Should You Start Adam Thielen vs. the Patriots? Fantasy Outlook for Vikings Wide Receiver

Week 12 offers fantasy managers a respite from the challenges of bye weeks. Does that push Adam Thielen out of starting lineups?

The deeper we get into the season, the more hesitant I am about starting players on Thursday night. But on this most special of weeks, fantasy football managers will need to table that notion, as we have six teams playing on Thanksgiving. This week’s night game is the Minnesota Vikings hosting the New England Patriots.

Adam Thielen has disappointed for about a month now. Coming off the Vikings’ worst game of the season, is the offense poised to bounce back? And will Thielen come along for the ride? Can fantasy managers start Thielen against the Patriots on Thursday night?

Adam Thielen’s Fantasy Outlook Against the Patriots

It’s been an overall disappointing season for one of the most successful UDFA wide receivers of all time. Thielen is averaging just 10.8 PPR fantasy points per game. He’s yet to top 72 receiving yards in a game and has just a single top-30 performance in games where he didn’t find the end zone. Sadly, Thielen’s fantasy value rests almost entirely on touchdowns.

I’m at a bit of a crossroads when it comes to Thielen. Matchup-wise, he should be an easy fade. The Patriots allow the second-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers. They allow just 10 receptions per game to the position and a mere 135 yards, the fifth-fewest in the league.

MORE: Fantasy Football Trade Analyzer Week 12

On the other hand, the Vikings are coming off the clunker of all clunkers. It’s trendy to call the Vikings frauds, but defining “fraud” is a matter of perspective. Is Minnesota as good as their record? No. Are they this terrible team that has no shot at going anywhere in the playoffs? Also, no.

I really do think the Vikings bounce back on Thursday and beat the Patriots. So, if I think that, I should be buying into their offensive weapons. Especially if I believe we’re getting an inspired performance.

Should Fantasy Managers Start Thielen?

This is one of the most challenging parts of fantasy football. Going purely off the data, Thielen is an easy fade this week. He hasn’t reached double-digit fantasy points in three straight, and his 18.7% target share is his lowest since 2016, which was before he broke out.

There’s no evidence suggesting Thielen is anything more than a WR4 this week, which is exactly where we have him in our Week 12 wide receiver rankings. However, I just can’t shake the feeling that Thielen is going to score a touchdown this week.

Of course, no one should be making lineup decisions based on my “feelings.” Logically, I should be recommending his receiving yards lower on Underdog Fantasy. In fact, I very well might.

Even if this gut feeling I have ends up being correct, there’s only a loose narrative basis for it. In the long run, if we make data-driven decisions backed by facts and evidence, we will be right more than we are wrong. Ultimately, that is the course of action I must endorse heading into Thursday night.

Thielen is far from the worst start. Teams ravaged by injury can put him in lineups, knowing he won’t get you zero. However, in a week without byes, odds are most of you can do better than Thielen. If possible, I would sit Thielen against the Patriots this week.

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