By The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson
Transaction: The Minnesota Vikings sign QB Kirk Cousins to a 3-year deal
2018 Fantasy Outlook: We kind of knew Cousins was leaving Washington, especially after the Redskins acquired QB Alex Smith from the Kansas City Chiefs before the new league began. What was unknown was where he would land and for how much.
Look, it’s not everyday a potential franchise quarterback hits the open market. So what you will about Cousins, but he’s been nothing short of great in his production over the last three seasons. He has the 2nd highest completion percentage, 4th most passing yards, 8th most passing touchdowns, and the 6th highest passer rating. Oh, and he’s finished as QB10, QB5, and QB6 in fantasy. Because let’s be honest, those are the numbers we really care about.
Cousins now heads to Minnesota to lead a Vikings team that was one win away from the Super Bowl. With a career backup leading the charge. The Vikings have a better defense and much better skill position players than he ever had with Washington. He’s in a perfect position to live up to the record-setting contract he just signed.
How does all this translate in fantasy terms? With Case Keenum leading the offense, Vikings WRs Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs finished as WR9 and WR22, respectively. They combined for 155 catches, 2,125 yards, and 12 TDs. I firmly believe the catches should remain the same, while the yards may decrease a bit, but the TD totals will rise. Thielen should be in for another top 10 finish and if Diggs remains healthy the full season, he should approach top 15 status. That right there is the biggest difference between having Case Keenum as your QB and Kirk Cousins.
Cousins will remain a top 10 option at QB in 2018. The common thought is that the Vikings defense is so good, Cousins won’t need to throw for 4,500 yards to stay in games like he did in Washington. While I believe part of that is true, take a closer look at the numbers. Minnesota finished as the number one overall defense in the NFL in 2018. They finished first or second in total yards allowed, passing yards allowed, rushing yards allowed, and points allowed. They even finished second in Defensive DVOA. But when a man learns how to walk with a cane, you don’t suddenly pull it out from under him and expect to walk the same.
The Vikings will let Cousins do what he does well and they have the weapons available to him to be even better on offense from a year ago. They finished 11th in total offense, 11th in passing offense, 7th in rushing offense, and 10th in scoring offense. With Cousins in tow, the Vikings are aiming for top 5 status and I think they will have every opportunity to reach those heights. I expect a rocky start as Cousins gets comfortable in the system, but all that means is some fantasy owner will likely trade him on the cheap. Don’t hesitate being the guy to reap the benefits of patience.