Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen is coming off arguably the worst season of his career. After an injury-plagued campaign, the former undrafted free agent is in a perfect position for a bounce-back season. Can Thielen still produce like a top wide receiver, or are his best days behind him?
Note: All rankings and scores are given in PPR formats.
2020 Fantasy Football Outlook: Adam Thielen
On the surface, Adam Thielen had a terrible season last year. The star wide receiver appeared in just 10 games, recording a measly 30 receptions for 418 yards and six touchdowns. This uninspiring performance made him the WR56 on the season and his 8.4 fantasy points per game tied him with guys like John Ross and Sterling Shepard.
However, Thielen’s season was dramatically impacted by a Week 7 hamstring injury. Through the first six games of the season, Thielen was his usual reliable self, averaging 15.2 fantasy points per game. This is obviously a small sample, but Thielen’s track record shows he can produce like a star over a full 16-game season.
Thielen appeared in four regular season games after his injury, but he clearly wasn’t the same guy. He played a combined 16 snaps in his first two games before steadily earning a larger role in the offense. He finally returned to form in the playoffs, recording a combined 12 receptions for 179 yards during Minnesota’s two postseason contests. Even though this production didn’t help anyone’s fantasy team in 2019, it is a good omen for 2020. By having those breakout games, we know that Thielen’s hamstring injury shouldn’t be a long-term ailment.
Few players saw their fantasy stock increase in the offseason more than Adam Thielen. After a few passive-aggressive comments, the Vikings traded Stefon Diggs and his 94 targets to the Buffalo Bills. Just like that, the Vikings went from having arguably the best receiver duo in football to Adam Thielen and basically nobody else.
Kirk Cousins is a solid quarterback capable of keeping his receivers relevant for fantasy. This is especially true for Thielen, considering he’s easily the best weapon remaining. Minnesota drafted Justin Jefferson in the first round, but receivers typically need a season or two before they’re ready to contribute at the NFL level. Kyle Rudolph isn’t getting any younger, and second-year tight end Irv Smith probably won’t see too many targets. The only other dangerous receiver is running back Dalvin Cook, and he’s currently in the midst of a holdout. Somebody has to catch passes from Cousins, and Thielen is clearly better than every other option on the roster.
Thielen is entering his age-30 season, which could scare off some fantasy football owners. While he is coming off a serious hamstring injury, there is no reason to think Adam Thielen carries any advanced risk of re-injury. Last year was the first time he didn’t play a complete season, and his two-game postseason stretch shows that he can still produce at an elite level. Football is a dangerous game, and nobody is completely free of injury risk. However, don’t let last year’s hamstring injury stop you from drafting Thielen.
Adam Thielen Average Draft Position
As of this posting, Fantasy Football Calculator has Adam Thielen going off the board with the 30th overall pick in PPR drafts. This places him just behind guys like Mike Evans and Kenny Golladay and just ahead of Odell Beckham and Amari Cooper.
This feels like the right place to grab Thielen. While he is coming off injury, he has an extensive history of fantasy success and should have one of the largest target shares in the league. Kirk Cousins has an established rapport with Thielen, and he’s the only difference-maker left among Minnesota’s skill position players. The Vikings probably won’t have the best offense in the league, which will keep Thielen from being among the elite at his position. However, he should be a low-end WR1 and a smart selection near the end of the second through the middle of the third.
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