It's that time Vikings fans. Fantasy Football draft season is here, and we'll take a look at where your favorite team's players should be going on draft day in various Fantasy Football formats.
For fans of Fantasy Football, this is obviously the best time of the year. Nothing beats getting together with your buddies, or doing an online draft, putting your studying and hard work to the test. Of course, it is always nice to get players from your favorite team for an extra-special rooting interest during the season.
Minnesota is getting plenty of love in the leagues I have drafted in, as well as in comprehensive rankings from all over the internet. We all know Adrian Peterson is an absolute Fantasy stud, and has been for years, but he isn't the only Viking garnering plenty of attention.
There is very little debate on the value of Peterson. He is better than most players on the board in terms of Fantasy appeal, and only Pittsburgh Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell and Kansas City Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles should be mentioned in the same breath when discussing the No. 1 overall selection in standard Fantasy formats. Peterson is first among all RBs in Average Draft Position on NFL.com (2.24 overall) and a strong case can be made that he should go with the No. 1 selection overall. Viking fans know very well that Peterson is as safe as it gets for excellent Fantasy production.
There is also a lot of excitement when discussing Peterson in formats which reward points per reception (PPR), and Peterson should thrive in his first full season under offensive coordinator Norv Turner. The veteran coach transformed Emmitt Smith into a superstar in Dallas, and he rode LaDainian Tomlinson to major production in San Diego. Peterson had a career-best 43 receptions in 2009, and 40 grabs in 2012. He could factor in much more in the passing game than ever before in 2015 under Turner. Overall, Peterson has posted five touchdown receptions in his career. It's safe to say he will add to those numbers, and a handful of touchdown receptions with 45-50 catches would not be shocking. That makes him extra attractive in PPR formats. Lastly, Peterson has lost a total of just 31 fumbles on 2,262 total touches. And over his past five seasons, he has just 11 fumbles lost in 1,264 total touches, so despite his immense workload he won't hurt you in leagues which penalize turnovers.
The return of Peterson this season means fewer touches for Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata this season. However, do not forget about these backs completely on draft day. McKinnon has been selected in the neighborhood of Rounds 12 through 15 in most standard leagues, providing Peterson owners with a fantastic handcuff, and others with great depth. McKinnon averaged 4.8 yards per carry last season, which was slightly better than NFL rushing leader DeMarco Murray, Bell and Seattle Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch (4.7 yards per carry each), and nearly a yard better than Chicago Bears RB Matt Forte. So McKinnon has plenty of upside.
Asiata tied for third in the NFL with nine rushing touchdowns while also piling up 570 rushing yards. Asiata has an ADP ranking around No. 250. Those in 16-team formats will certainly want to stash Asiata away in the event he sees more responsibilities at some point.
For Minnesota, it isn't just about the rushing game, and QB Teddy Bridgewater leads what is expected to be one of the most exciting Vikings passing games in years. Bridgewater made tremendous strides in the second half of his rookie season. He threw for two touchdowns in four of his final six games while passing for at least 209 yards in five of those six outings. In all, Bridgewater posted three 300-yard games with 14 touchdowns to 12 interceptions. The latter is a ratio that is expected to continue to improve, especially when the return of Peterson to keep defenses more honest, and the addition of WR Mike Wallace to the receiving corps.
IBridgewater improved dramatically in touchdowns to interceptions ratio over his final nine games, tossing 13 touchdowns to just seven interceptions. If you extrapolate those numbers over a full season, with a 2:1 touchdowns to interceptions ratio, Bridgewater's statistics would be similar to those posted by Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan last season. Bridgewater is improving, and he a ton of upside, and he is finding homes on draft day around the end of Round 10 in most standard leagues. His NFL.com ADP is 120.58, which makes him a superb value on that site. He looks to be one of the top QB2s in Fantasy Football, and it would not be a stretch to see him emerge as a must-start Fantasy option by season's end if his maturation continues at these breakneck speeds.
