Bo Mitchell and John Tuvey have roughly a half-century of experience in the fantasy football industry between them, authoring many leather-bound books on the topic. Co-hosts of “The Fantasy Football Party” podcast, Bo and 2V concocted this series to help you stay true to your Vikings fandom while dominating your fantasy league.
Minnesota Vikings fans who have participated in fantasy football for any length of time have undoubtedly bumped into a situation where they’ve been forced to cheer for a player to score big — against their beloved purple-helmeted warriors.
Remember the awkward silence after you spilled your beverage leaping off the couch to celebrate Amari Cooper’s go-ahead touchdown last November? Sure, the Vikings rallied to win but you felt the sideways glares the entire rest of the party — and not just because of the spillage. They’ll blame “social distancing,” but rest assured you won’t be invited back this year.
However, you don’t have to sacrifice fantasy success to remain true to your Vikings fandom. What if I were to tell you there’s a way to field a winning fantasy squad even as you dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge Minnesota’s opponents? Over the next month we’ll reveal position-by-position options that allow you to indulge your fantasy jones while proudly sporting your Helga Hat free of conflict. Who knows, you might even be allowed to make a triumphant return at the neighborhood Super Bowl party.
On the heels of Bo Mitchell’s analysis of drafting Kirk Cousins, here are alternatives if you’re sniped on Kirky or otherwise inclined to go a different direction at the quarterback position.
TAKING A QUARTERBACK EARLY
All the cool kids wait to draft a quarterback. But maybe you play by your own rules and enjoy locking an elite signal-caller into your every-week lineup. Or perhaps you play in a superflex league that allows you to start multiple quarterbacks.
Either way, if you’re a QB truther and a Vikings fan we’ve got some good news… and some bad news.
The good news is, neither of the consensus top two fantasy quarterbacks — Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes and Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson — face the Vikings this season. So if you have an elite quarterback itch, you can scratch it early without sweating a matchup with the home team.
After that, it gets tricky.
The next three quarterbacks according to popular average draft position (ADP) are all slated to face the Vikings in 2020: Houston’s Deshaun Watson (Week 4), the Cowboys’ Dak Prescott (Week 11), and Seattle’s Russell Wilson (Week 5).
Arizona’s Kyler Murray is the only other quarterback consistently going off the board in the first four rounds who doesn’t have a date with Mike Zimmer’s defense this season.
So if you value a top-tier quarterback while ducking the anguish of cheering for them while the face the Vikings, you’ll need to go big with Mahomes or Jackson… or pivot to Plan B.
Exerting the willpower to stockpile other positions while quarterbacks fly off the draft board through the first four rounds earns you a choice: bank on one more season in the sun from a long-in-the-tooth veteran with a proven track record, or hope to get in on the ground floor of a breakout season from an up-and-comer.
If you’re looking to avoid a conflict with the Purple this year, that choice is largely made for you. Among mid-tier fantasy quarterbacks, it’s the old guys with name value and declining numbers who pop up on Minnesota’s schedule.
Let’s start with Aaron Rodgers, who once again is scheduled for a pair of dates with the Vikings. Rodgers was barely a top-20 fantasy quarterback last season, yet he still carries a top-10 ADP at the position heading into 2020.
Truth be told, you’re not only ducking Rodgers so you don’t have to cheer for him against the Vikings. You’re also ducking him because he stinks out loud against the Vikings, as evidenced by him averaging less than 13 fantasy points per game over his last four meetings with Mike Zimmer.
Even more so than in previous seasons, it’s easy to be 100% cheese-free at quarterback.
You can also pass on Drew Brees and Tom Brady, both of whom face the Vikings during the fantasy playoffs. The future Hall-of-Famers ranked seventh and 22nd respectively among fantasy quarterbacks last year, yet thanks to name value have ADPs in the mid-teens among quarterbacks heading into the current campaign.
The exception to this rule is Matt Ryan, who has a great chance to dramatically outperforming his current early fifth-round ADP of QB10. Given that the Falcons are banking on Todd Gurley to carry their ground game, it’s not tough to see Ryan being forced to pick up additional slack that could push him beyond even his 2019 effort, in which he posted the sixth-most fantasy points at his position.
The youth movement, on the other hand, is wide open when it comes to Vikings-free schedules. Buffalo’s Josh Allen and Philadelphia’s Carson Wentz both have top-10 ADPs, and while each has issues there is upside galore in their late fourth/early fifth draft slots. Be warned, however: our proximity to North Dakota, you may have to pay a round or two premium to acquire Wentz in your local league.
Bottom line, with minimal risk you can have it all: waiting on the quarterback position, ducking Vikings opponents, and rostering a top-10 fantasy quarterback with upside. It’s a win-win-win.
WAITING ON QUARTERBACKS
As noted earlier, the popular trend in one-quarterback leagues is to wait as long as possible at the position, since the difference between QB9 and QB19 tends to be negligible: last year, for example, less than two fantasy points per game.
So if you’re inclined to fill your other positions before tossing a couple of late-round darts at quarterbacks you hope will outperform their ADP there are only a couple potential Vikings opponents to avoid.
The most notable signal-callers fitting this bill include Detroit’s Matthew Stafford, though with the second Vikings-Lions game slated for Week 17 he’ll only face Minnesota once during the fantasy season; Tennessee’s Ryan Tannehill (yawn); Indy’s Philip Rivers, whose YOLO passing attitude may be checked by a more run-heavy Colts attack; Jacksonville’s Gardner Minshew (which unfortunately would negate your excuse for wearing jorts and your glorious quarantine mustache to the draft); and feel-good local fan favorite Teddy Bridgewater, now of the Carolina Panthers.
Who does that leave for your late-round fliers? For starters, Giants sophomore Daniel Jones, who sports an ADP outside a typical league of starters (QB13) despite starter-worthy scoring last year.
Or perhaps a bounce back season from Ben Roethlisberger, whose 10th-round ADP as the 27th quarterback off the board conveniently forgets that the last time he was healthy he was QB3.
Or how about rookie Joe Burrow, coming off maybe the greatest quarterback season in college football history and drafted to be an upgrade on the 20 fantasy points per game Andy Dalton delivered last season.
And of course Cousins is hanging out in this neighborhood as well, with an ADP of QB23 that lands him typically towards the back end of the eighth round.
Clearly there are late-round options here, enough that you don’t need to saddle yourself with the emotional conflict of a Vikings/fantasy matchup — or the soul-crushing sadness of calling out Mitch Trubisky’s name on draft day.
Ask any Bears fan how that’s worked out.