Minnesota Vikings Team Overview 2020
Vikings Team Overview 2020
Zygi Wilf. Wilf is one of 3 owners who were not born in the United States. He was born in West Berlin and his parents were Polish Jews.
They escaped Germany and fled to the United States around the early 1950’s. Wilf and his brother got into real estate and that is where he made his fortune.
His net worth is around $5.4 billion dollars. He did get in some legal trouble in the summer of 2013.
He was caught fleecing a business partner by keeping separate accounting books. He had to pay them $84,5 millions dollars.
Wilf’s biggest contribution has been the new beautiful stadium that is in Minneapolis.
Rick Spielman. Spielman’s brother used to play linebacker for the Detroit Lions. Rick himself made a couple of practice teams and also worked on ESPN on the show NFL live.
Spielman was a scout for Detroit and then went to Miami where he was director of player personnel.
Then he became the GM of the dolphins for one season in 2004. Then he took a year off and went to Minnesota.
He then got the GM job at Minnesota in 2012 but was the de facto GM since 2006.. Spielman, in my opinion, has done a pretty good job.
The Vikings are always in contention to make the playoffs and have won a couple playoff games since he took over as GM.
He has hit on a lot of draft picks and also a lot of undrafted players like Adam Thielen, Anthony Harris and Matt Asiata.
Mike Zimmer. Zimmer is only the 9th Head Coach in Vikings franchise history. The Vikings gave a couple of coaches chances when former head coach Dennis Green and the Vikings parted ways in 2001.
Zimmer has done really well when he became the head coach in 2014. He has already made 3 playoff appearances and one NFC championship game.
He has yet to take the Vikings to the playoffs in back to back seasons. Zimmer’s background in the NFL has been a long time defensive coordinator.
He started with the Cowboys in the early 2000’s. Then went to Atlanta for 1 season before joining the Bengals the next year for a total of 6 seasons in Cincinnati.
Then he got the head coaching job in Minnesota. His defenses have always been well coached and very disciplined.
Zimmer’s defenses have finished in the top 10 of points allowed all but one year since he has joined Minnesota.
The one year he wasn’t in the top 10 was his first as the head coach and they finished 11th. Zimmer used to be a defensive backs coach with Dallas and he coached Deion Sanders too. Zimmer’s defensive secondary has usually been really great everywhere he has been.
The same has held true in Minnesota. His pass defense is usually in the top 10 in the NFL and if not in the top 10 then in the top half of the league.
However, for having such a great passing defense, you would think they would generate more interceptions.
Throughout his 20 seasons as either a DC or HC, Zimmer’s defenses have only been in the top 10 of interceptions in the NFL 4 times.
Last season was one of them with the 3rd most interceptions. His run defenses have been good in Cincinnati but in most of his stops, they have been right around middle of the pack. His bread and butter is red zone defense.
Zimmer is known as a players coach and recently gave a heartfelt message to his players in June 2020 regarding the George Floyd killing. Zimmer is definitely one of the NFL’s top 10 coaches.
Fantasy Outlook for the Vikings
QB: Kirk Cousins
Cousins is being drafted around the 10th or 12th round in fantasy mock drafts. Cousins finished last season as the 18th best fantasy QB. I do think that Cousins finishes a little higher then 18 this year.
The biggest reason I believe this is because I think the defense will initially give up more points than a Vikings defense is used to giving up. This will cause the Vikings to throw the ball more.
However, I have faith in Zimmer to groom a young cornerback group and to get creative with pass rushes and blitzes to have this defense playing better at the midway point of the season.
The other concerning thing is that this offensive line is not a good pass blocking offensive line. The best player on this offensive line is right tackle Brian O’Neill.
After O’Neill, there are a lot of question marks and flat out not very good pass protectors. The Vikings under OC Gary Kubiak are looking to run the ball early and often with both Cook and Mattison.
I’m staying away from Kirk Cousins in 2020. I wouldn’t even have him as my back up. I think he quietly throws for 3,800 and 28 touchdowns in 2020.
