. Prime Anthony Barr does a little bit of everything. He not only can rush the passer like a defensive end, but he could also tackle and play in coverage as well as a linebacker on the inside. If Barr can play similar to how he did during his stretch of four straight Pro Bowls Minnesota’s defense could look similar to how it did in the late 2010s when it was considered one of the best in the league. 

The play of Minnesota’s linebacker duo is so important to their success. Not only do they need to stay healthy, but Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr need to play at a high level for this defense to have done their part to get this team in a position to contend for the playoffs. 

Secondary

The biggest question mark about the Vikings’ defense coming into this season is their secondary. Mike Zimmer is known for spending high draft picks on cornerbacks and developing defensive backs extremely well. In the last couple of seasons, it has become clear that Zimmer prefers to build his defense from the back forward. 

The Vikings gutted their cornerback room and drafted two cornerbacks with their first four picks in 2020. They took Jeff Gladney Jr. in the first round and Cameron Dantzler in the second round. Gladney was the team’s starting slot cornerback last season and Dantzler covered the team’s number one cornerback on the outside last season. It is fair to say that they struggled to defend pass catchers last season. This is not necessarily a knock on Gladney and Dantzler as players, a lot of cornerbacks struggle early in their careers in the NFL regardless of how high they were drafted. But in year two in the same defense, both are expected to take a leap forwards and play at a solid level if not better. The Vikings also made two major moves to their cornerback room. First, they signed former Pro Bowler and Arizona Cardinal Patrick Peterson to a one-year $10 million deal. Then Minnesota traded 2018 first-round pick, Mike Hughes, to the Kansas City Chiefs for a sixth-round pick in 2022. 

The dynamic duo of safeties that Minnesota has had over the last two seasons will not return this season. Free safety Anthony Harris left Minnesota in free agency and shockingly signed a cheap one-year $5 million deal with the Philadelphia Eagles. The Vikings replaced Harris with former Dallas Cowboy Xavier Woods and fourth-round pick Camryn Bynum. However, Harrison Smith will be returning to Minnesota for his tenth season. Smith has been one of the best and most important players to this franchise over the last decade. His production has been extremely reliable for the Vikings including last season when the team’s defense played awful as a whole. Smith finished last season with five interceptions and 89 combined tackles. 

Minnesota’s secondary can very well tie this defense together and return it to the juggernaut it was only a few seasons ago. If the young defensive backs that are expected to have feature roles in this secondary can play up to their potential and the veterans continue to play at a high level, Minnesota could have one of the best secondaries in the league. However, if Gladney and Dantzler do not improve from last season and Peterson plays like how he did last year, that could be enough for the Vikings defense to underperform and hold the team out of the playoffs. 

Final Verdict 

After evaluating this roster it is fair to say that a major component of this roster is health. A lot of vital pieces across this roster got hurt last season and Minnesota paid the price for it falling out of playoff contention early in the year before trying to play catchup towards the end. There is so much talent spread across this roster the veterans need to continue to play at a high level and possibly develop into better players, while the young guys need to make a major impact for Minnesota early in their careers.

It is fair to say the biggest component that will decide the fate of the Minnesota Vikings this season is the status for Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. If Rodgers decides to hold out or is traded the Vikings have the roster to surpass Green Bay as the favorite to win the NFC North. At that point, all four teams in the NFC North would be rebuilding or retooling their roster likely making the winner a team with a close to .500 record and the race to determine the winner very ugly much like the 2020-21 NFC East. If last season’s MVP does not play in Green Bay and his replacement Jordan Love doesn’t have a breakout season Minnesota has what it takes to make the playoffs next season as long as their team can stay healthy and none of the vital or young players on this roster majorly disappoint. 

How does Justin Jefferson’s rookie season compare to that of all time great WRs

Justin Jefferson’s start in the NFL compares well to great WRs

By: Reese Nasser

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson is coming off of one of the greatest rookie seasons ever. Throughout his first year in the NFL, Jefferson performed at a high level nearly every week. 

Many people also believed that the receiver was deserving of the Offensive Rookie of the Year award, which hasn’t been won by a wide receiver since 2014 when Odell Beckham Jr. won the award. 

