2021 NFL Betting and Fantasy Team Preview: Minnesota Vikings
A part of a division filled with drama and lots of off-season changes, the Minnesota Vikings will largely carry over the same offensive roster that led them to a 7-9 record last year. Minnesota’s only notable change at the offensive skill positions is at WR3 – a position that has been minimized with the Vikings shifting to more two-TE sets in recent years. Despite the lack of offensive change, there is still reason for optimism in Minnesota with young receiving talent in Justin Jefferson (22) and Irv Smith (23) and an elite rushing attacked buoyed by Dalvin Cook and a strong offensive line. While there wasn’t a whole lot of change offensively for the Vikings, their defense has been almost entirely been revamped with the additions of Patrick Peterson, Bashaud Breeland, Mackensie Alexander, Michael Pierce, Dalvin Thomlinson, and Sheldon Richardson. They’ll also get Danielle Hunter back from injury. An improved defense paired with a solid offense could mean good things for the Vikings this season.
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Minnesota Vikings Team Betting Preview
Win Total (over): 8.5 (-170)
Games Favored: 7
Games as a TD Favorite: 1
Games as a TD Underdog: 3
I mentioned in the opening that there is plenty of reason for optimism surrounding the Vikings and I am sold on them being a winning team this season. If that’s going to happen, they are going to need to take advantage of their early-season schedule as they have a tough stretch of four away games in five weeks throughout Weeks 9-13. While one of those road games is against what’s expected to be a terrible Lions team, the other three are at Baltimore, at the Chargers, and at San Francisco.
PICK: Vikings Over 8.5 Wins
Minnesota Vikings Team Projections Preview
Projected Offense Rank: 14
Projected Rush Offense Rating: Elite
Projected Pass Offense Rating: Average
Projected Points Earned: 403.75 (Rank 17)
Projected Difficult Rush Defenses Faced: 9
Projected Soft Rush Defenses Faced: 5
Projected Difficult Pass Defenses Faced: 4
Projected Soft Pass Defenses Faced: 7
Team Defense Rank: 25
Projected Rush Defense Rating: Average
Projected Pass Defense Rating: Below Average
Projected Points Allowed: 404 (Rank 17)
The defense is what let the Vikings down last season as they allowed the fourth-most points per game in the league. While we are still projecting them as a below-average defense in 2021, I’ll be curious to see how big of an impact their personnel changes will have. It’s possible I am being too optimistic but I think there’s a chance Minnesota’s defense ends up slightly better than average, which would go a long way to turning them into a winning team.
Minnesota Vikings Fantasy Football Preview
Noteworthy Depth Chart
QB: Kirk Cousins – Underdog Rank: QB19 (ADP QB19)
RB: Dalvin Cook – Underdog Rank: RB2 (ADP RB2)
RB: Alexander Mattison – Underdog Rank: RB58 (ADP RB47)
WR: Justin Jefferson – Underdog Rank: WR9 (ADP WR8)
WR: Adam Thielen – Underdog Rank: WR18 (ADP WR23)
WR: Ihmir Smith-Marsette – Underdog Rank: WR117 (ADP WR128)
TE: Irv Smith – Underdog Rank: TE18 (ADP TE14)
What’s New?: Defense
I have mentioned it a couple of times already but Minnesota’s defense went through an overhaul in the off-season. In addition to the acquisitions of Patrick Peterson, Bahaud Breeland, Mackensie Alexander, Michael Pierce, Dalvin Tomlinson, and Sheldon Richardson, they are also expected to get back Danielle Hunter who missed the entirety of last season.
What’s Uncertain?: WR3
The third receiver hasn’t typically had a large role in the Vikings offense but it is the one offensive position we’ll see a change at this season. Leading candidates to fill the position are fifth-round rookie Ihmir Smith-Marsette and ex-Jacksonville Jaguar, Dede Westbrook.
In DFS we absolutely love concentrated offenses and we should get that out of the Vikings again in 2021. Jefferson and Thielen combined for over 45% of Kirk Cousins passing attempts last season and should be in line for a similar number this year. When healthy, Dalvin Cook has operated as one of the league’s only remaining workhorse backs.
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