I'm Sorry Adam Thielen, I was totally wrong about you - Week 5 Post-Mortem

I previously wrote a things I was wrong about after week 1 which you can see here:

Now that we are 5 weeks in (>30% of FF season and >40% of the FF reg season), I wanted to revisit one topic in detail. Adam Thielen.

He is a front runner for my biggest miss of the off-season (along with Mahomes) so I’m just going to get ahead and say right now, I am eating crow for this mistake.

So far through 5 weeks, Thielen has recorded 5 consecutive 100 yd + games which has never been done before in the first 5 weeks of a season and has only been done consecutively 22 times in the history of the NFL (neither Rice or Moss did so) per PFF.

Thielen’s current 16 game pace: 211 targets, 150 receptions (NFL Record: 143 Marvin harrison), 1884 yards (NFL Record: 1,946 by Megatron) and 9 TDs

Let that sink in for a second. This would be a historic season. And by an undrafted, practice squad player nonetheless. Do I think his current pace is sustainable? Probably not. But even if he attains 80% of that, he would shatter all expectations I’ve had for him and made me out to be a fool for doubting him. I’m personally rooting for him.

Now for the why I missed so badly. After having gone back and studied the film and looked at the numbers, I think I was wrong because of the following main reasons:

1) Vikings Defense: I did not expect the vikings D to be this bad. I thought that vikings had the best if not one of the best defenses in the league coming into this season which would have favored more run heavy game scripts. I imagined something similar to last year where they could get up by 7 points, and let the defense do the rest. That has not been the case. Vikings so far have been a bottom 12 defense in the league. I don’t think anyone saw this coming.

2) No Dalvin Cook: This goes hand in hand with the above. Going into the season, I thought they would have their stud RB available. So far, he has only been fully healthy in one game. So they really haven’t been able to run the ball much given how mediocre murray is.

3) Cousins Record Breaking Passing Volume: One of my main knocks on Thielen was that I didn’t think his 2017 volume was sustainable. But given how much vikings are throwing the ball (partially cause of the awful D), Thielen is actually on pace to SURPASS his target volume from last year. Now I don’t actually think that is sustainable as I do expect vikings to recover on the defense, assuming Griffen returns (he’s been out with mental illness and is a big reason for the D sucking as of late). Just to give you a sense for how ridiculous the vikings numbers are right now, Cousins has made 226 pass attempts so far through 5 weeks. That is on pace for 723 attempts on the season. In 2017, not a single QB broke 600 pass attempts. Brady led the way with 581. In the HISTORY of the NFL, there has only been 1 QB to crack 700 attempts in a season. And that was Matthew Stafford in 2012 with 727. Currently, both Luck and Cousins are on pace for that record. Personally don’t think this is sustainable but even on decreased volume, Thielen should still produce.

4) Thielen is an excellent route runner: I underestimated Thielen’s ability from a route running perspective and his ability to find holes in the zone. I accredited too much of his success to Shurmur’s scheme and not enough to his ability. One of my biggest arguments was that I felt like Diggs was way more talented than Thielen and was a much better contested catch WR. I still believe this to be true. However, you know what’s better than contested catches for QBs? Wide open receivers and that’s what Thielen is. Chris Hogan needs to vacate the 7/11 title to Thielen cause this dude is literally ALWAYS OPEN. I’ve now seen every snap thielen/cousins have played together and on pretty much every single completion, Adam Thielen created excellent separation. In most of his big plays, you can barely see a defender in the same screen from broadcast view. But even in coaches film view, he is just so good at finding and sitting in holes in zone coverage. It’s actually insane. Part of the reason for this though is because Diggs is still consistently drawing coverage from the opposing teams best CB. And for most teams, their 2nd tier/Slot CB just aren’t good enough to cover Thielen. Thielen is the main beneficiary of teams committing double coverage to Diggs. Similar to the Nuk/Fuller combo in Houston.

5) NFL Rule changes. Now this may sound stupid but I honestly think this has had a huge impact, not only on Thielen but on all QB/WRs as a whole. These penalties are insane but specifically in the case of the vikings, they have now received 2 late roughing the passer calls which have directly resulted in Thielen getting huge plays thereafter on drives which would have ended in seasons past. Of all the factors though, I’d say this is the smallest impact.

Anyway, sorry for the long post but I personally like to investigate into why I was wrong about things vs just taking it at face value. This allows me to determine whether or not these changes are sustainable or if they will revert. In the case of Thielen, here is my final verdict:

I do not think his current pace is sustainable, mainly cause I don’t think cousins will break the NFL single season passing record set by Stafford. I expect Zimmer to figure out the defensive side of the ball as one of the best defensive minds in the NFL and I’m assuming Griffen returns to the field. If he doesn’t, I’ll re-assess. I also expect Dalvin Cook to actually return this season, at which point they will actually be able to run the ball more. Lastly, I think defenses will learn to adjust to the rules / offenses as they always do. Having said all of that, I was still incredibly wrong with my pre-season assessment. I now think that Thielen will be a lock for WR1 ROS and definitely in the discussion for finishing top 6 at the position for the season.


I doubt it either, but…I’ve wondered a couple of times this year since that’s practically ALL they have right now. No run game and pretty much NO DEF. LOL

Anyway…great post my friend. As I mentioned in your previous similar post, takes a BIG person to admit mistakes!!! :handshake:

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@nysportzguy As promised. My Thielen Post for why I was so wrong.

