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Minnesota Vikings: 2014 Fantasy Football Analysis & Team Outlook

If you’ve ever even attempted to play fantasy football, chances are you’re familiar with Adrian Peterson’s reign atop the draft board. Beyond Peterson, the Minnesota Vikings have had trouble establishing more than one relevant fantasy performer over the years.  That should change in the upcoming season due largely in part to new Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner but that’s not to say the new contributors aren’t talented. The Vikings should have a much-improved offense all around, resulting in a few more quality draft picks.


Minnesota Vikings Offseason Changes

Offseason Acquisitions – N/A

No Longer on the Roster – RB Toby Gerhart

Coaching Changes – New Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner


Minnesota Vikings Quarterbacks

Rookies, Rookies, Rookies. I suppose you could sum up everything there is to say about fresh Vikings recruit Teddy Bridgewater in three words: See Johnny Manziel. But that’s not why we’re here. If you read the Cleveland Browns team preview, you’re aware that despite Johnny Manziel’s ability to score you fantasy points with his legs, you shouldn’t get too carried away with expectations until you see him actually perform.

Teddy Bridgewater is a candidate with less name recognition that falls into that category albeit via a more traditional passing role. The upside for Bridgewater isn’t even just his raw talent, it’s the fact that Norv Turner is the new offensive coordinator as well. When Norv Turner was the head coach of the San Diego Chargers, Philip Rivers was pretty much solidified as a top 10 fantasy quarterback up until his unusual 2011 collapse.  Rivers has since turned it back around in Norv’s absence so I understand why there would be some hesitation to believe the Vikings would benefit from that same success. That being said, the Cleveland Browns threw the ball more than anyone else in the league last year with Norv Turner as offensive coordinator. And yes, that includes the almighty Peyton Manning. So basically, Teddy Bridgewater will have plenty of opportunity to prove himself as a rookie but that doesn’t automatically translate into fantasy relevancy.

Bridgewater is certainly worth a dynasty league stash but shouldn’t be viewed as someone even worth a late round lottery ticket in a regular league. He’s still a rookie and he still has to prove his value. By the way, it should be noted that the team still has Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel on the roster so it’s possible Bridgewater isn’t even the week one starter. This is all the more reason not to get excited about Bridgewater’s fantasy hopes.

If not week one, he will almost certainly start at one point or another.  If Ponder or Cassel begin the year under center, you can pretty much scrap them entirely. Why? Well, because they’re Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel, that’s why.


Minnesota Vikings Wide Receivers

rotoballer-fantasy-football-cordarrelle-pattersonSpeaking of rookies, Cordarrelle Patterson was one of the most talked about first-year players heading into the 2013 season. Like with most rookie receivers, it never really panned out for Patterson in terms of fantasy but he did show flashes of play-making ability.  Pure talent is on Patterson’s side so it’s safe to assume that he will begin to get more opportunities to showcase his talents the longer he’s in the league. Patterson actually made some significant rushing plays during the last five games of the season last year, proving that the Vikings are willing to find ways to get him the ball.

Remember that stat about how much the Browns threw under Norv Turner last year? Those passes are going to have to go somewhere and Patterson is the most likely candidate to receive the bulk of the work. Normally, this would be enough to categorize a guy like Cordarrelle Patterson as an automatic sleeper. The problem with Patterson’s sleeper status is that those with a keen eye for fantasy football already have him on their radar.  It’s likely he’ll be a hot commodity by the time your draft comes so you might actually need to reach for him if you want to make sure he’s on your roster.

The other name within the Vikings receiving core is one Greg Jennings. Jennings left a high-powered Packers offense to sign with Minnesota in 2013, resulting in a much-expected decline in productivity. Coupled with the anticipated emergence of Cordarrelle Patterson, it’s tough to put any faith in Jennings bouncing back into fantasy relevance.


Minnesota Vikings Running Backs

fantasy-football-waiver-wire-week-15The consensus top three picks in virtually any draft format this season are easily running backs Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles, and LeSean McCoy. It’s no secret that these three players have established themselves as the most talented at their position and it’s not exactly close at this point either. Since we’re discussing the Vikings, let’s just stick with evaluating Adrian Peterson for now.

Despite Peterson finishing sixth or better in rushing attempts, yards, and touchdowns last year, there’s been some murmuring about a potential decline in his performance due to his age and recent injury history. The easy counter to that is simply who else are you supposed to take in the top three?  Peterson stunned skeptics when he returned from his 2012 ACL tear with a stellar 2013 campaign. And if that’s not enough reassurance for you, consider that Norv Turner offense again. More passing attempts means more touches for all key contributors. That should translate to a reinforcement of Peterson’s value, especially in a point per reception league.Your own personal preference may lean more toward taking McCoy or Charles before Peterson but that’s totally fine. All three guys should live up to the hype. Adrian Peterson has been and will continue to be a fantasy star in the upcoming season.

Perhaps the more interesting matter at hand is the departure of Toby Gerhart. Gerhart had been Peterson’s backup for a solid chunk of his career, consistently regarded as one of the more talented handcuff options in the league. Gerhart has since signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars and although this news means more for them than it does for Minnesota, it does leave open an opportunity for someone else to fill the handcuff role. At the moment, the only intriguing name to fill that void is rookie Jerick McKinnon out of Georgia Southern.  So what you have here is a potential rookie handcuff to one of the top three running backs in the league. I think it’s safe to say he’s not exactly a must-own but could end up being an interesting name if anything were to happen to Peterson. I wouldn’t advocate drafting McKinnon unless you have an extreme fondness for the strategy of handcuffing.


Minnesota Vikings Tight Ends

Minnesota tight end Kyle Rudolph may very well be poised for a breakout season in 2014. Not to beat the whole “Norv Turner likes to throw the ball” thing to death but anytime Turner had a talented tight end at his disposal that player produced tremendously. Both Antonio Gates in San Diego and Jordan Cameron in Cleveland were viable fantasy options at the tight end position when Turner was around.  I’m not suggesting Kyle Rudolph is on the same level of talent as those two players but it’s important to note that it’s a position that will be utilized more efficiently in this new offense. Rudolph tends to round out the top 10 in most tight end rankings and that’s actually kind of perfect. If you wait to draft one, Rudolph is the ideal guy to grab and may even be undervalued. It’s also been reported that Rudolph cut some weight this off-season, which should result in a better on-field performance.


Minnesota Vikings in Summary

Beyond Jerick McKinnon the Vikings went very defense-heavy in the NFL draft so there isn’t much else to report in terms of rookies. The Norv Turner offense should benefit all those involved, particularly Adrian Peterson, Cordarrelle Patterson and Kyle Rudolph. The Vikings don’t exactly sound like the most flashy fantasy football team in the league but they do possess real value at those positions. They should be an interesting team to keep an eye on as the start of the regular season approaches.