After missing out on the Cleveland Browns' head coaching job, Kevin Stefanski will return to Minnesota.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Stefanski is expected to return as the Vikings' full-time offensive coordinator, per a source informed of the situation.
Stefanski took over in Minnesota with three games left in the 2018 season after the Vikings jettisoned OC John DeFilippo. The Vikes offense got back to the ground game in the first two outings of the 36-year-old's play-calling career, compiling 320 rushing yards in back-to-back victories.
The Vikings offense, however, struggled brutally in the must-win season finale, compiling just 164 total yards in a loss to the Bears that dashed Minnesota's playoff plans.
Returning as full-time offensive coordinator, Stefanski will be tasked with unleashing an offense that vastly underperformed expectations in 2018. Despite a star running back in Dalvin Cook, two 1,000-plus-yard receivers in Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, and an $84 million quarterback in Kirk Cousins, the Vikings were an inconsistent mess this season. If the Vikings can't finally figure out their offensive line issues in 2019, it likely won't matter who is calling plays.
After firing DeFilippo, HC Mike Zimmer demanded that Stefanski establish the run game. Under DeFilippo, the Vikings averaged 40.3 pass attempts and just 21.1 rush attempts, a 65.7% pass rate. In three games under Stefanski, Minnesota averaged 27.3 pass attempts and 27.7 rush attempts for a 49.7% pass rate. The team's offensive pace slowed from 61.4 plays per game under DeFilippo to 55.0 plays per game under Stefanski. Kirk Cousins and the passing game suffered in the final three games, as his fantasy PPG dropped from 17.6 PPG to 15.8 PPG. Meanwhile, Dalvin Cook's usage spiked--he averaged 14.9 touches per game under DeFilippo and 18.0 touches per game with Stefanski calling the plays. His PPG (PPR) was 17.7 over the final three games after averaging 12.9 PPG in eight games under DeFilippo. Adam Thielen's averages (21.8 vs. 8.0) took a major hit while Stefon Diggs' production (18.4 vs. 14.5) also dipped. Keep in mind that one of the three games was at home against the Bears, who own the top defense in the league. Still, the Stefanski full-time hire looks to be good for Cook and bad for Cousins, Thielen and Diggs.
MIN QB Kirk Cousins - Week 17 Fantasy Football Outlook
Week 17 vs. Chicago Bears
In the two games since Minnesota has switched offensive coordinators, Kirk Cousins has had two of his three lowest games when it comes to pass attempts. Lower attempts lead to lower fantasy production, making Cousins a tough QB to trust. Making matters worse is the fact he's going against a tough Bears defense, a team he struggled against earlier in the year. Cousins is just outside of QB1 range and he'll be a bust option in a brutal matchup.