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Is Stefon Diggs Really Back?

Weeks 1-5: 4.6 targets, 3.2 receptions, 50.6 yards per game, one touchdown. Week 6: 11 targets, eight receptions, 167 yards, three touchdowns.

All of these numbers show a marked improvement on the season averages of Stefon Diggs in Minnesota. But, do they tell the whole story? Do they really signify that Diggs should be considered "back" after a slow start to the 2019 season?

Diggs finally delivered the kind of game his owners have been waiting for. But let's take a moment to evaluate the big picture before determining whether he is who we thought he was.

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Digging Deeper

Before his breakout game, Stefon Diggs had a total of 23 targets with 15 catches in five games. On those 15 receptions, he only compiled 253 receiving yards and one touchdown. So, one game does not a comeback make. On the other hand, Adam Thielen had 20 catches and four touchdowns on the season. Sure, this is not a huge difference. But it shows Thielen, not Diggs, is still the go-to guy, especially down in the red zone. This will be a key component as the Vikings ride Cook and the running game into scoring position before using the bigger-bodied Thielen to target in the end zone. Thielen has out-targeted Diggs 6-4 in the red zone this year and held a slight edge in that category last year too.

Another thing we need to consider is the matchup. The two best players on an already bad Eagles secondary missed the game. Both Jordan Mills and Ronald Darby were out with injury. Even with them around, the Eagles were surrendering 271 yards per game through the air. With the run defense being as great as it is, it is known you need to be able to throw on Philadelphia to win. And throw is what Kirk Cousins did. With four touchdowns and over 330 yards, Cousins had his best game of the season. Adam Thielen had a touchdown on the first drive of the game. Afterward, it became the Stefon Diggs show.

There was also a lot not to like from Diggs. A number of crucial drops, including a doink off the facemask and even a fumble. While he undeniably had a strong game in Week 6, it is too early to say everything is back to normal.

The Vikings want to run the ball first and foremost, as seen by the work given to both Dalvin Cook and rookie Alexander Mattison. But they have seen in recent weeks, they still need to throw the ball for success. With this in mind, both Diggs and Thielen will have a growth in value. But it will be difficult to know on which week to play each receiver.

Looking to the matchup against the Lions, it looks like an Adam Thielen week. He is more of a slot presence and the Lions struggle covering in that area of the field. Diggs, however, will be covered by Darius Slay and could be shut down once again. But this could totally change come game time, so the jury is still out.

Stefon Diggs is, quite possibly, the best route runner in the NFL. He has the talent to explode on any given week. Most likely, there will be more 100-yard games to come this season. But when? No one knows. Not even Diggs himself.

While he should certainly continue to be better than the WR3/4 region he was middling in before this week, he may never return to the value of a WR1 where he was being perceived before the start of the season. This said, if you drafted him, it would be good for you to keep him as his value in trades is not worth what you would get back. Before this week, you may have been hoping to get a kicker in exchange for him, at least according to fantasy football Twitter.

So, is he back to a level where he can fulfill preseason expectations? No. But he is at least back to being a useful contributor. After the start to the season he had, what more can we really hope for? Keep him. Start him. But don’t expect WR1 weeks too often. If you use this mindset, you will be happier with the outcome.

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