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New Face in Minnesota Could Pay Instant Fantasy Dividends

View images of new Vikings RB Ben Tate from his days in Houston and Cleveland.

The Minnesota Vikings have a new running back, and he could pay instant dividends with both Jerick McKinnon (back) and Matt Asiata (concussion) banged up.

The Vikings claimed Ben Tate off waivers from the Cleveland Browns, and it is a great addition for the team if he lives up to his immense potential. He has shown glimpses of brilliance in the past, particularly in his first stop in the NFL with the Houston Texans. Tate rushed for 942 yards and 5.4 yards per carry in 2011 in his rookie year despite starting only two games. He had four 100-yard rushing games in that season, and everyone knows he can succeed in this league. When he is healthy he is a bona fide No. 1 tailback in the NFL.

Vikings fans and Fantasy owners should be excited about this move. He has carried the ball 106 times this season, and he has not fumbled once. And he has already tied a career best with four rushing touchdowns. His first game, assuming he is active, will be against the Green Bay Packers in Week 12. The Packers have allowed 4.5 yards per rush, and they rank 29th in the NFL in run defense. Green Bay is allowed 139.2 yards per game on the ground, and they have allowed nine rushing touchdowns. Tate is worth adding as a flex option in Fantasy leagues of 12 or more teams, and he could run for 45-55 yards and perhaps even a score in his debut.

This will be a good matchup to utilize Jerick McKinnon in. Minnesota will want to control time of possession as much as possible, and McKinnon can play a big part in such a team goal. He should get strong Fantasy flex consideration for Week 12.

The running game will continue to help Teddy Bridgewater improve. Last week in Chicago he threw a touchdown for the fourth consecutive game, finishing with a completion percentage of 64.3, which was a career best. Bridgewater's yardage total might have been down, but he lost his top two receivers to injury. Greg Jennings left last week's game in Chicago with a rib injury, and Jarius Wright suffered a hamstring injury to force him to the sidelines. Bridgewater should certainly be started in two-QB leagues this week.

Bridgewater could have panicked, especially as a rookie, but instead he jelled nicely with Charles Johnson, who showed off tremendous speed and athleticism in his first meaningful role with the team. Johnson entered Week 11 with six receptions, and he doubled his season total with six grabs for 87 yards against the Bears. His 14.5 yards per reception were the best of his career, he may get Minnesota fans excited about his promise. The second-year player from Grand Valley State was clocked at 4.38 and 4.35 in the 40-yard dash at his pro day in the spring of 2013, and he also recorded a 39-1/2 vertical leap and 11-foot-1 broad jump. Johnson could be a deep sleeper for Fantasy owners looking for receiver assistance.

The tight end spot also has plenty of talent, as Kyle Rudolph made his return after two months off due to hernia surgery. While he did not have any receptions, Rudolph is a player Fantasy owners need to keep tabs on. He is a Top 10 Fantasy tight end when he is 100 percent healthy, and having him on the field will give Bridgewater another reliable pair of hands. Chase Ford has also proven to be a very valuable option, and both could see considerable time if the wideouts are a bit shorthanded. Consider both as possible bye week replacements for Week 12.

As far as the defense is concerned, Chad Greenway was outstanding with nine solo tackles and two assists while also recording a quarterback hurry. In four games since returning from a hand injury, Greenway has at least eight combined tackles in each game. Greenway is another stud Fantasy option for those who participate in leagues which use individual defensive players (IDPs).  Harrison Smith came up with three solo stops last week in Chicago, and he came up with an interception which he returned 52 yards in another outstanding effort for Smith. He remains a must-start in all IDP leagues, and is a lock for four to six tackles with an occasional pass defensed and turnover. Everson Griffen saw his five-game sack streak end in Chicago, but he still had a great game with two tackles and a pass defensed. He is a disruptive force, and he has emerged as a Top 10 option at his position in IDP leagues.

Blair Walsh opened the scoring in Chicago with a 50-yard field goal, and he added another successful make from 26 yards in the fourth quarter. He has two or more field goals in three of his past four games, and is a solid Fantasy option due to his strong leg. Of course, around this time of the year weather is always a factor, as Minnesotans know all too well. So be sure to monitor the weather report closely before committing to the Vikings kicker for Fantasy purposes. The current forecast actually calls for very light rain Sunday, but not much wind and warmer temperatures.

In other games, Fantasy owners of Dallas Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray have to be looking forward to Sunday night's matchup. The New York Giants rank 32nd in the NFL allowing 145 yards per game with 13 touchdowns, most in the league. In the first game against Big Blue, Murray rolled for 128 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries, the seventh of his eight 100-yard games to open the season. Fellow NFC East rusher LeSean McCoy also faces a favorable matchup against the Tennessee Titans rush defense, and he will post triple digits in yardage with at least one score to make his Fantasy owners smile.

Jay Cutler and the Bears should put up healthy passing yardage against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 'Lovie Bowl', as the former Bears coach comes home to Chicago with his new team. The Bucs allow 266.1 yards per game with 20 pass touchdowns allowed, third-most in the NFC. Not only will Cutler shine for Fantasy owners, but Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall will also flirt with triple digits in yardage. The two also visited the end zone last week, and that should happen again in Week 12. Seattle's Doug Baldwin is a solid sleeper against an Arizona Cardinals pass defense yielding 263.2 yards per game.

In the tight end department, Austin Seferian -Jenkins has found the end zone twice in the past four games, and he faces a favorable matchup against Chicago. Fantasy owners looking for a bye-week replacement should trust ASJ, who should be good for 40 yards and a score. Indianapolis Colts TE Coby Fleener has also emerged as a Top 5 Fantasy option at his position lately. He has 11 receptions for 221 yards and a score over his past two games, including a career-high 144 yards last weekend against New England. Facing Jacksonville at home, Fleener's hot streak will continue with at least 75 yards and a visit to the end zone.

Daniel E. Dobish of******is a 15-year veteran of the Fantasy industry and has won four Fantasy Sports Writer's Association awards. For more in-depth Fantasy Football analysis from the RotoExperts team, ***click here***. Dan and the RotoExperts team will also answer your Fantasy Football questions ****right here***.


Vikings legend and NFL Hall of Fame defensive end Chris Doleman is now a Fantasy spokesman and analyst at the Fantasy Sports Network (**)*). Chris will regularly stop by with his latest tips to help you sack the opposition in your leagues. *

"Ben Tate is a downhill runner who is quick and his number may be called a lot. He may be used for short yardage situations and his number may be called a lot to work as a pass-catcher out of the backfield. He'll be a piece in a mix that includes Jerick McKinnon as the burner and Matt Asiata as the goal line guy. But if he gets hot they will keep feeding him."

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