Once a major player on the Fantasy Football scene, the Minnesota Vikings have fallen on tough times over the past two seasons. After scoring 53 offensive touchdowns during NFL 2009, the Vikings have managed just 30 and 38 scores during the past two seasons. A lack of consistency at the QB position has been the main reason for the drop off as Minnesota had 34 TD passes back in '09 and just 34 total combined scores through the air over the past two years. Let's head to the Land of Lakes to check in on the rebuilding process in Minnesota.
Minnesota Vikings Quarterback Fantasy Options
Having three different quarterbacks, getting a total of 27 appearances in a single season, is never a good thing in the NFL or in Fantasy Football. That was the case last season as the Vikings trotted out Donavan McNabb (6 appearances), Christian Ponder (11) and Joe Webb (10) at various points during the season. That not so terrific trio combined for a 20 to 17 passing TD to INT ratio. McNabb is a free agent and will be appearing on a big screen, in a suit as a commentator, in the very near future.
Rookie Christian Ponder stepped in when McNabb was benched during a Week Six 39-10 beat down by the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. With a very depleted offensive line in front of him, Ponder looked like a rookie as he managed a 13-13 TD-INT ratio during the eleven games he played in. As is the case with most NFL teams, the Wildcat Offense is heading for extinction in Minnesota. QB Joe Webb is being groomed as the backup quarterback for the Vikings.
Vikings QB Analysis: Sage Rosenfels who missed the entire 2011 season with a rare blood illness, signed a two year deal back in March is also in the mix here. The addition of OT Matt Kalil (4th OA 2012 NFL Draft) will help protect Ponder's blindside but - he will still be throwing to a suspect receiving core. Ponder will be the starter when the Vikings host the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week One but he shouldn't be your starting Fantasy QB. If he's around late and the bye week match-up is solid, feel free to scoop him up; he will post some decent numbers at various points during the 2012 NFL season.
Minnesota Vikings Running Back Fantasy Options
After four straight seasons of flat out balling, Vikings all-world RB Adrian Peterson proved human after he suffered through an injury plagued 2011 NFL season. Patient fantasy owners, who waited out Peterson's ankle injury during weeks 11 through 14, had insult added to injury when "All Day" posted 60 yards on 10 carries during the Week 15 fantasy playoffs. It all came to a screeching halt when AP blew out his ACL, his MCL, and damaged his meniscus, in Week 16 action versus the Washington Redskins.
While Peterson dealt with his ankle injury, sophomore RB Toby Gerhart stepped in and did an admirable job behind what was one of the most porous offensive lines in the league. Gerhart scored just one TD in his limited starts, but he did post 4.9 yards per carry on 109 attempts that gained 531 yards. Lex Hilliard comes over from the Dolphins on a one-year contract. Lightly used in three seasons in Miami, Hilliard is a versatile back who will compete with scatback Jordan Todman for touches in 2012.
Vikings RB Analysis: When it comes to injured players returning to training camp in 2012, no one's progress will be more scrutinized than Peterson's. AP claims he will be good to go in Week One. If anyone can come back from such a devastating injury so quickly, it's the hugely athletic Peterson. Personally, I won't be touching the Vikings backfield under any circumstance as I will leave that headache to one of my fellow owners – you should as well.
Minnesota Vikings Wide Receiver Fantasy Options
Despite having the luxury of defenses needing to respect the run with AP barreling out of the backfield, the wide receiver core in Minnesota has not been able to take advantage of it in recent years. That said, Vikings WR Percy Harvin had a break out season of sorts as he posted 1,309 total yards and eight touchdowns during the 2011 campaign. Harvin disappearing in Week 15 (0.7 FP) was not what fantasy owners needed in the playoffs though.
With no one stepping up to take some pressure off Harvin in 2011, the Vikings went out and signed troubled Cincinnati Bengals WR Jerome Simpson . Despite possessing the tools to be an every day starting receiver, Simpson as has been wildly inconsistent throughout his first four years in the NFL. He is also a fan of the green as he was busted for having two pounds of marijuana shipped to his home back in September 2011. As a result, he will sit out the first four games of the 2012 NFL season for violating the league's substance abuse policy.
WR Michael Jenkins will most likely start while Simpson sits out his four games; four-year receiver Devin Aromashodu is also in the Minnesota wide receiver mix. Jaruius Wright, the Vikings' No. 118 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, is expected to see immediate action as a slot receiver – a role often filled by Harvin. Whether Wright, at just 5' 9" and 182 pounds, can handle the pounding at the NFL level is a justified concern.
Vikings WR Analysis: Despite the fact that he is coming off arthroscopic shoulder surgery, I do expect another decent year out of Harvin. Where I would select him on Draft Day 2012 is another story, as no one needs a healthy Adrian Peterson more than Harvin does. After that, there's not very much to get excited about in the Vikings receiving corps.
Minnesota Vikings Tight End Fantasy Options
Change is in the air at the tight end position in Minnesota as seven-year veteran Visanthe Shiancoe is a free agent and expected to land in Seattle. while 13 year TE blocking vet Jim Kleinsasser has retired. The Vikings went out and signed TE John Carlson to a monster five-year $25M deal, despite the fact that he missed the entire 2011 season due to a shoulder injury. This is one of the more head scratching moves that was made during the NFL 2012 off-season.
The Vikings are yet another team that's moving to a two-tight end system and that will bring sophomore Kyle Rudolph into the picture. Rudolph is a gifted athlete who weighs in at 258 pounds and stands 6' 6" tall, but the addition of Carlson is not good news for the former Notre Dame star. Expect Rudolph and Carlson to be the 1 and 1A tight ends for the Vikings. In the end they will both be a drain on the other's overall production this season.
Vikings TE Analysis: We simply don't trust that Carlson can top the 574 yards and seven touchdowns that he produced back in 2009 in this two TE setup. Dynasty owners who were counting on Rudolph to take the lead role at the TE position with the Vikings will also be disappointed by the tight end by committee system being launched in Minnesota. This is a TE situation that I will be steering clear of on Draft Day.
Minnesota Vikings Fantasy Bottom Line:
There are far more questions than answers under the Metrodome in Minnesota. While I liked the poise that Ponder showed as a rookie (and feel that he has the tools to be an effective NFL starter), he is not high on my QB wish list. Adrian Peterson will get drafted higher than he should and several questions still remain when it comes to the Vikings offensive line. Harvin will make a decent high end WR2, but there isn't much more to pillage in the Land of Lakes after that.