Friday, May 27, 2022

A Way-Too-Early 53-Man Roster Prediction


It doesn’t matter that we’re 95 days and a full preseason away from the final roster deadline, the people want what the people want. Let’s get into it.

For this exercise I’m referencing the average number for each position that the Vikings have kept in years prior, with a couple minor adjustments. While the front office and coaching staff may have been shaken up a bit, I still think this is good mile-marker to start off from.



(3) QBs: Kirk Cousins, Sean Mannion, Kellen Mond

Out - Nate Stanley

Mannion scams another paycheck for being a glorified coach. This man can hardly throw the ball 15 yards down the field, but I would gladly take some financial advice from him.


(4) RBs: Dalvin Cook, Alexander Mattison, Kene Nwangwu, C.J. Ham

Out - Jake Bargas, Ty Chandler, Bryant Koback, A.J. Rose Jr.

Nothing crazy here.


(6) WRs: Justin Jefferson, K.J. Osborn, Adam Thielen, Ihmir Smith-Marsette, Bisi Johnson, Jalen Nailor

Out - Dan Chisena, Thomas Hennigan, Trishton Jackson, Myron Mitchell, Blake Proehl

No more space for a slot wasted on a speedy punt-gunner. See ya Dan Chisena.


(3) TEs: Irv Smith Jr., Johnny Mundt, Nick Muse

Out - Zach Davidson, Ben Ellefson

Sticking with your ‘move’ tight end, KOC’s trusted guy from LA, and the rookie project.


(9) Offensive Line: Garrett Bradbury, Ezra Cleveland, Christian Darrisaw, Jesse Davis, Ed Ingram, Vederian Lowe, Brian O'Neill, Chris Reed, Austin Schlottmann

Out - Blake Brandel, Wyatt Davis, Kyle Hinton, Timon Parris, Josh Sokol, Olisaemeka Udoh

And ode to Wyatt Davis and Oli Udoh. What could have been.



(3) Safeties: Harrison Smith, Camryn Bynum, Lewis Cine

Out - Mike Brown, Myles Dorn, Josh Metellus

All-pro, second year surprise, and the rookie future starter.


(6) CBs: Andrew Booth Jr., Kris Boyd, Cameron Dantzler, Akayleb Evans, Patrick Peterson, Chandon Sullivan

Out - Nate Hairston, Harrison Hand, Parry Nickerson, Tye Smith

A young group but seems to be a well-rounded room… for now.


(7) LBs: Brian Asamoah, Troy Dye, Jordan Hicks, Eric Kendricks, Blake Lynch, Za'Darius Smith, Luiji Vilain

Out - Ryan Connelly, William Kwenkeu, Zach McCloud, Chazz Surratt

A sad ending to our brief time with Minnesota-native Ryan Connolly. Oh, and Chazz, I guess.


(9) Defensive Line: Danielle Hunter, Patrick Jones II, James Lynch, Esezi Otomewo, Harrison Phillips, Dalvin Tomlinson, Armon Watts, Kenny Willekes, D.J. Wonnum

Out - T.Y. McGill, Janarius Robinson, T.J. Smith, Tyarise Stevenson, Jullian Taylor, Jaylen Twyman

We’re all rooting for a great comeback story for Jalen Twyman, but it just may be asking too much given the depth of this line and a year away from football.


Special Teams:

(1) K: Greg Joseph

Out - Gabe Brkic

Stick with Greg the leg. He figured it out last year and was very reliable. Last name pronunciation also gives him the leg up here.


(1) P: Jordan Berry

Out - Ryan Wright

Tried and true, no need to mix it up.


(1) LS: Andrew DePaola

Out – nobody

Great job, Andrew! Break a leg out there (but not a fingertip, RE: Kevin McDermott)

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Vikings All-Time Great Wide Receivers

 Top Ten Vikings Receivers of All Time

Time to continue my series of stories on the All-Time Vikings players by position. This week: Wide Receivers. As always, this is based on performances, statistics, time with the team, and of course, my opinion.

10. Percy Harvin (2009-2012) - Percy Harvin was a very talented WR whose time with the Vikings was painfully too short. He was drafted in the first round (22nd pick) in 2009.

His speed was comparable to that of Randy Moss, and he was so explosive that his punt and kickoff returns were amazing to watch. As a rookie, he made his first and only Pro Bowl appearance, while running back 2 kickoffs for touchdowns. He could do it all: in 54 games as a Viking, he caught 20 touchdown passes, ran for four, and ran 5 kickoffs back for touchdowns. He had 3,302 receiving yards and 683 rushing yards. He finished his career in Seattle, New York with the Jets, and two seasons in Buffalo before retiring. If not for his migraine headaches, he could have been so much more.

9. Hassan Jones (1986-1992) - Hassan Jones always seemed to be an underrated receiver when he was with the Vikings. 

He was drafted in the fifth round (120th pick) out of Florida State in 1986, and played 7 seasons with the Vikings. His career consisted of 222 receptions for 3,733 yards and 24 touchdowns. Hassan was always reliable when it came to the Vikings needing a catch or a first down to continue a drive. Hassan finished his career with one year in Kansas City.