RB: Dalvin Cook
This is the money guy. Except he hasn’t gotten a pay raise and the offer the Vikings just gave him, insulted Cook.
Now Cook plans to hold out until he gets a respectable offer from the Vikings. Apparently Cook is even willing to take less than Derrick Henry’s 4 year $50 million dollar deal. I think that is very reasonable for the Vikings.
However, there is no further action as of the day I am writing this post, which is July 21st. Hopefully the Vikings and Cook work things out because they are going to need him.
Back up running back Alexander Mattison is really good and will automatically become a potential RB1 if Cook actually sits out this season. However, Cook is very very special. He is the perfect running back for Gary Kubiak’s offense.
Kubiak has coached Terrell Davis, Arian Foster, Clinton Portis and many many other running backs to 1,000 rushing yards in a season. He also did this with Dalvin Cook last season. Cook carried the ball 250 times last season but missed 2 games last season.
Staying healthy has been a problem for Cook. He has missed a lot of games his 1st two seasons with the Vikings and then 2 games last season.
This is probably why the Vikings don’t feel comfortable giving him more money. With all of this said. If Cook plan’s on playing this season, he automatically becomes a top 5 RB. Cook has the same offensive line as he did last season.
The offensive line isn’t anything special but they still helped him rush for 4.5 yards per carry and 13 touchdowns. Even if the Vikings give up more points on defense, he should be used in the passing game. He had 53 receptions last season.
That was good for about 3 per game and he averaged 9 yards per reception. The biggest concern in drafting Cook is if he can stay healthy the entire season.
To me, it’s a risk worth taking. I also usually draft 4 running backs within my first 5 picks to make sure that I have a great healthy running back during the BYE weeks and if somebody like Cook was to get injured.
I highly suggest this strategy. Or you can draft Mattison in the 7th or 8th round to protect yourself. I don’t love that strategy because it’s a waste of a draft pick on a bench guy in the 7th or 8th round of a fantasy draft.
That is one of my biggest tips when it comes to drafting. Don’t draft waiver wire players. Meaning, that if Cook plays to begin the season then by week 3, whoever drafted Mattison is going to drop him to free agency because he will not be getting any points.
If you also have a lot of running backs then you don’t hurt your waiver wire position and will likely be able to pick Mattison up if Cook does get injured.
Trust me, the idea of drafting 4 or 5 running backs in your first 6 picks is the best strategy out there. Draft Cook early and then take 3 other backs right after him in the next 3 rounds. You will thank me later.
RB: Alexander Mattison
Mattison surprisingly only had 1 touchdown last year. I thought he had a couple. Any who, Mattison is a fine back but shouldn’t be drafted unless this Dalvin Cook holdout gets serious.
I would not draft Mattison unless that happens. I would also pick up Mattison in a heartbeat if Cook gets injured this season.
WR: Adam Thielen
Thielen had the injury bug last season but was hot out of the gates before the injury occurred. He should have another great season if he stays healthy.
It’s kind of hard to tell how great his season will be. He is one of the safest WR’s to draft because Kirk Cousins loves him and he is a really good WR.
The Vikings should have a really good run game this year so this should prevent a lot of double teams from opposing safeties.
However, the loss of Stefon Diggs is something to Monitor. I do like the 1st round draft selection of Justin Jefferson out of LSU in April 2020.
I think between Kubiak, Cousins and Thielen’s talent, that worst case he gets 85 receptions for 1,100 yards and 8 touchdowns. That’s a great floor. That would have been good for 12 best fantasy WR last season.
I do think that Thielin does much better then that. I think he finally gets 10 touchdowns in a season and gets over 100 receptions for 1,300 yards.
Historically that would put Thielin in the top 7 fantasy WR’s. I won’t be drafting Thielin in 2020 just because I usually take 4 straight running backs based off of my proven fantasy draft strategy.
But if you want to draft low floor players that are sure bets at every pick, then Thielin is your guy in the late 2nd round or early 3rd round.
