• Inside the Locker Room
With Jeremy Fowler of the St. Paul Pioneer Press
Who will be the biggest beneficiary of new coordinator Bill Musgrave’s West Coast system?
Adrian Peterson. With a new quarterback, the Vikings will rely on the run perhaps more than ever. Musgrave likely will implement offensive principles from his previous stop in Atlanta, where the Falcons exhausted Michael Turner every week. Expect Peterson to trump his 1,298-yard rushing performance from last season, when he missed a game and a half due to injury and played behind a depleted offensive line.
Minnesota had one of the most productive fantasy defenses in 2009 but slipped in ’10. Do you see a return to form this season?
The days of leading the league in rushing defense are probably over, but the Vikings still have the potential to produce a top-10 defense in 2011. Five defensive pillars will keep this unit relevant — end Jared Allen, tackle Kevin Williams, linebackers E.J. Henderson and Chad Greenway and cornerback Antoine Winfield. The problem is the remaining six spots have been plagued by injuries, age or inconsistency.
How many games will Christian Ponder start in 2011?*
Nine. And that number might have been 16 without a lockout. Head coach Leslie Frazier has said he likes the quarterback model crafted by the Falcons’ Matt Ryan, the Jets’ Mark Sanchez and the Ravens’ Joe Flacco as former rookie starters who are now established. In other words, the Vikings didn’t draft Ponder to sit him. Either a veteran or Joe Webb might start the season because of the experience, but the team expects Ponder to be the future.
*Editor's Note: The team traded for a veteran, Donovan McNabb, last week.
Who will be more productive in 2011: Kyle Rudolph or Viasanthe Shiancoe?
Shiancoe. The veteran tight end is entering a contract year and wasn't happy with his two-touchdown performance in 2010 after 11 scores the year before. Though the Vikings can be expected to utilize two-tight-end sets with Shiancoe and Rudolph, expect Shiancoe to be one of the top bailout options for the new signal-caller. Shiancoe had no problems creating space last season, but he wasn't on the same page with an oft-injured Brett Favre.
• Fantasy Playoff Run — Week 14-16: @DET, NO, @WAS
All three rush defenses were in the bottom half of the league against RBs last year, allowing at least 20.8 points per game to backs. So that has to excite Adrian Peterson owners. A word of caution, though: Two of the three playoff games are on the road, where Peterson’s average dropped by 15.6 yards per game, and he scored only four of his TDs last year away from home.
• Athlon Best Bets
Sleeper: Kyle Rudolph, TE
Deep-Sleeper: Emmanuel Arceneaux, WR
Overvalued: Defense/Special Teams
Top Rookie: Christian Ponder, QB
Bounce-Back: Visanthe Shiancoe, TE; Devin Aromashodu, WR
Top IDP: Jared Allen, DL
• Try to Avoid
Whether it is Donovan McNabb or rookie Christian Ponder, no Viking passer is going to light it up. The offense still runs through No. 28, and the offensive line might have trouble protecting the pocket.
WAIT UNTIL: 19th Rd
• Draft Class Fantasy Impact
The Vikings are in rebuild mode this year. Ponder should go undrafted in most leagues this fall but holds value in keeper formats. Rudolph has a lot of upside and could be one half of a solid duo with Visanthe Shiancoe in the West Coast offense.
More Fantasy Football Cheat Sheets and Rankings:
2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Top 280
2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Top 240 w/ IDPs
2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Quarterbacks
2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Running Backs
2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Wide Receivers
2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Tight Ends
2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Kickers
2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Defense/Special Teams