Purple Dreams: Fantasy Football Outlook for our Vikings QBs
As the football season – mercifully – approaches, the folks here at TVG thought it would be fun to take a look at what the experts say about our beloved Vikings and their outlook in fantasy football this year. Naturally, Kyle approached me for this endeavour as I’ve won his fantasy football league two years running (much to his chagrin). TVG is a grid-iron site first and foremost and that’s not going to change, but it’s always fun to look at what others are saying about our players in purple and gold.
In a series of articles I’ll be taking a look at each major position group on the Vikings and seeing what ESPN, PFF, and Fantasy Pros have to say. After taking a brief look at what they have to say about the Vikes I’ll offer my own thoughts on the fantasy outlook for each position group.
What is there to say about Kirk Cousins that hasn’t been said a hundred times already? Even die-hard Kirk fans are starting to lose patience with his empty platitudes and silly non-answers to COVID questions. There’s nothing really that I can add to this discussion that hasn’t been said already, so I’ll just let Coach Zim handle it.
But this is the NFL and winning fixes everything. As long as Kirk comes out on the field and lights it up nobody will care about any of this once the season starts. Yeah, about that. The Vikes QB play during the pre-season so far has been brutal. Cousins has not looked good at all. Despite missing time due to COVID protocols, I was really hoping that having been in the offense for several years with Big Kub would have had him ready to roll in Lil’ Kub’s offense despite missing a bit of time. That, unfortunately, hasn’t appeared to be the case so far.
At this point, though, assuming these pre-season struggles are just shaking the rust off, Kirk Cousins is pretty much a known commodity. Despite flashing moments of greatness throughout his career that have kept many of his fans waiting for a true Tannehill-like breakout, it just hasn’t happened. He seems to have settled into his role as a starter in the league, but definitely not a guy in that top-tier or even the second tier just below it.
2020 is a season the Vikings would love to forget, but despite that, Cousins was still Cousins.
Let’s start with the stats that Cousin’s truthers should be excited about. Last season Cousins pushed the ball downfield a lot more than he had in his previous seasons with the Vikings, probably caused largely by the addition of Justin Jefferson. In an ideal world, Cousins would continue to be more aggressive with downfield shots, which should still be open thanks to Dalvin Cook’s constant threat as a runner and pass-catcher out of the backfield. His yards per completion were also up over 12 for his first time as a Viking, another promising sign for Cousins fans. He also led the Vikings on 3 game-winning drives last season, another high water mark for his tenure as a Viking.
Now, as always with Cousins, you have to take the good with the bad. Sure, his yards per attempt were up last season, but so were his INTs. 35 TDs is excellent, but 13 INTs and an INT rate of over 2% is not good. He also took a whopping 39 sacks and got sacked on 7% of his dropbacks, by far his highest mark as a Viking (yes, somehow even higher than his first season with the Vikes when he took 40 sacks). He also led the team to only a single fourth quarter-comeback, a number which has remained steady throughout his Vikings tenure. For a guy who has a reputation for throwing game-ending picks (or kneeling instead of spiking the ball), it’s easy to see why his detractors feel like he throws away more games than he closes out.
Or, if you want the same play but in a much more brutal statistical form from ESPN Stats & Info:
The hope, of course, is that Cousins can clean up those nasty stats while continuing to build on the positives from last season. I expect we’ll see more of the same from Kirk Cousins, but that increase in TDs will be a welcome boon to his fantasy owners.
What do the fantasy boards say about Captain Kirk? Seems that like Vikings fans, they also don’t quite know what to make of Cousins. Fantasy Pros has him as QB16, while ESPN has him down at 20 and PFF has him all the way down at QB24 behind Ryan Fitzpatrick and a couple of rookies who won’t even be starting the season as their team’s starting quarterback (Trey Lance, Justin Fields). They also have him behind one of the worst starters from last season in Cam Newton, who has been outplayed by rookie Mac Jones so far in preseason.
I think PFF is being a bit hard on Kirk here. Where do I see him? Certainly not a fantasy QB1, but definitely a high-end QB2. In a 2QB league you have to be happy with Cousins as your second quarterback, and likely one you can snag off waivers or in a late round of the draft. In Dynasty, PFF certainly has a case, but for this season? No way. Is Kirk the greatest quarterback in the NFL? Definitely not. But I think all Vikings fans, Kirk haters and Kirk lovers alike, would agree that he’s probably better than a guy who’s not even on the field.
THE REST OF THE ROSTER
In a season where COVID continues to be a very real threat both to the health and the availability of players, you’d think that grabbing a backup QB just in case a high profile QB1 misses games due to COVID protocols would be a sneaky, potentially league-winning play. You may be right, but that backup is certainly not Kellen Mond. Like Cousins, Mond has looked less than spectacular in preseason. He’s also unvaccinated and missed a bunch of time, which is even more vital to a rookie than an established vet. I’m staying far away from anyone else in that QB room (both for social distancing and fantasy football purposes).