His impact on the Vikings have already led people to question just how good he can be in this league. The duo of Jefferson and veteran receiver Adam Thielen was arguably the best one-two punch in the entire NFL. The pair combined for 162 receptions, 2325 yards, and 21 touchdowns. They were a pivotal piece in the success of not just the Vikings offense, but to the team as a whole. 

When looking at what Jefferson achieved in his first season, it is hard to not compare him and his accomplishments to that of other great receivers. From Odell Beckham Jr. and Deandre Hopkins to Stefon Diggs and Randy Moss, we will take a look at how Jefferson’s first year stacks up against each of these players. 

Jefferson in Year One 

Before comparing Jefferson to the elite wide receivers of the NFLs past and present, you first have to look at what he accomplished in his first season. 

Jefferson had one of the greatest rookie performances ever seen. He caught 88 passes on 125 targets and  went for exactly 1400 receiving yards. He also turned this into seven touchdowns. 

Jefferson excelled at different things during his rookie season but there were two areas that stood out the most; his route running abilities and what he was able to do after he got the ball in his hands. 

Jefferson excelled at gaining yards after catch in college. He was able to bring that same success to the NFL. 

His strong route running also transitioned to the NFL. From his first day in the NFL, his ability to get open has been clear. He can create separation at the line of scrimmage and get away from his primary defender, whoever it may be. 

Jefferson’s strong rookie season led him to join elite company. He is seen as one of the top talents in the NFL and was voted to the Pro Bowl. He was just the fifth rookie receiver to be voted into the game in the last 20 seasons, and the first since 2015. 

Stefon Diggs

When Jefferson first arrived in Minnesota, many people believed that he would not be able to live up to the standards that had been set by Stefon Diggs. The two players were basically traded for one another. 

Even with being in two very different situations, the two receivers produced somewhat similar numbers. 

2020 StatsJeffersonDiggs
Receptions88127
Yards14001535
Touchdowns78
YPR15.912.1
YPG87.595.9
Stats via Pro Football Reference

Outside of nearly 40 more receptions, the two receivers kept pace with each other. Jefferson averaged almost four more yards per reception while Diggs averaged almost 8.5 more yards per game. 

Both receivers had elite stat lines on almost a weekly basis as well. They were two of the most productive all around receivers in the league and came to play every week.

Until one of the two receivers retires, their careers will be linked. They will constantly be linked with one another and the comparisons will continue. 

Odell Beckham Jr.

Odell Beckham Jr. rookie season may be the best comparison, from a stat standpoint, for Jefferson. Neither receiver was expected to make the impact that they did in their first season yet both were able to make an instant impact. 

Outside of both being products of LSU, the two players are very similar from an athletic standpoint. 

JeffersonOBJ
Height6’1”5’11”
Weight202198
40-Time4.424.43

From a statistical standpoint, the two receivers produced nearly similar numbers in their rookie seasons.  

Rookie StatsJeffersonOBJ
Receptions8891
Yards14001305
Touchdowns712
YPR15.914.3
YPG87.5108.8
Stats via Pro Football Reference

The similarities from the players are clear, but the edge should fall towards Odell, only because he played in just 12 games his rookie season, unlike Jefferson who appeared in all 16. Even so, the two receivers recorded two of the greatest rookie seasons the league has ever seen. Jefferson could soon find himself on a path very similar to that of Odell’s. 

Deandre Hopkins

Deandre Hopkins has turned into a superstar. He is arguably the best receiver in the NFL and has been held to this regard for a couple years now. But it was not always like this. 

Hopkins wasn’t chosen until near the end of the first round. The Houston Texans selected him with the 27th overall pick.
In his first year in the NFL, Hopkins’ production was less than outstanding. He caught 52 passes and crossed just over 800 receiving yards. He also scored just two times during his rookie season. 

While Hopkins is often regarded as a big receiving target, he is not much bigger than Jefferson. Both receivers are the same height and Hopkins outweighs Jefferson by just 10 pounds. 

From a production standpoint, Hopkins rookie season is drastically different than that of Jeffersons. Jefferson and Hopkins had just a .5 difference in yards per reception, but the similarities end there. Jefferson gained 600 more yards, five more touchdowns, and caught 36 more passes

When looking at how good Hopkins has become, it offers an interesting insight to see how he performed in his first season. Jefferson was able to produce stats that were not all that far off from Hopkins’ even best seasons.

