The Vikings had Super Bowl aspirations this year and won the NFC North but inevitably came up short once again. Now, they are sitting on the precipice deciding which way to go. They went all in on trading for T.J. Hockenson and could do the same this year in pursuit of a ring. Or they could potentially look to move on from aging guys like Kirk Cousins, Adam Thielen, or even Dalvin Cook and enter a bit of a rebuild period where GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and head coach Kevin O’Connell can take this team in an entirely new direction. This off-season will tell us what direction that will be and it starts with free agency. 

With this series, we are taking a look at each NFL team to gauge the direction of the offense from a dynasty fantasy football perspective. Is this team gearing up for a Super Bowl run? Are they in the midst of a rebuild? Are they considering blowing it up? We’ll take all of that into account as well as the current contracts, upcoming free agents, and 2023 NFL draft class to give you our best recommendations on how to handle these weapons in your dynasty fantasy football leagues.




Recommendations Key

BUY - Attempt to acquire this player at or slightly above market value

HOLD - The player is likely more valuable than the market indicates. Hold them if you have them or try to acquire them at a discount.

SELL - The perceived value for this player is higher than the projected remaining value in your average dynasty league. Cash out now.

SELL/DROP - Depending on the depth of the league, always try to sell guys before dropping. But this player is likely not worth the bench spot he’s occupying so you might need to just drop them.  

*Contract information is proved courtesy of*


Minnesota Vikings Quarterbacks

The Vikings have one quarterback under contract for 2023.

Kirk Cousins - Age 35

Contract: Cousins has one year left on his deal with a cap hit of $36.25 million (followed by a couple of void years for accounting purposes). The only way to save money and move on from him would be via trade as they would eat not only that $36.25 million but the $12.5 million tied to the void year in 2024 if they cut him. On the flip side, if they were to trade him with a post June 1 designation, that could free up $30 million in cap space in 2023. 

Outlook: Cousins is a rock solid passer in this league - there’s no question about that. You honestly can’t call Josh Allen a good passer without admitting Cousins is as well as their per game numbers have been fairly similar over the last couple of years. For instance, here are the per game numbers from 2021 and they weren’t too far off in 2022 either.

The difference maker is obviously that Allen is one of the more mobile quarterbacks and Cousins one of the least which is why Allen is a premium fantasy QB and Cousins is a backend QB1. There are also questions about whether Cousins will remain with the Vikings and for how long - it seems every offseason there are rumors of a Cousins trade like a potential reunion with former coach Kyle Shanahan.

Dynasty Recommendation: SELL - Cousins is statistically the best quarterback we’ve ever seen drafted in the fourth round of the NFL draft - no quarterback has more career fantasy points and that includes guys like Dak Prescott and Sonny Jurgenson. But, at 34 years old, we’ve also seen the ceiling of what Cousins can be. He’s not going to go somewhere and have better weapons than Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, T.J. Hockenson, Dalvin Cook, etc. He’s not going to all of a sudden start running. In single-quarterback leagues, he’s not someone you are pumped about. In two-quarterback formats, you might need to hold him if you are competing now and don’t have other options but, if possible, I’d try to cash out now while he still has some value. Former Vikings lineman Alex Boone doesn’t think Cousins is taking an NFL team anywhere and that’s how I’ve felt as a Cousins manager in dynasty the last couple years, despite him technically being a QB1.

Free Agents 

Nick Mullens

Free Agency/Draft Outlook:

The Vikings have to do SOMETHING within the quarterback group as they need a backup at the very least (Kellen Mond was released and Mullens is an unrestricted free agent). If they are rolling with Cousins again as QB1, they could just bring back Mullens or sign another cheap free agent. Or maybe they take a stab on a potential successor in the draft. If they are going to be serious about it, that would likely need to be their first-round pick as they traded their second round pick for Hockenson and the hit rate on third round QBs is just as bad as the fourth, if not actually slightly worse (the second best statistical third-round QB drafted over the last 30 years after Russell Wilson is Matt Schaub). 


Minnesota Vikings Running Backs

The Vikings have three running backs under contract. They have one fullback under contract for 2023 in C.J. Ham.

