Warren Sharp’s Strength of Schedule and a brief note: Warren Sharp projects the Vikings to face the 4th-easiest overall offensive schedule of 2019, although they will face a litany of strong pass-defenses along the way.
The Minnesota Vikings’ 2018 season can be split between Weeks 7 and 8. Although OC John DeFilippo was not fired the conclusion of Week 14, it’s clear that defensive-minded donkey HC Mike Zimmer wrested control of the offense away from DeFilippo ahead of the Week 8 loss to the New Orleans Saints, implementing his run-first offense and tanking both the offense’s productivity and the Vikings’ season. In his 2019 Football Preview, Sharp explains how DeFilippo’s high-octane 1st-half 1st-down passing offense produced a “64% Success Rate[,] ranked No. 2 in the NFL” and had Minnesota sitting 1st-place in the NFC North.
This is Adam Thielen’s 2018 game log. Although he still produced in Week 8, we can see that his targets plummeted in that Week, followed by the rest of his statistical output for a large portion of the remainder of the year. Until then, Stefon Diggs had largely been up and down. His output somewhat stabilized as generally productive but we can’t say the same for the team. From Weeks 8-17 the Vikings went 4-5, dropping from 1st to 3rd in the division.
Dalvin Cook is the one man who stands to benefit from the change in offense -- although, one could argue he retains value rather than gains given the fact that 1st-down passes to him would gain nearly twice as much yardage as slamming him into the back of his offensive line will.
Should both Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs slide a bit in your draft, they’re still worth a roster spot. They will, however, not produce at their expected fringe WR1/WR2 levels. Consider them both mid-to-low WR2s, with some expected spike weeks in 2019.
If, for some reason, we see Kirk Cousins excelling in the archaic system that he’s stuck in (Be on the lookout for Kevin Clark’s upcoming interview with the analytically minded Cousins!), add him off the waiver wire. For now though, observe: While DeFilippo still had control of the offense in Weeks 1-7, Cousins averaged 308 passing yards per game, 2 passing touchdowns, and just .4 interceptions per game. Once Zimmer took over? 267 passing yards, 2 passing touchdowns, and .875 interceptions per game. In the Zimmer “offense”, Cousins lost 41 yards per game and his interception rate more than doubled. DeFilippo’s offense also aided Cousins’ underrated rushing ability, totalling 23 rushes for 75 yards and a score. Zimmer, on the other hand, nerfed Cousins’ rushing ability, stunting him with 21 carries for 48 yards and no scores.
If Zimmer pulls his head out and analyzes the backup RBs properly, he’ll see he’s got a bell cow-in-waiting in Mike Boone. For now, he’ll stick with his personal favorite, rookie Alexander Mattison.
Kyle Rudolph and Irv Smith Jr.