Fantasy Football 2011: Minnesota Vikings Preseason Fantasy Projections
NFL training camps are under way, and your 2011 fantasy football draft is right around the corner.
That means it's time to start thinking about the players you want to target and where you should consider drafting them.
Last season, the Vikings were not very fantasy-relevant. However, this season will be a different story.
With a new head coach, a new offensive coordinator and a fresh attitude, the Vikings look to jump back into playoff contention.
Even though the Vikings are in somewhat of a rebuilding phase, they still have plenty of solid, veteran players and should be very competitive in the NFC North division.
There are several Vikings players would are worth drafting in your fantasy league.
Let's take a minute to preview some of the team's potential fantasy contributors.
QB Donovan McNabb: Late-Round Sleeper
Although the Vikings drafted Christian Ponder in the first round of this year's draft, Donovan McNabb was brought in to Minnesota to lead the Vikings offense this season.
McNabb is coming off his worst year as a starter in the NFL. But let's face it, Washington was simply not a good fit for him.
He enters a much better situation in Minnesota. He will have more freedom within the offense and more weapons at his disposal.
He also has a strong relationship with his new head coach, Leslie Frazier, that dates all the way back to his rookie year in Philadelphia.
Bill Musgrave's new offense will feature more of a vertical passing game than a west-coast scheme and should fit McNabb's biggest strength, which is throwing the ball downfield.
It's clear that the Vikings still feel that they are capable of making a run at the postseason, and unless they begin to slip out of playoff contention, McNabb should remain under center.
Christian Ponder is the future of the Vikings quarterback position, but look for McNabb to have a bounce-back season with the Vikings.
3,700 passing yards, 24 passing touchdowns and 12 interceptions
160 rushing yards, 2 rushing touchdowns
RB Adrian Peterson: Fantasy Stud
Adrian Peterson is the gold standard for consistency at the running back position.
In each of the last four years, he has finished the season as a Top-Five fantasy running back.
Fantasy owners should expect big things from No. 28 this season.
With veteran Donovan McNabb under center, Peterson wants to get more involved in the downfield passing game.
Peterson has been the focal point of the Vikings' offense since he was drafted, but if he can stay on the field during third-down passing situations, his fantasy value will be at an all-time high.
With the addition of McNabb, opposing defenses will have to respect the Vikings' passing game, giving Peterson a little breathing room in the backfield.
Peterson will be drafted early in the first round of your fantasy draft—if you get the chance, pull the trigger.
1,675 rushing yards, 15 rushing touchdowns
40 receptions, 450 receiving yards, 2 receiving touchdowns
RB Toby Gerhart: Handcuff
If you are lucky enough to get your hands on Adrian Peterson in your fantasy league, it may be smart to consider picking up his handcuff (Gerhart) as an insurance policy.
Of course, it all depends on your league's roster limitations, but if Peterson were to miss any time, Gerhart would immediately become Minnesota's feature back.
Expect him to improve on his rookie numbers, but as long as Peterson is healthy, Gerhart is little more than a handcuff.
Gerhart will likely go undrafted in most fantasy leagues, but if Peterson were to go down, he is a must-own fantasy player.
410 rushing yards, 2 rushing touchdowns
25 receptions, 200 receiving yards
WR Percy Harvin: Early Mid-Round Sleeper
Percy Harvin is entering that magical third year for wide receivers.
Last year, he caught 71 passes for 868 yards and five touchdowns and rushed for 107 yards and a touchdown.
Those numbers aren't too shabby when you consider how bad things were in Minnesota last season.
This offseason, the Vikings lost Sidney Rice to the Seattle Seahawks, making Harvin the Vikings' first option in the passing game.
Harvin is a home-run hitter.
He is capable of turning any play into a touchdown, and his rushing yards are a nice little bonus for fantasy owners.
He will probably not be drafted until the fifth or sixth round of most fantasy drafts, but he has the potential to finish the season as a Top-10 fantasy wide receiver.