8.  Stefon Diggs
 (2015-2019) - It's hard to judge the impact that Stefon Diggs had when he was with the Vikings, for two reasons: 1) He played only five seasons, and 2) his legacy is perhaps tarnished somewhat by the way he left the team. 

There is no doubt that, when he was with the Vikings, he made things happen. You could always count on Diggs to make the tough catch, the big score, or turn the game around in the Vikings' favor by making a big play. He wasn't exceptionally fast, but he could run great routes, cutting corners and making moves that shook defenders. He also had great hands, catching almost anything that would come his way. Had he spent more time with the Vikings, I would have definitely have him higher up on this list. 

Diggs was drafted by the Vikings in the 5th round (146th overall) in 2015 out of the University of Maryland. He became a starter mid-way through his rookie year, and complemented WR Adam Thielen in one of the top WR combos in the league. In 5 seasons with the Vikings, Diggs caught 365 passes for 4,623 yards and 30 touchdowns. In March of 2020, the Vikings traded Diggs and their own 7th-round pick to Buffalo for Buffalo's first round pick in 2020 (which the Vikings used to select Justin Jefferson), along with 5th and 6th round picks in 2020, and a 4th round pick in the 2021 draft. 

Diggs has played two seasons with the Bills, being elected to the Pro Bowl both seasons, and in April of 2022, he signed a four-year, $96 million contract (through 2026) with the club.

7. Ahmad Rashad (1976-1982) - Ahmad Rashad was known as Bobby Moore when he was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals (now the Arizona Cardinals) with the 4th pick in the 1972 NFL Draft. He played in college for the Oregon Ducks, who switched him to running back his first year in college. After being drafted by the Cardinals, he began to play wide receiver again, and played two seasons for the Cardinals, who traded Rashad to Buffalo in 1974. After sitting out the 1975 season with knee injury, he was signed by the Seattle Seahawks before the start of the 1976 season.

After signing with the Seahawks, he was then traded to the Vikings, where he starred for 7 seasons (1976-1982). While with the Vikings, Rashad was named to the Pro Bowl for four straight seasons (1978-1981), and was famous for his Hail Mary catch against the Cleveland Browns at the old Met Stadium in December, 1980. As a matter of fact, that catch gave the Vikings the Central Division Championship (now called the North Division). 

In his career as a Viking, Rashad played 98 games, caught 400 passes for 5,489 yards, and scored 34 touchdowns. After his career in the NFL, Rashad became a broadcaster for NFL, MLB and NBA games, as well as studio anchor and game reporter for NBC and ABC, hosted his own show called NBA Inside Stuff for 16 years, and has done miscellaneous game shows as well. Lastly, he was once married to Phylicia Rashad, TV wife on the Bill Cosby show.

6. Adam Thielen (2014-Present) - Adam Thielen has possibly been one the the NFL's best ever wide receivers to not be drafted in the NFL draft. He played college football for Minnesota State (formerly Minnesota State, Mankato), and was signed as a free agent by the Vikings in 2013. Thielen was a born-and-raised Minnesota boy. He grew up in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, and grew up idolizing former Viking wide receivers Cris Carter and Randy Moss. He participated in four sports in high school (football, basketball, baseball and golf. 

In 2013, after having signed a free-agent contract with the Vikings (3 year, $1.48 million dollars), he was waived during the last round of cuts at the end of training camp. However, he was immediately signed to the practice squad the following day.

in 2014, Thielen played in all 16 games (starting two), mostly on special teams. He debuted in the season opener at the Rams, and for the season, he caught 8 passes for 137 yards and a single touchdown. In 2015, Thielen was named Vikings Special Teams Player of the Year. He also finished the season with 12 catches for 144 yards, as the Vikings clinched the NFC North title.

In 2016, Thielen led the Vikings with 967 receiving yards, with a personal-best 69 catches and 5 touchdowns. He only dropped two potential targets for the whole season. In 2017, Thielen signed a three-year extension and became one of the Vikings' most accomplished receivers. He had 91 catches for 1,276 yards and 4 touchdowns. He was also named to the first of two consecutive Pro Bowl teams, as the Vikings made it to the NFC Championship game, only to lose 38-7 in Philadelphia.

In 2018 Thielen became a catching machine, starting the first eight games of the season with at least 100 yards receiving in each game. He finished the season as the Vikings' leading receiver, with 113 catches for 1,373 yards and 9 touchdowns.

In April of 2019, he signed a 4-year, $64 million extension through 2024. Through the first 6 games, his play was up and down, and in Week 7, he injured his hamstring and did not return until Week 14. Through the season, he had 30 catches for 418 yards and 6 touchdowns.

2020 was a better year for Thielen, until he was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list on November 23rd. As such, he missed the next game, but was activated the following week. He finished the season with 70 receptions, 925 receiving yards, and 14 receiving touchdowns.

