Adam Thielen’s Fantasy Football Outlook for the 2022 NFL Season

Adam Thielen is one of the best NFL stories in recent history. The Minnesota Vikings picked him up as an undrafted free agent in 2013, and over time he turned into one of the most productive wide receivers in the NFL. He earned two Pro-Bowl selections and a spot on the NFL All-Pro Second Team in 2017, and has been a major part of the Vikings’ offensive success over the past few seasons.

Still, Thielen’s production has taken a hit over the past few seasons. He battled injuries, having missed a full season in the past three years, and watched Justin Jefferson develop into one of the NFL’s best tight ends.

Still, Thielen has plenty of potential for fantasy football owners, even though he profiles as the Vikings’ second-best wide receiver. Thielen, much like the rest of Minnesota’s offense last season, struggled to find any consistency, and as a result will be looking for a bounce-back season. Will that be possible? Let’s take a closer look at Thielen’s fantasy football prospects for the 2022 campaign and find out.

Adam Thielen’s 2022 Fantasy Football Outlook

Adam Thielen’s 2021 numbers aren’t terrible (67 REC, 726 YDS, 10 TD), but he missed four of the Vikings’ final five games with an ankle injury. Thielen has become heavily reliant on scoring touchdowns, and his touchdown rate over the past two seasons, in which he scored 24 touchdowns in 28 games played, is not sustainable.

Thielen still finished as the 27th best wide receiver from a fantasy football perspective last season despite only playing in 13 games. Unfortunately, Jefferson finished as the fourth-best receiver, and given that he’s only 23 years old and will continue to get better, he’s clearly the Vikings’ best wide receiver. Quarterback Kirk Cousins ​​will look first to Jefferson rather than Thielen, which immediately limits his fantasy.

Still, Thielen isn’t unfamiliar with sharing targets with another star wide receiver. His best seasons came when he played alongside Stefon Diggs, although at the time they were more even, rather than back-to-back. Even with Jefferson’s uptick in production, Thielen should still have at least 100 targets on the road over a 17-game season.

That will be a productive wide receiver when it comes to fantasy football metrics. Assuming Thielen’s touchdown totals drop and his yards and receptions totals rise, his production will likely even out. If Thielen can stay healthy, he should be expected to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark for the first time since 2018.

Still, there are some question marks surrounding Thielen heading into the 2022 season. His injury struggles over the past few seasons are concerning, as is Jefferson emerging and taking away targets from Thielen. For this reason, many people are confused about where to rank Thielen. Some think he could be borderline top 20; others think he barely cracked the top 40.

Personally, I’d lean toward Thielen coming closer to 20 than 40. Yes, the concerns I mentioned will limit his production, but Thielen has thrived as a secondary target before. If he can stay healthy, there’s no doubt he’ll be among the best WR2s in fantasy.

It’s also worth noting that there isn’t much pass-catching help for Cousins ​​behind Thielen. KJ Osborn is a solid third wide receiver and Dalvin Cook can be a threat out of the backfield, but other than that there isn’t much. The Vikings also have a new coaching regime under offensive-minded Kevin O’Connell, which should help open up an offense that struggled for much of the 2021 season.

Jumping first on Thielen would be a little risky, but he has some upside and potential for a bounce-back campaign after dealing with injuries. He’s still a lethal threat in the red zone, and if teams focus on locking down Jefferson, that leaves Thielen free to run behind him. If Cousins ​​can figure out O’Connell’s offensive scheme early, Thielen could have one of the most productive seasons of his career.

Overall, Thielen’s draft position is a bit difficult to predict given the various factors surrounding his 2022 season. On the one hand, he’s an injury-prone 32-year-old who plays second fiddle to Jefferson. On the other hand, he’s a proven secondary wide receiver who might be able to excel behind Jefferson in one-on-one matchups.

Thielen’s range is wide depending on how the board falls. He’s probably a backend WR2 player at best, but is more likely to serve fantasy owners best as a FLEX option. The earliest Thielen will go is probably the eighth round, and if he’s still around by the 11th or 12th, it’s probably time to get him. There are a lot of questions surrounding Adam Thielen, but he could end up being a steal in the middle rounds if he’s still available, making him someone worth keeping an eye on as the draft board develops.

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