Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that WR Dede Westbrook is signing a 1-year deal with the Vikings. Westbrook worked out with the team Saturday and then reportedly canceled plans to visit the Seahawks on Sunday. In Minnesota, Westbrook could challenge Chad Beebe for the #3 WR slot, which would likely primarily find him working the slot. Beebe spent 68% of his snaps there last season. Even in that role, though, Westbrook wouldn't carry much fantasy intrigue. Expect Minnesota to remain a lower-volume pass offense with targets concentrated in Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen.
Vikings HC Mike Zimmer suggested at TE Tyler Conklin might be a bigger beneficiary of TE Kyle Rudolph's departure than TE Irv Smith. “I think it’s a bigger role for Tyler Conklin,” Zimmer said. “He’s kind of emerged as a guy that’s moving upward and with those two guys, we have a lot of weapons there. Irv always has been able to do what he’s been able to do whether Kyle was here or not." Conklin actually out-targeted Smith 21 to 20 over the final 4 games of last season with Rudolph sidelined. Smith just edged Conklin 118 to 106 in pass routes during that stretch. Smith remains the better 2021 fantasy bet -- but his role sans Rudolph might not grow as much as many are expecting. Conklin, meanwhile, is an intriguing end-of-draft flier in deep best-ball leagues, especially in the FFPC.
The Vikings were hoping to land QB Justin Fields at pick 14 and even considered trading up for him, according to ESPN's Courtney Cronin. The Bears ended up making the move for Fields, while the Vikings added QB Kellen Mond with pick 66. Minnesota is clearly looking at their long-term QB situation, with Kirk Cousins turning 33 in August and, more importantly, set to count $45 million against the cap in 2022, the final year of his deal. Mond won't threaten Cousins' job this season. But if he shows well throughout the year, Minnesota might opt to roll with Mond the following year.
The Vikings spent a 4th-round pick on RB Kene Nwangwu in Round 4 of the 2021 NFL Draft. Nwangwu likely raised his stock with tremendous testing numbers at his pro day. He ran a 4.32-second 40-yard dash at 6 feet, 210 pounds. He added 85th percentile or better measurements in the vertical, broad and 3-cone. Nwangwu totaled just 143 carries and 7 catches across 4 seasons at Iowa State. He did averaged a strong 26.8 yards per kick return for his career. That could be Nwangwu's entry point to significance in Minnesota. He's obviously not going to challenge Dalvin Cook's standing and might not even present much competition to Alexander Mattison. Ameer Abdullah might want to beware, though.
The Vikings added Texas A&M QB Kellen Mond with the 66th overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft. Mond spent nearly all of his 4 years starting at Texas A&M, logging 44 starts over that span. That’s 8 more starts than Trevor Lawrence at Clemson. Mond improved his completion rate each season and posted a 2.6-to-1 TD-INT ratio for his career. His accuracy didn’t fare quite as well in advanced metrics, but Mond adds rushing upside after tallying 1,609 yards and 22 TDs on the ground for the Aggies. He’ll compete to be Kirk Cousins’ backup in 2021. Cousins is currently signed through the 2022 campaign.
Vikings TE Tyler Conklin talked up his 2021 role in a chat with Bob Sansevere of TwinCities.com. “When Coach (Klint) Kubiak got hired as the new offensive coordinator, he reached out and talked to me, and just expressed that I’d be a bigger part of the offense. They’re excited for me to have that opportunity,” Conklin said. “And I think that’s really just what it comes down to. I mean, I think that people in the organization, people around me, are excited for me to have an opportunity...There’s probably a pretty good chance that, right from the get go, I’ll have a chance to make plays in the passing game and really help this team get to where we want to be.” The contract-year TE quietly caught 15 balls over the past month of 2020 with Kyle Rudolph sidelined. (Rudolph, of course, is a current free agent.) While Irv Smith remains the position group’s headliner, Conklin brings plus athleticism and should benefit from an offense heavy on 2-TE sets. He’s in play as a late-round target in FFPC drafts.
