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NFC North Fantasy Football Preview: Vikings players to avoid in early rounds

The Vikings might have the most talent in the NFC North, but will they really live up to the hype?

NFL: Minnesota Vikings-Training Camp Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

We already got our first taste of football with the Hall of Fame game. While there wasn’t a whole lot of fantasy implications during the scrimmage, we’re getting closer and closer. We’re still going through the NFC North to look at players whom you might want to keep an eye on to see where their fantasy football value is trending. We’ve already looked at the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears that you can check out here:

Avoid these Detroit Lions players in your early drafts
Detroit Lions players you should consider drafting
Chicago Bears players to avoid in early rounds
Chicago Bears players to target

These players can either be trending towards fantasy relevance or complete irrelevance. This article addresses players who are in the latter group.

We’ll look at two players from the Minnesota Vikings whom I would be hesitant to use early draft capital on, whether that’s for a redraft league or for a dynasty league. Fantasy season is just around the corner, and it’s time to start building those big boards.

Stefon Diggs, WR

Be cautious in making Stefon Diggs your top fantasy wide out. He had a good season last year and enjoyed a miracle in a playoff game that might still be ingrained in your head. However, Kirk Cousins is best when throwing to his tight ends. Per ESPN Stats & Information Group, Cousins has the highest yards per attempt average when two tight ends are on the field over the past two years. New offensive coordinator John DeFilippo comes from a Philadelphia system that ranked third in pass plays from a two-tight end set. While the Vikings were above the league average in two-tight end sets last year, Pat Shurmur preferred three-receiver sets.

So if the Vikings want to maximize Cousins, that could mean cutting into the target share of either Diggs or Adam Thielen. There’s also the matter of Diggs having not played a full season in his three-year career. He played 14 games last year and 13 twice. He’s never had over 1,000 yards receiving despite a 70 percent catch rate. If you’re looking for a Vikings receiver to make the jump to WR1 status for your fantasy team, I’d put more money on Thielen, who had over 1,200 receiving yards last season.

Kirk Cousins, QB

Last season, Cousins threw for 500 more yards and had five more passing touchdowns than Case Keenum. While those numbers are good, Keenum was more efficient with a higher completion percentage (67.5% to Cousins’ 64%) and had a higher QB rating. I still like to point out that 10 of the Vikings’ games were played in a dome last season and Cousins could benefit from that. But I’m not sure he provides more firepower than Keenum who had an MVP-caliber season last and an offensive guru like Shurmur running the offense.

This may be my Packers bias, but Cousins took a considerable step back last season after looking like the next big thing in 2016. Matthew Stafford, Philip Rivers and Matt Ryan all have ADPs after Cousins but could provide equal to or great value. Our friends at the Daily Norsemen might agree.

Cousins could be gearing up for a second-team experience equivalent to Drew Brees. He could also continue to be looking on the outside looking in on the elite QB room.