Dalvin Cook - Age 27

Contract: Cook is signed through 2025 though he could be released or traded this year with $6.4 million in dead cap and $7.9 million in savings (if designated post June 1, they could push dead cap to 2024 and save $11 million in 2023). 

Outlook: There’s really only been one knock on Dalvin Cook and that’s been his injury history. He started his career missing games in five straight seasons. But this year he played in all 17 regular season games as well as their playoff game proving that he can actually stay healthy. He finished as RB11 in PPR despite a new coaching staff and some offensive line woes so should once again be a guy you plug in every week 

Dynasty Recommendation: BUY - If you are competing right now to win your league, this is the type of guy you buy. The concern with the change in coaching staff was that perhaps they wouldn’t stick with Cook as the lead back and they would split the work between him and Alexander Mattison. That turned out not to be the case with Cook playing the second most snaps of any RB behind only Cook and now Mattison is a free agent. If you look at early ADP and consensus rankings, Cook is going as late as RB18 despite consistently producing RB1 numbers whenever healthy. Now, if you aren’t competing for a championship in your dyno league or are blowing it up, you probably want to be the one that sells running backs at age 27 like Cook. But that should be obvious no? Sell if you have to but there are a lot of quality RBs that are in that age 27-28 range and someone in your league is going to buy the right ones and put their name on that trophy forever.

Kene Nwangwu - Age 25

Contract: Kene Nwangwu is on his rookie deal and is signed through 2024. He could be released with $375K in dead cap and $752K in savings.

Outlook: He won’t be released because, by all accounts, the Vikings really like him - especially in the return game where he has proven to be absolutely deadly. In fact, in two years now he has returned three kickoffs for touchdowns and has been either first or second team All Pro on special teams in both years. The interesting question is whether that can translate to offense at some point.

Dynasty Recommendation: HOLD - Don’t go crazy here dropping serious picks to acquire him because the battle for the backup role behind Cook is still up in the air. But the explosiveness of Nwangwu is certainly appealing, especially when you consider how many young stars got their start in this league by showing off on special teams (David Johnson, Alvin Kamara, Dez Bryant, and of course the Vikings’ own, Randy Moss). If Ty Chandler wasn’t on the team we’d even consider something like a backend second-round pick but the cloudiness there makes us hesitant to overspend. If you can throw a third or later at him or stash him off waivers, it could be interesting just to see what happens with Mattison out of the picture.

Ty Chandler - Age 24

Contract: The RB who goes by Ty is under contract through 2025. He could be released for ~$225k with $721K in savings. 

Outlook: The Vikings truly had a wealth of RBs in their room last year and it speaks to his ability that Chandler could generate buzz last off-season in that crowded backfield. He has 4.38 speed which is in the 98th-percentile per PlayerProfiler while still being above the 200-pound threshold we like to see for RBs. He and Ngwanwu really only played in meaningless situations since Cook and Mattison stayed fairly healthy.

Dynasty Recommendation: BUY - It could very well turn out that the only reason Chandler was overlooked in the NFL draft is because he played behind Javonte Williams at UNC. And, when you consider how good Williams looks, that’s understandable. Let’s not forget that Sony Michel was drafted before Nick Chubb out of the same backfield. The difference between Nwangwu and Chandler that makes Nwangwu a hold and Chandler a buy for us is simply that Chandler was picked in 2022 by the new regime and there is something to be said for that. Kewsi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell looked at a loaded RB room with Cook, Mattison, and Nwangwu and still said “let’s take this kid Chandler.”

Free Agents

Alexander Mattison

Free Agency/Draft Outlook

Honestly, the Vikings were so loaded at running back that they can let Alexander Mattison walk and still be just fine. Maybe they add someone for depth/special teams but with Cook starting and a combination of Chandler/Nwangwu, they should be set. The one last interesting piece that should be noted here is fullback C.J. Ham. The 30 year old is still under contract in 2023 though he can be released with $750K in dead cap and $3 million in savings. The offense Kevin O’Connell ran with the Super Bowl winning Rams used three WR sets and no fullback so I wouldn’t be surprised if they moved on, though Ham is a fan favorite. 


