Wednesday, August 24, 2016

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In this four-part series leading up to training camp, I’ll be profiling the Vikings you should target in your fantasy football leagues this year. Look for new additions every Thursday and Friday the next few weeks and stay tuned for a bonus selection at the end!

Kyle Rudolph, TE — Minnesota Vikings

If there were ever a year for Kyle Rudolph to break out, it would be 2015. He enters his fifth season as the clear-cut starter in one of the league’s most tight-end friendly offenses. Like Adrian Peterson, Rudolph should benefit from playing under Norv Turner — if, that is, he can stay healthy.

That’s always been Rudolph’s major concern, and I addressed it in an article I wrote defending him in April. In the two seasons since making the Pro Bowl, Rudolph has missed a combined 15 games because of injuries, from torn abdominal muscles to an MCL strain in his knee. This offseason, he revamped his personal offseason training program and is hopeful he can start every game in 2015, per Matt Vensel of the Star Tribune:

“You see what my position is capable of in this offense. I’ve proven that throughout the course of a 16-game season, when I’m out there every week, I’m one of the best players at my position.”

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It’s time! It is time for the only camping that Andy actually likes to do. The Minnesota Fightin’ Vikings report to Mankato on Saturday to begin the hopefully fruitful 2015 campaign. Andrew Krammer (@Andrew_Krammer) – Vikings writer at 1500 ESPN as well as BAWS on their Purple Podcast – joins the show to drop some knowledge on us before the Vikings Nation descends on the Jewel of South Central Minnesota that is Mankato.

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Training camp kicks off this weekend, and we’re just as excited as you are to see the Vikings back in action. Every season, an under-the-radar player that really stands out at training camp is dubbed “Mr. Mankato.” Last season, wide receiver Adam Thielen took home the honors. Who will earn Mr. Mankato this year? Here are our thoughts:

Adam: Babatunde Aiyegbusi, OL
With a listed frame of 6′ 9″ and 351 pounds, and the “Babs” nickname already catching on, I think it is only natural that the foreign-born lineman sticks out to fans getting a first look at him in Mankato. He is sure to stand out, there is certainly a need for offensive line depth, and potential usefulness on special teams (blocked kicks!) could be his greatest advantage. Mr. Mankato doesn’t always make the team, and Aiyegbusi certainly has his work cut out for him, but I predict he’ll be the under-the-radar newcomer that creates the most buzz throughout August.

Andy: Stefon Diggs, WR
The dude from Maryland was an under-utilized stud in college (blame Randy Edsall and those terribad uniforms), who turned some heads at OTAs and will continue to do so in Mankato. I wouldn’t be shocked if he broke a few kick or punt returns for scores in scrimmages or the Hall of Fame game versus the Steelers, just to really put pressure on Cordarrelle Patterson and Marcus Sherels. Offensively, Diggs should have an advantage against the third and fourth teamers, which will make him to appear to shine brightly in camp and look like the second coming of DeSean Jackson (without the attitude). If Diggs can stay healthy — he never completed a full season as a Terrapin — he could become the dynamic play maker that we expected Cordarrelle to become. Or Jarius Wright. Or [insert name here].

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After yesterday’s surprise contract restructure, Adrian Peterson likely woke up today the happiest member of the Minnesota Vikings. He’ll earn $13 million guaranteed in 2015 and another $7 million guaranteed in 2016, bringing his guaranteed total to $20 million through 2017. It’s an exceptional deal for a player nearing the twilight of his career, and a deal that will keep one of the Vikings’ most important players in Minnesota for at least two more years.

Like Peterson, Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner has to be excited for the start of the season. When he joined Mike Zimmer’s staff, Turner envisioned “getting the field spread” for Peterson and creating more opportunities in the passing game and running game for the veteran. In 2009, Peterson hauled in a career-high 43 receptions, and Turner’s system will likely help the nine-year veteran eclipse that mark in 2015.

Without Peterson for the majority of the 2014 season, Turner relied on Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata to carry the load. The two combined for 1,108 yards rushing and nine touchdowns on the year, with each providing a different element to the running attack. Asiata is a straight-line runner and goal line specialist, while McKinnon is the prototypical change-of-pace back, able to make plays on quick hitting run plays and passes out of the backfield.

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