In 2021, Thielen was the starter alongside Justin Jefferson, and played well until he went out with an ankle injury in Week 13, and was out two weeks. After returning in Week 16, he re-injured his ankle, which required surgery, and was out for the rest of the season. He finished with 67 catches for 726 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Thielen will be 32 next season, and with two consecutive years of missing time with injuries, it's hard to say how much Thielen has left in him physically. I think, however, that he is a workout monster during the offseason, and could have 3 pretty good years left in him. Time will tell.

5. Sammy White (1976-1985) - Sammy White was drafted by the Vikings in 1976 in the 2nd round (54th pick), out of Grambling State , a primarily black college in Louisiana, who famous coach Eddie Robinson coached them for 55 years. At Grambling State, White's quarterback was NFL player Doug Williams, who was the MVP of Super Bowl XXII.

 Sammy played for the Vikings for 10 seasons (1976-1985), and was a two-time Pro Bowl selection in 1976 and 1977. He was also NFC Offensive Rookie of the Year. For the first six seasons of his career, White was one of the best wide receivers in the league. For eight of his ten seasons, White had a touchdown catch of at least 43 yards, with his longest being 69 yards in 1977. In his first three seasons, he had 28 touchdown catches. 

For his career, White finished with 393 receptions for 6,400 yards and 50 touchdowns. After his retirement, Sammy worked as a receivers coach (1998-2003 and 2007-2009) and offensive coordinator (2004-2006).

4. Jake Reed (1991-1999, 2001)- Like Sammy White before him, Jake Reed was drafted by the Vikings out of Grambling State, in the third round (68th pick) of the 1991 NFL Draft. Also like White, Jake Reed became one of the Vikings' top 5 receivers of all time. 

His first three seasons with the team (1991-1993), Reed was used sparingly, mostly on special teams. In his fourth season (1994), Reed became a starter and player in all 16 games. He rewarded the Vikings' faith in him by catching 85 passes for 1,175 yards and 4 touchdowns. Reed also became part of "Three Deep", the name that the fans and media gave the trio of Vikings receivers Cris Carter, Randy Moss, and Reed. 

Reed followed his 1994 season with three more consecutive seasons each with at least 1,000 yards receiving. In those 4 seasons, he scored 26 touchdowns. Reed and Carter became the first set of teammates to both have 1,000 yards receiving in four consecutive seasons. Reed left the Vikings for New Orleans for the 2000 season, returned to the team in 2001, then played one more season in New Orleans. For his career as a Viking, Reed had 413 receptions for 6,433 yards, and 33 touchdown.

3. Anthony Carter (1985-1993) - Carter played college football at the University of Michigan, and was one of the best wide receivers to ever play for the Wolverines. He was used sparingly as a freshman, but as a sophomore, he became their primary receiver, and when his college career ended, he held nearly every Michigan receiving and return record. He was first in:
  • touchdowns
  • receptions
  • receiving yards
  • receiving touchdowns
  • punt returns
  • punt return yardage
  • kick returns
  • kick return yardage
Awards at Michigan:
  • Michigan MVP (1980, 1982)
  • Big Ten Conference MVP (1982)
  • All-Big Ten (1980-1982)
  • All-American (1980-1982)
  • Heisman Voting (1980 - 10th, 1981 - 7th, 1982 - 4th)
When Carter graduated, he joined the USFL, an upstart league, and played 3 seasons in the league. In 1985, Carter signed with the NFL's Miami Dolphins, but never played a game for them. He was traded to the Vikings in 1985, and led the team in receptions in five of the first six years with Minnesota. He made the Pro Bowl in 1987-1989, and in the playoff in 1987, Carter led the team to two decisive victories on the road - 44-10 in New Orleans and 36-24 in San Francisco. He played two final seasons in Detroit before retiring.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Fantasy Football 2022: Three Viking Sleepers to Target in Your Draft


        The best teams in sports emphasize the small details of the game and as good fantasy football owners ourselves we should be doing the same. If you play fantasy football and space out during the later rounds of the draft you’re dooming yourself to inevitable fantasy failure. These are the rounds where you iron out your roster, drafting players with high upside to slot into your lineup due to bye or injury as well as providing you with potential trade ammo. All three of these players on average are being taken in rounds 13 or higher on ESPNs Live Draft Trends Tool which uses PPR scoring based projections. 

KJ Osborn - WR

In the last 6 games of the 2021 season KJ Osborn found the end zone 5 times to go with 4 red zone targets in the last 3 games. He headlined the waiver wire for much of last season and may have started to breakout too late for fantasy owners to notice. Regardless, when Osborn saw the field he was a productive option for the Vikings and his role in the offense seemed to constantly be growing. In a 12 team league Osborn is currently being drafted in the 14th round on average.

His growing production in the Vikings offense on the tail-end of last season paired with a new offensive system makes KJ Osborn a pick with high upside. I could see him becoming a weekly flex option in the right offensive system. 

Alexander Mattison - RB

The 3 games last year where Mattison recorded over 20 touches correlated to over 20.0 fantasy points in each of those 3 games. I don’t see a realistic scenario in which Dalvin Cook dominates the backfield as a workhorse all year. I think Cook either gets injured for part of the season or he and Mattison share time in the new offense more than anticipated. Mattison has shown to be a productive back when given the opportunity and is a must-pick for Dalvin Cook owners.


