After four consecutive seasons topping 4,000-yards passing, the Minnesota Vikings quarterback saw a regression in his numbers due to the coaching staff shaping the offensive attack into a dominant scheme. Since becoming a full-time starter back in 2015, Cousins saw his overall passing attempts drop to 444 which ranked 24th among NFL signal-callers. The best way to sum it up, Cousins has been asked to become a highly-paid game-manager.
As Will Ragatz of InsideTheVikings writes, we could be looking at a “changing of the guard” when it comes to who is at the top of the pecking order among NFC North quarterbacks; and it may come as a surprise to who he believes earns top-billing:
“Cousins has a compelling statistical case for the top spot among all NFC North quarterbacks, as he was one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the entire NFL last season. I've said it several times and I'll say it again: there's not a lot of separation between Rodgers, Cousins, and Stafford right now. Rodgers still deserves the title of the best quarterback in the division, but his decade-long run with that distinction might be coming to an end soon. He turns 37 in December, while Cousins and Stafford will each be 32 during the 2020 season.”
What Are the Oddsmakers Saying?
DraftKings Sportsbook currently has Cousins’ total passing yards number in 2020 set at 3,800.5 yards.
Cousins’ Fantasy Value in 2020
The 2019 Vikings offense finished 30th in the league pass attempts per game with a paltry 29.2 attempts per game. The game plans became so focused last season on the legs of star running back Dalvin Cook, that top wide receiver Stefon Diggs voiced his complaints publicly, leading to his eventual trade to the Buffalo Bills this past offseason.
Top returning wideout Adam Thielen and Cousins have great chemistry and fantasy owners will be looking for a resurgence from the top tandem in 2020. The club looked to fill Diggs’ void by investing a first-round pick in April’s NFL Draft on former LSU standout Justin Jefferson.
Upon a deeper dive into the stats, we learn that in 2019 Cousins posted his lowest pass attempts, completions, and passing yards in his five seasons as a starter. Despite the arrival of Jefferson and two solid tight ends (Kyle Rudolph and Irv Smith), my model projects for more middle of the road fantasy numbers in 2020. A second straight fantasy season outside the top-12 is well within the realm of expectations for the former Michigan State standout.
For where he was selected in drafts at the Fantasy Football World Championships (FFWC), Cousins disappointed fantasy owners in 2019. Thielen dealt with multiple injuries that forced him to miss six games in 2019 while averaging a mere 4.8 targets per game. With Diggs up in Buffalo and Jefferson needing time to learn the playbook and earn Cousins’ trust, my model projects that Thielen is a great buy-low candidate. If Thielen is able to remain healthy, my numbers see a return to his 2018 volume that produced 153 targets, 113 receptions, 1,373 receiving yards, and nine touchdowns as opposed to the disappointing 30 catch / 418 yards posted last season.
2020 Vikings Schedule
Kirk Cousins Passing Yards Betting Advice:
Cousins is not someone that I see bouncing back into QB1 range in 2020, but I do see value in going over this betting number. Despite only throwing for 3,603 yards last season, my projections indicate a much higher number on a per-game basis than the 225 yards required over a 16-game season to surpass this number by DraftKings Sportsbook.
Back in May, this number stood at 3,750.5. However, following consistent sharp action on the over the oddsmakers were forced to adjust this number higher by 50 yards. Despite the run-heavy offensive philosophy, I still believe there is value to be found in going over Cousins’ passing betting projection.
The Play: OVER 3,800.5 passing yards (-110)