NFL Soup|Tuesday, May 21, 2013

2013 Fantasy Football: Minnesota Vikings Team Preview 

The Minnesota Vikings were pretty much Adrian Peterson in 2012. Christian Ponder arguably won the game against the San Francisco 49ers and was huge in the season finale against the Green Bay Packers, but for the other 14 games, it was all about Peterson.

You know, like nearly breaking the single-season rushing record kind of “all about” Peterson. Yes, that kind.

Not having dynamic wide receiver Percy Harvin for half the year put all kinds of pressure on Peterson, making the Vikes’ offense more predictable than ever. Instead of folding, Peterson was as consistent and explosive as ever, carrying fantasy owner after fantasy owner to a championship behind a monster overall season and an even better finish (nearly 200 yards in week 17).

Needless to say, Peterson is the #1 consensus pick in fantasy football this year for good reason and few will question it. The real thought up for debate, however, is whether or not you should draft any other Minnesota players for your fantasy team. Let’s peruse the roster and find out:

Christian Ponder (QB)

Ponder has had issues with pocket presence and accuracy, while he also hasn’t been the best at taking shots down the field. Add in that he’s in a run-first offense and he’s a very shaky QB2. There was still progress out of him last year, though, and with Greg Jennings and rookie stud Cordarrelle Patterson in tow, I’m not ready to write him off just yet. Just don’t count on him to make a huge leap and lead your team or anything.

Adrian Peterson (RB)

Will Peterson match what he did in 2012? Probably not. But just because he isn’t likely to be the first running back to put up back to back 2k rushing yard seasons doesn’t mean he won’t be a monster. Peterson still is a lock for 10+ scores, is active in the passing game, and is going to get fed the rock like a hungry baby (although we don’t condone feeding hungry babies rocks), which means he’s a very safe bet for 1,500+ rushing yards. While all of that is enough to make him a first rounder, it’s the lack of depth of elite options at RB, combined with his insane upside that force him to the #1 overall spot.

Toby Gerhart (RB)

Gerhart is a nice handcuff, and that’s about it. Peterson tore his knee up in 2011 and after a crazy workload in 2012, you just never know how he’ll hold up in 2013. He’ll probably be completely fine, though, which likely means Gerhart is looking at less than 100 total touches. He’s a pure handcuff for fantasy purposes.

Greg Jennings (WR)

Jennings had a lost year due to injuries in 2012, but is still a top-20 receiver talent in the NFL and could be an extremely nice value in 2013. This is still a guy who has 25 touchdowns over the last three seasons and is now Minnesota’s legit #1 receiver. The risk, however, clearly lies with Ponder, how hasn’t been efficient down the field, while Jennings is also not a model for good health. Look at him as a decent WR2 for 2013.

Cordarrelle Patterson (WR)

Patterson is all about upside. He’s a freak talent with great size and explosive play-making ability, but until he’s actually starting it will be hard to trust him in fantasy leagues. Like Jennings, having Ponder under center hurts his upside, but his main issues comes with his role. For now he’s just a late-round flier, but the minute he’s locked into a role he needs to be owned in all leagues.

Jerome Simpson (WR)

Simpson was a free agent bust in 2012 and I don’t see much that should be different between last year and now. He’s a pretty athletic receiver, but he’s not fundamentally sound or overly consistent. Add that Patterson is breathing down his neck on a run-first team, and he’s really not draftable.

Jairus Wright (WR)

Wright is technically ahead of Patterson still, but he’s too one-dimensional and inconsistent, so I can’t see that lasting too long. He’s better off as a situational deep threat or #4 guy in an offense. You can’t draft him with any hopes of consistency.

Joe Webb (WR)

Hahahahahahahahaha. No. No, you can’t draft him. He shouldn’t be in the league anymore.

Kyle Rudolph (TE)

Rudolph is explosive and won’t do a whole lot after the catch, but he’s a massive red-zone target and has a great catch radius – meaning anything thrown his way will more than likely be caught. His value completely depends on how much Ponder trusts in him. He should at least chase 9-10 scores again, but his ceiling may be somewhat capped by his offensive system. With that said, the touchdowns make him a top-10 tight end.

Blair Walsh (K)

Walsh was the #1 fantasy kicker in 2012. As a rookie. More impressively, however, was that he nailed 92% of his 35 kicks (that’d be 32 field goal makes, thank you!). Want to fall in love with a kicker even more? This dude hit 10-for-10 on 50+ yard field goals. Not only is that incredible, but it’s also an NFL record. Even if he can’t match or best all of that again, he is extremely talented, plays indoors and his offense moves the ball consistently, so he’s still at the worst a top-five kicker. He’s my #1 kicker in 2013.

Minnesota Vikings (DEF/ST)

Despite giving up a whopping 342 points to their opponents in 2012, the Vikings were still almost a top-15 defense, finishing #16 overall on the year. What’s changed since then? Their secondary got even less reliable as savvy vet Antoine Winfield bolted for Seattle, while they did improve their linebacking corps and defensive line by adding free agent Desmond Bishop and rookie Sharrif Floyd. Safety Harrison Smith is a boss at the back of the defense, while Minnesota still has a top-five pass-rusher in Jared Allen. It might not be enough to get them up to the top-10, but this is still a borderline top-15 unit. They probably aren’t a DEF1, but you can get away with them with the right matchup.

About the author: Kevin Roberts

Kevin Roberts owns and operates NFL Soup and heads the fantasy football division of the site. In 2012, Roberts finished 16th overall in Fantasy Pros expert fantasy football rankings. In addition to running the fantasy football section of the site, Roberts contributes to NFL Soup’s NFL Draft coverage and breaking news reporting. Follow Kevin on Twitter @NFLSoupKevin

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