Lunchbreak: CBS Sports Predicts Vikings are ‘Ready to Run’ in 2019

Looking ahead to the 2019 season, CBS Sports’ Ben Gretch expects five NFL teams to pass more than they did last year, while four teams are “ready to run” and implement a more balanced attack.

Gretch included the Vikings, Packers, Steelers, Falcons and Jaguars. He wrote the following of Minnesota:

I’m projecting Minnesota for the highest 2019 rush percentage among this quartet, essentially an extension of a trend we saw after Kevin Stefanski took over coordinator duties on an interim basis in the wake of John DeFilippo’s firing. Everything we’ve heard out of Minnesota since then — including the removal of Stefanski’s interim tag — suggests the Vikings would love to run more. Better game situations than their -2.01 average scoring margin in 2018 should allow that. And with Latavius Murray gone, Dalvin Cook could be in for a huge workload, if he can just stay healthy.

Gretch believes Green Bay will run more under new leadership but still rely heavily on quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who is entering his 15th NFL season and 12th as the Packers starter.

The Packers finished with the fewest rush attempts in the league, and new [Head Coach] Matt LaFleur comes over from a run-heavy offense in Tennessee. Of course, LaFleur was working with an injured Marcus Mariota, not Aaron Rodgers. 

I still have the Packers more pass-heavy than league average, but not by much. Their Vegas win total of 9 suggests far more opportunity to manage games than they had in their 6-win 2018 season.

ESPN: Alexander Mattison should be ‘on radar’ for fantasy football rosters

The 2019 NFL Draft is in the rearview mirror, but fantasy football fans will start to have drafts of their own later this summer, during which they’ll vie for players expected to put up big numbers throughout the season.

ESPN’s Mike Clay recently took a look at each team’s offseason moves and pegged one addition that fantasy football fans can keep an eye on. For the Vikings, he highlighted former Boise State running back Alexander Mattison. He projected Mattison to have 66 carries for 264 yards and two touchdowns in addition to eight catches for 63 yards. Clay wrote:

If you’re in the business of stashing high-upside handcuffs, Mattison should be on your radar in the late stages of your draft. The third-round pick is set to replace Latavius Murrary as Dalvin Cook’s primary backup. Cook is the unquestioned starter and workhorse, but the third-year back has played only 15 games in his first two seasons.

Clay called Mattison a “big, between-the-tackles hammer with solid receiving and blocking chops.”

Hutchinson among 100 best single-game grades of PFF era

Former Vikings Pro Bowler Steve Hutchinson recently returned from Kuwait, where he partnered with Serving Our Troops and served steaks to troops at Camp Arifjan.

And while it’s been several years since Hutchinson transitioned from the football field, his athletic performances haven’t been forgotten.

Analytics site Pro Football Focus recently highlighted Hutchinson in its list of “100 best single-game grades of the PFF era.” Mark Chichister wrote:

While PFF has only been grading NFL games since the start of the 2006 season, we’re proud to have been a small part the sport’s history throughout these last 13 years. Over those seasons, we’ve been treated to incredible, standout performances from some of the best athletes to ever take the field. So, with just 100 days to go until the kickoff to the 100th NFL season, here are the 100 best single-game grades of the PFF era.

Chichister noted: “To qualify for a ranking, a player must have played at least 30 snaps, and in the cases where two or more players earned the same overall grade, we then looked at who earned a higher percentage of positively graded plays.”

Hutchinson was ranked No. 85 on Chichister’s list. He received an overall grade of 95.8 against the Falcons in Week 1 of the Vikings 2007 season. Minnesota defeated Atlanta 24-3.

Widely recognized as one of the best offensive linemen of his era, Vikings legend Steve Hutchinson’s best game of the PFF era came in the opening week of the 2007 campaign. He allowed just one hurry from 24 snaps as a pass-blocker, but he dominated as a run-blocker, earning a 93.7 run-blocking grade for his efforts.

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