A strong finish in 2014, poise under pressure, third-down performance and new weapons are reasons to like Bridgewater's fantasy potential this season
It may be difficult for me to convince anyone that Teddy Bridgewater will be a top-10 fantasy quarterback in 2015. Aside from being a sophomore in the NFL, having minimal changes in his offensive line, I also am a loyal Vikings fan.
That alone may be reason enough to doubt my opinions, and I can understand that. However, I typically use a combination of the good ol’ gut feeling along with data. Yep, I think statistics are cool, and most importantly I enjoy some of the lesser known, or favored statistics in football.
That is where my fan obsession, especially after his rookie campaign, becomes a data-driven reality.
I am sure I won’t convert everyone, but I hope to at least provide four big reasons why Bridgewater can break through in and emerge as a top-10 fantasy quarterback this season.
Note: Statistics courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.
1) Look At His Final Four Games
Bridgewater was a top-10 fantasy quarterback in December. That is right, he has already accomplished the feat. Bridgewater dazzled. With a completion rate of 72 percent, and surpassing 1,092 yards passing in his final four games, Teddy Bridgewater let the league know he has arrived.
2) Bridgewater Was Phenomenal Under Pressure in 2014
Bridgewater was under pressure frequently in his rookie season, to the tune of just under 40 percent to be exact. Considering he was also a rookie makes his decision-making, and ability to still complete plays even more impressive.
Need to visualize how well Bridgewater performed under pressure? Check out this chart from ProFootballFocus.com observing Passing Under Pressure in 2014. It shouldn’t take too long to find the Vikings’ quarterback.
Looking ahead to 2015, he has a full season under his belt, he has more familiarity with the offense, and will get a helping hand from one of the best players in the game rushing the ball in Adrian Peterson. This season the odds of a repeat performance are very high, and most fans are hoping Bridgewater’s pressure percentage drops in 2015.
3) Performance on Third Downs
Bridgewater also held his own and was able to move the chains on third downs in his rookie campaign. It may not be something most fantasy owners look at but having a fantasy quarterback, one that is able to convert on third downs over half of the time, especially at longer distances is huge. They get more plays, and prolonged drives usually mean more yardage, and of course increased touchdown potential.
First I will let you look at Drew Brees’ numbers from 2014.
Now we will look at Bridgewater’s:
Bridgewater had comparable or better numbers than Brees. Don’t misinterpret this as stating the second-year signal-caller is on Brees’ level. That is not the point, as much as showing how much poise, and ability he showed as a rookie AND under pressure. The talent is there, and he has more offensive weapons in 2015.
4) Mike Wallace and Adrian Peterson Additions
We all know how much Peterson will help an offense when he is on the field. Having a legitimate running game only helps quarterbacks in occupying defenses and spreading the field.
Bridgewater had a running game last season, but it was largely volume-based and with inexperienced runners in Matt Asiata and fellow rookie Jerick McKinnon. With Peterson in the backfield defenses are forced to game plan. This can only help Bridgewater.
Wallace is a speedster and deep threat. Someone the Vikings had hoped they had (have) in Cordarelle Patterson, but with Wallace on board Bridgewater now has a legitimate downfield option along with Charles Johnson and Patterson.
The 2015 season is very bright for Bridgewater and the Vikings, and although they have the 12th-most difficult strength of schedule this season, his new, and somewhat new weapons should only help him develop into an even more appealing fantasy option. Perhaps even top-10-worthy.
— Written by Chris Meyers, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a member of the FSWA. Meyers' work appears on many other sites, including socalledfantasyexperts.com. Follow him on Twitter @FantsyChillpony.