2018 fantasy football composite rankings: WR

The NFL Draft is now over and the next big event for football fans is likely their very own fantasy football drafts. The Game Haus will have rankings by both Joe DiTullio and Braxton Angle, as well as composite rankings, coming out over the coming weeks. These will be adjusted when the season gets closer, but it’s never too early to look ahead.

Tiebreakers were decided by both Joe and Braxton.

For longer explanations, you can find their individual rankings here: Joe and Braxton.

Here are the composite wide receiver rankings:

Wide receiver rankings: 1-10

1. Antonio Brown- Pittsburgh Steelers

Braxton’s rank:1

Joe’s rank: 1

2. DeAndre Hopkins- Houston Texans

Braxton’s rank: 2

Joe’s rank: 2

3. Odell Beckham Jr.- New York Giants

Braxton’s rank: 3

Joe’s rank: 4

4. Julio Jones- Atlanta Falcons

Braxton’s rank: 5

Joe’s rank: 3

5. Michael Thomas- New Orleans Saints

Braxton’s rank: 4

Joe’s rank: 6

6. Keenan Allen- Los Angeles Chargers

Braxton’s rank: 7

Joe’s rank: 5

7. A.J. Green- Cincinnati Bengals

Braxton’s rank: 6

Joe’s rank: 7

8. Davante Adams- Green Bay Packers

Braxton’s rank: 8

Joe’s rank: 8

9. Mike Evans- Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Braxton’s rank: 9

Joe’s rank: 9

10. Tyreek Hill- Kansas City Chiefs

Braxton’s rank: 10

Joe’s rank: 10

Wide receiver rankings: 11-20

11. Larry Fitzgerald- Arizona Cardinals

Braxton’s rank: 12

Joe’s rank: 11

12. Alshon Jeffery- Philadelphia Eagles

Braxton’s rank: 11

Joe’s rank: 13

13. Adam Thielen- Minnesota Vikings

Braxton’s rank: 15

Joe’s rank: 12

14. T.Y. Hilton- Indianapolis Colts

Braxton’s rank: 14

Joe’s rank: 14

15. Doug Baldwin- Seattle Seahawks

Braxton’s rank: 16

Joe’s rank: 15

16. Amari Cooper- Oakland Raiders

Braxton’s rank: 17

Joe’s rank: 16

17. Demaryius Thomas- Denver Broncos

Braxton’s rank: 18

Joe’s rank: 17

18. Golden Tate- Detroit Lions

Braxton’s rank: 20

Joe’s rank: 18

19. Pierre Garcon- San Francisco 49ers

Braxton’s rank: 19

Joe’s rank: 24

20. Brandin Cooks- Los Angeles Rams

Braxton’s rank: 13

Joe’s rank: N/A

Wide receiver rankings: 21-30

 21. Marvin Jones- Detroit Lions

Braxton’s rank: 25

Joe’s rank: 19

22. Jarvis Landry- Cleveland Browns

Braxton’s rank: 23

Joe’s rank: 21

23. Julian Edelman- New England Patriots

Braxton’s rank: 22

Joe’s rank: 23

24. Allen Robinson- Chicago Bears

Braxton’s rank: 26

Joe’s rank: 20

25. Josh Gordon- Cleveland Browns

Braxton’s rank:21

Joe’s rank: 27

26. Robbie Anderson- New York Jets

Braxton’s rank: 24

Joe’s rank: 25

27. JuJu Smith-Schuster- Pittsburgh Steelers

Braxton’s rank: 27

Joe’s rank: 26

28. Devin Funchess- Carolina Panthers

Braxton’s rank: 28

Joe’s rank: 30

29. Stefon Diggs- Minnesota Vikings

Braxton’s rank: N/A

Joe’s rank: 22

30. Randall Cobb- Green Bay Packers

Braxton’s rank: 29

Joe’s rank: N/A


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2018 fantasy football WR rankings

The NFL Draft is now over and the next big event for football fans is likely their very own fantasy football drafts. The Game Haus will have rankings by both Joe DiTullio and Braxton Angle, as well as composite rankings, coming out over the coming weeks. The rankings are for standard leagues. These will be adjusted when the season gets closer, but it’s never too early to look ahead. Here are Joe’s WR rankings:

Wide receiver rankings: 1-10

1. Antonio Brown- Pittsburgh Steelers

Brown has totally proven himself over the last couple of years and will be the first wide receiver off the board in most drafts. He finished second in scoring last season, but sat out the last two games of the season. Brown did have some off games last season (five games of under 10 fantasy points) but did enough in other weeks to make up for it.

2. DeAndre Hopkins- Houston Texans

The leading fantasy receiver last season was DeAndre Hopkins. He has proven that it doesn’t matter which quarterback is playing, he still produces. Hopkins will be hoping that Deshaun Watson is healthy though, as three of his top four performances were with the rookie under center. With Watson improving in year two, Hopkins should be near the top of most fantasy rankings.

3. Julio Jones- Atlanta Falcons

Jones finished sixth among receivers last season and that was with Steve Sarkisian, who couldn’t figure out how to get him the ball properly. He also was coming off of a foot injury that led him to sit out of offseason workouts. While Sarkisian is still there, Jones will now have Calvin Ridley lining up with him and Mo Sanu. He is simply too talented not to give the ball to. Sarkisian needs to spend his offseason figuring out how to get the most of his players, Jones included, or he will be out of a job.

