Game-By-Game Projections: Adam Thielen (2020 Fantasy Football)
The Thielen train was rolling along full-steam heading into 2019, and for good reason. From 2017-2018, the UDFA wideout racked up an impressive 204/2,649/13 line. But much like Homer Simpson building a barbecue pit, Adam Thielen‘s 2019 season didn’t quite turn out as planned. Hampered by injuries, he appeared in just 10 games in 2019, and he didn’t look himself when on the field. The paltry 30/418/6 line left much to be desired for owners of No. 19 who likely spent a second or third-round pick for his services. Fast forward to 2020, and Thielen is in good health and head-and-shoulders above the now Stefon Diggs-less Vikings, who have rookie Justin Jefferson penciled in as the other starter with the likes of Tajae Sharpe, Olabisi Johnson, and Chad Beebe to round out the receiving corps. As the unquestioned No. 1 in Minnesota, Thielen has a navigable path to a WR1 campaign in 2020. Let’s walk that path game-by-game.
Note: scoring is based on FantasyPros default half-PPR scoring
Week 1: vs. Packers
Thielen shredded the Pack last season, and though Green Bay’s defense will be improved this season, the unit is no world-beater. Thielen should make his way into the scoring column when Minnesota opens the season at home against a heated rival.
Predicted stat line: 5 receptions, 68 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD (15.3 fantasy points)
Week 2: @ Colts
An elite offensive line and a new, gun-slinging quarterback give Indy plenty of firepower, and the Vikings will likely need to put up points to keep pace. Add in the fact that Indy is far better up front than in the secondary, and you have a recipe for a quality stat line. Expect Thielen to score his second straight touchdown here.
Predicted stat line: 7 receptions, 70 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD (16.5 fantasy points)
Week 3: vs. Titans
Again, the Vikings face a team in Tennessee better against the run than against the pass. Though the Titans allowed plenty of yards in 2019, the defensive unit is a bend-or-break squad which allowed the 11th fewest points per game to opponents last season (20.6). Thielen shouldn’t have trouble picking up yardage, but I’m not projecting a touchdown here.
Predicted stat line: 4 receptions, 83 receiving yards, 0 receiving TDs (10.3 fantasy points)
Week 4: @ Texans
Houston’s poor pass defense shouldn’t present much of a challenge for Thielen and Minnesota in Week 4. However, a massive receiving line won’t be projected in this one. The Texans’ offensive line is poor, there’s been a shakeup in the skill position players, and the Vikings’ pass rush is solid. This should be a fairly comfortable victory for Minnesota, so I’m looking for a touchdown and only 40 yards.
Predicted stat line: 5 receptions, 40 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD (12.5 fantasy points)
Week 5: @ Seahawks
Seattle’s defense is stout, especially at home, and this game sets up more for rushing and defensive battles than for big receiving performances. Thielen will be a chain-mover here more than anything, and a score won’t likely be in the cards against the ‘Hawks.
Predicted stat line: 6 receptions, 49 receiving yards, 0 receiving TDs (7.9 fantasy points)
Week 6: vs. Falcons
Atlanta’s formidable offense and lackluster defense often set up opponents for a shootout, and that should be the case here. Expect Thielen to have one of his best games of the season against the Falcons. He’ll nab his first 100-yard game with his fourth touchdown.
Predicted stat line: 7 receptions, 105 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD (20.0 fantasy points)
Week 7: BYE
Week 8: vs. Packers
Coming out of the bye week, Thielen gets another exploitable matchup against Green Bay, and he should provide a solid stat line, albeit without a touchdown. Look for No. 19 to have a solid showing in Week 8.
Predicted stat line: 6 receptions, 80 receiving yards, 0 receiving TDs (11.0 fantasy points)
Week 9: vs. Lions
Detroit ranked dead last in passing yards allowed to opponents in 2019, and the loss of Darius Slay doesn’t help matters. A home matchup against Detroit should be favorable for the Vikings, and Thielen will flirt with a second 100-yard outing. There won’t be a score here, but expect a couple long balls.
