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Fantasy Football Breakouts, Busts, and Locks - Minnesota Vikings 2023 Outlook

Justin Jefferson - Fantasy Football Rankings, DFS Lineup Picks, NFL Injury News

The Minnesota Vikings offense thrived in coach Kevin O'Connell's first year at the helm. The Vikings ranked sixth in total yards, fourth in passing yards, and eighth in scoring offense.

O'Connell, who learned under the Rams' Sean McVay, uses a wide zone offense that has evolved from Kyle Shanahan's scheme. He utilizes a zone run scheme to open up the passing game with play actions. Amongst quarterbacks with over 150 dropbacks, Kirk Cousins had the sixth-highest rate of play action. O'Connell's offense gets wide receivers open all over the field. 

This offseason, the Vikings cut Dalvin Cook after six seasons as the team's bell-cow running back. They let veteran wide receiver Adam Thielen walk and replaced him with first round rookie Jordan Addison. The changes the Vikings made present fantasy opportunities.

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Fantasy Football Breakout: Alexander Mattison

Whenever Dalvin Cook went down with an injury, Alexander Mattison balled out. Now Cook is gone, and Mattison will have the opportunity to ball out all season long.

In 2021, Mattison started four games and ran for 90 or more yards in three of those. In two, he went over 110 yards. During his career, Mattison averaged 23.8 PPR points per game in the five games in which he had over 15 carries. Not only did he run for an average of 104.4 yards in those games, he also added 41.4 receiving yards. 

Mattison sat out during the first week of the preseason, indicating that he is the unquestioned RB1 going into the season. Vikings backups DeWayne McBride and Ty Chandler have done nothing to suggest that they should challenge him for the job. Mattison was drafted higher and has produced more in his career than either of the two.


Fantasy Football Bust: DeWayne McBride

DeWayne McBride (RB68) is being drafted slightly ahead of Ty Chander (RB72) in NFC drafts, but Chandler figures to be ahead of McBride on the depth chart. 

In the Vikings' first preseason game, Chandler started and carried the ball 11 times for 41 yards and caught four passes. McBride only carried the ball six times for 15 yards and was not targeted. McBride, who was drafted in the seventh round, only caught five passes in his three years at UAB. His lack of pass-catching ability limits his role and productivity as a backup running back.

McBride fumbled nine times in his college career and came out of the NFL scouting process with a dismal 6.19 prospect grade from NextGen Stats. 

Using a 20th-round pick on a backup RB who is a gamble might not be the most impactful wasted pick, but by now, it is clear that Chandler should be the Vikings' backup RB you target.


Fantasy Football Lock: Justin Jefferson

Justin Jefferson has consistently been one of the top three receivers in football. He led all wide receivers in total fantasy points this past season, and he could have scored even more points if he matched his 2021 touchdown numbers.

Jefferson has always excelled more at gaining yards than he has at scoring touchdowns. He has gained more yards than Davante Adams in all of his three NFL seasons, but Adams found the end zone more often in each season. 

The Vikings have been a well-balanced offense compared to the Packers and Raiders of Adams' time. Adams was so much the focus of those offenses that he got all the targets. The loss of Dalvin Cook, who scored 33 touchdowns in the past three seasons (eight more than Jefferson scored), could open up Jefferson to more TD opportunities.

Jefferson is currently going as the number one overall pick in NFC drafts. He is not by any means a lock to finish as No. 1, but he is a safer pick than some other contenders. Ja'Marr Chase is going as the No. 2 despite finishing as the WR16 overall and WR7 in average scoring last season. Cooper Kupp is another contender, but he exited last season with an injury and has already suffered an injury in training camp.

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