4. Odell Beckham Jr.- New York Giants

He only played four games last season before getting injured but was able to rank fourth among receivers in those four weeks. If Beckham can get healthy and stay healthy he will produce. He will be aided by the fact that the run game will be better, which will keep defenses honest.

5. Keenan Allen- Los Angeles Chargers

2018 fantasy football wr rankings

Keenan Allen (Photo by nbanflnobody.com)

Last year was the first season in which Allen has been able to play in a full 16 game schedule and he shined. Allen finished fourth in fantasy points last season with help from a few very good weeks. With Mike Williams coming back healthy and the offensive line being more healthy at the start of the season, Phillip Rivers will not only have more time to read defenses, but will have more options to throw to, as teams can’t solely focus on stopping Allen.

6. Michael Thomas- New Orleans Saints

Thomas finished eighth last season and continues to get better every year. He also has Drew Brees throwing him the ball and a lot of bad secondaries to go up against in the NFC South. Since his rookie season, only Antonio Brown has more fantasy points than Thomas at the wide receiver position. Expect more big things to come for Thomas this season.

7. A.J. Green- Cincinnati Bengals

He finished 10th last season and that was without too many viable receivers on the roster. John Ross and Tyler Boyd should have increased roles in the upcoming season, but it is hard to tell with Marvin Lewis coached teams. Tyler Eifert and Tyler Kroft should create a good tight end tandem. This means that there will be less focus on Green. The offensive line will also be vastly improved from last season, meaning Andy Dalton will have time to hit him on more deep balls.

8. Davante Adams- Green Bay Packers

Without Jordy Nelson on the roster anymore, Adams is unquestionably the go-to-guy for Aaron Rodgers. He was just outside the top ten in fantasy scoring last season and should see a huge bump up with Rodgers being healthy as well. Randall Cobb, Jimmy Graham and some young receivers will help keep double teams off of Adams.

9. Mike Evans- Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Evans disappointed fantasy owners last year, finishing 20th overall. While it wasn’t a great season, he still managed to get 1,000 receiving yards. If Jameis Winston can take another step forward this season, Evans should move back up in the final fantasy scoring ranks.

10. Tyreek Hill- Kansas City Chiefs

Hill finished fourth in scoring last season but now has to deal with a new quarterback. Pat Mahomes has potential but needs to improve his accuracy. The reason Hill stays in the top 10 is that they can get him the ball in so many ways and once he has it, he’s a threat to take it all the way. Expect a decrease in production, but not by too much.

Wide Receiver rankings: 11-20

11. Larry Fitzgerald- Arizona Cardinals

The ageless wonder continues to be a great option in fantasy football. He was top 10 in scoring last year and now will now have a new quarterback. If Sam Bradford is the starter, he will hit him on short routes and let Fitzgerald run after the catch. If Josh Rosen gets the nod he will need to rely on Fitzgerald early and often. Fitzgerald will produce with whatever quarterback is throwing him the ball.

12. Adam Thielen- Minnesota Vikings

With Case Keenum having his career year, Thielen also excelled. Now he has Kirk Cousins, who hasn’t had great receivers to work with throughout his career. They have already started to work together and Thielen should post similar, if not better, numbers than last season.

13. Alshon Jeffery- Philadelphia Eagles

Jeffery tore his rotator cuff and may not be ready for the start of the season. He finished 15th last season while playing very sparingly over the last two weeks of the season. No matter who is throwing passes on the opening day of the season, Jeffery is a solid WR2 play.

14. T.Y. Hilton- Indianapolis Colts

He had a bad season without Andrew Luck, ranking outside of the top 20. With Luck seemingly coming back this season, Hilton should move up higher in draft boards. The offensive line is now built to protect Luck and the Colts being conservative with his injury recovery, should mean he stays healthy.

15. Doug Baldwin- Seattle Seahawks

Baldwin is now one of the only decent targets that Russell Wilson can throw to with Jimmy Graham, Paul Richardson and Jermaine Kearse all leaving the team in recent seasons. He should get a lot of targets and be a decent WR2 if Wilson can stay healthy behind a bad offensive line.

2018 fantasy football WR rankings

Amari Cooper (Photo by silverandblackpride.com)

16. Amari Cooper- Oakland Raiders

Cooper struggled last season and didn’t produce. With Jon Gruden now taking over, a healthy Derek Carr and an offseason to get things straight, Cooper should start living up to his potential again. The field should be wide open with Jordy Nelson and Martavis Bryant flanking him.

17. Demaryius Thomas- Denver Broncos

A new quarterback in Denver in Keenum should increase Thomas’ productivity. He finished 23rd last season without good quarterback play, so a healthy bump up the projections should be expected. If Keenum has a season that is even slightly close to his season last year, Thomas will star.

18. Golden Tate- Detroit Lions

Tate has over 90 catches in the last four seasons and is a model of constant production. He is in the last year of his deal, meaning he will want to produce. Matt Stafford targets Tate over one more time per game than his running mate, Marvin Jones Jr.

19. Marvin Jones- Detroit Lions

He doesn’t get as many targets as Tate, but he makes the most of them and finished fifth in scoring last season. He will likely regress to the norm this season and shouldn’t be drafted as the fifth overall receiver this season. He fits in better as a WR2 than a WR1.