Randy Moss

Since Jefferson first exploded onto the scene in a week three game against the Tennessee Titans, the comparisons to Randy Moss have not stopped; from the flashiness of their play to how they have stood out on the field. 

In 1998, Moss had arguably the greatest season ever for a rookie wide receiver. He started just 11 games for the Vikings but, much like Jefferson, made an instant impact in Minnesota. Moss had just 69 receptions but was still able to gain 1313 receiving yards. He also caught 17 touchdowns, a record that still stands for rookie receivers, over twenty years later. 

Moss held nearly every rookie receiving record in Minnesota. And then Jefferson came and broke almost all of them. Jefferson now holds the records for both receptions and yards in a season. 

The Future for Jefferson

Jefferson has already exceeded expectations in his short time in the NFL. Year one went almost as good as it could have gone, especially when considering that he is sharing a ball with Adam Thielen. He was able to have one of the greatest seasons ever for a rookie receiver.

Jefferson is already being compared to some of the NFL’s best. If he is able to continue to perform at a high level, the comparisons will continue.

For years, all rookie receivers will be held in comparison to Jefferson, and that may prove to be unfair for them. Production like that is rare and hard to come by.

His sophomore season could prove to be even better. Jefferson has already proven to have the drive to want to be the best and he is on a path headed towards that. After receiving a Pro Bowl nod in year one, he could find himself on an All-Pro team in year two. 

3 reasons Why the Vikings still hold the top WR duo in the NFL

Are Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen the NFL’s top WR duo?

By: Reese Nasser

The Minnesota Vikings have assembled arguably the top wide receiver duo in the NFL. First-year receiver Justin Jefferson was voted to a pro bowl in his rookie season and nine-year veteran Adam Theilen had maybe the best season of his career. The duo combined for 21 touchdowns on 162 receptions and also finished with 2,325 receiving yards. They were a lone bright spot for a Vikings team that went 7-9 and finished third in their division. Let’s take a look at this duo and how they compare to some of the other top duos in the NFL.

Looking at other top duos 

The duo out in Seattle is the next closest thing to what the Vikings have put together. The Seattle Seahawks have star wideout DK Metcalf and veteran Tyler Lockett. The difference in the two groups is strictly reliability. Metcalf was held to less than 60 yards in six games last season and didn’t break 30 yards in three games. Locket failed to reach 60 yards on eight occasions. The pair did compare with Theilen and Jefferson in terms of touchdowns though. Metcalf and Lockett combined for 20 touchdowns, only one less than the Vikings duo.  

The Los Angeles Rams duo of Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp has also proven to be valid. Both receivers had 90-catch seasons and had over 900 yards receiving. The difference in this duo is that they don’t reach the endzone like other top duos do. The pair only reached the end zone nine times. 

What Sets these Two Apart

These two have proven to be consistent in their one season together. The two players are at different points in their career and utilize different skill sets but are still able to work together on the field. Both players are able to seamlessly transition from the slot to the outside and can make plays from anywhere on the field. 

Theilens route running is top tier and sets him apart from other receivers. He is regarded as one of the best route runners in the NFL. 

His ability to consistently get open has helped the Vikings elevate their offensive game. After an injury-riddled 2019 season, many thought that he wouldn’t be able to bounce back to how he once was. The addition of Jefferson certainly helped Thielen ease back into his game. 

Jefferson was electric during his rookie season, having one of the greatest seasons of any first-year player ever. Nearly every week, he proved that he was deserving of the hype that he was getting. He surpassed 100 receiving yards in seven games and while never once reaching double digits in receptions. 

Combination of Youth and Age

When looking at these two players, you also have to take into account their age. Jefferson hasn’t even turned 22 years old yet while Theilen is 30 years old. Theilen is able to still provide veteran leadership to Jefferson and help him to continue to elevate his game. 

The Vikings can solidify this duo as the top in the NFL if they can continue to build on what they have already done. Much of this will come down to veteran quarterback Kirk Cousins. If Cousins can play at the level that he has, thisa duo should maintain what they have going right now. The trajectory is pointing up and they should continue to be the top duo in the NFL. 

Justin Jefferson: Player Outlook

How Justin Jefferson became WR1 in Year 1

By: EJ Daniels

Justin Jefferson had a historical rookie campaign. Breaking Randy Moss’ rookie team record for receiving yards (1400 yds.) and also breaking the NFL mark held by Anquan Boldin. When the Vikings drafted Jefferson many touted him as Stefon’ Diggs replacement, but the performance that Jefferson displayed made teams around the league view him as a legit number one option.

