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 forecast for today's Vikings-Packers game calls for 25 mph sustained winds with gusts close to 40 mph. The wind is expected to die down a bit throughout the game. Temperatures will be in the 30s with a wind chill in the 20s. Those are tough conditions for the passing and kicking games. We've lowered our passing projections a bit for both teams and would avoid both kickers in this game.
The Falcons have been cleared to re-open their facility after no positive COVID results from Thursday's round of testing, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reports. The Atlanta-Minnesota game remains on for Sunday as of now. We'll let you know if that changes.
The Falcons are shutting down their facility after getting back 4 positive COVID tests on Thursday morning, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports. Atlanta's game against the Vikings this weekend is now in question. Stay tuned.
Update: A source tells Schefter that the Falcons had just 1 positive test, and it wasn't a player. That has us a bit more optimistic that this game will happen this week.
The Vikings selected LSU WR Justin Jefferson with the 22nd overall pick of the 2020 NFL Draft — the pick they acquired from the Bills for WR Stefon Diggs. No WR in this class had a more productive 2019. Jefferson’s 111 catches tied for most in the country, he ranked 3rd with 1,540 receiving yards and finished 2nd with 18 TDs. That, of course, came on an LSU offense that led the nation in passing yards and TDs. So Jefferson’s market shares — 26% of the receptions, 26% of the receiving yards and 30% of the TDs — are less impressive. We came away a bit underwhelmed by his tape. Jefferson did a bunch of damage vs. zone coverages but can struggle to separate from man. On the plus side, he’s excellent in tight quarters, leading all draft-eligible WRs with a 92.4% contested-catch rate in 2019, per Pro Football Focus. Jefferson has extensive experience at all WR spots, playing 81% of his snaps on the outside in 2018 and 78% in the slot last year. And he impressed at the Combine, running a 4.43-second 40-yard dash and earning an 82nd percentile SPARQ score at 6’1, 202 pounds. While we wonder how high Jefferson’s fantasy ceiling extends, he looks like 1 of the higher-floor WRs in this class. And he should immediately slide in as Minnesota’s #2 WR, making him a good bet for 2020 fantasy value.
The Vikings have agreed to a 2-year extension with QB Kirk Cousins. The contract alters Cousins' 2020 cap hit and adds 2 more years beyond that at $96 million total, according to Ian Rapoport. The new pact figures to keep Cousins leading the Minnesota offense at least through 2021. (We'll see about the final season on the new contract.) Cousins fell from QB11 to QB19 in total fantasy points in his 2nd Vikings season. But he actually tallied more fantasy points per pass attempt in 2019 (0.65 vs. 0.55).
The Associated Press reports that the Vikings will name Gary Kubiak their new OC. Kubiak spent 2019 on the Minnesota staff as an offensive adviser and assistant to HC Mike Zimmer. The move gives Minnesota continuity from the scheme that helped usher in RB Dalvin Cook's 2019 breakout while deploying 1 of the league's most run-heavy approaches. We'd expect plenty more running under an OC who has historically liked his RBs. QB Kirk Cousins, meanwhile, finished 2019 low in QB2 territory, reaching 2 TD passes in just 7 of 15 games. Expect him to remain in QB2 territory in our 2020 fantasy football rankings, and approach Cousins as a platoon option in the double-digit rounds of early best-ball drafting. He and Minnesota's WRs do, at least, present a nice week-to-week ceiling.
ESPN's Courtney Cronin reports that the Vikings are "leaning heavily" toward resting the "bulk" of their starters in Sunday's game against the Bears. Minnesota is locked into the NFC's #6 seed. Cronin mentions QB Kirk Cousins as 1 starter who isn't expected to play. RB Dalvin Cook (shoulder) is almost certain to be inactive. And we'd bank on WRs Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen getting the day off, too. QB Sean Mannion will get the start for the Vikings, making this an offense to try to avoid in Week 17 fantasy lineups. The Bears DST is a strong play.
Vikings QB Kirk Cousins admitted on Thursday that he's not sure how much or even if he'll play against the Bears this weekend. Minnesota is locked in as the NFC's #6 seed after Monday night's loss to the Packers. Cousins and his WRs are shaky Week 17 fantasy plays that we'd try to avoid. We're not expecting RBs Dalvin Cook (shoulder) and Alexander Mattison (ankle) to play vs. Chicago.
The Vikings have hired Gary Kubiak as an "offensive advisor." He was originally reported to be taking Denver's OC job, but that evidently fell through. It's unclear exactly what Kubiak's role will be alongside OC Kevin Stefanski, but he brings 22 seasons of experience as an NFL HC or OC.
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