One Minnesota Viking in particular holds a special place in my heart. And my fantasy football roster.
The budding superstar has shot out of a cannon this season, and his success has sparked a national movement of praising him as Minnesota’s favorite homegrown hero. He journeyed from Detroit Lakes to Minnesota State, Mankato, then from the practice squad to the Pro Bowl.
Maybe you’ve heard of him?
I’d argue, though, that Adam Thielen’s most important role this season hasn’t been in the slot, or even at U.S. Bank Stadium. No, he’s most valuable when pinned into the WR1 spot on my fantasy football roster.
In my league, I am the infamous Guy Who Drafted Le’Veon Bell, so you can probably guess how my season has gone. But I still have a faint heartbeat and an outside shot at making the playoffs, and it’s largely because my third-round pick was much wiser than my first-round selection.
Thielen has been the best wide receiver in football this year. Eight straight games of 100-plus yards is absurd, whether your last name is Rice or Owens or Thielen. And only one of those guys has done it. His connection with Kirk Cousins makes Thielen a threat on every route -- more than Antonio Brown, Julio Jones or Odell Beckham Jr.
I’ll say it again: Adam Thielen is the best wideout in the world.
He’s no secret anymore, just like his humble beginnings. But who could’ve predicted a kid from Detroit Lakes would one day be terrorizing NFL secondaries? Who’s to say the next Vikings superstar hasn’t been fighting for a varsity spot this fall in Alexandria or Fergus Falls or Perham? And now that we’ve witnessed Thielen’s rise, we’ll surely be able to see the next one coming, right?
But perhaps that’s what’s most impressive: He didn’t commit to Alabama or Ohio State as a ninth-grader, and he wasn’t a first-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft (Cordarrelle Patterson sure was, though). The Minnesota marvel exploded out of Smalltown, Minn. -- and solely to save my fantasy football season. It’s quite selfless of him, really.
Thielen currently ranks first among wideouts in my non-PPR league, and I got him for a steal at 23rd overall. Even to me, it felt like a bit of a reach at the time. But after this historic half season, it feels good to have some bragging rights over the Vikings fans in my league, a league that consists of purple patriotism all over.
No, fantasy football doesn’t truly matter (and maybe not even football, for that matter), but what Thielen has done is special. He’s not only a lock for double-digit fantasy points every week, but he’s simply a treat to actually watch on the gridiron.
For a failing fantasy football owner, it’s nice to know I did at least one thing right. Minnesota is on a bye this Sunday, though, so hopefully I’ll win next week.