A fantasy football perspective on the team
What can the Minnesota Vikings do for you this fantasy season? Check out Athlon Sports' team report as we break down the rookies, veteran players to watch and avoid, fantasy playoff schedule and more to help you get ready for the 2012 season.
Inside the Locker Room
with Jeremy Fowler, St. Paul Pioneer Press
Will Adrian Peterson return to full strength for the start of the season and therefore justify using a first-round draft pick to land him?
Petersonâs fantasy risk could keep owners nervous up until the days before the Vikingsâ Week 1 opener. Asking Peterson to carry the ball 20 times a game less than nine months removed from a torn ACL would be ambitious. But donât forget â Peterson is an otherworldly athlete, heâs drawn a line in the sand that he doesnât plan to miss time and his rehab has gone smoothly by all accounts. If he doesnât play Week 1, he likely wonât be out long.
How many touches can we expect from Toby Gerhart in 2012?
Even if Peterson returns to full health by Week 1, expect Gerhart to get eight-to-12 touches per game as the Vikings look to protect Petersonâs long-term promise. Gerhart seems to thrive off carries in bulk. If Peterson doesnât make it back by the seasonâs start, Gerhart could have solid fantasy value.
Can Kyle Rudolph stay healthy and become a weekly fantasy starter at tight end?
Rudolph caught three touchdown passes in his last six games as a rookie and can become one of the most potent red-zone targets in the NFC North. Float it to the 6'6" Rudolph on a lob, and heâll use his size and incredible hands to snatch the ball. Question is, can he consistently beat man coverage? And though the Vikings will run plenty of two-tight-end sets, Rudolph will be battling John Carlson for touches. Still, thereâs little reason Rudolph shouldnât break out.
Will Christian Ponder and the passing game be effective enough to create useful fantasy receivers other than Percy Harvin?
The Vikings have made enough improvements to the offensive line and at receiver to rescue a 28th-ranked passing offense to a more respectable level. They wonât challenge New Orleansâ touchdowns-in-seven-seconds-or-less offense, but Ponder will have more ammunition to work with after the Vikings added a potential elite left tackle (Matt Kalil), a viable deep threat (Jerome Simpson) and a talented receiving tight end to pair with Rudolph (Carlson). Letâs be real, though â the offenseâs hopes hinge on Ponderâs progression. If he improves his decision-making, heâll realize his sizable potential.
Which rookie wideout would you target in Minnesota?
The Vikings resisted the temptation to draft a receiver in the late-first or early-second round because they felt confident in Arkansas tandem Jarius Wright and Greg Childs. Despite a skill set suited for the slot (Percy Harvinâs home), Wright looks poised to have the bigger rookie impact than Childs, who is still trying to find his way after a torn patella tendon slowed him in his final two college years. The Vikings move Harvin around enough to make room for Wright, who will be explosive in space. Childs can be a deep threat eventually, but the Vikings have Simpson and Michael Jenkins to bridge the gap in 2012.
Note: Childs tore the patellar tendon in both knees early in training camp and is out for the season.
Athlon's Best Bets
Sleeper: Toby Gerhart, RB
Deep-Sleeper: Kyle Rudolph, TE
Top Rookie: Blair Walsh, K
Bounce-Back: Christian Ponder, QB
Top IDP: Jared Allen, DE
2012 Draft Class
|1.||Harrison Smith||S||6-2||214||Notre Dame|
|5.||Robert Blanton||S||6-1||200||Notre Dame|
|7.||Audie Cole||LB||6-4||239||NC State|
Fantasy Impact: Tackle Matt Kalil will help protect the blindside of quarterback Christian Ponder and open up rushing lanes for Adrian Peterson. Outside of Percy Harvin, the Vikings lack playmakers at receiver. Jarius Wright and Greg Childs will help stretch the field, but neither is likely to sustain fantasy value in 2012.
Fantasy Playoff Run:âWeeks 14-16 (CHI, at STL, at HOU)
A start against the Bears should be good news for the WRs and TEs as Chicago was 11th-worst and seventh-worst, respectively, against the positions. The Vikes face a Rams team, now coached by Jeff Fisher, that was already top 10 against QBs and TEs. They play a Texans team in fantasy championship week that was top five against fantasy QBs, RBs and TEs last season and top 10 against receivers.
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