2014 Team Outlook: Minnesota Vikings
WR Jarius Wright, MIN - Super Sleeper (high risk/potential)
The 2012 fourth-round pick out of Arkansas is worth watching this offseason as Vikings beat reporter Ben Goessling thinks he could see 40 to 50 catches in Norv Turner's offense as a deep threat. The 5-foot-10, 180-pounder has recorded 48 catches for 744 yards with five touchdowns over his first two seasons (23 games). Wright is not "draftable." He'll likely be the fourth option behind Greg Jennings, Cordarrelle Patterson and Kyle Rudolph on a Minnesota offense ranked 20th in pass attempts last season. He does have some deep sleeper appeal as he could see an uptick in targets over the first month of the season depending on whether Jerome Simpson is suspended.
WR Cordarrelle Patterson, MIN - Solid/Safe Pick
POTENTIAL SUPER STAR: The Vikings traded back into the 1st round of the 2013 draft and selected the Tennessee alum at pick #29. The rookie did more than justify GM Rick Spielman's move as he came on strong in the 2nd half of the season (amassed 375 total yards and six touchdowns over his final five games). The Vikings used CP sparingly in the first half of his rookie season (averaged just 15 snaps per game over first seven contests) but they came to their senses in the second half of the season using the dynamic play maker for an average of 38 snaps per game over the final nine match ups. He finished his rookie season with 45 catches for 469 yards (10.4 YPC) and 12 carries for 158 yards. CP had a total of seven offensive touchdowns (four receiving and three rushing). Patterson earned a Pro Bowl trip as the NFC kick returner (led league with 32.4 yards per kick return and two return touchdowns) and should emerge as the #1 target in the passing game in 2014 placing him on the WR2 radar heading into his sophomore season. Many receivers (such as Vincent Jackson and Josh Gordon) have enjoyed elite production under Norv Turner-led offenses, which should vault Patterson onto many breakout lists for 2014. The Vikings are rumored to be moving Jennings inside more often this season which will allow Patterson to man the outside WR slot where he can fully utilize his game breaking speed (4.42 forty time at the combine). His current ADP has him coming off the board in rounds 3/4 as a solid WR2. The Vikings will remain one of the more run focused offenses in the league but with an expanded role as the go to weapon in the passing game, CP has a very real chance at 70-80 catches, 800-900 yards and 7-10 touchdowns -- especially if the Vikings receive better QB play from Matt Cassel or rookie Teddy Bridgewater.
WR Jerome Simpson, SF - Not Draft Worthy
Simpson could face a four-game suspension stemming from a November 9th DUI. The 28-year-old is coming off a career year in yardage after hauling in 48 catches for 726 yards (45 YPG) and two touchdowns. He has just eight career touchdowns over his six year career and has failed to average more than 55 YPG in any season. The pending legal troubles make him irrelevant in 12-team leagues. He'll likely be the Vikings' WR3 running on the outside in a Norv Turner-offense (which is known for taking shots down field, although the real question is do the Vikings have QB capable of making those throws).
WR Greg Jennings, --- - Bye Week Fill-in
Jennings chose to join the division rival Vikings last offseason, signing a five-year, $47.5 million contract (including $18 million guaranteed). His first season in Minneapolis was mediocre (partly due to struggles under center) as he finished with 68 catches for 804 yards and four touchdowns over 15 games. Jennings will turn 31 this September and missed 11 games over 2011 to 2012 (eight games in 2012) due to knee and groin injuries. From 2008-2010, he averaged 75 catches for 1,223 yards per season and totaled 53 touchdown catches (7.5 per season) -- but those days are long gone (especially in Minnesota's run heavy attack). Despite the injury risk, the Western Michigan alum will have a lot to prove and could be worth a late round flier as an WR4 (especially in Norv Turner's more aggressive passing game). He'll likely man the slot, making him a better target in PPR formats. His current ADP has him being selected around pick No. 155 as the 65th WR off the board.
TE Kyle Rudolph, MIN - Solid/Safe Pick
BOUNCE-BACK CANDIDATE: Fantasy owners would be wise not to sleep on Kyle Rudolph as he should rebound from an injury-plagued season that saw the Notre Dame alum miss eight games due to a broken left foot. Rudolph had nine touchdowns in 2012 and should become a focal point of the passing game under newly-hired offensive coordinator Norv Turner (who worked wonders with Jordan Cameron and Antonio Gates). Rudolph, at just 24 years of age, is a great target in dynasty leagues and his ability to excel in the red zone gives him a chance to flirt with Top 5 production -- decent value at his current 97.27 ADP (TE10). In 2013, Turner utilized "12" personnel (a two tight-end formation) on 37-percent of the offensive snaps in Cleveland – second most in the NFL.
TE Rhett Ellison, MIN - Not Draft Worthy
John Carlson signed with Arizona, which opened the door for little used third-year TE Rhett Ellison to serve as Kyle Rudolph's backup. In two seasons, the USC alum has just 12 catches for 126 yards with one touchdown. Minnesota is in major trouble if Rudolph can't return to form after an injury-plagued 2013.