20. Allen Robinson- Chicago Bears

Robinson has new digs in Chicago and will be Mitchell Trubisky’s number one target. He’s used to performing with a quarterback that didn’t always play well and should help Trubisky’s development. His 2015 season will give a lot of hopes to fantasy owners this season.

Wide receiver rankings: 21-30

21. Jarvis Landry- Cleveland Browns

The Browns might have some semblance of a passing offense with Tyrod Taylor. Landry is a catch machine who is another receiver used to playing without the best players at quarterback. If the running game can keep the offense balanced, Landry shouldn’t see much dropoff in production.

22. Stefon Diggs- Minnesota Vikings

Diggs has morphed into the second best receiver on his team but still is capable of making big plays. He finished 17th last season and should finish in a similar range depending on how he vibes with Kirk Cousins.

23. Julian Edelman- New Orleans Saints

One of Tom Brady’s favorite targets returns from injury and will need to regain his quickness. Brady’s familiarity with Edelman and Brandin Cooks leaving should open up opportunities that Edelman has had in the past.

24. Pierre Garcon- San Francisco 49ers

Garcon is the number one receiver for the 49ers and his ranking will be very dependant on Jimmy Garoppolo improving. The soon-to-be 32-year-old had a season-ending injury, but should be able to reclaim his place as the team’s most productive receiver.

25. Robbie Anderson- New York Jets

There is no question about Anderson’s talent on the field, but he has off-the-field issues that make him a risky pick. He finished 16th in scoring last year and if he can stay on the field, will produce again this season.

2018 fantasy football wr rankings

JuJu Smith-Schuster (Photo by yahoo.com)

26. JuJu Smith-Schuster- Pittsburgh Steelers

He had a breakout season last year and now Martavis Bryant is gone, making him the undeniable number two target. The 18th wide receiver from last year may not have quite as good of a season with teams being able to scout him for a full season, but he is worth a pick in the middle rounds of most fantasy drafts.

27. Josh Gordon- Cleveland Browns

Gordon is another receiver that needs to stay on the field and can be a solid pick for fantasy. He too will benefit from the skill position players the Browns acquired this offseason.

28. Emmanuel Sanders- Denver Broncos

The 2017 season was disappointing for Sanders due to injuries and bad quarterback play. Keenum is the key here, as if he plays well Sanders should have a much better 2018.

29. Chris Hogan- New England Patriots

Hogan had a shoulder injury that left him unable to compete for the last seven games of the season (Hogan had one catch over that span). He was a great fantasy option last season and now Brandin Cooks and Danny Amendola are gone.

30. Devin Funchess- Carolina Panthers

Funchess and Greg Olsen will be Cam Newton’s first options this season, but there is more help around them now. He will continue to use his size to create matchup problems with just about every secondary in the league.


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Minnesota Vikings depth chart

Way-too-early Minnesota Vikings’ depth chart prediction

With the NFL Draft over and training camp over a month away, we are officially in the “dead zone” of the NFL offseason. With that being said, it is never too early to speculate how teams’ depth charts will look heading into next season.

The Minnesota Vikings have the majority of their depth chart set in stone, aside from some spots on offense. Here is a way-too-early Minnesota Vikings’ depth chart prediction.


Below is the current projected depth chart for the Minnesota Vikings. Rookies are in bold.

1 2 3 4 5
Quarterback Kirk Cousins Trevor Siemian Kyle Sloter
Running back Dalvin Cook Latavius Murray Mack Brown
Fullback C.J. Ham
Wide receiver Stefon Diggs Adam Thielen Kendall Wright Laquon Treadwell Tavarres King
Tight end Kyle Rudolph David Morgan Tyler Conklin
Left tackle Riley Reiff Rashod Hill
Left guard Nick Easton Cornelius Edison
Center Pat Elflein Josh Andrews
Right guard Mike Remmers Danny Isidora Colby Gossett
Right tackle Brian O’Neill Cedrick Lang
Minnesota Vikings depth chart

Kirk Cousins as a Washington Redskin. Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

There are not too many surprises with the quarterback position. The Vikings signed Cousins to a massive three-year, $84 million contract during free agency. He will be the team’s franchise quarterback going forward.

Dalvin Cook missed most of last season due to an ACL tear. Prior to the injury, Cook was a favorite to win rookie of the year. His dynamic ability as a runner and receiver out of the backfield will make this offense one to be reckoned with.

There was some movement along the offensive line, as this was the Vikings’ biggest need heading into the offseason. Second-round pick Brian O’Neill will start at right tackle, forcing Mike Remmers inside at guard. It is likely that several of these linemen rotate to find the best combination of players.


Now moving on to defense, here is the anticipated depth chart. Again, rookies are in bold.