        Regardless of whether or not you draft Dalvin Cook, Alexander Mattison has shown to be an elite fantasy football handcuff and may have unseen upside in a new coaching system. Mattison is getting drafted on average in round 13 but I could see a savvy Dalvin Cook drafter taking him as early as round 9 or 10.

Greg Joseph - K

While I would agree the kicker position is the least important in all of fantasy, drafting a reliable kicker in your final round should still be a priority. The difference between the best kicker and the worst kicker in fantasy last year having both played a full 17 game season is noteworthy. Daniel Carlson and Jason Meyers both played the same amount of games last year while Daniel Carlson outscored Meyers by 73 fantasy points on the season. I’ve seen teams miss the fantasy playoffs by much less than 73 points. I say that because I know people will think I'm kidding having a kicker on the list.


        While carries can be indicative of future fantasy success for running backs as can targets be for receivers, attempted field goals can be a way of projecting future kicking performance. Greg Joseph attempted the 4th most field goals in the league last season which would be good enough to have him finish the year as the 6th highest scoring fantasy kicker. Joseph, who also hit on a respectable 87% of his field goals last season isn’t being drafted right now in most leagues. 

Saturday, May 21, 2022

The Triangle Theory: Vikings Fan Edition

The Triangle Theory

Like my favorite rapper Skizzy Mars once said, "They say insanity is doing the same things over and over and expecting results to change." What does Skizzy mean by this? Am I insane for being a Vikings fan? 

For a question of this magnitude, I personally had to do some soul searching as to why I am a a die-hard fan. Like many fans do after a heartbreaking loss, I poured myself a glass of whiskey and was able to come up with what I like to call, The Triangle Theory. 

Checkpoint #1:    This is our Year!

Oddly enough, we're currently in this phase. We went through an offseason of many changes. We hired a new head coach, a new GM, and were able to keep all of our key players except for LB Anthony Barr and DT Michael Pierce. Fortunately the Vikes signed key free agents, LB Jordan Hicks and DT Harrison Phillips, to replace what we lost. Now that I come to think of it, this might be out year!

Checkpoint #2:    The let down. 

Fast-forward to the end of the regular season. Either, A) We miss the playoffs for a 3rd consecutive year. Or, B) We make the playoffs only to be let down by a game-losing missed field goal by Greg "the leg" Joseph. Historic Vikings kickers such as Gary Anderson and Blair Walsh paved the way for guys like Greg Joseph. Remember, most of the time Anderson and Walsh were great kickers just as Joseph is for us. But in key moments when the season is on the line, The Vikings Kicker's Curse finds a way to haunt us Minnesotans repeatedly. 

Checkpoint #3: I'm never cheering for the Vikes again.

Even though I'm not proud of checkpoint #3, we all have said this at some point. As fans we go through insurmountable heartbreak time after time. Whether it's a missed field goal in the playoffs, or an interception thrown by fan-favorite Brett Favre that costs you a trip to the Super Bowl. Hard times create strong fans, strong fans create good times, good times create weak fans, weak fans create hard times....or something like that. The silver lining is that through all the hardships we've endured, we will always remain hopeful each and every year and continue to support the Vikes through all trials and tribulations.

Year after year this bring us back to checkpoint #1. This is our year.....
Or maybe next year. 

As Always,


Friday, May 20, 2022

QB Tier Rankings

Chris Simms is working on his QB rankings and pissing off a few people in the process. In his list, all QB’s are eligible, regardless of their position on the depth chart. In this blog, I’ll rank QB’s in tiers but only starters (I have both Jimmy G and Trey Lance listed as I think Jimmy G starts). 

MVP Tier

So I think there’s an actual chance any of these guys could win MVP. Patty Mahomes and Josh Allen should always be in the mix as the #1 QB. It’ll be interesting to see how Mahomes does without Tyreek, but it’s hard to believe they won’t continue to find a way to be efficient with Andy Reid at the helm. 

Burrow should continue to ball out with the weapons he has. And the same can be said for Brady; although I imagine there has to be some regression with his play and a first time HC in Leftwich. 

I anticipate Russ lighting it up this year. He has to be rejuvenated after finally getting out of Seattle and under the grasp of Pete Carroll. His new coach knows how to run an offense, and we should be able to see Denver’s other starters reach their full potential. 

And lastly, although he’s still a subjectively great QB, fingers crossed that Rodgers finally has a shit year after Green Bay finally paid up for him and Adams is gone. 

Elite Tier

Does anyone have a harder path than Herbert? Got drafted into a division with a young Mahomes and Carr, and then gets Russ added to the mix? I think he’s a great QB, but he’s going to need a big break to win the division. 

Stafford has to be up there. Thats what a Super Bowl gets you.

Lastly, assuming Watson is the same version of himself that we saw in Houston (ya know, on the field), he should be a top-tier QB for Cleveland. Whether he plays every game this year will be a different story. 

