Minnesota Vikings Depth Chart and Fantasy Preview: Is Justin Jefferson Still a Top-5 WR?

    With a change under center, the Minnesota Vikings' fantasy preview looks different than years past -- how many fantasy starters are on this roster?

    Kirk Cousins provided stability to this offense for years, but he now calls Atlanta home. As we take a look at the Minnesota Vikingsfantasy football preview, we must adjust for not only a rookie signal-caller but also an injury looming at tight end and a new bellcow running back.

    Minnesota Vikings Fantasy Depth Chart

    QB
    J.J. McCarthy, Sam Darnold, Nick Mullens

    RB
    Aaron Jones, Ty Chandler, Kene Nwangwu

    WR1
    Justin Jefferson, N’Keal Harry, Trishton Jackson

    WR2
    Jordan Addison, Jalen Nailor, Lucky Jackson

    WR3
    Brandon Powell, Trent Sherfield, Thayer Thomas

    TE
    T.J. Hockenson, Josh Oliver

    J.J. McCarthy’s Fantasy Outlook

    J.J. McCarthy came out of high school as a high-pedigree option, and that landed him in Michigan, an offense that operated a pro-style type of offense. He is walking into a competent offense preloaded with an elite receiver, the exact profile of a rookie that can offer a nice fantasy floor for those in two-QB or Superflex situations.

    His lack of rushing upside and potential for an extended learning curve, however, keep him off the one-QB radar. If you swallow some risk early on a quarterback (à la Anthony Richardson), drafting McCarthy at the very end of the draft is a logical step.

    He has a reasonable future (could he be a version of the man he is replacing in Minnesota in Kirk Cousins?), but with the depth of talent at the position, there’s no reason to get cute and leave your draft with McCarthy competing for a starting role on your roster.

    Aaron Jones’ Fantasy Outlook

    Aaron Jones turned 29 years old late last season, is changing teams for the first time in his career, and is coming off of a season that saw him play in a career-low 11 games.

    That’s not an ideal profile, but there isn’t much in the way of carry competition on this roster, and with a rookie under center, the ground game is going to be featured in an effort to keep defenses honest.

    Jones averages 5.0 yards per carry for his career and, over the past five seasons, is averaging over three catches per game. The touchdown scoring has dried up of late (10 over the past two seasons after averaging over 13 in the three seasons prior), a negative trend that I expect to continue in an offense that I have ranked as below average at the moment, but the volume game keeps him in the low-end RB2 conversation.

    Jones’ name is currently more valuable than his ADP, so while he isn’t a bad option, be careful in overpaying for what has happened as opposed to what will happen.

    Justin Jefferson’s Fantasy Outlook

    Justin Jefferson holds just about every record you could ask for through four seasons, no small accomplishment when you consider that he missed seven games in 2023.

    The skill set is nothing short of elite, that much we know. The change under center certainly creates a level of risk that hasn’t been in play since Jefferson’s rookie season — but don’t get carried away. McCarthy is an NFL-ready option, and while Cousins is an above-average QB, Jefferson elevated his production, not the other way around.

    Maybe Jefferson’s yards per catch dips from his 15.0-yard career average or his catch rate down from 68%, but his elite talent is in a position to see 8-11 targets per game — don’t overreact, I shifted him to the bottom of my Tier 1 at the WR position (WR5), and that’s as far as I was willing to go.

    Jordan Addison’s Fantasy Outlook

    As a rookie, Jordan Addison saw his production come in bunches. He had two games with over 100 yards and multiple scores, but he also had five games with under 30 receiving yards.

    There is certainly talent to like, and with K.J. Osborn out of town along with T.J. Hockenson recovering from injury, the target count should be more stable week over week than during his first season.

    That said, there are still some consistency issues in his route running, and that puts him at risk of some ugly weeks as McCarthy develops. I have him comfortably ranked outside of my Flex tier, but he is certainly on my radar in the second half of drafts due to the pedigree and clear role in an offense that should improve with time.

    T.J. Hockenson’s Fantasy Outlook

    Hockenson is one of the more difficult players to evaluate as we look to get a jump start on 2024. On one hand, he has averaged 6.2 catches per game since joining the Vikings, proving to be their second most reliable option next to Justin Jefferson.

    On the other, he tore his ACL/MCL in Week 16 and will be returning to an offense that looks very different with a rookie under center.

    If the volume dips at all due to a lack of reps with McCarthy or a slow recovery, a top-10 season is going to be a stretch. For his career, Hockenson scores once every 21.7 targets, a rate that isn’t enough to support a strong finish without significant opportunities.

    I’m not crossing Hockenson off of my cheat sheet, but he’s sitting outside of my top 10, and if he does happen to fall in my lap, it’s with the understanding that I need to do something I rarely do: roster two tight ends.

    Vikings’ Fantasy Sleeper: Ty Chandler

    Ty Chandler didn’t stand out last season with the Vikings, but he did average 4.5 yards per carry while hauling in 84% of his targets.

    The honest truth is that we aren’t 100% sure what Chandler is at the professional level. He has just 129 touches on his résumé, but he is the unquestioned next man up in an offense that is going to feature a running back who is new to the system and will turn 30 during the season.

    When I’m drafting running backs in the late rounds I’m strictly targeting role proximity, a box that Chandler checks with more confidence than most in this tier of ADP.

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