1 2 3 4 5
Left defensive end Danielle Hunter Brian Robison
Left defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson Jalyn Holmes
Right defensive tackle Linval Joseph Jaleel Johnson Dylan Bradley
Right defensive end Everson Griffen Tashawn Bower
Weak-side linebacker Ben Gedeon Reshard Cliett
Middle linebacker Eric Kendricks Eric Wilson
Strong-side linebacker Anthony Barr Kentrell Brothers
Cornerback Xavier Rhodes Trae Waynes Terence Newman Mike Hughes Mackensie Alexander
Strong safety Andrew Sendejo Anthony Harris
Free safety Harrison Smith Jack Tocho
Minnesota Vikings depth chart

Sheldon Richardson as a New York Jet. (Photo from turnonthejets.com)

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The only new starter on the Minnesota Vikings’ defense is Sheldon Richardson. Richardson signed a one-year, $8 million deal with the team in March. He should provide an additional pass rush to Minnesota’s already stout defensive line.

Due to the amount of depth on the Vikings’ defense, rookies Mike Hughes and Jalyn Holmes will struggle to find playing time in 2018. However, Hughes should get on the field early as a returner.

One big question on the defense is the fate of linebacker Kentrell Brothers. Last month, Brothers was suspended for the first four games of the 2018 season for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. Seventh-round pick Devante Downs has the best chance of any of the Vikings’ linebackers to fill in for Brothers. However, this remains unlikely, due to Downs recovering from a serious leg injury.

Special Teams

Minnesota Vikings depth chart

Former Auburn kicker Daniel Carlson. (Photo by Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports)

  • Kicker: Daniel Carlson
  • Punter: Ryan Quigley
  • Long Snapper: Kevin McDermott

Don’t forget about special teams! The only change from the Vikings’ 2017 roster is at the kicker position. It is facetious to guess who will win the Vikings’ kicking job this early, but Daniel Carlson does appear to be the favorite.

At Auburn, Carlson displayed one of the strongest legs in football. Although his accuracy took a small dip in 2017, the Minnesota Vikings believe he can be the team’s long-term answer at the position.


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Kendall Wright Minnesota Vikings

Vikings sign wide receiver Kendall Wright

The Vikings continue to make key moves in free agency.

After making big-name signings like Kirk Cousins and Sheldon Richardson, the Vikings have signed veteran wide receiver Kendall Wright. The deal is for one year and worth $1 million. Wright fills a need for the Vikings, who had little receiving talent outside of Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. Kendall Wright will also come to Minnesota for pennies on the dollar, making this an excellent depth signing for general manager Rick Spielman.

What the Vikings are getting

Kendall Wright

Kendall Wright plays against his former team as a Chicago Bear. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

After being drafted by the Tennessee Titans, Kendall Wright failed to live up to his potential as a No. 1 receiver. Wright struggled to stay on the field for the majority of his time in Tennessee and only surpassed 1,000 receiving yards once. After leaving Tennessee, Wright signed a one-year deal with the Chicago Bears.

In Chicago, Wright was one of the team’s most reliable targets, snagging 59 balls for 614 yards. He was one of the bright spots on an offense that rarely passed the football and was a key third-down contributor. He widely played as a slot receiver, and will likely assume that role again in Minnesota.

Wright should see a bump in his production while Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen take attention away on the perimeter. Wright will also see an improvement under center, going from Mitch Trubisky to Pro Bowler Kirk Cousins.

Trouble for Treadwell?

The Kendall Wright signing likely means the end of the Laquon Treadwell experiment in Minnesota. After being selected in the first round of the NFL Draft only two years ago, Treadwell has been a major disappointment for the Vikings. After a silent rookie season, Treadwell barely made a mark on the Vikings offense, catching 20 passes for 200 yards.

As a result of the Wright signing, Treadwell will most likely be fourth on the depth chart. While there is time for him to bounce back, Treadwell’s future in Minnesota is now in doubt.


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vikings offseason needs

Updated needs for the Vikings in 2018

After a full week of complete madness, the NFL free agency frenzy is finally slowing down. Now, it’s time to take a step back and analyze how each team has addressed their needs so far.

Earlier this month, we identified the Minnesota Vikings’ top five needs heading into next season. The Vikings have one of the most complete rosters in football, giving the team’s front office added flexibility. Although the Vikings have made big moves so far, there is still room for improvement.

Let’s look at an updated list of the Vikings’ offseason needs heading into 2018.

Find a Quarterback

Vikings' offseason needs

Kirk Cousins as a Washington Redskin. Photo by Associated Press

Prior to free agency, the Minnesota Vikings had a bare cupboard at the quarterback position, with just Kyle Sloter on the roster.

Within a few days, the Vikings were able to reel in Pro Bowl quarterback Kirk Cousins and trade for Denver’s Trevor Siemian. Cousins provides an upgrade from the Vikings’ former trio of Case Keenum, Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater.

Siemian was also a solid addition for the Vikings and only costed a late pick in next year’s draft. The former Denver Bronco is a quality backup quarterback with starting experience, a valuable commodity in today’s NFL.

Fix the offensive line

The offensive line has long been neglected by the Minnesota Vikings’ front office and struggled mightily in 2016. The addition of center Pat Elflein helped last season, but this is still the Vikings’ weakest position group. Guards Joe Berger and Nick Easton are also free agents, making their return to Minnesota doubtful.

With the top lineman in free agency already heading elsewhere, look for the Vikings to address this issue early and often in the draft.

Find a third receiver

Vikings offseason needs

Stefon Diggs makes a sideline catch that would soon be remembered as the “Minneapolis Miracle” Photo: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

With the stellar performance of Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs in 2017, the odds of the Vikings picking up another wide receiver is low. However, former first-round pick Laquon Treadwell has been unimpressive so far in his career, and it might be time to move on. Last season, Treadwell only caught 20 balls for 200 yards.