Great Tier

Best way to sum this group up is by two words: Wild Card. All of these players can drop 4 TD’s and 400+ yards one night, then go 22-45 and throw 1 TD and 2 INTs the next. 

I actually think Kirk, Carr, and Dak are all the same. Tell me I’m stupid if you want, I don’t care. Just look at the stats…






































The narrative that Kirk can’t win the big games is so old at this point. Dak and Kirk are just 1-3 in playoff games but Derek doesn’t have a win yet. And it’s easy to make the argument that Dak has the easiest route to the postseason…had Amari and Ceedee on the outsides, 5 legit starters on the line, and played against 3 teams in the NFC East that don’t seem to have their QB figured out. 

Lamar is the odd man out here, but not in a bad way. His situation is just so different given his style of play. But nonetheless, he can get you to the wild card while continuing to average out the great performances with the rough ones. 

Any of these guys could be in the tier above or below with a good or bad season. 

Good Tier

Mixed feelings on this one. I’m sure some say Kylar should be higher, but I’m anti-Kylar. His dramatics aside, he is only a combined 7-15 in the months November, December, and January. I can’t imagine his next contract sets the bar again, and I’m not sure how much of his success is to blame on Kliff.

Tannehill is more of a courtesy, as he’s had some good seasons since getting to Tennessee. I don’t see it happening this upcoming season without AJ Brown. As someone who thought the Titans should’ve tried to trade him for Russ over the off-season, it’s hard to have him ranked any higher than “good”.

Average Tier

Hurts can be that guy. I really believe it. But he isn’t that guy as of now, hence the Average tag. 

Ryan is older now and just a shadow of his former self. Can’t see the Indy offense lighting it up through the air every week. And Goff seems like a sufficient stopgap for Detroit for the time being. 

Decent Tier

Jameis is probably the best in this group, and I actually think (despite my best wishes) that the Saints offense can roll this year. Olave was my favorite WR in this draft and it hurts to see the former Buckeye in gold and black. 

Trevor Lawrence showed improvement after Urban got kicked to the curb, and I’d anticipate more success with Doug Pedersen at the helm. And even if they overpaid (by a mile) on some off-season acquisitions, their offense should be improved. 

Trash Tier

I don’t have a single nice thing to say about anybody in this tier except Zach Wilson’s mom seems nice. 

Don’t Know Tier

Last I heard, Trey wasn’t winning over the coaching staff in San Fran which is why they kept Jimmy G. And it looks like Fields will be struggling to stay on two feet and have nobody to throw to. Not sure if the Bears put up 20 points in a game this year. 

Let’s hear where I’m wrong and why. Comment below and let it rip. 

5 Breakout Candidates to Watch in Training Camp

 The Minnesota Vikings have started their voluntary team activities, as the summer program approaches. Here are five potential breakout players:

1. G Ed Ingram

Ingram was one of two second-round picks for the Vikings this year going at pick no. 59. He was a four-year starter for the Tigers and helped pave the way for 3 separate seasons of 1,000 yard rushers. While Ingram was efficient in his run-blocking ability, his greatest attribute is his pass-blocking. He is an absolute mauler and has the ability to be an instant starter at the open right guard position. In Kevin O'Connell's pass-heavy offense, look to see Ingram moving up the depth chart in August. 

2. RB Kene Nwangwu 

Nwangwu has already broken out as a kick returner, scoring two touchdowns in one season, which is tied for the most in a single season. However, he still has yet to show his ability as an impactful running back. Nwangwu has legit game-breaking speed, and if used correctly could be one of the best rotational/gadget players in the entire NFL. This season I bet we see a lot more of Nwangwu getting touches in this potentially high-octane offense.

3. Edge Janarius Robinson

Robinson came into the 2021 season as a rookie with sky-high potential, with his 4.69 forty and 7'1" wingspan, but needed plenty of development before seeing any action on the field. His season did get cut short with a season-ending surgery he opted for in early September. With a full off-season to get healthy and even some training with star edge rusher Danielle Hunter, Robinson has a chance to be a big rotational piece for the Vikings in a position where health is questionable.

4. LB Brian Asamoah II

Asamoah is probably the best linebacker the Vikings have drafted in the last few years between himself, Troy Dye and Chazz Surratt. Asamoah has tremendous quickness and explosion, testing out with a phenomenal broad and vertical jump and a 1.55 10-yard split, which Kwesi and O'Connell see high value in. Asamoah certainly is a project, but has the ability to be an impact player this year, filling in as a third linebacker and rotational piece.

5. TE Irv Smith Jr. 

To Vikings fans, it seems that Irv Smith Jr. has already broken out, despite not playing a season as TE1. Smith was one of the best players at training camp last year, before suffering a meniscus injury that would require surgery and end his breakout campaign for the 2021 season. All signs point to Irv being completely healthy by the time training camp starts, and we finally get the chance to see Irv be the true number 1 tight end we have wanted ever since getting drafted. He is a dynamic pass-catcher who has shown flashes of brilliance, without having put it all together. Expect big things from Irv this camp and looking into this 2022 season as the only viable option at tight end.

