The Vikings don't have the most extensive artillery for Christian Ponder, so Simpson does need to step up for a more balanced attack overall.
With that said, here's a breakdown of why Simpson is worthy of a fantasy roster spot and how he'll be able to make an impact for the remainder of the season.
Vikings Need Another Reliable Target
It's not surprising that Ponder's two most reliable targets are Percy Harvin and tight end Kyle Rudolph. Harvin is a versatile threat for his quick slants, screens, jet sweeps and ability to beat any single coverage situation.
And the guy is a boss at accumulating yards after the catch: leading into Week 7, 316 of his 540 receiving yards came after the catch. As for Rudolph, he is a dependable red zone threat with five scores on the year and the guy most capable of out-jumping anyone man-to-man.
Now, for as productive as these two can be it's possible for a defense to isolate them with zone coverage. That allows two players to make a break on the pass, so it's not true double coverage and a defense need not sacrifice another defender to help against the run.
Provided that Simpson begins to make an impact and his presence forces an opponent to acknowledge his skill set, coverages won't be able to be geared toward isolating Harvin and/or Rudolph.
Instead, a wider shield across the intermediate level opens up zones and creates better yards-after-catch opportunities.
Simpson Won't Face Any Double Coverage
Switching gears to regarding what Simpson will strictly face, rarely will he get double coverage, if ever.
Because Harvin and Rudolph are better-established, they are more likely to draw coverage attention. Plus, doubling Simpson would leave the rest of the defense extremely vulnerable to either Harvin or Rudolph getting open.
From a scheming perspective, this is about matchups and a defense can't afford to leave the Vikings' two best receiving playmakers in favorable situations. Another area of concern for a defense is the presence of Adrian Peterson.
Without question he is Minnesota's most dangerous offensive weapon and when a defense doubles a receiver, that's also just one fewer player in the box to stop the run. And we all know the only chance of slowing Peterson down requires at least seven defenders in the box—but in most cases eight.
So when running across the middle or stretch a defense downfield, Simpson won't see two coverage players. The worst-case scenario would be to split a Cover 2 zone.
2011 Numbers Prove His Capabilities
Playing with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2011, Simpson caught 50 passes for 725 yards and scored four times. It was certainly his best performance across the board as a pro and not to mention his targets were coming from a rookie quarterback in Andy Dalton.
Simpson was also getting plenty of favorable coverages as A.J. Green lined up as Cincy's No. 1 receiver. Include tight end Jermaine Gresham and the Bengals presented a complete receiving set.
Minnesota already has two players of that puzzle in play with Harvin and Rudolph, so Simpson must be the next piece. Compare the Bengals ground game to that of Minnesota as well, and the Vikings provide a better overall offensive set.
Ponder and Co. also need Simpson to significantly contribute. The NFC North has improved defensively, namely Chicago and Green Bay, and in order to remain in the postseason hunt every offensive weapon must make a strong impact.
In short, that only enhances Simpson's fantasy football outlook.
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