Fantasy Football 32: Minnesota Vikings
Give Norv Turner a good football player, and he’ll transform them into a good fantasy football player.
It happens every year.
For that reason, the Minnesota Vikings present some extra appeal to me for the 2014 campaign. Ever since the days of Brett Favre and Sidney Rice, this team has had one player on offense that you were sold on in fantasy. His name rhymes with Dadrian Deterson. But not this year. No, this year, the Norv is calling the shots as the team’s new offensive coordinator, and I have become an investor in this offense.
I don’t care about pro days. JaMarcus friggin’ Russell had one of the best pro days among quarterbacks in recent memory, and where is he now? No, seriously. Where is he? The Vikings traded up to grab Teddy Bridgewater with the final pick of the first round, and his weak pro day resulted in a falling draft stock. Minnesota surely isn’t complaining, and assuming Bridgewater enters the year as the starting quarterback, he’ll have sleeper fantasy appeal.
Last season under Turner, the Brown quietly led the NFL in pass attempts (42.6 per game) with the likes of Brian Hoyer and Brandon Weeden under center. Turner has gotten the best out of his quarterbacks for a while now, and while the Vikings may not lead the league in passing, Bridgewater still has upside. The offense will be tailor-made for Bridgewater. An incredibly patient and poised pocket passer, Bridgewater excels at intermediate passing, which is what he’ll be doing in this offense. Checking it down to AP and Cordarrelle Patterson will make his job easier, and while he isn’t the most dangerous runner, he can still make some plays with his legs, which is always welcoming in fantasy.
Adrian Peterson is the best running back in football. I don’t care, I don’t care. It’s still Peterson, folks. Granted, he wasn’t a top-five fantasy back a season ago, but since his rookie year, Peterson has finished inside the top-10 in every season. In my eyes, he is still the best combination of safety and upside that there is in fantasy football. And while others may favor the aspect that both LeSean McCoy and Jamaal Charles catch passes, Peterson’s time is coming.
Turner recently stated that he wants to get Peterson on the outside more, and envisions him catching 50-60 passes in 2014. Sign me up, folks. Imagine the fantasy numbers he will post when you consider all of the rushing yards and touchdowns he’ll have under his belt. Gangbusters, y’all. Gangbusters. And Turner isn’t crazy. He has helped plenty of running backs emerge into fantasy stars, and after getting the most out of Hall of Fame backs like LT and Emmitt Smith, Turner should utilize another Hall of Famer quite well.
RB Receptions Under Turner
If both Frank Gore and LaMont Jordan can haul in over 60 passes, why can’t Peterson? I think, as long as he stays healthy, if Peterson can catch anywhere between 45-60 passes, he should easily finish the year as the number one running back in fantasy. The Vikings, even with Turner calling the plays, are going to run the ball with Peterson when up close, as they led the NFL in rushing touchdown percentage a season ago (51.11%).
Meanwhile, I’d look to grab rookie Jerick McKinnon towards the back end of the draft. He’s a bit raw, but McKinnon has terrific speed, changes direction quickly and easily and catches the ball well out of the backfield.
There is no other way to describe the rookie season from Cordarrelle Patterson. Via Vincent Frank of Pro Football Focus, Patterson scored a touchdown every 8.1 times he touched the football last year, and when you combine rushing and receiving, he averaged a healthy 11 yards per touch. The first half of the year was a struggle, as Minnesota wasn’t creative enough with him to get him the ball in space. But during the second half, the Vikings proved that they were willing to feed him the ball, going from just 14.8 snaps per game to 38.3 during the final nine games of the season. That usage should only increase during his second season, and I know I throw this stat around a lot, but when ESPN looked at the 57 wideouts to ever post 1,200 fantasy points, they noticed that the biggest jump occurred in year two. In fact, they see a 65 percent increase in fantasy points from their rookie campaign.
Rudolph the Red Zone Reindeer.
Honestly, I don’t love Kyle Rudolph as a player. He doesn’t have great speed, lacks versatility and isn’t much of a factor between the twenties. However, he is a monster red zone target, has great hands, and, most importantly, has Norv Turner calling the shots.
Last year, Turner helped the likes of Jordan Cameron succeed in Cleveland, finishing as a top-five fantasy tight end. He utilized him a ton in the slot, which created mismatches. Turner wants to do the same thing with Rudolph, who operated out of the slot 40.3 percent of the time last year. Meanwhile, last year, only Tony Gonzalez ran out of the slot more than Cameron among tight ends. And tight ends have been Turner’s bread and butter during his tenure as a head coach/coordinator.
TE Usage Under Turner
Via Larry Hartstein of CBS Sports, in six of the last seven seasons, a tight end under Turner has finished as at least a top-seven fantasy tight end. I’m all in on Rudolph in 2014.
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