The Minnesota Vikings will not field many fantasy football superstars in 2012, but they will offer owners some key role players who will get teams over the hump throughout the season.
It seemed only yesterday when players like Adrian Peterson, Brett Favre, Sidney Rice and the Vikings D/ST were admirable additions to any fantasy team, but those days have come and gone. After an abysmal 2011 campaign, the Vikings will rebound in 2012 but likely won't be on many people's radars as far as fantasy football goes.
The Vikings aren't going to be a team to put up big numbers and blow other teams away statistically. If they are winning games, which they most certainly can, they'll be grinding out close games and taking it to the wire.
All that aside, there are a few Vikings who can offer fantasy value out of the draft—and even more who might populate waiver wires as the season goes on.
Here's a look at Vikings who can make a fantasy football impact in 2012.
Projected Round: Undrafted
Christian Ponder should look much improved for the Vikings in 2012, but any fantasy owner in their right mind would stay away from the second-year QB as he continues to develop.
Ponder has the ability to throw for around 3,000 yards and plenty of touchdowns, but his turnovers in 2011 have me worried. He'll likely clean it up in 2012, but if I'm trying to win my league, I'm staying away from young, mistake-prone QBs—even for my backup.
In a standard-scoring, 12-team league, Ponder shouldn't make the cut in most drafts. Honestly, he just is not a top-24 QB at this point, but by the middle of the season he might be worth a look for owners dealing with injuries.
Stay away from Ponder unless you're getting slammed by injuries and need a quick fix. Keep an eye on him midway through the season, and he might be worth a waiver claim.
Projected Round: 3-4
When he's healthy, RB Adrian Peterson is one of the most valuable fantasy football commodities in the game. Had it not been for a devastating knee injury at the end of 2011, Peterson would likely be a top-3 pick in most leagues.
Because no one seems to know when Peterson will be ready to go or if he'll be able to return to form, he likely falls out of the first and even the second round.
But this is still Adrian Peterson we're talking about. If he comes back and plays even a fraction of as well as he's played in the past, he's easily worth a third-round pick. If he proves everyone wrong and returns to form, he could be an absolute steal.
Regardless of Peterson's timetable, he's going to lose some carries to Toby Gerhart, which will impact his fantasy value as well. Gerhart will be the Vikings' workhorse in 2012 and will likely go higher than Peterson in most drafts.
If Peterson is still available in the mid-third to high-fourth round, he's worth the risk. RBs are always injury-prone, so it's nice to have a guy like this in your back pocket.
Projected Round: 2-3
Like I said on the last slide, Toby Gerhart is going to be the workhorse for the Vikings with Adrian Peterson coming off what could've been a career-ending injury.
Gerhart has put on a lot of muscle this offseason and has always possessed deceptive speed for his size.
He will see his number of carries double or triple in 2012 compared to a season ago, and he is a threat in one way that Peterson has not been: in the passing game.
Gerhart will get a lot of screen passes and help Ponder develop in the passing game as well. Along with his ability to run right through defenders, Gerhart will show off his versatility and establish himself as a solid fantasy asset in 2012.
Definitely worth a mid-to-late second-round pick. He's not in the same league as your LeSean McCoys and your Ray Rices, but he will be an excellent No. 2 RB for a team willing to give him a shot.
Projected Round: 4-5
Percy Harvin is a tough player to predict for fantasy football. I mean, if last season was any indication of the kind of points he can put up, he's certainly worth having on your roster.
But the question is: Is he a top WR? The answer is almost definitely no. Harvin is useful in that he can produce a lot of yards on the ground and in the air. He is even valuable on special teams sometimes, but if you are trying to choose among Calvin Johnson, Victor Cruz and Harvin, Harvin gets left out 10 times out of 10.
For teams looking for a good FLEX option, Harvin might be the answer. No matter what, barring an injury, Harvin is going to produce. His only problem is his relative inconsistency compared to other receivers.
Harvin should absolutely not go undrafted, but he is a risky pick. I include him in the same category as DeSean Jackson in boom-or-bust players. Can he have big games for you? Yes. Will he leave you scratching your head as well? Most definitely.
Projected Round: Undrafted
Jerome Simpson will likely become Christian Ponder's go-to guy as the season progresses. The problem is Simpson will be suspended for the first three weeks of the season and does not have the talent to waste a roster spot on for that long.
After his suspension is up Simpson could very well take off, but he was also behind A.J. Green in Cincinnati for a reason.
In a 12-team league, Simpson will be a nice waiver addition after a few weeks have gone by. He certainly is not worth starting, but he could be a good FLEX option for late in the season.
Don't even think about touching Simpson in the draft, but keep an eye on him in the waiver wire around Week 5.
Projected Round: 7-8
Kyle Rudolph will end up being a steal for whatever team takes a flier on him. The second-year TE is not among the league's elite, but I predict him to lead the Vikings in touchdowns as the team's best red-zone threat.
Rudolph could have a breakout year for the Vikings in 2012, and having him as a potential late-round starter or excellent trade-bait is not out of the question at all.
Rudolph is my biggest sleeper among Vikings players and among TEs in general. His similarities to Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski are astounding, and I'm predicting he joins the ranks of Gronk and Jimmy Graham within the next two seasons.
Get this guy on your draft board. Rudolph has huge sleeper potential and won't require a lot to get on your roster.
Projected Round: Undrafted
Though I believe Carlson will end up being the starter over Kyle Rudolph, his production likely won't hold a candle to Rudolph's. Carlson will be Ponder's safety net and will accumulate yards for the Vikings, but his touchdown production won't be worthy of a start in fantasy football.
Carlson is a talented pass-catcher, but is very unknown to the casual fan. In this aspect, he's pretty underrated, but that doesn't mean you should draft him.
Carlson is a guy you can pick up in free agency and might even give you some decent production, but no one is going to draft this guy.
Yeah, just don't draft this guy.
Projected Round: 10-Undrafted
The Vikings defense left a lot to be desired in 2011. The secondary was absolutely awful, and it was surprisingly mediocre against the run.
Still, the Vikings have the best 4-3 DE in the NFL in Jared Allen, and the team's total of 50 sacks in 2011 led the NFL. As long as they still have that going for them in 2012, they could be worth having on your bench.
The team added several new DBs who will step in and contribute right away, along with a few guys who could produce in the return game as well.
If the secondary can hold up and the pass rush can continue to produce, the Vikings defense will end up being top 15 in the league. This doesn't necessarily warrant a draft pick, but they should be on your radar.
Jared Allen should have this D/ST on your radar no matter what. It isn't a team you'd probably draft, but you'll want to pick it up by the middle of the season.