Believe it or not, the 2020 NFL season is just over a week away. While tailgating and halftime shows and Skol Chants won’t be a part of this year, gambling won’t go away.
The Vikings are seemingly one of the most unpredictable organizations in the league. They assembled a 13-3 season in 2017 despite multiple quarterback injuries, and fell to 8-7-1 the ensuing season with virtually the same roster besides a significant upgrade at quarterback.
Of course, football is unpredictable by nature. The violence of the sport generates injuries at a high rate that can completely swing a season if the right (or wrong) player is the victim. Meanwhile, the cohesion required for 11 players all completing different tasks raises the level of sophistication and volatility that is unparalleled in other major sports.
Betting on football is about finding value, however, and there’s plenty of it out there after some digging. Here are four Minnesota Vikings futures prop bets worth investing in for the 2020 season:
Any Dalvin Cook futures bet includes some risk due to his injury history. He has not played played in all 16 games in any of his three seasons with the Vikings, and he played just 14 combined in 2017 and 2018. However, if Cook is able to maintain his health, this is nearly a lock. Cook totaled 1,654 rushing and receiving yards last season in essentially 13 games of action. Minnesota showed a willingness to force feed a featured back more than almost any other team in the league.
Additionally, Gary Kubiak is taking over as full-time offensive coordinator. Kubiak is known for his heavy usage of featured backs, particularly turning no-name players into superstars. Cook might be the most talented back he’s ever coached. Again, if health prevails, this is nearly a sure thing. The value is there.
Once again, proceed with a little bit of caution here due to Cook’s injury history. However, Kubiak has a thing for generating elite production from his running backs. The most common example is Olandis Gary from Kubiak’s 1999 season as head coach of the Denver Broncos. Gary rushed for nearly 1,200 yards that season, and most fans have never heard of that name. An example of a household name would be Arian Foster, who registered some gigantic yardage numbers in the early 2010s when Kubiak coached the Houston Texans. Foster, of course, was an undrafted free agent.
Cook steps into the 2020 season fresh off a career season and a chip on his shoulder vying for a long-term contract, whether in Minnesota or elsewhere. Derrick Henry (+700), Nick Chubb (+800), Ezekiel Elliott (+800), Saquon Barkley (+900), Christian McCaffrey (+1100), and Joe Mixon (+1200) are all being favored over Cook for the rushing title. Seems like Cook is being overlooked a little too much.
Speaking of being overlooked, how about Kirk Cousins? He put together perhaps his most efficient season in 2019, capped by an impressive playoff win on the road at New Orleans. Statistically, his passing yards and touchdowns were down due to a heavier emphasis on the ground game. With that said, Cousins was in the MVP conversation about halfway through the 2019 season.
The NFL MVP award is almost always given to the quarterback of the most dominant team. Patrick Mahomes in 2018 and Lamar Jackson in 2019 were no-brainers. This would require the Vikings to be one of the most dominant teams in the league in 2020. It’s unlikely, for sure. But +6600 unlikely? Doubt it. For reference, 22 players have been given a better chance by DraftKings to win MVP, with Mahomes (+400) and Jackson (+700) the favorites.
The Vikings are playing in a weak division and one would think Cousins would bounce back after horrendous performances in divisional games a season ago. If he maintains his efficiency from 2019 and Minnesota clips a couple of extra division wins, he’ll be right there in the conversation.
Another one that seemingly overlooks the Vikings. Adam Thielen played roughly half of the season last year and caught six touchdown passes. In his first season with Cousins at quarterback Thielen was on the receiving end of nine touchdown passes. That’s 15 receiving touchdowns in 26 games over the last two seasons. Mathematically, that comes out a 16-game touchdown pace of 9.2 touchdowns.
Yes, there are other variables to consider. Stefon Diggs is gone and no longer taking attention away from Thielen. And Kubiak’s emphasis on the run game has already been touched on. Plus, for what it’s worth, Thielen’s statistical performances without Diggs on the field have not been awesome over the years. However, Cousins has shown a strong tendency to look Thielen’s way in the red zone, whether Diggs is on the field or not, which has inflated Thielen’s touchdown numbers since 2018. Over 6.5 seems like excellent value here.