The NFL season is right around the corner, which means it’s time to get ready for the upcoming fantasy football draft. Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen are two of the best wide receivers in the league and combine to form the NFL’s best pass-catching duo. Every year, fantasy football owners are torn on which player to take in their drafts. This year, make Stefon Diggs your pick over Adam Thielen.
Fantasy Football: Draft Stefon Diggs Over Adam Thielen
Let’s start this article with a disclaimer: there isn’t a bad choice here. Thielen and Diggs are both fantastic fantasy options and should finish as low-end WR1’s or high-end WR2’s. Last year, Thielen finished as the WR7 in half-point formats while Diggs ended the year at WR10. Minnesota wants to run the ball more in 2019, so it’s safe to expect some regression from both players.
That being said, Diggs is still a preferable option to Thielen. For one, he’s the more consistent player. Winning your fantasy draft is all about avoiding risk in the early rounds, and there aren’t many options safer than Diggs. Diggs received six or more targets in 14 games, including nine games with double-digit targets. He always gave a solid performance, as the former fifth-round pick recorded at least 49 yards or a touchdown in 12 of his 15 games played.
Thielen, on the other hand, was the antithesis of consistency. The former undrafted free agent was simply unstoppable over the first eight weeks of the season, recording 74 receptions for 925 yards and six touchdowns. He was the WR1 by a wide margin and averaged a staggering 20.6 points-per-game in half-point scoring.
Despite this hot start, Thielen cooled off considerably as the season progressed. Over his final eight games, Thielen recorded just 39 receptions for 448 yards and three touchdowns. This underwhelming stat line made him the WR23, and his 10.7 points-per-game was the 27th-best among receivers. He wasn’t unplayable by any means, but he wasn’t what you wanted down the stretch.
Chances are, Thielen’s splits won’t be quite as dramatic in 2019. However, Diggs still projects as a more consistent and reliable player. Stefon Diggs will give you a chance to win every single week, while Thielen could go away for weeks on end.
The Minnesota Vikings were one of the most pass-happy teams in football last season under John DeFilippo. Defilippo and Mike Zimmer publicly butted heads over Minnesota’s passing rate before Zimmer fired the first-year offensive coordinator towards the end of the season. With Defilippo gone, Kevin Stefanski took over playcalling duties for the final three games of 2018. Zimmer liked what he saw and gave Stefanski the job heading into 2019.
This is obviously a small sample, but Diggs saw more work in Stefanski’s offense. Over the final three games of the season, Diggs recorded 14 receptions on 23 targets for 106 yards and three touchdowns. Thielen, meanwhile, recorded 10 receptions on just 12 targets for 137 yards and no scores. While the production was similar, Diggs’ high target rate shows that Stefanski wanted Diggs to be the primary option in the passing game.
The red zone splits tell a similar story. Throughout the course of the season, Thielen actually saw more red zone targets (20) than Diggs (17). However, over the final three games, Diggs saw five targets while Thielen saw just one. You don’t want to overreact to small samples, but it appears as if Stefanski’s new offense fits Diggs better than Thielen.
Stefon Diggs vs Adam Thielen Average Draft Position
As of this posting, Fantasy Football Calculator has Adam Thielen going off the board with the 33rd overall pick in half-point PPR scoring, while Diggs is down at 37. This is essentially the same draft slot, as every league has a little bit of variation in their drafts. Chances are, both players are going off the board somewhere in the third round. Both players should have solid seasons, but Diggs should your preferred choice.
Diggs offers a level of consistency that Thielen cannot match. Diggs was a featured part of the offense each and every week last year, while Thielen ran hot and cold. Winning your league is all about minimizing risk at the top of the board, and Diggs is the safer play. Additionally, Diggs was clearly the preferred target during Minnesota’s final three games with Stefanski calling the shots. This is a small sample, but it’s still something to consider when you’re on the clock. Both players will be week-in, week-out starters, but Diggs offers a safer floor, more reliability, and a similar ceiling.
Embed from Getty Images