WR: Justin Jefferson
I am very high on Jefferson. I think he is very polished and very smart as well. He looked like he knew exactly what coverage’s defenses played last season.
He was very smooth in finding the open spots in the defense. I think he and Kirk Cousins should hit off really well. I also think that he has a very high floor as well.
I think Cousins throws for 28 passing touchdowns in 2020 and that 10 of them will go to Thielin. I don’t love Obisi Johnson or Tajae Sharpe to have more then 6 combined.
This should give Jefferson around 8. Jefferson is being drafted around the 13th and 14th rounds. I think Jefferson easily finishes as a top 25 fantasy WR in 2020.
He is going to easily start day 1 for the Vikings and has nobody behind him that can even compete with him.
I would probably reach for Jefferson in the 11th round because I have a feeling this is the obvious late round WR that everybody will be eyeing to take.
Vikings Offensive Preview 2020
Gary Kubiak is the offensive Coordinator and play caller for the Vikings. Kubiak replaces Kevin Stefanski.
Stefanski did a really good job last season but Kubiak has plenty of experience as OC and was on the Vikings staff last season as the assistant head coach and offensive advisor. Kubiak is most known for his SuperBowl victory as the Broncos head coach during the 2015 season.
Kubiak was also a longtime head coach of the Houston Texans. He was also the OC when John Elway won his 2 superbowls in the mid 1990’s.
Kubiak has had a lot of success. He has mentored a lot of younger coaches too. Kubiak’s offensive staff in 2020 features a lot of familiar faces.
His son, Klint, is the quarterback’s coach and his longtime offensive line coach, Rick Dennison joined the team in 2019.
The Dennison-Kubiak combo has produced rushing greats like Terrell Davis, Arian Foster, Clinton Portis and now Dalvin Cook.
Cook has said that he believes Kubiak’s running game fits his running style and he loves playing in this system.
Quarterback Kirk Cousins has also raved about Kubiak in 2019 and enjoys playing for him. Kubiak’s offense is predicated on having a great running game. He has taken no name running backs to have 1,000 yards rushing in a season.
Most recently in 2014 he did this in Baltimore with Justin Forsett. His run game has been a model for up and coming coaches like head coach Kyle Shannahan.
This run style if the zone run game and stretch zone running plays. Everybody runs them but only a few run it very well and know the intricacies that Kubiak understands. Pretty much all of his offense is predicated on the zone read.
It sets up his passing plays and misdirection plays. Kubiak has had a top 10 offense in terms of yards in 16 of 22 seasons as an OC or HC.
If you take out the couple years in Houston where he essentially had no talent, then you can see just how impressive Kubiak is and how this offense should be just fine for the Vikings in 2020.
Vikings defensive Preview 2020
This defense has a new defensive coordinator. It’s actually 2 people. The co-coordinating team will be last year’s defensive line coach Andre Patterson and last year’s linebackers coach, Adam Zimmer.
Adam is the son of Mike Zimmer. So 2 sons on this coaching staff, one from the defensive side and the other from Kubiak, the OC.
Mike Zimmer also added another voice into the defensive room. His name is Dom Capers and he is a legendary defensive coach. Capers has been coaching defenses as a coordinator since Pittsburgh in the early 1990’s.
Now he will be a defensive consultant for the Vikings and Mike Zimmer is thrilled to seek advice from him. Zimmer is especially excited to see what type of blitzes and pressures he can implement to this Vikings defense in 2020 that Capers is so well known for.
So who will the play caller be? It should still be Mike Zimmer. Zimmer has always called the plays since he joined Minnesota as the head coach.
So really nothing new is going to change. Zimmer is a 4-3 defensive guy and the only time he ran 3-4 was in Dallas under Bill Parcels and that didn’t go too well.
Zimmer has been a 4-3 guy ever since. Zimmer believes in stopping the run and putting pressure on the quarterback.
His scheme is predicated on showing the same look the entire game but then playing different plays out of that same look.