The off-season program continues throughout the summer, culminating in training camp starting in the end of July.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Dalvin Cook's Role in the Kevin O'Connell Offense

   It appears that Minnesota Vikings star running back Dalvin Cook will have a new role this season, under new offensive-minded head coach Kevin O'Connell. In Cook's Tuesday presser, he told fans to "expect the unexpected." The sixth-year running back has been lining up at wide receiver in multiple sets during OTA's, per multiple reports. 

In the Mike Zimmer era, Dalvin Cook had 1200 total touches, nearly doubling the next closest Viking. His workload has always been a point of concern for the fan base, as he has yet to complete a full season in his career due to a plethora of injuries. 

Cook's 56 career games have him totaling 4,820 yards and 39 rushing touchdowns. He averages 4.7 yards per carry, and has been the focal point of a conservative offense ever since entering the league in 2017. He is one of the few premier running backs in the league, and was the heartbeat of the previous regime. 

The idea of having Dalvin line up in the receiver position for certain packages can be both impactful and injury preventative for the 26-year old pro bowler. In his career, Dalvin has 1,499 receiving yards in his career, with his season high being 519 yards in 2019. The wide receiver position also provides much more longevity to careers than a traditional three-down back. 

With Kevin O'Connell's 11-personnel system, the focal point of the offense shifts identities to more pass-centric play calling. Cook will benefit from this shift as the defenses will be defending the pass more, having five or six defensive backs in the game, which makes getting to the second level much easier. On top of the defense shifting, Cook lining up at receiver will keep his body healthier.

This whole saga concluded with Dalvin himself posting a video to his Twitter account of him coming down with a 20-yard reception against the Steelers last Fall. It is clear Cook is excited for the role, and to be moving around to create those mismatches. 

As fans, we are going to have to wait to see this in action come September when the Vikings open up against Green Bay.

Four Potential Breakout Candidates for the 21-22 Season

Every year players will either preform to expectations, preform under their expectations, or will completely surpass what anyone expected from them. I have compiled a list of a few players on the Vikings squad who I believe have a solid chance to break out. 

Garrett Bradbury, C

Starting off HOT, I have to 2019 first round selection, Garrett Bradbury. While many people are ready to give up on Bradbury, with a new regime there is potential for Bradbury to become a solid starter for us. Bradbury has underperformed at the center position, especially considering the first-round price tag and expectations he came into the league with. Coach Kevin O'Connell is actually quite familiar with undersized (6'2",300) underperforming play at the center position with Rams current starter Brain Allen. Similar to Bradbury, many in the Rams community had little belief in Brain Allen prior to 2021. This past season he posted a solid 5 sacks allowed in 567 pass-blocking snaps for an 80.2 PFF grade (87.4 run blocking, 63.5 pass blocking) and could expect a decent pay day when free agency hits.

With the Vikings not picking up Bradbury's 5th year option, hopefully that lights a fire in Bradbury, and we see him play at a level that we haven't seen before. 

Ihmir Smith-Marsette, WR

We have seen very little from Ihmir Smith-Marsette this past year due to the combination of the emergence of KJ Osborn as the WR #3 and the Vikings playing a ton of ball out of 21 and 22 personnel, but the times we did see him he played very well. Ihmir is mostly a vertical threat player and if you look at the Vikings WR room, they lack a true burner. With the lack of vertical threat ability and a new offense that will showcase many more 11 and 12 personnel and multiple WR sets, we can expect to see a lot more of Ihmir this season. 

Irv Smith Jr., TE 

One of the biggest question marks about this Vikings offense is how Irv Smith Jr. will perform coming off a season ending knee injury. Leaving the 2019 draft, the player I was the most interested about was Irv Smith Jr. due to his athletic ability at the TE position (which was exciting after watching Kyle Rudolph for many years). Irv has had a mostly quiet start to his career due to injury and lack of use but that is expected to change going into this season. Similar to everyone else on this list, Irv should benefit greatly due to a change of pace on offense that will help him use his athleticism to his advantage by creating mismatches in the 2nd and 3rd level of opposing defenses. KOC also went on record yesterday saying. "He's going to be a major part of what we do". Expect big things from #84 this upcoming season. 

Cameron Dantzler, CB

Cam Dantzler has some great tools at his disposal to be a very good CB in this league. Dantzler stands at 6'2" 190 lbs. and was the Vikings third round selection in 2020. Entering his 3rd year in the league, it is put-up or shut-up time for The Needle. He is operating out of a difficult Ed Donatell defense which can be tricky and very demanding for corners, but Dantzler has been learning under the guidance of Patrick Peterson for over a year now and what he has learned should translate to on the field play. With the addition of 2nd round pick Andrew Booth Jr., Dantzler has some serious competition for that outside corner spot and has to preform if he intends on staying the starter for this season. Since Dantzler has not had much competition since he arrived, this is a good test for him to see how he performs under pressure with a young and hungry rookie on his heels. 

Monday, May 16, 2022

2021-22 Minnesota Vikings Record and Season Award Predictions

Since the 2021-22 season is less than four months away combined with the NFL annual schedule release, I always like to take a look at teams I am interested in and predict wins, losses, and who I believe will be Offensive Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, and Rookie of the Year for each given team. 

