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Fantasy Opportunity Spotlight: Minnesota Vikings

A team-by-team analysis of coaches’ tendencies and using them to help create realistic fantasy football projections. @TubaDeus takes a look at the Minnesota Vikings.

Welcome to the new home of my yearly Fantasy Opportunity series! I try to take a different approach to fantasy projections for those who didn’t see this series on Reddit last year than your run-of-the-mill analyst. The basis of my process is that the number one indicator of fantasy success is opportunities to touch the ball. Obviously, individual player skill can (and will) affect that, but at the end of the day, players are at the mercy of playcalling and play design. Therefore, if we want to make accurate projections, we need to look at each coach’s scheme and how they like to spread the ball around.

As a result, this series is very coach-centric. I’ll touch on individual players, but only as they relate to their coaches’ schemes. On a related note, this series will only aim to establish projections on how touches will be split up, not what individual players will be able to accomplish with those touches. That will come later once depth charts settle through training camp. Think of this series more as a basis for realistic expectations.

Make sense? Good. Let’s dive in.

Most of my stats are pulled from Pro Football Reference. Please support them. They are awesome and are my primary source of statistical information.

Minnesota Vikings

Last Year’s Accuracy

Total PlaysRush Attempts (Rush %)Passing Plays (Pass %) – Includes SacksSacks Allowed (Sack %)WR Targets (WR Target %)RB Targets (RB Target %)TE Targets (TE Target %)
2020 Projections1030460 (44.7%)570 (55.3%)35 (6.1%)245 (45.8%)135 (25.2%)130 (24.3%)
2020 Stats1023468 (45.7%)555 (54.3%)39 (7.0%)285 (55.2%)93 (18.0%)107 (20.7%)
For league wide stats, see this spreadsheet.

Coaching Changes

Mike Zimmer continues his strange streak of making the playoffs in odd years as the Vikings finished third in the NFC North in 2020. Granted, losing a good chunk of your starting defense will do that. Zimmer’s head coaching seat is safe for at least another year, and he’ll be keeping his co-defensive coordinators Andre Patterson and Adam Zimmer with him. Offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak retired following the 2020 season, so his son Klint Kubiak will move up from quarterbacks coach to take over the offense moving forward.

Vikings opt for stability, promote Klint Kubiak to offensive coordinator
Courtesy of Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

Coaching History

This will be the younger Kubiak’s first gig calling the shots on offense at any level. Seeing as how he’s generally trailed his father wherever Gary went, I think it’s a fair bet that Klint’s offense will be reminiscent of his old man’s. As for what a Gary Kubiak offense is, there are 23 years of data to pull from where the elder Kubiak was either the offensive coordinator or head coach of an NFL team. For a career spanning so many years, Gary’s offensive tendencies have been remarkably consistent.

The biggest thing to note is that Gary’s offenses tend to be exceptionally fast. In fact, last year’s middle-of-the-pack pace was one of the slowest offenses Gary has ever been in charge of, resulting in just the seventh time in WRs usually command a 55-60% target share, TEs range from 20-25%, and RBs usually hover right around 20%. His 2020 offense fit nicely into those trends. The only aspect that Gary has wavered on through all his years of coaching has been the run-pass ratio, where his offenses have posted anywhere from 38/62 to 52/48 splits.

Looking Ahead

No need to reinvent the wheel here. The history of the Kubiak offense is well-established. Minnesota was already within the typical range for several key numbers within that scheme, and they didn’t really change much on the offensive side of the ball. There’s little reason to believe that the 2021 Vikings offense will look substantially different than the 2020 version. The one thing to potentially keep an eye out for is a small decrease in the tight end target share. Kyle Rudolph was not a target hog by any stretch, and Minnesota has some solid depth at the position, but he was still the starting tight end. Losing him is not going to help the position group.

With Dalvin Cook, run-first formula paying off for Vikings – Twin Cities
Courtesy of John Autey/Pioneer Press

The defense is another matter entirely. After essentially tearing down the defense going into 2020, the Vikings have heavily targeted that side of the ball in the draft two straight years. I don’t expect them to live up to previous Zimmer defenses, but they should easily be better than last year’s bottom-5 unit. If they can get off the field faster and better hold onto leads, the offense should get more drives to work with and lean more run-heavy to nurse said leads.

2021 Projections

Total PlaysRush Attempts (Rush %)Passing Plays (Pass %) – Includes SacksSacks Allowed (Sack %)WR Targets (WR Target %)RB Targets (RB Target %)TE Targets (TE Target %)
2020 Stats1023468 (45.7%)555 (54.3%)39 (7.0%)285 (55.2%)93 (18.0%)107 (20.7%)
2021 Projections (17 Games)1102515 (46.7%)587 (53.3%)38 (6.5%)305 (55.6%)105 (19.1%)109 (19.9%)

Previous Entry: Miami Dolphins

Next Entry: New England Patriots

Find this article helpful? You can follow me on Twitter and Reddit as @TubaDeus, though I spend most of my time on Discord.

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