Kirk Cousins was the Vikings’ splashiest free-agent signing this past offseason, but the addition of DT Sheldon Richardson could give Minnesota its best four-man defensive front since the Purple People Eaters of the 1970s. Richardson and Linval Joseph will be a load for guards and centers to handle inside, and DEs Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter combined for 20 sacks last season. The defensive backfield is also superb, led by CB Xavier Rhodes and FS Harrison Smith. OLB Anthony Barr headlines a solid LB corps. The Vikings gave up a league-low 13 TD passes in 2017 and allowed only 6.0 yards per pass attempt. Their opponent’s passer rating of 73.0 was the third-lowest mark in the league. Minnesota ranked second against the run, yielding 83.6 rushing yards a game and 3.7 yards per carry.
As good as Minnesota’s defense was last season, it only ranked 14th in fantasy scoring. The Vikings will have to face Aaron Rodgers and the Packers twice, and they’ll play road games against the Patriots, Eagles and Rams. Cordarrelle Patterson is no longer around to put juice in the return game; he had five kick-return touchdowns in his five seasons with the Vikings.
A strong defense got even stronger with the arrival of Richardson. Because the Vikings will play a first-place schedule, their defense won’t be a first-tier option every week, but the overall results figure to be very good.