Obviously since we are all SKOL Nation, it is only right to take a deep dive into my predictions for the Vikings. 

Before we begin it must be noted that I am a bit of a pessimist when it comes to Vikings football. While I will always support my boys until I die, it is hard to be optimistic after dealing with literal decades of heartbreak, even before my time on Earth. However, with massive front office changes and exciting young players in a weaker NFC this year, it is hard to not get excited :)

*I will also only be writing a description for games that I feel need some extra emphasis or explanation. 

Week 1: Green Bay Packers - WIN

While this one feels too good to be true, I am starting the Vikings at 1-0. The combination of being at home, Week 1, with a brand-new regime and newly found energy in the staff and players, against our biggest rival feels like the perfect storm for a massive win against the Pack. Expect this game to be loud and for the fans to show out in numbers for this one regardless of the outcome. 

Week 2: Philadelphia Eagles - LOSS

Week 3: Detroit Lions - LOSS

Week 4: New Orleans Saints - WIN

Starting the season 1-2, despite sloppy play thus far and an ugly loss to the Eagles in Week 2, this game in London is where the Vikings begin to hit their stride. They destroy the Saints overseas and Coach O'Connell finally starts to put together some impressive looking wins. I have a hunch since Jettas didn't get the opportunity to put up an incredible performance in his in-home state of Louisiana, London will just have to do. 

Week 5: Chicago Bears - WIN

Week 6: Miami Dolphins - WIN 

Week 7: BYE

The Vikings are scorching hot going into the BYE week, coming off of three back-to-back-to-back wins. Things are looking very good for the Vikings, sitting atop the division at 4-2 with Justin Jefferson looking to build on his case for NFL Offensive Player of the Year. 

Week 8: Arizona Cardinals - LOSS

The Vikings aren't able to enact their revenge from last year's devastating loss to the Cardinals and lose in ugly fashion to a fresh-legged Deandre Hopkins coming just one game off a suspension. The team sits at 4-3, but still first in the division thanks to that Week 1 win against the Packers. 

Week 9: Washington Commanders - WIN 

Week 10: Buffalo Bills - LOSS

Week 11: Dallas Cowboys - LOSS

This game actually was played very well from both squads, unlike last year's Cooper Rush vs Kirk stinker. Both teams fight hard but ultimately the Cowboys best our Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium. Vikings sit at 5-5 and are still on top the division. 

Week 12: New England Patriots - WIN 

Week 13: New York Jets - WIN 

Week 14: Detroit Lions - WIN 

The team gets their payback for the Week 3 loss in impressive fashion after a nice stretch of play from Weeks 12 and 13. Vikings are 8-5 and Justin Jefferson is running away with the OPTY at this point. 

Week 15: Indianapolis Colts - WIN

Week 16: New York Giants - WIN 

Week 17: Green Bay Packers - LOSS

Expecting to sweep the Packers is unlikely as it is. When you factor in you have to play at Lambeau in early January, against Rodgers, in freezing temperatures, it doesn't help. Thankfully for the Vikings they are still on top of the division and only need a Week 18 win at Soldier Field in Chicago to secure the North. The Vikings currently sit at 10-6 with one game left in the season. 

Week 18: Chicago Bears - WIN 

It's hard to beat a team twice in the same season, but this Bears team does not scare me in the slightest - even if we have to play at Soldier Field in January. Vikings secure the NFC North with a big win over the Bears. 

FINAL Record: 
1st in NFC North

This is my realistic prediction for the team in 2021-22. I also see two worlds - one where Vikings exceed expectations, and one where they fail to meet expectations. Because of this, I believe the ceiling for this team is 13-4, while the floor is 8-9. 

Team Awards: 

Offensive Player of the Year: Justin Jefferson

No surprise here, the best receiver in the NFL wins OPTY after a record-breaking season. Not only does JJ win the Vikings Offensive Player of the Year, but he is also the NFL Offensive Player of the Year as well. With Justin Jefferson playing in the Cooper Kupp role this year within the new KOC offense, we can fully expect him to get his. I predict JJ ends the season with the following stat line:

- 127 Receptions
- 1,885 Yards
- 16 TDs

Defensive Player of the Year: Za'Darius Smith

I went back and forth deciding who should get this nod: Za'darius or Danielle Hunter, but ultimately, I landed on Big Z as the more underrated pick. After missing almost all of 2021 due to injury, Za'darius came back like he never left. Za'darius posts 13.5 sacks, tying his career high, while was collectively a member of the NFLs best front seven in 2021. 

Rookie of the Year: Lewis Cine

I also had trouble making this pick because I truly believe that Andrew Booth Jr. will emerge as the #1 CB in the Vikings secondary, but again, I ultimately went with first-round selection, Lewis Cine. 
Cine brings a spark to a mostly young and inexperienced secondary and has the opportunity to immedietly make an impact. Not to mention that Cine has the biggest room for error with Harrison Smith and Cam Bynum to make up for his potential mishaps in the field of play. This truly gives Cine full opportunity to play to his strengths: downhill tackler with an aggressive mindset. 