Thielen and Diggs formed one of the NFL’s most productive wide receiving duos in the NFL last season. By adding a dynamic third receiver for Kirk Cousins to work with, this offense could easily be one of the league’s best in 2018.

Re-sign Terence Newman

vikings' offseason needs

Vikings’ cornerback Terence Newman. Photo from ClutchPoints

The Minnesota Vikings have an impressive cornerback duo with Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes. However, former second-round pick Mackensie Alexander hasn’t lived up to expectations so far in his career.

Bringing back the soon-to-be-40 Terence Newman for one last year makes perfect sense for both parties. Newman is very familiar with Mike Zimmer’s scheme and fits in well as a nickel corner. If Newman does reunite with the team, it will likely be after the NFL Draft in April.

Give Linval Joseph a running mate

With the departures of defensive tackles Tom Johnson, Shemar Stephen, and Sharif Floyd, the Vikings were left with a massive hole to fill at the position. The team needed a talented interior pass-rusher to compliment Pro Bowler Linval Joseph. They eventually found that with Sheldon Richardson, who signed a one-year deal last Friday.

Richardson showed potential in his first two years with the New York Jets, but slowly saw his production decrease. With talented teammates including Linval Joseph and Everson Griffen surrounding him, it remains to be seen if Richardson can live up to his high potential.

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vikings' offseason needs

5 things the Vikings must do in free agency

The NFL free agency frenzy is finally upon us. With less than a week until free agency, teams across the league are frantically gearing up for another exciting offseason. Throughout the last few weeks, we have broken down every position on the Minnesota Vikings’ roster. This has allowed us to see what the Vikings need and don’t need to do heading into the 2018 season.

Here are the five things the Vikings must do in free agency.

Find a quarterback

minnesota vikings free agency

Kirk Cousins as a Washington Redskin. (Photo by Getty Images)

The Vikings’ quarterback room will be undergoing a complete overhaul this offseason. Finding a quarterback will be the No. 1 priority in Minnesota after allowing all three of their starting-caliber gunslingers to walk in free agency. Currently, the Vikings only have undrafted free agent Kyle Sloter at the position.

However, it is likely that this problem will be fixed as soon as free agency officially begins. Several reports have indicated that Minnesota is the front-runner to land former Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins. This would be a huge landing for the Vikings and could cost the team nearly $30 million per year.

Fix the offensive line

Other than the quarterback conundrum, the Vikings’ greatest need in free agency will be to continue improving their offensive line. Although the team did benefit with the acquisition of Pat Elflein, there is still much work to be done. Both of the Vikings’ starting guards in 2017 are due to be free agents.

Tackles Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers could also be improved upon. It would not be surprising to see three new starters on the offensive line in 2018.

Add a third wide receiver

minnesota vikings free agency

Stefon Diggs makes a sideline catch that would soon be remembered as the “Minneapolis Miracle.” (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Wide receivers Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen both enjoyed fine seasons in 2017. However, there is a steep decline in production from the starters to the third receiver, Laquon Treadwell.

Treadwell has not lived up to his first-round pedigree so far in his career. He has only caught 21 balls in two seasons.

The Vikings could very well move on from Treadwell and sign a receiver in free agency, pushing this team’s passing attack over the top.

Re-sign Terence Newman

Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes are both solid cornerbacks, but bringing back veteran Terence Newman would solidify the position.

So far, second-year player Mackensie Alexander has been unimpressive playing as a nickel cornerback. Adding a veteran presence like Newman next to Rhodes and Waynes would form a fearsome trio in the defensive backfield.

As a bonus, Newman is no stranger to coach Mike Zimmer’s defense. Throughout his 15 years in the NFL, Newman has played under Zimmer with three different franchises (Dallas, Cincinnati and Minnesota).

Give Linval Joseph a running mate

minnesota vikings free agency

Linval Joseph during a playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks. (Photo by Getty Images)

Linval Joseph is one of the league’s premier defensive tackles and is the center of Minnesota’s disruptive defensive line. However, teammates Tom Johnson and Sharrif Floyd are both unlikely to play for the Vikings in 2018.

With Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen, the Minnesota Vikings are set at the defensive end positions. Finding a second defensive tackle to pair with Joseph would allow the entire defensive line to flourish.


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Kirk Cousins free agency

A guide to the Kirk Cousins sweepstakes

Kirk Cousins is set to officially become a free agent next week. In today’s NFL, quarterback is the one position where a high level of play is vital to any chance of success.

However, this is also a team sport. Cousins has thrown for over 4,000 yards in three consecutive years in addition to 52 touchdown passes and just 25 interceptions in the last two seasons.

It was the defense that held the Redskins back during the Cousins era. They gave up over 30 points seven times last year. It is very difficult for any quarterback to overcome that.

Still, Cousins’ numbers combined with the fact that he will be just barely 30 years old by the time the 2018 season starts make it easy to see why Cousins is one of the more highly coveted free agents in recent memory. There is a case to be made for him ending up with each of his four most serious suitors.

New York Jets: Money

The shelf life of a professional athlete is much shorter than that of the rest of us mere mortals. No athlete should ever be blamed for simply taking the most money when they have a choice about where to play.

