Winning often requires sacrifices, and that's definitely the story for the star-studded duo of Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs with the Vikings this season.
Last year, when Minnesota's running game was one of the worst in the NFL, Thielen and Diggs were two of the few bright spots on an 8-win team. This year, the Vikings have the league's most potent rushing attack, thus eliminating the need to constantly rely on Thielen and Diggs to move the chains.
Diggs was targeted just twice in the opener, seven times against the Packers and just three times versus the Raiders. That's 12 targets and a total of six catches for Diggs. Through three weeks a year ago, Diggs had 16 receptions and had been targeted 29 times.
- Diggs through Week 3 in 2018: 16 catches, 188 yards, 3 TD, 29 targets
- Diggs through Week 3 in 2019: 6 catches, 101 yards, 1 TD, 12 targets
Thielen sprinted out of the gates last season with an NFL record-tying eight straight 100-yard games. But he's seen an even bigger drop in target shares this season, as Cousins has thrown the ball his direction just 16 times compared to a ridiculous 44 times in the first three games of 2018.
- Thielen through Week 3 in 2018: 32 catches, 338 yards, 1 TD, 44 targets
- Thielen through Week 3 in 2019: 11 catches, 173 yards, 2 TD, 16 targets
All of this is good news for a team hoping to be a factor in the NFC playoffs, and perhaps set sights on a Super Bowl. But it's really bad news for anyone rostering Thielen or Diggs on their fantasy football team. More on that from CBS Sports:
"But, unless things start going south in a hurry, Diggs and Thielen just aren't going to get the target volume they need to be top-12 options at receiver. The Vikings were sixth-most pass-happy team in the league in 2018, which allowed both Diggs and Thielen to approach 150 targets. Even if, and/or when the Vikings have to throw it more moving forward, they probably aren't going to be one of the league leaders in pass attempts again. Maybe we should have seen this coming."
Then again, there will undoubtedly be big performances to come for two of the most dynamic wide receivers in the NFL. Just don't expect it as often since the Vikings are on a pace to throw few passes than last year's Seahawks, who attempted an NFL low 427 passes, which was 179 fewer than the Vikings.
Minnesota's 63 pass attempts through three games is far and away the lowest in the NFL. The next lowest is Chicago with 72 attempts, but they've yet to play their third game.
Perhaps the number of attempts increase in the coming weeks as the Vikings face three of the seven-worst pass defenses (Giants, Eagles, Redskins). Of course, the Giants and Redskins have two of the worst rush defenses in the league, so don't bet on it.