Remember that guy last week who declared Adam Thielen an “easy sit?”
Well, nine receptions and 157 yards later I’m back – as Thielen shoots up rankings lists across the industry – and higher on the Minnesota State, Mankato product.
Before I make the case for Thielen and Sam Bradford moving forward, some caveats from my colleagues about Monday’s game:
- In his live chat Wednesday, Ben Goessling noted: “The Saints appeared discombobulated for much of the night. I couldn’t believe how much open space Thielen had to run in the middle of their defense on a couple occasions.”
- “It certainly didn’t hurt that [Sam] Bradford had as clean of a pocket as he did, getting pressured on just six of his 34 dropbacks, according to Pro Football Focus,” Goessling wrote the day after the game. “He had a perfect passer rating of 158.3 on throws of 20 yards or more, hitting all five of his attempts for 130 yards and a touchdown.”
The Saints defense featured eight new starters and was the No. 32 pass defense in 2016, part of what made Thielen an appealing Week 1 sleeper option for some.
Combine that with the time to throw and accuracy of Bradford’s passes, and it was the perfect storm for members of the Vikings passing attack to have big games – Bradford threw for 346 yards and three touchdowns while completing 27 of 32 passes (earning him NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors on Wednesday), Stefon Diggs had seven grabs for 93 yards and two touchdowns (he had three TDs all last season), and Kyle Rudolph caught three passes for 26 yards and a touchdown (not so helpful in PPR but good in standard).
Rudolph and Diggs have proven themselves as regular fantasy contributors.
But will it last for Bradford and Thielen?
In my 10-team, 14-man roster, PPR league (QB, RBx2, WRx2, TE, FLEX, Offensive Player, DST, K), Thielen was a free agent. I picked him up.
He’s locked in as Minnesota’s No. 2 wide receiver behind Diggs. Rudolph should still be the No. 2 target of Bradford moving forward, leaving Thielen to slide in as No. 3 and in position to overtake Rudolph.
If he’s available in your league, make sure that’s not the case, and he should be on your radar as a start this week.
If you’re considering trading for him, wait. You’d be buying at the worst time.
If you’re considering trading him, go fishing; it’s hard to imagine his value will be higher. Try for a consensus top-15 WR (maybe a Demaryius Thomas or Dez Bryant, neither had a great Week 1).
The matchup vs. Pittsburgh will be telling because the Steelers defense trumps the Saints and Thielen had big games last year (12 catches for 202 yards and two scores at Green Bay Dec. 24 and seven grabs for 127 yards and a score vs. Houston Oct. 9 stand out) but didn’t always replicate.
He didn’t follow up any 100-plus-yard receiving game last year with more than 52 yards.
He also didn’t have the clearly defined role then that he has now nor the chemistry with Bradford.
FantasyPros.com lists him as the No. 31 wide receiver in standard and No. 30 in PPR this week.
Buy or sell: Buy … that he can be a fixture in your starting lineup. Dip your toe in the water. But wait before jumping in. Water is still a bit cool.
Bradford has always had potential.
It’s what made him the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 NFL draft, with the skills he showcased at Oklahoma – a tenure that included the 2008 Heisman trophy.
But injuries and instability have gotten in the way; this is just the second time in his NFL career he’s started a season not coming off an injury and not having a new offensive coordinator.
There’s something to be said for comfort and health … and subpar competition (as noted above).
Subpar the Steelers are not.
As Andrew Krammer notes in his scouting report, they notched seven sacks during a 21-18 win over the Browns Sunday, which will put more pressure on Bradford and the offensive line.
It’s hard to imagine him having the same clean pocket he had vs. the Saints, which should cut into his productivity.
Hard to say.
In that same 10-team league I grabbed Thielen in, I also snagged Bradford (dumping Eli Manning; I am awaiting Andrew Luck’s return).
If you’re in a league that allows for two quarterbacks to start in any capacity, take a flyer on Bradford – assuming he’s a free agent. One quarterback leagues, depth depending, leave him in free agency.
Just like Thielen: Try to trade him if you own him but don’t trade for him.
The offensive line will play a huge role in his 2017 campaign, but he appears to have better receivers and a rookie running back ready to carry the load.
All of which at least puts him in position to succeed; he’s thrown three touchdowns in each of his last three games dating back to 2016 and for 346 yards or more in two of his last three games dating back to last season.
FantasyPros.com lists him as the No. 15 quarterback this week, with one analyst placing him in the top 10.
Buy or sell: Sell as a worthy starter in one-quarterback leagues, buy as a worthy start in Week 2 in two quarterback leagues.
Want to talk more fantasy football? E-mail Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org or heckle him on Twitter @mike_e_nelson.