Adam Thielen, WR, Minnesota Vikings
With the division leading Vikings and Rams locking horns this Sunday, it will be a battle of strength on strength, with LA’s high powered offense against Minnesota’s top five total defense. One thing’s for sure, and that is to keep up their momentum, and for Case Keenum to keep his starting job, the Vikings will need to put up some points to keep pace with LA. While the Vikings don’t have a statistically impressive offense, they have been able to keep the chains moving and come into the matchup at 7-2.
One big reason for Minnesota’s hot start this year is the building chemistry between Keenum and fourth-year WR Adam Thielen. He’s a homegrown hero for the Vikings, and was born and raised in nearby Detroit Lakes MN, before playing his college ball for Minnesota St. While he wasn’t a breakout star in college, Thielen steadily improved each year, building up to a thousand-yard senior season before signing with the Vikings as an undrafted free agent. From a practice team slot, Thielen has earned the trust of the Vikings coaches, and more recently, their QB’s.
The 6-2, 200lb target has been especially effective keeping the chains moving, as teams have been focusing the efforts of their secondary on containing big-play threat Stefon Diggs. The combination of a more dangerous Thielen with Diggs is proving to be an extremely tough puzzle for defensive coordinators to crack, and the Vikings have been able to utilize the mismatches created to run free.
Everyone thinks of Diggs as the Vikings’ number one target, but quietly, Thielen is having the more impressive season. He has almost twice as many receptions than the better known Diggs, and has amassed two-hundred-fifty more yards thus far, averaging 14.2 yards per catch. Last year, Thielen had something of a breakout season, totaling just under one thousand yards, but this year, he’s on pace for well over fifteen hundred. If teams don’t start paying attention to him, that number could easily balloon down the stretch.
Fantasy owners, have a look, but be warned, Diggs is still Minnesota’s primary red-zone target, so unless you’re in a PPR league, Thielen might not hold as much value, as he does most of his damage between the twenties.
Image source: https://twitter.com/vikings
Tom Capo writes about sports, parenting, food, wine and travel; but seldom all at once. He’s currently working on his first novel and collection of shorter fiction. He lives in the Bay Area with all of his girls; wife Allison, daughter Liliana and dog Artemis.