Cousins may very well do that, but that is the only reason he would end up in New York. All you need to know about where the Jets stand at the moment is that Vegas set 3.5 as its over-under win total for last year. The Jets overachieved and still won only five games.

Cousins is very good, but he is not Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady. His addition alone does not turn a bad team into a team that is a lock to make the playoffs and perhaps go further.

The Jets desperately need to find their long-term answer at quarterback, but Cousins already knows what it’s like to be a productive player that is held back by a bad supporting cast.

However, New York easily has the most financial flexibility of the four teams said to be most interested in the soon-to-be ex-Redskin. There has even been some chatter about the Jets offering Cousins a fully guaranteed contract. If it really is just about the money for him, he will be wearing green this fall.

Arizona Cardinals: Face of the franchise

With the exception of a few really talented holdovers like Larry Fitzgerald, Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu, Arizona is basically starting over as a franchise. In fact, they do not have a single quarterback under contract for next year for rookie head coach Steve Wilks. So, Cousins is obviously appealing.

Teams should always draft and acquire players with their quarterback in mind, but some are not that smart or simply don’t have the luxury of a proven commodity at that position. If Cousins goes to Arizona, he has the benefit of a largely blank slate. It is reasonable to assume that Cardinals management may even ask him for input regarding free agency and the draft. The entire franchise rebuild would revolve around Cousins. Arizona is the only place that could offer him that type of scenario.

There is already some semblance of a system in place with the other three teams. After the Redskins spent the last handful of years refusing to give him a long-term commitment and building around him in a way that made no sense, it is not difficult to see why this situation could intrigue Cousins.

Denver Broncos: Bring a proud organization back

Like the Jets, Denver also went 5-11 last year. Not all five-win teams are created equal though.

Unlike the Jets, Denver has two outstanding pass catchers in Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas. Also, despite getting a little long in tooth, the defense is still very good in Denver and was top-10 in most categories last year.

However, when you use three quarterbacks and have the second-worst turnover margin in the NFL, you are not going to win many games. Cousins alone would solve a lot of Denver’s issues.

Again, this is different from the Jets. They got decent quarterback play last year and still went 5-11.

Kirk Cousins free agency

Photo from Fox Sports

There is also the Elway factor in Denver. At his core, Elway is still a legendary quarterback. Do not let the suit or the fact that he is now running the franchise he once played for fool you. Elway can relate to Cousins in a way no other executive can.

Cousins is not a legend yet. However, Elway will no doubt try to convince him that he knows how to turn him into one. Peyton Manning was a legend before he ever came to Denver, but a similar sales pitch has already worked once for Elway.

Lastly, if Cousins were to go somewhere other than Denver, his roadblocks to a division title could include Rodgers twice a year, Brady twice a year for at least a couple more years and the loaded NFC West. With reigning division champion Kansas City already overhauling its roster, no such roadblocks exist in the AFC West.

The Broncos’ playoff drought only stands at two seasons. However, for a franchise that has spent most of the last quarter-century in the mix for the playoffs and Super Bowl every year, it feels like 20. Cousins just might be the safest and quickest way to get this franchise back on track. Thus, he would no doubt receive the red carpet treatment in Denver.

Minnesota Vikings: The best shot at a Super Bowl

Minnesota’s roster is so good that career journeyman Case Keenum was able to guide it within a game of the Super Bowl. The defense is young and good. It ranked in the top 10 against both the run and the pass last year.

Most of those pieces will be back next year. Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen have both emerged as top-flight pass catchers. Rookie running back Dalvin Cook had 354 rushing yards in just four games before suffering a season-ending knee injury last year. Assuming he comes back healthy, Minnesota’s offense could be even more lethal next year.

Kirk Cousins free agency

Photo from Pro Football Talk

Keenum nearly doubled his career touchdown pass total last year. He is also in position for a huge free agency payday. However, his performance in the NFC Championship, along with a few boneheaded throws that let New Orleans back in the divisional playoffs, were apparently enough to ensure that payday will not come from Minnesota.

Cousins with the Vikings immediately puts Minnesota in the first two sentences of any Super Bowl conversation for the upcoming year. At least in the short term, it is the only realistic destination that offers that for Cousins. So, the pitch writes itself.

There will always be teams desperate for a decent quarterback in the NFL. What makes the chase for Cousins so interesting is that wherever he ends up says a lot more about Cousins himself than the teams vying for his services.


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Minnesota Vikings receivers

Roster Breakdown: Assessing the Minnesota Vikings’ pass catchers

We’re now halfway through the month of February, and the celebration in Philadelphia has finally died down. The 2017 season ended only a few weeks ago, but front offices throughout the league are already preparing for next season.

Organizations are frantically trying to free up cap space and lock down their key players with long-term contracts. An important part of this preparation process is to identify any major weaknesses on the team’s roster.

For the Minnesota Vikings, this means evaluating every single position from top to bottom. So far, we have discussed the Vikings’ needs at the quarterback and running back positions, and now we move on to assess their deep group of pass catchers.