Minnesota Vikings Wide Receivers

The Vikings have six wide receivers under contract with another two signed to reserve/future contracts.

Adam Thielen - Age 32

Contract: Adam Thielen is signed through 2024 with a void year in 2025. If the team were to move on this year he would carry $13.5 million in dead cap but, if he is released or traded with a post June 1 designation this year, they could spread that dead cap over the next two years, generating $13.4 million in cap space this year.  

Outlook: We’re sorting these by highest paid so he’s first on this list with a cap hit of just under $20 million in 2023. The cap savings from cutting Thielen aren’t amazing but both he and his wife have indicated that he might not be in Minnesota next year. That said, he’s also made it clear that he plans to play in 2023 and thinks he can contribute so that kind of talk is more business-related than retirement-related. He did play all 17 games and garner 100+ targets so a team should be interested in his services if he were released. He has 30 touchdowns over the last three seasons and his 55 career touchdowns are the second most ever for an undrafted wide receiver behind only Rod Smith.

Dynasty Recommendation: HOLD - There isn’t a trade market for Adam Thielen in fantasy football - at least not one that matches his value. Here’s the situation. If the Vikings keep Thielen, that likely means the targets will be fairly consolidated among Justin Jefferson, Thielen, and T.J. Hockenson once again. If he is cut or traded, that likely means the team he ends up on thinks he has something left in the tank (which Thielen himself also believes). That means this guy could be fantasy relevant once again. No one is likely giving you better than a third round rookie pick for him and rookie picks in the third round or later have less than a 10% chance of hitting. So I’d rather have the player than the pick unless you can get a second.

Jalen Reagor - Age 24

Contract: Jalen Reagor is under contract through 2023 on his rookie deal. They can pick up his fifth year option through 2024. Since he was acquired via trade and the dead cap stays with the Eagles, he can also be let go in 2023 with no cap hit and just over $2.4 million in savings.

Outlook: It seems like forever ago that Reagor was drafted ahead of Justin Jefferson but that’s why he’s technically scheduled to make more money this year. The Vikings can move on with no dead cap if they want and, realistically, he’s not much more than a punt returner at this stage. 

Dynasty Recommendation: SELL/DROP - Perhaps there is still some name appeal for the former first round pick that you might be able to capitalize on. But he flamed out with the Eagles and only had one game where he recorded more than one catch with the Vikings (2 catches in the Week 18 game when the Bears didn’t play anyone). He can be dropped if you need the roster spot.

Justin Jefferson - Age 24

Contract: Justin Jefferson is signed through 2023 though they can pick up his fifth year option for 2024.

Outlook: The Vikings should be looking to extend the mega-star for as long as possible though, if they can’t get that done now, they will obviously pick up the fifth year tag. He’s the best in the business. 

Dynasty Recommendation: BUY - If you can buy him at any reasonable price then you obviously do it. He’s the best WR in the league right now. The only debate in terms of dynasty WR rankings is whether maybe Ja’Marr Chase is close to as good AND he’s tied to Joe Burrow for multiple years vs. a little more uncertainty for Jefferson. That really is splitting hairs but we are talking about fantasy football in February so splitting hair is what we do. It really doesn’t matter whether you have Jefferson or Chase “technically” ranked as WR1 or WR2 because they are both in their own tier way up top. 

Jalen Nailor- Age 23

Contract: Nailor is on his rookie deal and is signed through 2025. He can be cut for $135K in dead cap, $780K in savings. 

Outlook: It’s hard to believe that Jalen Reagor wouldn’t even be the best Jalen on the team but here we are. In Weeks 17 and 18, Nailor got the snaps over Reagor and honestly looked better, going for 89 yards and a TD in Week 17. 

Dynasty Recommendation: SELL/DROPNo one is buying so he’s just a bench stash right now to see what happens with Adam Thielen. If someone will give you a third or fourth-round rookie pick for him you obviously trade him for that as he’s a Day 3 WR with an uphill battle to relevancy. But you might as well wait to see what happens with Adam Thielen before dropping him. 

K.J. Osborn - Age 25

Contract: Osborn is under contract for this season then becomes an unrestricted free agent. He can be released for only $67K in dead cap, $2.7 million in savings.