As mentioned, Wallace was one of the key additions on the offensive side of the ball this offseason. Wallace has plenty of speed to burn, and gives the Vikings receiving corps an immediate upgrade. His ADP is near the end of Round 7 in most standard 12-team leagues, but it wouldn't be much of a reach to grab him in Round 6 if you're looking to gather receivers with upside. The Vikings plan to spread things out with Peterson back in the fold, and Wallace will face a lot of one-on-one coverage, and few can match his world-class speed. He could see a lot of work in the slot, overmatching defenders for plenty of yards after catch (YAC). Wallace has real Fantasy value appeal in the middle rounds.
Wallace is being selected in the same neighborhood as last year's team-leading receiver Charles Johnson. He is projected to be off the board by the end of Round 8 in most standard formats, and he has a little more value in PPR leagues. He is a big target at 6-foor-2, and he posted 15.3 yards per reception last season with a pair of scores. In fact, his 15.3 yards per grab is identical to Atlanta Falcons WR Julio Jones, and better than that of Pittsburgh Steelers WR Antonio Brown (13.2 yards) and Denver Broncos WR Demaryius Thomas (14.6 yards), arguably three of the most popular Fantasy receivers. While the addition of Wallace could potentially take away some targets from Johnson, the return of an even stronger running game will mean better single-coverage matchups for Johnson down the field. He has the potential to record his first 1,000-yard season with a handful of touchdown receptions. That makes him an ideal pick for where he is currently being selected.
Don't forget about Cordarrelle Patterson and Jarius Wright, either, especially in deeper Fantasy formats. While they might have to bide their time with Wallace and Johnson up top, these two players will be instrumental in the success of the passing game. Patterson and Wright could see plenty of work in three- and four-receiver sets. For Fantasy purposes, for now, they are players to target in the final rounds in leagues of 14 or more teams.
Another interesting player to watch is rookie Stefon Diggs. He has really shown well in the preseason, and is a Fantasy option worth considering in leagues which reward individual return yardage on kickoffs and/or punts. His addition will also strengthen the value of the Minnesota Vikings DST. In individual return yardage formats he is worth a late-round flier due to his playmaking ability.
TE Kyle Rudolph has the potential to be another huge option in Bridgewater's arsenal. The 6-foot-6 tight end has averaged about 10 yards per reception in his first four years in the league, showing tremendous consistency. He has at least two touchdowns in each of his years, including nine scores in 2012. Rudolph is being targeted by Fantasy owners in Rounds 9 through 11 as one of the top TE2s in the game. If he stays healthy and continues to build a rapport with Bridgewater, the sky is the limit for the 25-year-old. He is a huge target with soft hands and he has never lost a fumble in 133 touches. Rudolph's current NFL.com ADP is 147.94, which makes him an absolute steal on that site.
On the defensive side of things, Minnesota has stars at every position, especially for those in formats which use individual defensive players (IDPs). DT Sharrif Floyd, DE Everson Griffen, LBs Anthony Barr, Audie Cole, Eric Kendricks and Chad Greenway, as well as FS Harrison Smith will have a lot to say about making the Vikings a potential value pick as a defense. The Vikings DST is a huge sleeper in standard formats, and the addition of Diggs in the return game could garner more scores as well. Even if you do not plan on drafting the Vikings, they will be a very popular choice to stream when the matchup is favorable and your primary option has a bye or difficult matchup. I love the makeup of this defense and it can finish as a Top 10 Fantasy unit. Mark it down.
For those using IDPs, this roster is littered with studs to start on a weekly basis. Griffen is considered a Top 5 IDP option at the defensive line position, while Smith projects as a Top 3 defensive back. Those two will likely be selected among the first 20 IDPs on draft day. Kendricks, Barr and Greenway, along with Cole, make up one of the better linebacking units in the NFL and are useful as streaming options during the season when the matchup is favorable, especially against run-heavy teams.
Blair Walsh is considered a Top 10 kicker due to his strong leg. In leagues which reward 40- and 50-plus field goals with more points, Walsh will be especially valuable.. There is very little not to like about Walsh, who converted a 55-yard field goal last season. The return of Peterson and addition of Wallace means the offense will be more prolific, too, leading to more scoring opportunities for Walsh. Look for a return to the 100-point level in 2015.
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