2012 Team Outlook: Minnesota
WR Jerome Simpson, SF - Gamble (high risk)
If your league awards bonus points for arrests then Simpson would be a first round pick. The former Bengal signed a 1-year prove it contract with Minnesota and will be suspended for the first 3 games of the season on a Marijuana arrest. Simpson was a non factor in his first three NFL seasons, but emerged as the starter opposite AJ Green in 2011 finishing with 50 catches for 725 yards and 4 TDs. He's likely to lineup as the starter opposite Percy Harvin once he returns from suspension and his downfield ability makes him worth taking a flier as a WR4/WR5.
UPDATE: Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave singled out Simpson as a standout in OTAs (made multiple circus catches). He's likely to fly under the radar based on the early season suspension, but could pay dividends (especially in deeper PPR leagues).
WR Devin Aromashodu, --- - Deep-league Only
The Vikings resigned the Auburn alum to a 1-year contract, but his first year with Minnesota was less than impressive (just 26 receptions for 468 yards and one TD). He's entering his 5th NFL season, but remains off the fantasy radar despite his adequate size/speed combo. Aromashodu does remain a solid option if you're playing NFL scrabble.
WR Greg Childs, --- - Super Sleeper (high risk/potential)
The Vikings selected their 2nd Arkansas WR when they nabbed Childs with a 4th round pick in April's draft. He has ideal size (6'3, 220), but injury concerns caused a draft day slide. Childs suffered a knee injury in October 2010 and never fully recovered during his senior 2011 season (only 21 catches for 240 yards). He led the Razorbacks in nearly every receiving category as a sophomore in 2009, finishing with 48 catches for 894 yards and seven touchdowns. His junior year was even more impressive as he had 46 catches for 659 yards before tearing the patella tendon in his right knee in the 8th game against Vanderbilt. He proved his health at a March 7 pro day by running a 4.41 forty and posting a vertical jump of 41 1/2 inches. Childs has the potential to see some snaps on the outside as a rookie and has the size to emerge as a red zone threat. Monitor training camp reports as he has big time sleeper potential if he proves to be healthy.
UPDATE: Childs tore up both knees and his season is over before it started. The oft injured WR might never play a snap in the NFL.
WR Percy Harvin, --- - Solid/Safe Pick
The Vikings need to get the ball in the dynamic playmakers hands as much as possible. Despite playing only 58% of offensive snaps, Harvin set career-highs in receptions (87), receiving yards (967), and rushing yards (345) and finished 2nd to Wes Welker in yards after the catch (616). Injury concerns continue as the migraine issues and offseason shoulder surgery are worth monitoring, but Harvin has only missed 3 games over his first three NFL seasons. Harvin is a borderline WR1/ high end WR2 that is well worth taking in rounds 4-5 of most drafts. Harvin very well could be the focal point of the Minnesota offense if AP is forced to miss the early part of the season.
UPDATE: Despite contract extension demands, Percy Harvin fully intends to be on the field when training camps start in late July. He has reported that he will not suit up next season if a long term deal is not worked out. The Vikings front office appears apprehensive to dish out a long term deal until Harvin proves his durability.
WR Michael Jenkins, --- - Low Potential
Jenkins will be 30 years old when the 2012 season starts and he's yet to average more than 50 YPG in any of his first eight NFL seasons. His first season in Minnesota finished with just 38 catches for 466 yards and 3 TDs. Jenkins' inability to separate from defenses and the addition of Jerome Simpson makes him #3 on the depth chart. He does have ideal size (6'4) to excel in the red zone, but has just 23 TDs over his 8 seasons. Rookies Greg Childs and Jarius Wright could easily surpass Jenkins if the Vikings decide to go with upside over experience. It's worth noting that he could have some relevance in the first 3 weeks of the season with Simpson suspended, but his limited upside makes him waiver wire material except in the deepest of PPR leagues.
TE Kyle Rudolph, MIN - Sleeper (undervalued)
Kyle Rudolph could be primed to surprise in his sophomore season with a decent chance at becoming the Vikings' 2nd leading receiver behind Percy Harvin. The 2nd pick of the 2011 draft finished his rookie season with just 26 catches for 249 yards and three touchdowns in limited playing time. Free agent Visanthe Shiancoe won't be back, which means Rudolph will see a significant uptick in playing time as Minnesota's starting TE. He could approach 700-800 yards with 6-8 TDs next season with the potential for more. Dynasty Leaguers would be wise to pounce now as the 22 year old Notre Dame alum could very well add his name to the class of up and coming young TEs that are taking the NFL by storm – think Gronk Lite as each player is a 6'6, 260 pound matchup nightmare for opposing secondaries. Minnesota added fellow golden domer John Carlson (Seattle) on a 5-year free agent contract, but the Vikings figure to use a good amount of 2-TE sets with Rudolph split out wide (more fantasy friendly).