Outlook: There was some hype in the fantasy world for KJ Osborn coming into this year but he ended up being the third fiddle once again with Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen leading in snaps and targets. 

Dynasty Recommendation: SELLYou shouldn’t outright drop him before free agency and the draft because there is a path where things work out just right for him. That path would include the Vikings moving on from Adam Thielen then not bringing in another fantasy relevant pass catcher which would allow Osborn to compete with TJ Hockenson to be the second target behind Justin Jefferson. We are opting to sell him if possible because he does have value now and, not only is beating out Hock a tough ask, but Kevin O’Connell’s offense does in theory want to use three WR sets so the Vikings could easily bring someone in. As the third WR, Osborn found himself coming out of the game in favor of blocking tight end Johnny Mundt and fullback CJ Ham at times which really hurt his consistency. The fact that you can tak

Thomas Hennigan - Age 24

Contract: Hennigan is under contract through 2024 and can be released for $750K in savings with under $2,000 in dead cap. 

Outlook: Hennigan didn’t actually see the field and is a long shot to make the roster at all. 

Dynasty Recommendation: DROP - He has no trade value and doesn’t need to be rostered.


Trishton Jackson, Blake Proehl

Free Agents

OlaBisi Johnson

Free Agency/Draft Outlook

The Vikings may feel like they have a lot of guys under contract but just think about how many WRs the Rams went through before they won the big game. Sammy Watkins, Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Odell Beckham Jr, Josh Reynolds, Tutu Atwell, DeSean Jackson etc. Justin Jefferson is locked in but Adam Thielen isn’t the spring chicken he once was and K.J. Osborn isn’t much more than a WR3. If Kevin O’Connell is actually going to run the offense he was brought in to run, with three WR sets, it’s not crazy for the Vikings to add another WR - possibly in the draft. Now you have Jefferson and the new WR2 as full-time guys and can make Thielen more of a rotational piece to keep him healthy.


Minnesota Vikings Tight Ends

The Vikings have two tight ends under contract.

T.J. Hockenson - Age 25

Contract: T.J. Hockenson is signed through 2023 as the Lions picked up his fifth-year option last year before trading him to the Vikings. 

Outlook: Given what the Vikings gave up to get him, we should see an extension coming soon for Hockenson. He showed up and made an immediate impact , playing over 90% of the snaps right from the rip and garnering double digit targets in multiple games. He’s one of the best young tight ends in the league. 

Dynasty Recommendation: BUY - The tricky thing about tight ends in dynasty is finding the window where talent overlaps with opportunity. We see physically gifted tight ends who are stuck on the tight end depth chart or have multiple elite pass catchers on the team. Those guys are often outscored in fantasy by lesser talents that backdoor their way into large target shares, like Logan Thomas. In this case, Hockenson currently has a pretty clear path to being the second target on the team behind Justin Jefferson. If they make a big move in free agency or the draft, that could change the outlook but he’s a buy based on his talent and age alone. Travis Kelce didn’t have his first 1,000 yard season until he was 27 and Zach Ertz didn’t have his until he was 29. Hockenson is 25 so his window could close here and open again down the road.

Johnny Mundt - Age 28

Contract: Mundt is under contract through 2023.

Outlook: Mundt is a blocking tight end that Kevin O’Connell brought over from the Rams. Not fantasy relevant. 

Dynasty Recommendation: DROP - Not a guy you start even if Hockenson goes down. 


Nick Muse

Free Agents

Irv Smith Jr., Ben Ellefson (RFA)

Free Agency/Draft Outlook

They already have a starter in Hockenson and a blocking tight end in Mundt. They could honestly just bring back Ben Ellefson on that cheap RFA deal as a backup pass catcher in case of emergency and they would be good to go. If anything, maybe they use a late round pick or acquire a very cheap veteran with some pass-catching chops as a “break glass in case of emergency” option but that’s about it. They will naturally let Irv Smith Jr. Walk. 

Follow Andrew Cooper on Twitter @CoopAFiasco for more NFL and fantasy football insights and stay tuned as we hit on all 32 NFL teams in this series leading into NFL free agency!

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