Thielen’s value to the Vikings’ roster
There have been a bunch of instances in the NFL’s history where an MVP has been named based solely on a player’s statistical output despite that player’s team not performing equally as well during the season (see Adrian Peterson in 2012, Barry Sanders in 1997).
But in the case for Thielen, the receiver has had a lot to do with Minnesota getting off to an 8-2 start this year. And without him, Vikings quarterback Case Keenum might not be succeeding as much as he has been this season.
When Stefon Diggs missed a couple of games earlier in the year, Thielen was the guy Keenum turned to when he needed a play to be made. Since then, Keenum has been trying to get Thielen the ball as much as possible.
From Week 1 to Week 5 with he and Diggs both on the field, Thielen was averaging eight targets per game. Since Week 6 when Diggs sat out with a groin injury (and also in Week 7), Thielen has seen his targets increase to 11.2 per matchup.
During that same time span, Minnesota also saw their scoring average increase from 19.8 points per game during the first five weeks to 28.4 points per game in their last five matchups.
Thielen was given more opportunities when Diggs was out and now even with Diggs back on the field, Keenum is still attempting to get the ball in Thielen’s hands as much as he can.
The Vikings getting the ball to Thielen more has been a big part of the team winning their last six games and suffering only two losses all season long. His performance so far and the impact it has made on his team is exactly why Thielen should be among the current candidates for the 2017 NFL MVP award.