The Vikings have promoted Klint Kubiak to OC. He's the son of Gary Kubiak, who just retired after spending the past 2 seasons in Minnesota. Klint has no NFL play-calling experience. We suspect his job will be to keep as much of his father's offense in place as possible.
The Vikings will be replacing their OC for the 2nd straight offseason. Gary Kubiak on Thursday announced his retirement (for the 2nd time in his coaching career). That comes roughly a year after Minnesota lost OC Kevin Stefanski to the Cleveland HC gig. ESPN's Courtney Cronin reports that the team is considering promoting from within to replace Kubiak, who was on the staff prior to filling Stefanski's vacancy. An in-house promotion would seem to favor the team continuing to lean run, and the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that Kubiak's son, Klint, has emerged as a favorite. Klint Kubiak spent the past 2 seasons as Minnesota's QBs coach. We'll see who the Vikings settle on.
The Vikings have ruled LB Eric Kendricks (calf) out for Sunday's game against the Lions. It'll be his 5th straight game missed. His absence helps the matchup for Lions TE T.J. Hockenson. LB Todd Davis is back to fill in for Kendricks after missing last week.
Vikings RB Alexander Mattison (concussion) isn’t listed on the final injury report after putting in a full practice on Friday. He figures to operate as Minnesota’s lead back in a dream matchup vs. Detroit’s 31st-ranked RB defense this weekend.
Vikings RB Alexander Mattison (concussion) got in a limited practice on Wednesday. His status, of course, has taken on increased importance with RB Dalvin Cook out for Week 17. If Mattison can clear protocol, he should operate as Minnesota's lead back in Sunday's dream matchup vs. Detroit's 31st-ranked RB defense.
Vikings RB Dalvin Cook went home to Miami to attend to a family situation and won't be able to play vs. the Lions this weekend due to COVID protocols, according to ESPN's Courtney Cronin. We'll see if RB Alexander Mattison clears the concussion protocol in time for that one. If not, Minnesota would be down to RBs Ameer Abdullah and Mike Boone. Abdullah has played ahead of Boone the last 3 games Mattison missed.
The Vikings have ruled LB Eric Kendricks (calf) out for Friday's game against the Saints. It'll be the 4th straight game he has missed. Replacement Todd Davis (ribs) is doubtful. And rookie LB Troy Dye -- a potential fill-in -- has also been ruled out. That leaves Eric Wilson as the only Minnesota LB in play for IDP lineups.
Vikings LB Eric Kendricks still has yet to practice since suffering his calf injury. He remained out for Tuesday's workout, heading toward Friday's game at New Orleans. We'll see about his next couple of days, but don't plan to have Kendricks available for your Week 16 IDP lineup. Todd Davis has been decently productive in Kendricks' place, posting 11, 7 and 8 tackles over his 3 fill-in games. Davis has gone just 3, 3 and 4 in solo tackles but added a sack and a pass breakup in Sunday's loss to Chicago. He'll be in play vs. the Saints if Kendricks sits again.
Browns DT Sheldon Richardson left Sunday night's win over the Giants with a neck injury. X-rays came back negative, according to Andrew Gribble of the team website. We'll see about Richardson's status heading into next Sunday's matchup with the Jets, Richardson's original team.
The Vikings have ruled LB Eric Kendricks (calf) out for Sunday's game against the Bears. It'll be his 3rd straight missed game. Todd Davis has seen full playing time in Kendricks' place each of the past 2 weeks. He's just OK on tackle upside.
Vikings TE Irv Smith (back) is expected to play against the Bucs today, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. But the back injury "could limit some of his play time," Schefter adds. Even with TE Kyle Rudolph (foot) expected to be out, Smith is just a TE2 at less than 100%.
Vikings TEs Irv Smith (back) and Kyle Rudolph (foot) were sidelined on Wednesday. Smith has missed the past 2 games with his back injury and seems unlikely to play against the Bucs this weekend. Rudolph's status is uncertain with this foot issue. We'll see if he's able to get back on the field tomorrow.