Fantasy Team Preview: Minnesota Vikings

Let’s look at the Minnesota Vikings of Brett Favre. Wait, they haven’t announced the name change yet? My bad.

In 2008 the Vikes appeared to be one QB away from Super Bowl contention. Were they an old QB with a questionable shoulder away? We may find out really soon.

The Favre situation is huge for Vikings fans. It’s not as epic for fantasy football fans. If you owned Favre last year, you lived the life of a Jet fan, or more accurately, Charlie Brown trying to kick the football. Favre has never finished lower than 14th as a fantasy quarterback. Last year was that year. His December will make most folks shy away from him until the middle of the QB backup run. If you can handle ridicule, give him a shot. Sage Rosenfels, the former starter, is like Favre without the Wrangler commercials. He’ll take chances, make some big plays, and sometimes do it for his own team.

If you have the number one draft pick, take Adrian Peterson and enjoy a beverage. He’s not guaranteed to finish number one. In fact, he’s been the number three RB in his two NFL seasons. He just has the best chance of being that guy. 384 touches might be a concern. If I were the Vikings, I’d run him into the ground Earl Campbell style. If you draft Peterson, take Chester Taylor later. Taylor can give you about 75% of A-Pete’s performance in a pinch.

Bernard Berrian was supposed to be the difference-maker at wideout that the Vikings craved. He caught three passes a game, which is not WR1 material. He did make the most of them, averaging more than 20 yards a catch including a 99-yard reception against his former team. I see him as a 1000-yard receiver this year. He’ll have more catches especially with a more gunslinging quarterback.

Percy Harvin is a weapon. He’s the most likely guy to be the Eddie Royal or DeSean Jackson of the 2009 season. In college he was a receiver and sometimes running back in the spread offense. The Vikings need to get the ball in his hands. They’re also trying to get him to return kicks, which adds value in leagues that consider such things. Remember that even if he gets the occasional hand-off that it won’t be more than once or twice a game and will not be a consistent point-earner.

I fell for the Sidney Rice hype. He struggled in his second year due to injuries and the inability to play wideout. To get on the field he’s going to have to outplay Percy Harvin. Don’t forget “Bobby Wade, the slot receiver. I mean forget him in terms of fantasy usefulness, unless a 53/645/2 line excites you.

Once you gave up on him and stopped making fun of the Vikings for signing him, Visanthe Shiancoe (spell that three times fast) became fantasy relevant. Don’t get too excited, as most of his value came on the seven touchdowns. If he gets 50 catches and five touchdowns, consider him a fantasy starter, and one more reason why the tight end position is really boring.

Ryan Longwell is the kicker. He probably has the best golf handicap on the Vikings.

Viking D big numbers: 45 sacks, 12 interceptions, 26 fumbles recovered, 2 defensive touchdowns, one return touchdown. You’re not getting the Viking D for cheap.

Jaren Allen is the star of the Viking defensive line. He’s usually good for 12+ sacks and will be close to the top DE taken. Ray Edwards is on the other side and should have good matchups since the offensive line has to pay attention to Allen, Kevin Williams and Pat Williams. Kevin Williams is one of the top defensive tackles and a pretty good DL pick. Pat Williams is more of a space-eater. The Williams’ brothers (not literally) are appealing a four-game suspension, so keep an eye on the situation.

Chad Greenway is the top LB. It’s often confusing that the weak side linebacker is the strong fantasy play. E.J. Henderson, the middle linebacker, is another big tackle guy. Ben Leber is the strong-side backer. Use his name to (a) impress people at parties or (b) depress your wife because of your encyclopedic football knowledge.

Usually cornerbacks aren’t big tackle guys. Antoine Winfield is an exception. He’s one of the best. Cedric Griffin on the other side is no slouch. While free safety Madieu Williams should put up good numbers after missing time with injuries last year, keep an eye on second-year strong safety Tyrell Johnson.

As you can see, the Vikings are clearly one Favre away from winning the Favre Bowl.

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