FA Expectancy – Kirk Cousins

Updated: June 8th 2018

Our Free Agent (FA) Expectancy series is back! Throughout the offseason, I will be preparing a collection of articles that will focus on free agents and trade candidates. The articles will discuss the player in question, and what the move does to their value, as well as what their landing spot means for their new and old teams.

Kirk Cousins – QB – Minnesota Vikings

It is still shocking almost three months later that Washington refused to try and win back Kirk Cousins and instead traded for an older and some would call inferior quarterback in Alex Smith. This allowed Cousins to sign freely with the Minnesota Vikings after being courted by several other quarterback-needy teams. The 2017 Vikings were a team that despite the impressive play of Case Keenum, people were suggesting they were a QB away from being a Super Bowl favorite. Because of this, the Vikings were willing to pull out all the stops to acquire Cousins’ services. His fully guaranteed 3-year contract is an important feature for RSO owners to consider in their auctions and suggests that he will be one of the top targets in Superflex leagues. So is Kirk Cousins being overvalued or does his resume warrant the rise that he has experienced this offseason?

Since becoming the full-time starter for Washington in 2015, Kirk Cousins has finished as QB8, QB5, and QB6 while averaging 290 standard QB-scoring fantasy points. He also averaged 567 pass attempts over the past three seasons. Meanwhile, Minnesota has averaged 523 pass attempts over the same time and has had QB finishes of QB23, QB23, and QB14 respectively. This should not be a surprise since drafting Adrian Peterson in 2008 the Vikings have been one of the most run-oriented teams. To be fair their QB room has been lacking in talent save for a quick drive-by of Brett Favre in his 40’s. Either way, they were second in the league last season with over 500 rushing attempts which makes it likely that bringing in Cousins should be a sign of the Vikings looking to improve their passing abilities rather than change their offense to a pass-heavy scheme.

Cousins is not Sam Bradford or Case Keenum. His gunslinger mentality means that he is unlikely to be having 70 percent completion seasons. However, for most leagues, all we care about in fantasy is touchdowns and yards. With Cousins’ aggressiveness, along with the receiving talent around him, there is a greater likelihood of big plays in Minnesota looking ahead to 2018.

Effecting the Offense

The Vikings offense uses only a handful of receiving options in the passing game which makes knowing who to target in fantasy much easier. Between Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs, Kyle Rudolph, and Jerick McKinnon these four receivers earned over 73 percent of the targets and 88 percent of touchdowns in 2017. Expecting things to stay the status quo these four receivers (swapping Dalvin Cook for McKinnon) should yield a similar collective target share in 2018. It will also be likely that Thielen will remain the target leader as Cousins’ previous slot receiver, Jamison Crowder, was his highest targeted option in Washington last season. Therefore, while Diggs receives a lot of the credit for being the name brand choice of Viking WRs if you can acquire Thielen for a reasonable fee he may once again still be an undervalued WR in fantasy.

The other Viking that should be a must acquire is Dalvin Cook. As previously mentioned Jerick McKinnon had almost 70 targets last season but split carries with Latavius Murray after Cook was injured. Cook averaged 4 targets per game while also averaging 18.5 carries which shows that the coaching staff was ready to roll with him right away as their main backfield option. With McKinnon gone the Vikings do not have a consistent receiving back outside of Cook which should only increase his role in the passing game moving forward. Cook’s recovery throughout the offseason will be one to monitor but if he is healthy he has the potential to be a top 5 running back in PPR this season.

Changes in the Capital

It is crazy to realize that Washington is only two years removed from having multiple 1,000-yard receivers (Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson) and a quarterback who almost threw for 5,000 yards. Now, none of these three players are on the team. I guess that’s the ever-changing landscape of the NFL. As previously mentioned Washington did not do any favors in trying to retain Kirk Cousins’ services and as a final one-finger salute they traded for Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith before Cousins was even officially off the roster. I have nothing against Alex Smith and think that he has been one of the more underrated quarterbacks since being considered a bust after his early years in San Francisco. However, Washington is acquiring a 34-year-old quarterback who is coming off his one elite statistical season and had a tremendous group of players to support him. In D.C. Smith doesn’t have the same level of talent around him as he did in KC. Jordan Reed is probably his best option and he is closer to being forced into retirement with each snap he plays due to his extensive list of injuries.  All in all, Smith will have his work cut out for him to make people believe that he was the reason for his own stats last season.

The team did acquire rookie running back Derrius Guice in the second round who projects to be an early down runner which along with sophomore runner Samaje Perine will give Smith a strong running game behind him. Chris Thompson, who is returning from his own season-ending injury will also help to alleviate pressure by being a safety blanket satellite back. It is unlikely that Smith will have over 4,000 yards again this season but because of his play style, there should be few turnovers to negatively affect the offense. So while good for winning games it doesn’t translate to much fantasy value. Most of Washington’s passing options should be valued as at best bye week fillers until we see if one player can become a focal point of the offense.


Make sure to continue to read more Free Agency Expectancy articles throughout the offseason to be prepared for your summer Auctions. Have a player that you want me to evaluate? Leave me a message on Twitter @NickAndrews_RSO.

More Analysis by Nick Andrews