He basically wants to deceive the opponent and never show them what they are truly running. Now to the players.
The defensive line starters will most likely be Danielle Hunter, Michael Pierce, Shamar Stephen and Ifeadi Odenigbo.
Odenigbo and Hunter are the defensive ends and Hunter is the crown jewel. Hunter has had 14.5 sacks in each of the past 2 seasons. He has also had a ton of tackles for loss and also 3 forced fumbles last season.
Odenigbo was a 7th round draft pick in 2018 and also a practice squad player at one point. He played last season and recorded 7 sacks. Odenigbo’s critique is that he was not good against the run last year.
He is a little undersized and I think he is under 260 pounds. There isn’t much competition from anybody else for the spot either.
They have 2 rookies and a journeyman free agent signing in Anthony Zettel. Zettel played a little with Cleveland, Cincinnati and Detroit.
He started every game in 2017 for Detroit and had 11 tackles for loss. Zettel’s weight is in the 270’s. So maybe they let Zettel play a lot on 1st and 2nd down.
The notable rookie is the 4th rounder out of South Carolina in DJ Wonnum. Wonnum is similar to Odenigbo in that he is a pass rusher who has trouble holding his own in the run game.
If there is ever an injury to Hunter, this defensive end group will probably be in a lot of trouble. The interior defensive lineman are Michael Pierce and most likely Shamar Stephen to start off.
Pierce was a free agent signing from Baltimore. Pierce is super strong and also bigger then last year’s Nose Tackle, Linval Joseph, who is no longer on the team.
Next to Pierce is Shamar Stephen. Stephen is a 6 year veteran who is a little bit above average in the run game but considerably lacks a pass rush.
He will be pushed by backups Jaleel Johnson and Armon Watts. A lot of people are high on Watts.
Watts was a 6th round draft pick of the Vikings in 2019 but didn’t play much last year. Apparently he has a lot more potential then Stephen.
Johnson on the other hand has been with the Vikings since 2017 and was there 4th round pick that year too.
He is very familiar with Zimmer’s system and I think is the real darkhorse to push Stephen for the starting spot.
Overall, this defensive line group is not amazing. It is definitely an average middle of the NFL defensive line. They don’t have a great defensive tackle next to Pierce and the defensive end opposite of Hunter will not be strong in the run game.
They have specialized people for both the run and pass but only 2 players can do both well. I think this defensive line gives up a lot of rushing yards in 2020. Definitely a middle tier run defense on paper.
The linebackers are more well known. They are led by Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks. Kendricks is one of the best linebackers in the NFL.
He is a playmaker and is really good in pass coverage. Barr has been up and down his entire Minnesota career. He signed a really big contract before the 2019 season but he didn’t play the best in 2019.
It’s actually very surprising that he was even worth that much money and that the Jets were offering him even more last year.
His stats aren’t that impressive and he never stands out on Sundays. In my opinion he is just an above average, quality starting linebacker in the NFL.
The 3rd linebacker out of this group will most likely be Eric Wilson and he will be entering his 4th season.
He was an undrafted free agent and signed with the Vikings in 2017. The last 2 seasons he has started 10 games and had a total of 5 sacks.
He also has a lot of tackles for loss. The Vikings placed a 2nd round tender on him earlier this offseason and wound up signing him to a 1 year deal.
Usually when teams do that kind of thing, they really like the player. So it looks like Wilson will start a majority of the time this year unless the 2017 4th round draft pick of the Vikings, Ben Gedeon, plays better in 2020.
It looks to likely be Wilson which is a fine move for the Vikings. Overall, this group of linebackers is an above average NFL linebacking crew.
Of course your would like to see more from Barr but it looks like what you see is what you will get from Barr. Wilson and Gideon are pretty good 3rd options and they have a rookie from Oregon, Trey Dye.
Dye is supposed to be a faster athletic linebacker. Kendricks is the prized possession out of the 3 of them and is poised for another great season.
The secondary for the Vikings has a lot of talent. The Safeties are definitely a top 5 safety duo in the NFL. They are Harrison Smith and Anthony Harris.