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Yeah if this continues, then maybe Thielen does go on to break the single season receiving record. But I’m banking on Zimmer’s entire career over just 5 games.

Whether or not Everson Griffen returns will be critical. He’s one of, if not the best defensive player on that team.

Also, obviously also expecting Dalvin Cook to actually play this season. If he doesn’t that changes things a bit too.

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As a die hard Vikings fan, I am scared we don’t pull the def together. However I recognise that history says we probably will. It’s just one of those what-if fears.

@MikeMeUpp, to be honest, I don’t know WHAT to think about Dalvin right now.

Love the insight, and glad that I stuck by my loyalty to drafting him even though you were saying he isn’t going to amount to much early this season!

I have to say, the Vikings WRs all are extremely good route runners. Diggs + Thielen + Rudolph all do so well to get open a lot of the time…

I now have AB + Thielen in my line up and I’m so happy for Thielen. Being a big Vikings fan, I’ve watched Thielen go from practice squad to what he is now, and I couldn’t be more happy for him to just prove how good he really is. #yellowgloves

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Also I think people are in-general not giving everson enough credit for how much he means to this team. I attribute it to the def as a whole being very good all around, rather than having a super stud like the rams/raiders of last year. Not saying everson is as good as Mack or Donald but it was very easy to watch and see that they were a massive part of those defenses. Whereas with Minnesota we have Harry and xavier (amoung others) who just make the def as a whole look amazing. (Most of this is speaking on last year’s def, and hoping what we revert to)

Was really sad I couldn’t grab Thielen in either leagues.

Saw so many people down on Thielen and super high on Diggs, I didn’t understand it. Both are great receivers but Thielen’s hands are money and he seemed like a guy who could just get open at will which is always good for a QB to have.

I do own Diggs though in my casual league, not too mad, he has been very solid.

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I totally agree with this. Which is why I included the one caveat that I am assuming everson does make it back. He is arguably their best defensive player. Might actually be the best player on the team period, offense or defense. It is mental health struggles though so there’s a chance he doesn’t make it back all season, in which case I would have to reassess.

Rhodes is great but has been sub par so far this season. Part of that is because pass rush and coverage go hand in hand. If you have no pass pro, then coverage will be leaky. Even the greatest CBs can’t cover forever.

And as far as I’m concerned. Harrison smith is the best safety in football.

Diggs is still a stud though. I don’t think I was wrong in my pre-season assessment of Diggs. He is still a baller. I just undervalued Thielen and missed on how often the vikings would be throwing. Don’t think anyone could forsee a record setting passing attempt pace from Cousins though. If you do, all the power to you on that one.

Yep way to go fading me on that one. That was actually a bet I was pretty confident in. Goes to show, we’re all just guessing. I’m wrong plenty of times.

Never thought I’d see the day lol

I’d have to say I was upset about this argument the most because I was a Theilen believer but I faded him after our discussion before a draft. I grabbed Tate and Cooper in that league and it’s been up and down. Look forward to some more conversations.

I’ve admitted when I’ve been wrong so far. Many other things I’ve been wrong about. This was definitely my biggest miss though.

I will say, I’ve also seen every snap diggs has played so far and he also looks stellar. He just happens to be drawing better coverage.

We’ll see if its sustainable going forward, but even if current rate not sustainable, I was still way off the mark. He looks like he’ll definitely at least be a WR1, which I didn’t think was possible.

Yeah you win some you lose some. But based on some of the factors above, I think it was very hard to predict whats happened so far. Particularly revolving around Vikings D which really drives the other stuff like passing volume. Would be hard to find anyone who thought Vikings D would be this bad 5 weeks in and cousins would be top of the league in pass attempts.

Luckily, I think I’ve won more than I’ve lost so my teams are all doing pretty well. Let’s see how the rest of the season plays out.

Awesome post.

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Top team in my main league has Diggs & Thielen (keeper) and also has Landry, Brees and Zeke. He’s been lighting it up every week so far.

Killer team. If i were him, would try and make a trade of like Thielen+ for MT or something to get the brees stack.

I have digs and thielen too :smiley:

they’ve been carrying me everyweek!

Yeah he’s wanted to move one of the two since the start of the year but hasn’t dealt them yet. I offered him Rex/Baldwin before the start of the season for Diggs. Bet he is glad he didn’t take that one. His 2nd RB spot is really weak but he’s got lucky. He has Carson and Crowell and has managed to start them the right weeks.

As much as I don’t want to admit it, Carson might be a a decent starter going forward. Seattle seems to want to pound the rock and he has looked the best out of everyone. Until I see otherwise, penny is not really a factor. 20+ touches a game also isn’t falling out of Trees.

yeah I haven’t missed too much this year in terms of putting together solid line ups. It’s my sleeper picks and value picks that haven’t panned out. I get it that you plant your flag in some guys and fade some others, I do a fair amount of research in prep for each week season long and DFS. We both I think were Cooper truthers and that has been a tough pill to swallow. I think some of these players we have completely different takes on so I try to battle you as objectively as I can using facts and my friend “Vegas” I think the betting lines are a great tool to determine start/sit and game script. Amazing that they had Saints vs Giants as 52 point total and I was at the game saying the Giants are going to tie this game. At the time down by 7 and would have got the total to 52 but with a minute remaining Saints got the ball Kamara scored a late TD and bang 52. I appreciate your take, but am curious what you exactly look at when you do your research. Are you point chasing or looking at individual match ups? what’s your primary research pillar that you rest on.