In our “32 in 32” series, we are highlighting three of the most notable fantasy football players for each team, covering all 32 teams in 32 days!
Kirk Cousins (QB - Minnesota Vikings):
Cousins is coming off a pretty solid 2022 season that saw him finish as the QB8 in fantasy with 31 total TDs and a career-high 4,547 passing yards.
Very few QBs have offered year-to-year consistency that rivals Cousins over the past decade. In the last eight seasons, Cousins has finished as a top-12 fantasy QB in seven years and has ranked as a top-15 fantasy QB in each of those seasons.
Everything is indicating a more fantasy-friendly season for Cousins than in recent years. Now entering Year 2 within Wes Phillips’ offense, Cousins should be fully acclimated to the new scheme implemented last offseason. Going with that, the personnel changes at RB (Dalvin Cook released), WR (Jordan Addison drafted in the 1st round), and TE (T.J. Hockenson acquired mid-season), it looks to be a more Cousins-centric offense than in years past.
Cousins has always been a serviceable plug-and-play QB that won’t necessarily win you weeks but also won’t lose you them either. Going as a fringe QB1 (QB13) in the 10th round, Cousins is an option for those looking for a really low-cost QB1 or those looking for a high-end and highly-stable QB2 option. Either way, he’s a solid option as a value QB, whether you want him in your lineup or as a quality replacement option.
Alexander Mattison (RB - Minnesota Vikings):
This offseason couldn’t have gone much better for Alexander Mattison. Between the Vikings’ opting to invest just a 7th-round pick in an RB (DeWayne McBride), not sign one in free agency, and releasing Dalvin Cook, Mattison immediately steps into the starting RB spot with a potential workhorse role in 2023.
Mattison doesn’t have a significant history of action with just six career starts in Cook’s absence. However, during that limited sample size, Mattison has been incredible. In those games, Mattison has averaged over 23 touches, over 115 yards, 0.8 TDs, 68% of the offensive snaps, and 20.1 fantasy PPG. That includes 16+ points in each of his last five games as the starter and 21+ points in four of those five.
Extrapolating that limited sample size to a full season, Mattison would see 397 touches, 1,963 yards, and 14 TDs on a pace that would’ve landed him 340 points – a total that would’ve seen him as the RB3 in points in 2022. While that appears an unrealistic expectation to have for a first-time starter, Dalvin Cook had finished as a top-12 RB in either points and/or PPG in five of his six seasons in Minnesota.
The upside is certainly there for Mattison to step in and replace Cook as a top-12 fantasy RB, but a lack of proven ability as a full starter limits Mattison’s value, limiting him to being an RB2 option heading into 2023.
He’s projecting as a low-end RB2/high-RB3 around the 6th-round mark on draft day. At that price, you’re not paying a premium for Mattison’s upside and are actually getting him for a very appealing value. If I can walk away from my draft with Mattison as a value RB2 option, I’d be happy. If I can walk away from my draft with Mattison as my RB3/FLEX, I’d be ecstatic.
Justin Jefferson (WR - Minnesota Vikings):
Jefferson kicked off his career in 2020 with one of the best rookie seasons in history and has continuously improved each of the last two seasons, finishing as the WR4 in 2021 and as the top WR in fantasy in 2022, hitting over 1,800 yards and 9 TDs.
There was no question Jefferson gave week-winning potential on any given gameday, posting 25+ points in nine games, including 30+ points in seven games and a three-game stretch of 30+ points from Week 14 through Week 16, getting his owners to fantasy championships.
Unfortunately, he was a key contributor in many losing their championship games, posting just 2.5 points in Week 17 – an “Achilles’ heel” to his season with four games of under 8 points.
Heading into 2023, Jefferson is the consensus top WR in fantasy, even despite consistency issues, and is forecasted as a likely top-4 pick in drafts. He easily has the upside to finish as the top WR or, if everything clicks, go even beyond that, topping Cooper Kupp’s all-time record at 439.5 points. I have him as my top WR and have him slotted in as my 1.03 behind McCaffrey and Ekeler, behind those two RBs simply due to positional value.