Last season, Minnesota Vikings superstar receiver, and hometown hero, Adam Thielen missed his first time since he made the team in 2014. Thielen was hurt in the Vikings week seven game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on a touchdown that was beautifully thrown by quarterback Kirk Cousins.
Thielen would miss six total games with a hamstring injury despite trying to come back for the Vikings week nine game against the Kansas City Chiefs. In a shortened season, Thielen still put up 418 receiving yards and six receiving touchdowns.
So, what should Vikings fans expect from Thielen this season? Well, that’s a tough question to answer as a lot of things have changed for the Vikings this off season. First, the Vikings no longer have one of the other NFL’s best in Stefon Diggs. Diggs was traded earlier this off season for a draft pick that became the Vikings new, presumed, WR2 in Justin Jefferson.
Second, this is Thielen first season coming of an injury. We don’t know how this could affect Thielen who relies heavily on his ability to change speeds and put his foot in the ground and change directions.
Third, Thielen will be entering this season on the other side of thirty. Receivers, much like any skill position, can see a sharp decline after they hit the big three-oh. Thielen, who has been able to be a reliable deep threat due to his 4.45 speed, might have troubles in that department if he starts to slow down.
That’s all a pretty pessimistic view on one of the best receivers of the last few seasons. There’s no guarantee that Thielen comes back any worse for wear, and he could actually be better than expected with no Diggs to compete for targets with.
Now, there is some concern because Thielen’s best work is out of the slot, the same as rookie Justin Jefferson. The hope is that both Jefferson and Thielen can work from both the slot and outside interchangeably. If that happens, it shouldn’t be any worse than when Thilen was working with Diggs.
According to ProFootbaFocus Fantasy Football on Twitter, Thielen is projected to have 1,190 yards on 91 catches. That would be his third season of over 1,000 receiving yards. Although they don’t list a projection for touchdowns, I expect him to get somewhere between 7-12 touchdowns. He won’t be the Vikings number one option in the red zone, assuming Dalvin Cook plays this season, but he’ll likely be the top receiving threat from inside the 20 with Kyle Rudolph losing more and more targets to Irv Smith Jr.
Adam Thielen's 2020 projections rank him as the WR6 😳 pic.twitter.com/EQMaCNG2nd
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) August 4, 2020