Minnesota Vikings
After making the NFC Title game in 2017, can Mike Zimmer lead the Minnesota Vikings to their first Super Bowl championship? (AP Photo/Andy Clayton-King)

The Minnesota Vikings are a fantastic team. I mean that in more ways than one because this roster is loaded and their coaching staff led by Mike Zimmer is just about as good as it gets. Minnesota spent a vast majority of this offseason retaining the studs on their roster. Eric Kendricks, Stefon Diggs, and Danielle Hunter have been locked up for the long haul. Now it’s time for Kirk Cousins to take this team that’s already outstanding to the next level and bring the Vikings their first Super Bowl victory. What are the storylines we should pay attention to with the Minnesota Vikings in 2018?

3 Position Battles To Watch:

1. Right Tackle: Rashod Hill, Brian O’Neill

If there is one weakness with this Vikings team it’s the offensive line. The right tackle spot is a grease fire. They signed Mike Remmers to be that guy but he was so bad that the team moved him to guard in a hurry. Rashod Hill is a nobody and recorded a PFF grade of 58.3. Yeah, that flat out stinks. The problem is that Brian O’Neill stinks too. They just don’t know it yet. Do yourself a favor and watch O’Neill during the Senior Bowl. He’s a great athlete but can’t block ANYONE.

2. Weakside linebacker: Ben Gedeon, Kentrell Brothers

There aren’t a lot of holes with this Vikings defense but the weakside linebacker spot could be one. Ben Gedeon and Kentrell Brothers are both former mid-round draft picks that will battle for the starting nod. The good news is Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr are already a solid duo at the linebacker spot. Regardless, even if one of these guys produces like Chad Greenway, this defense is really, really good.

3. Cornerback: Terence Newman, Mackensie Alexander, Mike Hughes, Trae Waynes

Xavier Rhodes is one of the best corners in the business. What Minnesota has done is try to reinforce what is an old adage. You can never have enough corners. Terence Newman is older than the dinosaurs but is somehow still awesome. Mike Hughes comes in as a first-round pick. Hughes is a good player but fell due to some character concerns. The good news is Mike Zimmer is the right guy to develop him. Both Mackensie Alexander and Trae Waynes are former high draft picks but haven’t played like world beaters by any means. If one of those guys live up to their potential, this defense goes from very good to elite.

Ready To Breakout: Dalvin Cook

Dalvin Cook is coming off a torn ACL and it’s sort of scared off some people drafting him in fantasy leagues. I would tell those people that they are making a huge mistake. Cook will be more than ready to good to go for week one and has recovered much faster than anticipated. With modern science, ACL’s aren’t huge deals anymore. Cook averaged an absurd 4.8 yards per carry as a rookie. What will happen in year two with Kirk Cousins under center? I think this is a top 5 running back in the league by the end of the season.

Rookie To Watch: Daniel Carlson

Kickers are people too! I think everyone is aware of the Vikings kicker woes over recent years that should never be repeated (*cough Gary Anderson) (*cough Blair Walsh). Kai Forbath was no saint himself as the Vikings incumbent starter missing a bunch of gimme attempts. Carlson was the best kicker in the draft coming out of Auburn and can boom 50 yarders with consistency. I think Carlson becomes one of the best (fantasy) kickers right away.

NFC North 2018 NFL Draft Grades: Packers Close The Gap On Vikings

Fantasy Sleeper: Kyle Rudolph

Kirk Cousins loves his tight ends. Cousins is a conservative throwing and likes to pick apart the middle of the defense. We saw this for years with Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis being his top targets year in and year out. Enter Kyle Rudolph who should theoretically be in for a huge year. Rudolph caught 15 touchdowns the past two seasons with marginal quarterback play. Kirk Cousins should be an upgrade up Case Keenum and or Sam Bradford, right? We will find out soon enough.

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