Pro Football Focus released its list of the top 101 players from the 2015 season based on the website's grading system.
A quartet of Vikings — three defensive players and an offensive lineman — were recognized for their strong play.
Linebacker Anthony Barr was listed at No. 20, while safety Harrison Smith was ranked 22nd. Center Joe Berger came in at No. 40, and defensive tackle Linval Joseph cracked the top half of the list at No. 48.
The website said Barr, who was unranked in last year's list, had his best game of the season against Denver in Week 4.
An edge rusher in college, Anthony Barr has developed into one of the league's more impressive young off-the-ball linebackers. He graded well as a pass-rusher in 2015, but it wasn't as a situational edge rusher for Minnesota, rather just on the blitz from conventional linebacker alignment. He also graded well against the run and, most impressively for a pass-rushing convert, in coverage. Barr closes on plays in front of him very quickly, can hit landmarks, and gets in the way of passes, as he demonstrated by picking off Peyton Manning when facing Denver in Week 4.
Smith, ranked 49th in 2014, climbed up the list by joining Barr in turning in their first Pro Bowl seasons.
The site said Smith "graded highly in every facet of play PFF measures, including discipline and penalties, and is the fulcrum around which the Minnesota secondary swings."
He was the only safety to break into the 90s *and the "blue-chip elite" band of PFF's new grading system, with a mark of 92.8 for the season.*
Berger, also unranked last year after playing primarily as a backup in 2014, started every game at center in place of John Sullivan in 2015.
Joe Berger was one of the stories of the 2015 season — or, at least, would have been, if you could convince the league to care about center play. … Berger ended up starting all season and playing well enough to win the inaugural PFF John Hannah Award, given to the best run-blocker in the league. For a journeyman backup lineman to step in and play at an All-Pro kind of level is truly extraordinary, and should be far more talked about than it has been.
The website noted Joseph had the third-highest overall PFF grade (94.4) among all interior defenders, trailing only Aaron Donald and J.J. Watt.
But for injury, Joseph could have found himself far higher up this list. For a stretch the season, the DT was one of the most dominant forces in the league. Against the Rams in Week 9, he was virtually unblockable, and almost single-handedly destroyed the rushing attack, notching seven stops and three total pressures that day. Joseph even put forth an excellent performance in Minnesota's lone postseason game, returning to cause problems for the Seahawks' rushing offense. This was by far the best season of Joseph's career, and could signal the emergence of a new defensive stud
Peterson ranked as third-best running back by MMQB podcast
The Monday Morning Quarterback podcast recently kicked off a series that will rank the top 15 players at each position.
The podcast started with the "Top 15 Running Backs in football" entering 2016 on Wednesday, and Vikings fans might not be too happy with where Adrian Peterson ended up.
Peterson, the NFL's leading rusher in 2015, was slotted third behind Pittsburgh's Le'Veon Bell and Los Angeles' Todd Gurley.
The show was hosted by Gary Gramling and Andy Benoit.
Gramling ranked Peterson first, and Benoit had him second, but the Vikings running back dropped to third overall because the show's researcher had Peterson ranked 10th.
First-place votes earned 15 points while second-place votes earned 14 points and so on. Peterson finished with 35 total points.
The hosts had plenty of praise for Peterson, as Benoit said teams consistently have to alter their defensive schemes to plan for him.
Gramling noted Peterson's power and speed as being among the best in the league.
"Everyone is ready for him, everyone knows he's coming," Gramling said. "You figure if there's one guy in the NFL who you can give him the ball on the goal line with no teammates on the field, who's going to get the furthest down the field?
"It's going to be Adrian Peterson."