Stefon Diggs

Minnesota Vikings receivers

Stefon Diggs catches a sideline catch that would soon be remembered as the “Minneapolis Miracle.” (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Stefon Diggs quietly enjoyed another productive season despite being outshined by fellow receiver Adam Thielen. Last season, Diggs caught 64 passes for 849 yards and eight touchdowns. Those numbers don’t jump off of the page, but Diggs did just enough to keep the Vikings’ offense clicking. Diggs averaged over 13 yards per catch, displaying impressive speed and quickness.

Diggs ended his season with an exclamation point with the “Minneapolis Miracle” in a playoff matchup against the New Orleans Saints. The former fifth-round pick will only be under contract through the 2018 season. This likely means that Diggs is due for a big payday this time next year.

Adam Thielen

Aside from quarterback Case Keenum, wide receiver Adam Thielen was the talk of the town in Minnesota during the 2017 season. After spending his first two years in Minnesota on special teams, Thielen impressed many in 2016.

To follow up his impressive third season, Thielen caught 91 passes for 1,276 yards, earning himself a Pro Bowl nod. Thielen demonstrated his shifty route running ability, allowing himself to consistently get open, as well as relieving pressure from Diggs.

The Vikings’ front office is extremely fortunate to have re-signed him prior to his career year in 2017. Thielen and the Vikings agreed to a three-year, $27 million deal last March, allowing him to stay in his home state through the 2020 season.

Kyle Rudolph

Minnesota Vikings receivers

Kyle Rudolph runs after a catch in the Pro Bowl. (Photo by AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Along with Thielen, Kyle Rudolph was the Minnesota Vikings’ second Pro Bowler from the offensive side of the ball. Rudolph has consistently been a solid starting tight end for the Vikings throughout his seven years in the league. The tight end out of Notre Dame has started every game in the last three seasons for the Vikings. During that span, Rudolph also has gained over 500 receiving yards twice.

Rudolph is currently under contract through the 2019 season and will earn nearly $8 million throughout those seasons.

Notable backups

If there is one thing that the Vikings’ offense struggled with in 2017, it would be spreading the ball. Diggs, Thielen and Rudolph accounted for 77 percent of the Vikings’ receptions by wide receivers or tight ends.

Minnesota Vikings receivers

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Laquon Treadwell, runs a pattern during rookie minicamp. (Photo by AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Not including these three, the Vikings’ top pass catcher would have been Laquon Treadwell. Treadwell was a first-round pick in the 2016 Draft who has struggled to find playing time so far in his career. In 2017, Treadwell only caught 20 passes for a meager 200 yards and no touchdowns.

Also on the depth chart are wide receivers Jarius Wright and Michael Floyd, as well as tight end David Morgan. These three combined for 38 receptions and 371 yards.

Floyd is the only one of these four players that will not return to the Vikings in 2018, and will be an unrestricted free agent in March.

What to Expect

The Minnesota Vikings have one of the most underrated receiving corps in the NFL. Although they don’t have a true No. 1 wide receiver, it is unlikely that the Vikings will target a wide receiver in either free agency or high in the draft.

The one-two punch of Thielen and Diggs is one of the best duos in the NFL. This, along with Rudolph as a safety blanket, forms a very solid group of pass catchers.

If the Vikings do decide to make a change with this position, they will most likely release Wright. Releasing Wright would save the Minnesota Vikings over $4 million in cap space.


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NFL Conference Championship preview

NFL Conference Championship weekend preview and picks

We can only hope the NFL’s Conference Championship weekend is half as competitive as last weekend was. Three of the four games were nail biters, which made for some strange results in terms of predictions.

As has been the case throughout the postseason, games will be picked both straight up and against the spread. All point spreads are from rtsports.com at the time of my writing. You can see last week’s picks here.

Last week: 1-3, 3-1 against the spread.

Postseason totals: 4-4, 5-3 against the spread.

Jaguars at Patriots

Three teams have gone into New England and won a playoff game in the Brady-Belichick era, two Ravens teams led by John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco and one of Rex Ryan’s Jets teams. All these teams had one thing in common: They ran the ball and were very good on defense.

With the top ranked rushing offense and a sack happy defense that has dominated all year long, Jacksonville certainly fits that bill. This will not be a simple coronation for the Patriots. Just because the Jaguars approach to winning games is fairly bland does not mean they do not deserve to be here.

That defense will keep this interesting for four quarters. However, there are three pieces of insurmountable bad news for the underdogs. First, Blake Bortles is still their quarterback. Second, Tom Brady is the opposing quarterback. Finally, Bill Belichick is not going to run 15-yard pass plays on 4th and 1 or run an onside kick with two timeouts and more than two minutes left like Pittsburgh did last week.

One of the biggest yet simplest reasons New England has been so good for so long is they never make in game strategy calls that leave even casual fans scratching their heads in the moment. As good as they are, the Jaguars needed a lot of help to outscore the Steelers last week. New England will not be so generous this week.

Winner: New England

Good bet: Patriots (-9) NE 31 Jac 20

Vikings at Eagles

Something has to give here. These two teams have mastered the art of the playoff choke job over the years. Now one of them is going to the Super Bowl.

At this point in this season, these teams are going about winning games the same way. They both rely on their great defenses to make up for limitations at quarterback. Make no mistake, Case Keenum and Nick Foles have limitations.

Foles only threw for 246 yards last week against Atlanta. However, he did not make a big mistake that crippled the team. When you have a defense that is capable of holding what was a hot Falcons offense to just 10 points, that formula is good enough.

