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NFC North Fantasy Football Preview: Vikings players to consider drafting

We already looked at Vikings players to avoid drafting this fantasy season. Now, it’s time to look at those worth the draft capital.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings-Minicamp Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Preseason games are about to get in full swing and it’s a glorious time of year. 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 former group. We’ll look at three fantasy options from the Minnesota Vikings whom I would not hesitate to use draft capital on, whether that’s for a redraft league or for a dynasty league.

We’ve already looked at players to avoid on the Vikings as well, so let’s look at the more appealing options. Fantasy season is just around the corner, and it’s time to start building those big boards.

Vikings Defense

The strongest unit for the Vikings, much like last season, is still the defense. Their front adds Sheldon Richardson to go along with Linval Joseph, Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter. If Andrew Sendejo doesn’t get suspended for being a fool, their secondary unit is still rock solid. Trae Waynes will still need to prove he’s not a pass interference waiting to happen, but they also added DB Mike Hughes from Central Florida who could be a low-key DROY candidate. According to CBS Fantasy sports, the Vikings D finished 9th in points scored among defenses last season, but owns the third overall spot for three-year averages.

Remember— it’s not just the defense that you have to keep an eye on, but also the special teams prowess of each respective defense. If there’s a weakness for the Vikings, it’s the kick return and punt return ability. The Vikings weren’t able to return a kick or punt for a touchdown last season. If they can make a little more magic happen there, then they only become more valuable.

Defenses are often hard to gauge for when you should jump on one during drafts. They’re a 9th-round ADP currently and should be right up there consistently in drafts with the Jaguars, Rams, and Eagles.

Kyle Rudolph, TE

Kyle Rudolph isn’t often mentioned among the top TEs in the league, but he’s very much like Jason Witten; he’s consistent. Both those tight ends have had the same number of average targets over the past three seasons (95), and nearly the same average amount of receptions, yards and yards per catch. Where they vary is TD reception averages. Rudolph has averaged seven over the past three years compared to four from Witten. The best stat for Rudolph over those past three years is that he hasn’t missed a game in those years. That is really great stuff if you’re used to drafting Gronkowski or Zach Ertz. Now, Rudolph’s ceiling isn’t as high as theirs, but he’s consistently been on the field.

I mentioned in a separate article that Stefon Diggs’ target share could take a hit because of all the weapons and that was primarily due to Kirk Cousins being his best in two-TE sets. This always made Jordan Reed an interesting fantasy option in Washington, but unlike Rudolph, Reed has never played a full season. Per Pro Football Reference, Rudolph saw his targets take a dramatic dip from 2016 to 2017, going from 132 to 81. If the Vikings o-line improves— reducing Rudolph’s need to help block— then he could see an uptick in targets.

Dalvin Cook, RB

This suggestion is more of a don’t-forget-about-Dalvin situation than it is a question about his talent. Ever since he was at Florida State, Cook has had a knack for ripping off big plays and that’s exactly what you want in a young running back today; those bursts of explosion that signal consistently high yards per touch. If it takes Cousins a while to mesh with the offense once the hitting starts, Cook could be the respite early on.

Before losing the majority of his rookie season to injury, Dalvin Cook played the first month of the season averaging 4.8 yards per carry and 88 rushing yards per game. Throw in his 8.2 yards per reception average and he was pumping out 5.2 yards every time he touched the ball. Had he not gotten injured, we could have seen Cook make vast improvements and join Kareem Hunt and Alvin Kamara in the rookie of the year conversation.

Currently, Fantasy Football Calculator has Cook as the 10th ranked running back, so, again, this is just a reminder to keep an eye on him since we didn’t get to see what a full season of Cook was like. Also, be wary of the Vikings offensive line. They’re down three starters in training camp and that could effect how well the unit gels early in the season. They haven’t made any discernible improvements on the line over the past year so that’s worrisome.