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Adam Thielen from UDFA to WR1

Adam Thielen from UDFA to WR1

There were 967 draft-eligible wide receivers in 2013. Five years later, only 12 of them play in the NFL. One of those players comes from a Division II college program, and his name is Adam Thielen. Thielen’s rise from Minnesota State-Mankato to Minnesota Vikings Pro Bowl WR is a remarkable tale.

The reviews Vikings scouts received on Thielen weren’t promising. Mankato coaches considered him fast enough to play against Division II talent but didn’t believe he had the measurables (6-foot-1, 192 pounds) to play at the next level. Because of that information, Vikings scouts decided not to test Thielen during the spring of 2012 and didn’t come to watch him during his senior season.

Thielen finished his four-year collegiate career with 198 receptions for 2,802 yards and 20 touchdowns but was not included in the Blesto or National scouting reports used across the NFL to evaluate college talent. Because of that, he wasn’t on any team’s radar headed into the 2013 draft.

Without an invite to the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, Thielen’s only hope was to participate in a regional combine in Chicago. He did just that and did well enough to advance to a super regional combine in Dallas where every NFL team had scouts on hand.

The Minnesota Vikings pro scout, Ryan Monnens, attended the Super Regional and reported back to GM Rick Spielman that Thielen had a good workout and that the Vikings should start to pay attention to him. Thielen was invited by the Vikings to their three-day rookie minicamp. Thielen was awarded a contract to participate in OTAs and training camp, on the final day of rookie camp.

He spent the 2013 season on the Vikings practice squad and made the jump to the 53-man roster in 2014 mainly in a special teams capacity. Thielen recorded a total of 25 targets, 20 receptions, 281 yards and 1 touchdown combined in 2014 & 2015. He caught his first career touchdown in week 16 of 2014 in a 13-9 victory over the Chicago Bears. He finished both those seasons as WR127 with an average of 31.5 fantasy points in PPR scoring.

The 2016 season was the season in which Adam Thielen began to take the next step. Thru the first 10 weeks of 2016, he had 50 targets, 32 receptions, 518 yards, and 3 touchdowns. In his final 6 games of the season, he was targeted 42 times, catching 32 of them for 449 yards and 2 touchdowns. His season was highlighted by his 15 targets, 12 catch, 202-yard 2 TD performance in a week 15 loss to Green Bay. Adam Thielen had arrived. The unwanted, unknown former Div. 2 WR, was now a viable NFL and fantasy WR. Thielen finished 2016 as WR29 with 195.2 points.

In the 2017 season, Thielen became a fixture in the Vikings offense and he completed the season with 142 targets and 91 receptions. 2017 became his first 1000-yard season (1276). He also finished as a top 12WR for the first time landing at WR8 with 239.8 PPR points.

Thru the first 11 weeks of the 2018 season, Adam Thielen has surpassed his career high in receptions (93), yards (1138), and touchdowns (8). He has over 100 yards receiving in 9 of his 11 games and set an NFL record earlier this season with 8 straight games with 100 or more yards to start the season. His current pace will see him finish the season with 180 targets, 135 receptions, 1655 yards, and 11 touchdowns. That pace translates into 366.5 PPR points. Adam Thielen has arrived and he’s not going anywhere but up.

Currently, Adam Thielen sits as the #1 overall WR with 256.8 points. Not too shabby for a guy that 5 short years ago had to borrow money from his father to attend that Regional tryout in Chicago.

About The Author

Rob Sullivan

Started playing fantasy in a work league in 2007 and have been an active player ever since, engaging in multiple leagues annually, including a league I’ve commissioned since 2012. My passion for fantasy was triggered after entering my first dynasty league in 2016; building a team retained for years to come became an obsession. As an active waiver wire participant, who loves the art of the deal as much as I do, dynasty is the perfect match. Dynasty humbles you, teaches you something each and every season, and I just can’t get enough.