NFL Conference Championship preview

Photo from espn.com

Keenum tried to make that crippling mistake with his late third quarter interception that sparked the Saints comeback last week. However, he and the Vikings were bailed out by a miracle finish that was more blind luck than anything else. There is no shame in that. Every Super Bowl champion there has ever been has required some degree of luck.

What this game comes down to is both teams will try to run the ball. It is hard to imagine either having much success against two of the best front sevens in football. So which average quarterback will do a better job of getting the ball to their playmaking pass catchers?

Well, Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen each caught over 60 balls in the regular season and accounted for several of Minnesota’s 10 third down conversions last week. Meanwhile, the Eagles pass catchers have virtually disappeared since Carson Wentz went out. Zach Ertz and Alshon Jeffery had seven catches combined last week. They need to have somewhere around seven catches each should Philadelphia struggle on the ground in this one.

Moreover, if there is a weak spot on either defense, it is the Philadelphia secondary. They got torched by the lowly Giants twice this year.  There is no reason Diggs and Thielen should not carry their team to a home Super Bowl.

Winner: Minnesota

Good bet: Vikings (-3) Min 23 Phi 17


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Thanksgiving fantasy football

Thanksgiving games week 12 fantasy turducken MVPs

Thanksgiving is now here. It’s time for turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, pie and most importantly, football.

That’s right, it’s time for the tradition of the Thanksgiving games.The first two are hosted by the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys. The Lions will host their NFC North rival Minnesota Vikings, and the Cowboys will play the Los Angeles Chargers. Then the late game is an NFC East battle where the New York Giants head to play the Washington Redskins.

One part about the Thanksgiving games that I miss is John Madden and the turducken award. So for this article, it’s time to bring the turducken award back and predict who will have big fantasy days in each game.

Vikings-Lions MVP: Adam Thielen

The Vikings have been red hot, winning their last six games. That is partially due to their players stepping up with injuries, like Case Keenum playing well and the run game executing without rookie Dalvin Cook. One guy that has been having a surprise season and dominating the last two weeks is receiver Adam Thielen, who is my pick to be the first fantasy turducken winner against the Lions.

Thanksgiving fantasy football

Adam Thielen (Photo from vikings.com)

Over the last two games, Thielen has caught 14 passes for 289 yards. He has caught a touchdown in the last three. The last time the Vikings played the Lions, they lost 14-7, and Stefon Diggs was the better receiver. This time it’s a different Vikings team, and I also expect Thielen to outperform Diggs with the possibility of having Darius Slay on him for the entire game.

Thielen is second in the NFL, only behind Antonio Brown, in receiving yards. He is also tied for fifth in receptions. Thielen is currently on a three-game streak of scoring over 20 points. He’s also only one of five wide receivers with at least four fantasy games in the 20s or higher.

The Lions have allowed the ninth most passing yards to the slot since Week 4. Expect the Vikings to throw some deep shots to Thielen as he’s tied with Brandin Cooks for the most deep (15-plus yards) receptions.

At this point, Thielen is a must-start receiver every week as he has become a favorable target for Keenum.

Chargers-Cowboys MVP: Alfred Morris

The Cowboys have struggled the past two games without Ezekiel Elliott and Tyron Smith. They played the desperate Atlanta Falcons and the Philadelphia Eagles, possibly the best team in the NFC. This week is the time for them to turn it around against an inconsistent Chargers team. For this game, this is when the run game will pay off, and Alfred Morris will have a monster game.

Thanksgiving fantasy football

Alfred Morris (Photo from cbssports.com)

Last week, Morris ran for 91 yards on 17 carries. In fact, Morris had more rushing yards than Dak Prescott had passing yards before the fourth quarter. His performance was especially impressive since the Eagles entered the game having allowed just 3.6 yards per attempt.

Morris has gotten better as he has seen more carries and is only getting better. He’s averaging 5.1 yards per carry in the two games since Elliott got suspended. With Darren McFadden a healthy scratch and Rod Smith not performing, Morris should only get more carries until Elliott comes back.

Dallas is at home against a Chargers team that is allowing a league-high 138.9 rushing yards per game and the second-most yards per carry (4.93). Playing against the 30th ranked team against running backs means Morris will be getting the ball a ton early in the game.

Giants-Redskins MVP: Vernon Davis

Even with injuries to Chris Thompson and Terrelle Pryor, the Redskins should still be efficient on offense. The turducken award in this game goes to tight end Vernon Davis.

Thanksgiving fantasy football

Vernon Davis (Photo from sports.yahoo.com)

When it comes to the tight end against the Giants defense, it’s the worst in fantasy. They have given up a touchdown every game but last week. However, they still gave up 120 yards to the position.

During Jordan Reed’s three-week absence, Davis has averaged 8.7 targets, 5.3 catches and 71.7 receiving yards. Last week he had six targets and 67 receiving yards. Dating back to Week 6, Davis leads the Redskins in receiving yards (367), is tied for second in receptions (25) and is second in targets (38). With Reed missing practice, it’s likely Davis will get the start again against the Giants.

The Giants have yielded a league-high 19.6 PPR points per game to this position. With this matchup, he has to be a must-start, even at the flex position.


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