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.
Keeping your fantasy football teams free of Vikings-related conflict at the tight end position is simple: Just keep doing what you’ve been doing.
Since Mike Zimmer took over the reins in Minnesota, opposing tight ends have been persona non grata on the scoresheets. Under Zim the worst showing by the Vikings against tight ends came in 2015 when they ranked 17th in the league in fantasy points surrendered to the position. Over the past three seasons the Vikings have ranked 31st, 27th and 32nd in fantasy points allowed to tight ends.
Or how about this: In six seasons of Zimmer’s defense the Vikings have allowed a total of 20 tight end touchdowns — roughly one every five games. Opposing tight ends aren’t going to make up the difference via yardage or catches, either; over that same span the Vikes have surrendered just three 100-yard outings to tight ends and two games of 10-plus catches for opposing TEs.
In six years, Minnesota has allowed just 23 double-digit fantasy efforts to tight ends (using half-point PPR scoring). That’s less than four per season, which means more than 75% of the time, the Vikings shut down tight ends every time.
Bottom line: Ducking fantasy TEs with the Vikings on their schedule isn’t just fandom; it’s smart business.
Better yet, this year it will be extremely easy to do. Of the first dozen tight ends off the typical fantasy draft board, only two have dates with the Vikings. You should have little difficulty selecting a viable starter as insurance before rolling the bones on a breakout season from Irv Smith Jr., as Bo Mitchell discussed earlier this week.
Here’s a to-the-point assessment of how to make your fantasy team Viking-friendly at the tight end position.
TAKING A TIGHT END EARLY
Two words: Run amok.
You can march down the entirety of the tight ends being drafted as starters in a typical 12-team league, and with the exception of Rob Gronkowski (Week 14) and Hayden Hurst (Week 6) none will bump into the Vikings during the fantasy season.
With more leagues adding bonus scoring for tight ends — an extra half-point per catch, or an extra fraction of a point tacked on for every yard gained — it makes sense to pursue a premium tight end. And this year, aside from Gronk’s comeback tour, the top tight ends will make their rounds without running into Mike Zimmer and his TE shutdown defense.
That’s it. You are now free to move about the tight end board.
MID-ROUND TIGHT ENDS
On the off chance you toss back a few too many adult beverages on draft day — hey, it happens — and you emerge from the haze to find your league mates have gutted the top of the tight end board, things may get a bit tricky.
Eight of the next dozen tight ends according to current average draft position (ADP) will run into the Vikings at some point this season. Between your desire to not cheer against your beloved purple-helmeted warriors and the TE-smothering prowess of the Vikings defense, you’ll want no part of those eight:
- T.J. Hockenson, Lions
- Jared Cook, Saints
- Jonnu Smith, Titans
- Blake Jarwin, Cowboys
- Ian Thomas, Panthers
- Jack Doyle, Colts
- Jace Sternberger, Packers
- Cole Kmet, Bears
Unless you’re related to one of those tight ends, it shouldn’t be difficult to cobble together a fantasy squad without them. What are you left with?
- Dallas Goedert, a wingman with upside in Philly
- Mike Gesicki as part of the Dolphins’ renaissance
- Chris Herndon helping Sam Darnold out with the Jets
- Minnesota’s own upside tight end, Irv Smith Jr.
That group lacks the certainty of the early-round options, but even as you avoid Minnesota conflict you can still piece together help at the tight end position.
WAITING ON TIGHT ENDS
Building on the earlier scenario, let’s say you were dramatically over-served and come to with zero tight ends on your roster and just two picks left to rectify the situation. So long as you don’t say “O.J. Howard” (Gronk’s running mate in Tampa Bay) or “Greg Olsen” (now plying his trade in Seattle), you’ll be just fine.
If you’re worried about this happening, print this article and cut out this paragraph, then tuck it inside your wallet. That way if such a fate does befall you, you can whip out the following names and salvage your season:
- Eric Ebron, who’ll be on the business end of Ben Roethlisberger touchdown tosses this season
- Dawson Knox, a deep sleeper option in Buffalo
- Thaddeus Moss, the Washington rookie who’ll make you feel old because he’s Randy’s kid
- Kyle Rudolph, because you never count out Kyle Rudolph
And that’s it. Pretty simple. Get your tight end early, or feel free to take a nice long snooze because you’ll have plenty of non-conflict options at your disposal — including a couple of Vikings. Then sit back and watch other less-informed fantasy managers toss their tight ends into the teeth of a Mike Zimmer defense while you rack up the tight end fantasy points elsewhere.