Predicted stat line: 4 receptions, 97 receiving yards, 0 receiving TDs (11.7 fantasy points)
Week 10: @ Bears
A mid-November trip to Soldier Field sets up the Vikings to lean on the run and short passing game in this divisional matchup, leaving Thielen owners wanting for more in Week 10. It’s also worth noting that the game is on Monday Night Football – where Kirk Cousins has historically struggled.
Predicted stat line: 5 receptions, 48 receiving yards, x receiving TDs (7.3 fantasy points)
Week 11: vs. Cowboys
Dak Prescott and the Cowboys should be fired up in what will likely be an important NFC matchup. Expect Minnesota and Dallas to get into a scoring battle, providing Thielen an avenue for a big game. He’ll cross the end zone and rack up one of his best fantasy lines of the year.
Predicted stat line: 8 receptions, 87 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD (18.7 fantasy points)
Week 12: vs. Panthers
The strength of Carolina’s defense is against the pass, and this games figures to be a big one for Dalvin Cook. I’m projecting a touchdown for Thielen without too many yards as the Vikings lean on the run game.
Predicted stat line: 5 receptions, 55 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD (14.0 fantasy points)
Week 13: vs. Jaguars
Jacksonville has all but packed it in for the 2020 campaign as the team enters full rebuild mode. Minnesota should be able to take the ‘W’ easily when the Jags come to town in Week 13, and Thielen figures to come up small for fantasy owners here.
Predicted stat line: 4 receptions, 41 receiving yards, 0 receiving TDs (6.1 fantasy points)
Week 14: @ Buccaneers
If you’ve got Thielen for the fantasy playoffs, you should be in great shape. Tampa Bay’s pass defense has been poor as of late, and with Tom Brady at the helm rather than Jameis Winston, it’s far less likely the Vikings defense will be able to exploit turnovers here. Instead, expect Kirk Cousins to let it rip, setting Thielen up for his first (and only) multi-touchdown game of the season.
Predicted stat line: 8 receptions, 129 receiving yards, 2 receiving TDs (28.9 fantasy points)
Week 15: vs. Bears
After a big Week 14, Thielen could fall back to earth in this divisional matchup with the Bears and a solid opposing defense. He’s on track for a respectable yardage total, but don’t expect a trip to the end zone in Week 15. Temper expectations for the second round of the fantasy playoffs.
Predicted stat line: 4 receptions, 68 receiving yards, 0 receiving TDs (8.8 fantasy points)
Week 16: @ Saints
The matchup is solid here, and despite the additional attention he could draw from Marshon Lattimore, Thielen should get it done against the Saints secondary, which lost Vonn Bell and Eli Apple in the offseason. For many, Week 16 is fantasy championship week, and Thielen owners should be excited.
Predicted stat line: 6 receptions, 118 receiving yards, 1 receiving TDs (20.8 fantasy points)
Week 17: @ Lions
The Vikings travel to the Motor City for the final game of the regular season. Week 17 is particularly difficult to project, but Minnesota’s favorable schedule sets the team up to turn on cruise control in a winnable contest. Thielen won’t be needed much, if at all.
Predicted stat line: 4 receptions, 37 receiving yards, 0 receiving TDs (5.7 fantasy points)
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Thielen is primed for a resurgence this season, but it’s unreasonable to expect him to return the same value he did in 2018. In the first year of Gary Kubiak’s run-first offense, Kirk Cousins saw his passing attempts drop from 606 to 444. Similar passing attempts can be projected in 2020, leaving far fewer targets to go around than in Thielen’s career-best 2018 campaign. A 26-28 percent target share is probable given the lack of depth at receiver and Thielen’s relationship with Cousins, putting him on track for just under 90 receptions, nearly 1,200 yards and nine scores. His final projected stat line gives him a 215.5 point half-PPR total, which would have tied him with Kenny Golladay as WR6 in 2019. He’s currently being drafted in the third round as WR10, making him a value option in 2020. With all the cards on the table for a strong, bounce-back season, the only question that remains is, “Are you Thielen it now, Mr. Krabs?” I sure am.
2019 stats: 30 receptions, 418 receiving yards, 6 receiving TDs
2020 predicted stats: 88 receptions, 1,175 receiving yards, 9 receiving TDs