Zone Coverage: So, you want to draft Kirk Cousins in fantasy football?

Fingers crossed that we get to play some fantasy football in 2020!
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Kirk Cousins

Bo Mitchell and John Tuvey have roughly a half-century of experience in the fantasy football industry between them. Scholars maintain the actual number of years could even be much higher. Co-hosts of “The Fantasy Football Party” podcast, Bo and 2V concocted this series to help you stay true to your Vikings fandom while dominating your fantasy league. This story first appeared at Zone Coverage and was re-shared through a collaboration with Bring Me The News

One critique of fantasy football I’ve heard repeated over the years is the idea that fantasy players care more about their fantasy team than the real NFL team they’ve rooted for all their lives. Listen, I’m not suggesting this isn’t the case with a few selfish people, but it’s been my experience in more than 30 years of playing fantasy football that this simply isn’t the case for the vast majority.

Do you actually think a Minnesota Vikings fan would rather see his or her fantasy team win their league more than they want to see their Vikings win a Super Bowl? C’mon!

Or on a smaller scale, how about this scenario: It’s Week 10 of the 2020 season and a Vikings fan has the Bears’ David Montgomery as their running back. Time is winding down with the score tied between the Vikings and Bears on Monday Night Football and the Bears have driven into the red zone. Does that person root for a Montgomery touchdown that would clinch his fantasy game that week or does he cheer for the Vikings to intercept Mitchell Trubisky and return it for a game-winning touchdown?

You can flip that around, too. What if you’re rooting for the Vikings to win but playing against a team that has Kirk Cousins in their fantasy lineup? Do you bust out the Skol Chant or get ticked off when Cousins throws three touchdown passes?

Fantasy football doesn’t have to be that complicated, you know. You can actually have your cake and eat it, too. What if, and hear me out here, you’re a Vikings fan and draft Cousins for your fantasy football team? Mind blown, right?

This practical solution has applications for all your favorite Vikings players. Fortunately for you, John Tuvey and I are fantasy football OGs and are happy to help you navigate your fantasy football drafts this summer to ensure the best of both worlds. Note: I didn’t ask my kid if I used “OG” correctly, but I’m rolling with it… felt right.

This is Part 1 of a multi-part series on fantasy football for Vikings fans.

So, you want to draft Cousins?

READ THE ROOM

The most important factor in getting Cousins on your team is to read the room on draft day. By that, I mean know your opponents. This might be a tad more problematic if your draft is taking place online, but chances are good you’re familiar with most of the other owners in your league. This information will dictate how much, if at all, you need to “reach” for Cousins in order to ensure you get an opportunity to draft him.

  • If you’re in a Minnesota-based league and/or your league has several team owners who are die-hard Vikings fans, you’re absolutely going to need to reach for Cousins.
  • If you’re in a casual league – a friendly neighborhood league or office league with people who are playing for the first time just for fun – you’re very likely going to need to reach for Cousins.
  • If you’re playing in a super-flex league in which you can use two quarterbacks in your starting lineup, you’ll need to reach for Cousins beyond his average industry value.

By “reaching,” I mean drafting a player earlier than you normally would in a league comprised of fantasy football veterans who observe to the common, analytics-based philosophy of waiting to draft quarterbacks. Translation: There are so many good quarterbacks and so many who put up big numbers in this pass-happy age of the NFL, that you can still get a productive quarterback late in the draft. There’s no need to draft one early. Moreover, the difference between, for instance, the sixth-best quarterback and the 16th-best quarterback will not be that great statistically. Thus, the better value play is to simply wait and draft other positions like running backs and wide receivers in the early rounds.

Makes total sense, right?

Which brings us back to the scenarios in which you need to “reach” for Cousins. The logic of waiting flies right out the window when several of the owners in your league have Vikings World Order tattoos or are lifelong Vikings season ticket holders. Do you think they’re going to wait on Cousins? Or how about the fantasy newbie that is blissfully unaware of the science and math behind waiting to draft quarterbacks?

So, if you want to draft Cousins and you need to reach, how early do you need to draft him? Conversely, what’s the more appropriate round in which to draft him if you’re competing against folks who adhere to the consensus of waiting on quarterbacks?

THE RIGHT VALUE

Looking at a cheat sheet is a nice place to start, but it’s only part of the puzzle. Doing so will only tell you roughly where Cousins ranks in relation to other quarterbacks.

A survey of industry rankings and cheat sheets as of late June reveals Cousins is not being ranked among the top-10 fantasy quarterbacks by anyone. In fact, he’s ranked somewhere between 15th and 20th on average. Now, I know some Vikings fans reading that might be aghast, but hey, at least he’s ranked much higher than Trubisky, who’s hovering around 30 and not even getting drafted in most leagues. Actually, Aaron Rodgers is barely cracking the top 10 on a lot of cheat sheets and Matthew Stafford is usually ranked right around Cousins, usually a spot or two ahead or behind him. Does that make you feel any better? This data tells you that, in your standard draft, 14 or so quarterbacks are going to be selected before Cousins goes off the board.

There are other online sources and tools you can use to put a finer point on where to select Cousins such as mock drafts and Average Draft Position (ADP) data.

Looking at mock drafts done by industry experts and reviewing ADP data from sites that collect and update the numbers daily based on actual drafts on fantasy sites, reveals Cousins going anywhere from the seventh round on the high end to the 12th round on the low end – landing somewhere in the 10th round on average.

FINAL ANSWER

As outlined above, there is no absolute right answer on where to draft Cousins, if he’s the guy you have to get in order to make your fantasy football life and Vikings football fandom sing in perfect harmony.

If you’re in a league of folks who kind of know what they’re doing, Cousins will still be there in the seventh round, and probably a few rounds after that. Follow your cheat sheet and pay attention to those drafting around you so you know whether they have already drafted a quarterback or still need one. This will guide you toward landing him at a reasonable value.

However, if you find yourself drafting in a league in one of the other scenarios outlined above, all bets are off. Reasonable Vikings fans and newbies armed with an updated cheat sheet are still going to wait at least a handful of rounds before revealing their fanaticism or inexperience. Your best bet in these scenarios is to draft Cousins after the first half-dozen or so quarterbacks are taken – again if he’s your ride-or-die fantasy player – and hope you can make up for the reach with much better value picks in subsequent rounds. Finding value won’t be tough to do in a league such as that where your fellow owners are misled by emotion, greenness, and oftentimes alcohol.

It should also be noted that a similar strategy can be applied no matter which player you’re targeting as your absolute “must-have” guy. Take the “Get Cousins” template and use it on a few guys in each draft you do.

Be sure to hit me up on Twitter if you have any specific fantasy football questions. I endeavor to answer every question I get, and 60% of the time, I’m right every time.

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