Harris had 6 interceptions last season but has not been able to stay healthy the past 2 seasons. He didn’t miss a ton of time but still wasn’t able to play every game.
Smith will be 31 years old this season but he didn’t look like he lost a step last season. He is still playing at a high level and fills the stat box every year.
The cornerback position is the one position to keep your eye on in 2020. They have 5 young corners, 2 of them are draft picks this season and the other 3 are very inexperienced. Most of them were high draft picks.
The fan forum favors that Holton Hill and Mike Hughes will start early. I know what you’re thinking, fan forum? Yes these fan forums usually have a lot of good insight if you can weed through some of the garbage.
However, they drafted Jeff Gladney in the 1st round of this year’s draft and also Cameron Dantzler in the 3rd round. I really like these 4 top guys.
Zimmer also hand picked them and he has been known for coaching defensive backs really well. I trust Zimmer in grooming a good cornerback group by the end of the season.
I do think that there will be obvious growing pains. Luckily football is a team sport and the Vikings have a good identity.
Overall, I think this will be a pretty tough year for Zimmer to remain in the top 10 of points allowed. I am concerned with how they will stop the run.
Zimmer traditionally has not been great at stopping the run. His defenses recently have been just above average.
The next big concern is the cornerback group. I think Zimmer is going to have to be creative, as he always is, in scheming up disguises for opposing quarterbacks.
I also think Zimmer will have to get creative in his pass rush too. The pass rush will definitely have to come from a lot of pressures and blitzes.
I also trust Zimmer to do well with this too just based off of his history. This defense will have to rely on what Zimmer’s defenses have always been, a bend but don’t break defense that comes up big in the redzone.
There are a lot of new pieces this year but I will take the optimistic approach that Zimmer and this defense figure it out halfway through the season.
Fun Facts About Coaches:
Mike Zimmer’s son is the Co-defensive coordinator.
He also hired longtime Defensive Coordinator, Dom Capers as a defensive consultant.
Gary Kubiak’s son is the quarterback’s coach.
Vikings Offensive Line Preview
The offensive line is definitely a concern for the Vikings in 2020. The 2 for sure starters will be right tackle, Brian Oneilin and center, Garrett Bradbury.
O’Neill is the best lineman on this O-line. He is great at zone run blocking and is also the best pass protector.
Bradbury is a great stretch zone blocker but is very bad in pass protection. The left tackle position is thought to be Riley Reiff but his play has been very inconsistent and the Vikings also just used a 2nd round pick on a tackle in Ezra Cleveland.
Ezra was considered by many to go in the 1st round of the 2020 NFL draft but fell to the Vikings. Reiff’s saving grace is that he is a great zone blocker and this is something that is needed for Gary Kubiak’s offensive scheme.
Cleveland is reportedly a good zone run blocker too. This leaves us with the biggest question marks on this O-line, the guard positions.
There are 6 players that will jockey it out for the 2 starting spots. There really is no clear winner. The only good news for Dalvin Cook fans, is that this will be the same offensive line that was super effective in helping Cook have a great 2019 season.
The main concern with this O-line is that they are going to struggle in pass protection during obvious passing downs. Luckily, Kubiak’s offensive philosophy is to have a balance run game where the passing game is played off of the run game.
The run game should be really good again in 2020 but this O-line will be put in obvious pass protection plays during this season. It is a big concern. The only opportunity I could see is if the rookie Cleveland starts at left tackle and they move Reiff to guard.
But still, it’s not a great situation and there are a lot of question marks and longshot no names that will start at both guard spots this season.
The great thing this group has going for them is Rick Dennison. Dennison has coached multiple great offensive lines on a lot of different teams. Dennison has followed Kubiak around a lot and was the O-line coach for the Vikings last season.
The 2nd year of Dennison coaching the same O-line should hopefully make them a little better but the lack of talent is evident.
Overall, this O-line should still be very effective in running the ball but the pass protection will definitely be below league average.