Week 3 against the Titans was the first time Jefferson put the griddy into the eyesight of NFL fans. Going for nine catches one hundred and seventy-five yards and a TD, he displayed elite WR traits by beating the Titans CBs consistently and also taking a deep pass 71 yards for a TD. The most encouraging part of that performance was how often he was able to beat man coverage. Displaying a full arsenal of moves to create separation; from the sudden tempo changes of his footwork on slant routes to using great body control and hands to win in back shoulder contested catch situations. As a result, the Vikings fed him the ball and Justin Jefferson finished as PFF’s second highest graded WR (90.4)

As mind blowing as Jefferson’s season was, you have to ask what makes him this good, this quickly?  The answer lies in his elite physical traits and his attention to the fine details of playing WR. Justin Jefferson has the uncanny mix of being as quick as he is fast. His first step on releases is elite and his footwork is very refined for a rookie. Where he takes his footwork to the next level is being able to manipulate the tempo and speed of his feet in relation to his route. His slant routes are masterpieces, as he can use quicker faster steps to create separation or use a one-foot hop to slow down the tempo of the route, emphasizing his quickness to be more sudden in fewer steps. The most consistent physical trait that is seen on tape while running his routes, and honestly the most important is the fluidity of his hips. The toughest thing for WRs to do is maintain speed and acceleration in and out of breaks. Jefferson shows excellent separation quickness on out breaking routes by quickly flipping his hips and not adding any wasted steps. The refinement of his routes can be best displayed on the comeback route he ran against Kyle Fuller in week 16.

The hip fluidity is displayed at the top of the route by quickly and violently dropping hips to get out of that break in a quick 2 steps which allowed him to come out the route downhill, under control, towards the sideline creating separation and making the catch. These rare traits made it increasingly tough to cover Jefferson and was indicative by him finishing as PFF’s 3rd highest graded receiver in single coverage (94.0 3rd among all WRs)

Justin Jefferson was a top three WR in his rookie year and had the numbers to prove it. His 90.5 PFF receiving grade was the highest in the last 10 season and the second best mark by a rookie all time set by Odell Beckham in 2015 (91.2). As we take a closer look, Jefferson added value in where he lined up. With 70% of his receiving snaps and 65% of his yards coming on the outside. Perhaps, his ability to consistently alter down and distance propelled him to be PFF’s fifth most valuable WR. With 68% of yards coming in the 10-20+ yard ranges Jefferson was an explosive play waiting to happen. Catching the third most explosive receptions of 15 yards or more (35), generating the most yards per target (13.2) and totaling the fourth most yards per reception (15.9). Jefferson’ quickness and explosiveness was most evident on what did after the catch. Gaining the eight most yards after the catch (450) and forcing the tenth most missed tackles among WRs

Prognosticating his performance going forward, all signs point up. Dominating like Jefferson did from the outside makes him so valuable. Where he becomes invaluable is his ability to be productive from every level of the football field. Indicative of his YAC numbers on shorter throws and with the majority of his production coming 10+ yards down the field. The best WRs in the NFL can alter down and distance on a given play and more importantly beat man coverage consistently. Receiving grade against man coverage is one of the most stable metrics for WRs year to year. With Jefferson’ ability to consistently create separation in a variety of ways because of his relentless detail to route running and the combination of quickness, acceleration, and explosiveness expect him to be one of the top separators year to year. These traits also help him add value after the catch. YAC/REC is also a stable metric for WRs year to year and the fact that Justin Jefferson adds value to every reception will put him among the league’s best.

Justin Jefferson recorded the greatest rookie season in the last 10 years. Getting Viking fans excited for what the future prospects of the offense can be. One of the things that is overlooked in Justin Jefferson’s season is that the Vikings threw the sixth-fewest passes in the league (516) this year and also didn’t feature Jefferson until week 3. While he had over 100+ targets you have to think of what his numbers could’ve been if the Viking were to adopt a pass-first mentality? With a plethora of receiving weapons the Vikings have at their disposal, they may want to at least explore a philosophy change that’s more pass-heavy to utilize their offense more efficiently. Subsequently, letting Justin Jefferson griddy all over the field as the WR 1 they drafted him to be.     

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