Thursday Night Fantasy Football Takeaways: Vikings' Passing Game Thrives behind Justin Jefferson, Running Game Nonexistent
The Minnesota Vikings slipped to 0-2 on the season after their 34-28 setback to the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday in Philadelphia. The offense racked up 374 total yards of offense, so it’s likely you got good production out of your fantasy players, but four turnovers hurt the team’s chance of picking up a much-needed win.
Let’s take a look at which Vikings played well in the contest and what the performances might mean fantasy-wise moving forward.
Justin Jefferson Dominates Aside from 1 Mistake
Jefferson continues to make fantasy owners that took him with the first overall pick in drafts look good. Jefferson was targeted 13 times in the loss, catching 11 for 159 yards. He had a long reception of 30. The wideout played all 58 offensive snaps.
About the only blemish on the night for Jefferson was a fumble near the end zone. The play was reviewed and it was determined that the ball went over the pylon, which gave the ball to the Eagles. In hindsight, that play was the difference in the game.
Fantasy owners still got more than enough production from Jefferson to be happy overall. Through two games, Jefferson has 25 targets, 20 catches and 309 yards. The only thing fantasy owners should really be bummed out about is his zero touchdowns so far. That should change sooner rather than later.
There’s really not much else to say on Jefferson. He needs to be starting each week, regardless of what defense he’s going against. It’s rare he puts up a poor performance and he’s always on the field, so big performances should pretty much be expected every week.
Kirk Cousins Produces Big Game Passing
Cousins and the Vikings took the lead in the second quarter and were only trailing by six at halftime, but a bad start to the third quarter left Minnesota with a 20-point deficit and forced the team to become pass happy. That worked in favor of Cousins’ owners, as the quarterback threw for 364 yards and four touchdowns while completing 31 of his 44 attempts. He didn’t throw an interception, but was sacked twice and lost a fumble on one of the sacks.
Minnesota really struggled to run the ball for a second straight week. They attempted just nine rushes and gained 28 yards. When teams can’t run the ball effectively, that sometimes makes it difficult to pass for quarterbacks, but Cousins has enough offensive weapons around him to still put up big numbers.
Cousins is a quarterback that should be owned in all leagues at this point, and until the team proves it can consistently run, he probably should be starting. The only way you aren’t starting him should be if you have one of the elite quarterbacks in the league, and there’s going to be weeks that Cousins outperforms them too. That's probably going to be the case this week.
Jordan Addison Scores Again
The hype around Addison got a little bit bigger after another good showing from the rookie. Addison was targeted five times, catching three for 72 yards and a score. He hauled in a 62-yard touchdown.
Taking away the long touchdown reception, Addison didn’t do a whole lot, but the five targets and back-to-back weeks with a score should be very encouraging things for owners. He was on the field for 40 snaps, which comes in just under 70% of the overall plays.
Given the team’s running game, Addison could start seeing the field more frequently, which makes him a serious fantasy threat opposite Jefferson each week. He’ll certainly be a popular player in our “Who Should I Start? tool every week, and most weeks I’d lean toward starting him.
T.J. Hockenson Excels as No. 2 Option
Hockenson might have already delivered this week’s top score for a tight end after catching seven of the eight passes for 66 yards and two touchdowns. He had a long reception of 24 yards and was on the field for 50 offensive plays, accounting for about 86% of the total plays.
Hockenson caught eight passes on nine targets in week 1, but went for just 35 yards, so his week 2 showing was more in line for what fantasy owners were looking for. Of course, you can’t expect two touchdown receptions each game, but it’s no secret he’s a trusted target of Cousins and will continue to be targeted heavily each and every week.
He was our second-ranked tight end this week and should safely remain the league’s No. 2 option at the position, behind only Kansas City Chiefs’ Travis Kelce. Hockenson should be starting each and every week at this point.
If you have Hockenson and are lacking depth mightily at running back or wide receiver, trading Hockenson for a RB and WR might not be a horrible idea. Yes, Hockenson is a valuable fantasy asset right now, but he's also a big-time trade chip you could use.
Alexander Mattison Underwhelms Again
For those of you expecting Mattison to perform the way Dalvin Cook did all those years in Minnesota, things aren’t looking great. Mattison attempted eight of the team’s nine rushes, going for just 28 yards. He was targeted six times in the passing game, catching three for 11 yards. He also lost a fumble.
A positive, at least for now, is that Mattison played 44 of the offensive snaps, or 76% of the overall plays. Ty Chandler was on the field for only seven snaps. Chandler’s snaps could increase, or the Vikings might add a new back to the team if Mattison continues to play how he has.
In two games, Mattison has combined for just 83 yards and one touchdown on 25 touches. At this point, I’d be against starting Mattison at your RB or flex spot. He simply isn’t producing enough and there has to be a better option on your team or on the waiver wire. I wouldn’t drop him yet, mostly because it’s hard to find No. 1 backs, but a couple more weeks at this level of production might change my opinion.
If you are still one that believes in Mattison, his value is about as low as it has ever been. For the time being, he's going to get all the touches of a Vikings' running back and if you're looking for some depth at the position, or a guy to fill in when your other players are on bye weeks, Mattison is an cheap one to target.
Other Things to Ponder
If the Vikings continue to struggle running the ball, receiver K.J. Osborn might be one worth monitoring. He was targeted six times against Philly, catching three for 34 yards and a touchdown. Osborn also had three catches in week 1, going for 31 yards. While those numbers aren’t starter worthy, he was on the field for all but two offensive plays in week 2, and if the team continues to pass at a high volume, Osborn might be able to produce 6-10 points a week in PPR leagues.
Minnesota kicker Greg Joseph made all four of his extra points, but didn’t attempt a field goal. The team’s offense is high-powered enough where extra points might be the only way he can contribute to fantasy teams consistently. He’s attempted just one field goal through two weeks.
Minnesota’s defense was ripped through for 430 total yards. Most of that damage was in the running game, with Philly attempting 48 runs that accumulated 259 yards and three scores. Minnesota picked off one pass and did not force or recover a fumble. Games on the horizon don’t look great for the team’s defense, as the Los Angeles Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs play them across the next couple weeks.#vikings #kirk-cousins #justin-jefferson #jordan-addison #tj-hockenson #alexander-mattison