2013 Fantasy Football Dark Horse Sleeper: Cordarrelle Patterson

By Dustin Manko
Cordarrelle Patterson
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

When the Minnesota Vikings let Percy Harvin leave the team this summer, they had a huge hole in their offense that needed to be filled. The initial plan was to have Harvin’s role replaced by rookie Tavon Austin. When the St. Louis Rams took that plan away, Cordarrelle Patterson (22 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues) was drafted at the end of the first round with the intent of filling that spot.

Through the first 11 games of the season it is clear that both Austin and Patterson had the same problem. They are both explosive players who were clearly being underutilized in their offenses. It appears that the Vikings finally came to that realization as he has been given an increased role in the offense over the last two weeks. In that span, he has seen 20 targets (after seeing only 11 the previous three weeks), catching 11 of them for 82 yards and no touchdowns.

While the catch percentage and yardage totals are not spectacular, this is one of those types of players where fantasy football owners need to focus less on the box scores and more on the eyeball test. Patterson can flat out fly. Much like a Harvin starter kit, or Austin light, Patterson has the ability to do pretty much everything. He can blow the doors off the defensive backs on the deep routes, he has the short term burst to be effective on the slants and quick outs, along with the ability to stop on a dime and change directions. It is only a matter of time before one of those short routes breaks off for a long gain.

Fantasy football owners love looking at targets as a way to gauge production expectancy. It shows us why Marvin Jones’ four touchdown day, or Austin’s three touchdown day were more likely to be the peak rather than the norm (in those games, Jones was on the field for around 15 snaps, while Austin only saw three targets). As long as Patterson continues to get targets, he will continue to produce in the offense.

If your league also awards special teams yardage (punt, kick returns) toward the individual stat line, then Patterson’s value is even greater as he is still handling kick return duties. On the season, his 1,088 kick return yards rank first in the league. He also leads the NFL in yards per kick return with an average of 34 yards per return attempt. In standard scoring leagues where return yards count toward the individual, Patterson is fourth in wide receiver scoring, ahead of Brandon Marshall, DeSean Jackson and A.J. Green, and fifth in per game scoring average.

The Vikings have a couple of great matchups on the horizon including the Philadelphia Eagles (allowing the fourth most fantasy points against to wide receivers) and Detroit Lions (second most). As the Vikings wind down a lost season, it would make sense to try to get Patterson more involved to see how to best utilize him. It would also make sense to add him to your starting lineup.

As always, I welcome your comments. If you think I’m wrong, I’m willing to listen. Just back it up with some facts and solid evidence. Thanks for reading and good luck this season.

Dustin Manko is an author at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @DustinManko, ”Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google

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