Minnesota Vikings: Future Bets to Place for 2022 Season

Readers Note: I’m not going to be detailing every single future available because I don’t want to waste your time and there are some that are actually comical. When a bet is so unlikely to happen that it becomes comical it’s probably a sign not to bet it. For instance, Tyler Conklin winning the NFL MVP is offered at +50000. There is one reason alone that bet is offered and it’s because the odds of Tyler Conklin winning MVP are lower than the sun exploding as you’re finishing this sentence. At the bottom of the article is a full list of Vikings futures that are available just not in expanded detail. As the season nears I will publish an article on how to bet the Packers @ Vikings in Week 1. That article, along with my others on how to bet the Vikings each week, will include odds that are easier to bet. If you like what I have to say then stay tuned for those. I'm really excited to write them.

Individual Futures and Awards

Most Valuable Player

Kirk Cousins: +5000

If I’m going to be honest I was considering glazing this one over entirely. This isn’t a bet I would personally target. It’s not that I think Kirk Cousins is some terrible quarterback or anything. I just don’t see him winning MVP and his odds of 50/1 reflect that. However, if anybody on the Vikings could do it this year it would probably be Kirk in the new offense. With that said, I like the Viking offensive superstars to win the individual awards more. 

Offensive Player of The Year

Dalvin Cook: +2500

Justin Jefferson: +3000

The Offensive Player of The Year Award typically goes to a skill position player and for that reason there is definitely a world in which one of these happens. However, out of the two Dalvin Cook has struggled to stay healthy for an entire season when compared to Justin Jefferson and in two out of the last three years we’ve seen the award delegated to a wide receiver. Justin Jefferson being in the elite class of wide receivers makes him winning OPOY at 30/1 good value. As is Dalvin Cook at 25/1 on the hope he is able to put together a healthy season in the prime of his career. 

Rushing Yards Leader

Dalvin Cook: +750

On a game-by-game basis there aren’t many runners in the NFL that can rack up more yards than Dalvin Cook. If Kevin O'Connell and staff can keep him healthy for a full 16 or 17 games then I think Dalvin Cook winning the rushing title at almost 7/1 is a distinct possibility

Receiving Yards Leader

Justin Jefferson: +800

The only receiver with better odds than Justin Jefferson to win the receiving title is Cooper Kupp which should come as no surprise. The only other two guys I worry about this award going to are Cooper Kupp (+700) and Ja’Marr Chase (+1200). At 22 years old Justin Jefferson has arguably the best skill set in the NFL at the wide receiver position and he only continues to improve. With an offensive minded Kevin O’Connell taking the helm I like Justin Jefferson at 8/1. 

Comeback Player of The Year

Danielle Hunter: +1200

People can forget that when Danielle Hunter is healthy he is almost a sack-per-game player. In both the 2018 and 2019 season he registered 14.5 sacks before sitting the entire 2020 season out with an upper-body injury. Upon his return in 2021 he garnered 6 sacks in 7 games before being forced out of the season for same reason. When he’s healthy he’s predictably dominant. A player with his talent combined with an unfortunate injury history makes this a noteworthy future at 12/1. 

Head Coach of The Year

Kevin O’Connell: +2000

Out of all the futures on the board I might like this one the most. We’ve seen it over and over again when a team will get a huge performance boost from a first year head coach. The winner of this award was a rookie head coach back to back in 2017-18 with Sean McVay and Matt Nagy and then again in 2020 with Kevin Stefanski. The odds of Kevin O’Connell doing the same in his first year as head coach should be far better than the proposed 20/1.

Team Futures

Playoff Odds

NFC North Winner: +275

Yes/No To Make Playoffs: +100/-120 

The bet here I would probably feel most confident in placing would be the Vikings making the playoffs at +100. If you firmly believe that the Vikings are winning their division then bet them at +275. However, with Aaron Rodgers still in the division and Dan Campbell putting together a strong Lions team I only like betting on them to make the playoffs instead. It’s definitely still a possibility that the Vikings win the division, but that has only happened in two seasons since 2009. However, in the last four seasons they've finished second in the division three out of those four seasons putting them in constant contention for a wildcard. I have much more confidence in betting with that recent trend and with a winning result that falls under a wider variety of outcomes. 

Best Team Future: Minnesota Vikings to Make Playoffs (+100)

Best Individual Future: Head Coach of The Year, Kevin O’Connell (+2000)

Rest of Available Vikings Futures

Other MVP:

Dalvin Cook: +10000

Justin Jefferson: +15000

Adam Thielen: +50000

Other OPOY:

Kirk Cousins +8000


Danielle Hunter +2800

Eric Kendricks +10000


Andrew Booth Jr.: +2200

Lewis Cine: +3500

Brian Asomoah: +5000

Other Team Futures:

Over/Under 9.0 Season Wins: (-115/-105)

NFC Winner: (+2000)

Super Bowl Winner: (+5000)

*The exact odds sampled were pulled from DraftKings at the time of publication but other sportsbooks should have similar odds as well.

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