[NOTE: I had asked Justin to do a Fantasy Outlook for the Minnesota Vikings, and unfortunately shrifted him by asking him to do it right before the draft, so it doesn't include Teddy Bridgewater as an option. As it stands, Bridgewater is expected to sit for a bit this season, so it shouldn't affect the piece at all]
This post comes from Justin Becker of FantasyFootballOverdose.com. You can follow him on Twitter @NFLRankings or the Fantasy Football Overdose Google+ Page, and for more Premier Fantasy Football Projections visit Fantasy Football Overdose, a fantasy football blog.
The Minnesota Vikings have been Adrian Peterson or bust when it has come to fantasy football. Sure, there have been flirtations with other studs like Sidney Rice or Percy Harvin, while none of us can forget that one magical season when Brett Favre went nuts.
But for the most part, Rice and Harvin went down in flames of injury, while Peterson was left shouldering the load. Year after year it was just “All Day” and fantasy owners knew he was a lock for top end production. That made him a top-three pick, if not the consensus number one pick in fantasy drafts on a yearly basis.
This season might be different. Don’t think for a second Peterson’s value is taking a hit. No, despite dealing with some nagging injuries, the 29-year old feature back is still a complete freak and should be every bit worth the top-three pick you’ll need to spend to land him.
But for the first time in a while, there’s going to be more than just Peterson to be excited about with new offensive coordinator Norv Turner bringing a vertical system into the offense. That means taking advantage of the speed they have at wide receiver, utilizing a previously under-utilized tight end and opening things up more than ever for an already elite ground game.
For a proper breakdown, let’s take a look at each player and see how or why they’ll be worth a look in 2014 fantasy football drafts:
Matt Cassel (Quarterback)
Cassel isn’t what will make Minnesota’s offense go. He doesn’t have the biggest arm in the world, was only moderately successful as a starter in 2013 and should be pushed by whatever rookie passer the Vikes draft in the 2014 NFL Draft. However, he has good size, won some games a year ago and in this new offense, could actually put up some numbers. He’s just the place holder for the next guy up, though, and shouldn’t really earn much attention from you when it comes to fantasy football.
Adrian Peterson (Running Back)
Let everyone else worry about Peterson’s injuries, age or supporting cast. Most players aren’t healthy, everyone gets older and no one on his team is as good as he is. He’s still a total beast that will be the focal point of his offense. He’s also still in a division where he plays six games against teams that at least for now aren’t great against the run. He’s a lock for 1,200+ rushing yards and 10+ touchdowns and should be in the mix to be fantasy’s #1 pick in 2014.
Greg Jennings (Wide Receiver)
There’s some really good news for Greg Jennings: Matt Cassel will return as Minny’s 2014 starting quarterback. While Cassel isn’t exactly a world beater, he and Jennings displayed excellent chemistry together. Many will be down on the 31-year old after catching just 68 passes for four touchdowns in his first season in Minnesota, but he’s far from done. He might be more of a possession receiver at this point in his career, but he showed the ability to turn on the jets and make plays with the ball in his hands. With a vertical scheme being implemented, Jennings’ ceiling should rise a bit in fantasy football. He’s probably more of a WR3 until we actually see the results, but he has more value and upside than people are giving him credit for.
Cordarrelle Patterson (Wide Receiver)
Patterson was a freak coming out of Tennessee a year ago; so much so that many appropriately pegged him as a breakout candidate right away as a rookie. He proved to be a little too raw to completely realize his potential in year one, however, settling on just 45 catches in his first season. Still, everyone knew his name by the end of the year, as he proved to be one of most dynamic and explosive weapons in the league. When it was all said and done, C-Patt had scored nine total touchdowns in three different ways (catching, running, returns) and also put up over 2,000 total yards if you count return duty.
Enter 2014, and Patterson should be leaps and bounds better. Naturally his fundamentals will improve, but his offensive system should be enhanced with Norv Turner coming to town, inevitably increasing his overall role. Turner made a star out of an equally raw Josh Gordon in 2013, and there’s plenty of reason to believe he can do the same with Patterson.
C-Patt is still quite raw, isn’t the number one target Gordon clearly was and doesn’t really have a top shelf quarterback, but his stock is beyond rising. He should start the offseason process as an interesting WR3, but you’ll probably have to draft him much earlier than that value suggests.
Jerome Simpson (Wide Receiver)
How many one-year deals can Simpson get? He got his second one with the Vikes this past off-season and he’ll probably need one heck of a 2014 season to get a multi-year deal going forward. It probably won’t happen with him stuck in the number three receiver role, but it’s absolutely worth mentioning that he’s fresh off of a career high in receiving yardage (726). He’s mostly a situational deep threat, but the Vikings seem to like him. His stock is moderate at best as a WR4 at the moment, but if he ends up being used more than Patterson, that will change for the better potentially.
Jarius Wright (Wide Receiver)
Through two NFL seasons, all we know for sure about Wright is that he’s a small dude who can make big plays. Wright is a defense stretcher who has displayed excellent speed and the ability to take the top off of the defense. Doing that or anything else with any kind of consistency, however, hasn’t been something he’s become known for. He’s going to be worth tracking as he enters 2014 in this system, especially if Simpson and/or Patterson get hurt or disappoint. There is talent to monitor here, but just nothing yet of significant in the fantasy realm.
Kyle Rudolph (Tight End)
Rudolph might be the key to Minny’s offense taking flight in 2014. Obviously Peterson does the groundwork and Patterson is supposed to be the next Josh Gordon, but the running trend in Turner-led offenses is tight ends turning into bosses. From the days of Jay Novacek to Antonio Gates and last year with Jordan Cameron, we know Turner likes his tight ends. Rudy isn’t quite as athletic as those guys, but he’s a tower with amazing ball skills. His good blocking keeps him on the field, too, while he can move the chains and be a major force in the red-zone. He was already a borderline TE1 on pure talent alone before Norval came around. Now we can seriously talk about him challenging for a spot in the top-5. For now he’s just a high end sleeper, though, so slowly work him into your top-10 and cross your fingers all goes well.