85 receptions, 1,050 receiving yards, 8 receiving touchdowns
180 rushing yards, 1 rushing touchdown
WR Michael Jenkins: Late-Round/Undrafted Deep Sleeper
After losing Sidney Rice, the Vikings signed Michael Jenkins, who spent his first seven seasons with the Atlanta Falcons.
At 6'4" and 217 pounds, Jenkins is a big target that can go up and fight for the ball.
He has been impressive so far in training camp, and he will try to carry that momentum through the rest of the preseason.
Jenkins will immediately step in and contribute for the Vikings. He is very familiar with Bill Musgrave's offense and is looking for a fresh start after spending the last few years in the shadow of Roddy White.
With Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin and Visanthe Shiancoe drawing much of the attention, Jenkins could quietly have one of the most productive years of his career.
He could be a late-round pick, but if he goes undrafted, keep your eye on him.
55 receptions, 675 receiving yards, 4 receiving touchdowns
WR Bernard Berrian: Late-Round Flier/Waiver Wire Watch
Bernard Berrian has been a big disappointment.
His production has declined every season since becoming a Minnesota Viking.
The Vikings restructured his contract this summer in order to keep him around.
Leslie Frazier seems to believe that Berrian will bounce back and have a great season, but that might just be wishful thinking.
There are several young wide receivers on the Vikings' roster that could challenge Berrian for the third-receiver spot: Jaymar Johnson, Emmanuel Arceneaux and Devin Aromashodu.
Berrian should put up better numbers than he did last season, but don't expect anything too surprising.
Fantasy owners could take a late-round flier on the speedster.
However, it is unlikely that Berrian will have the bounce-back season that Frazier is hoping for.
30 receptions, 350 receiving yards, 2 receiving touchdowns
TE Visanthe Shiancoe: Late-Round Backup
After erupting for 11 touchdowns in 2009, Visanthe Shiancoe fell off the map in 2010.
He finished last season with 530 yards and only two touchdowns.
However, the Vikings' new offense should take advantage of Shiancoe's athleticism, and newly-acquired Donovan McNabb has a history of getting the ball to his tight ends.
Since 2000, about 25 percent of McNabb's completions have been to his tight ends.
The only problem here is that the Vikings drafted Kyle Rudolph this spring.
He is another big, athletic tight end who can catch the ball, and he could steal some targets from Shiancoe.
The Vikings will run a lot of two-tight-end sets, allowing Shiancoe and Rudolph to complement one another, but for fantasy purposes they could end up canceling out each other's value.
Shiancoe is in a contract year and will be looking to bounce back this season, but for now it looks like he is only worthy of a backup tight end spot on your fantasy roster.
45 receptions, 520 receiving yards, 4 receiving touchdowns
TE Kyle Rudolph: Waiver Wire Watch List
Rookie Kyle Rudolph is a very talented football player.
Unfortunately, the NFL lockout wiped out most of the offseason programs that are vital to incoming rookies.
The Vikings will expect Rudolph to contribute immediately, but until he gets comfortable, he will likely take a back seat to veteran teammate Visanthe Shiancoe.
Rudolph will go undrafted in most formats, but if Shiancoe were to miss any games, he would be a must-add player.
Look for Rudolph to start the season slow and build momentum as he adapts to his new surroundings and the speed of the NFL.
28 receptions, 325 receiving yards, 3 receiving touchdowns
K Ryan Longwell: Accuracy Is the Key
Ryan Longwell is as accurate as they come.
Since joining the Vikings, Longwell has been one of the most dependable kickers in the league.
With new offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave, the offense should be more creative and provide more scoring opportunities for Longwell.
Obviously, you don't want to draft a kicker early, but if Longwell is still on the board when it's time to fill your kicker slot, don't hesitate to grab him.
27 out of 30 on field goal attempts
45 extra points made
Vikings Defense/Special Teams: More Aggressive in 2011
The Vikings defense had somewhat of a down year in 2010.
Battling injuries and trying to carry a stagnant offense, the defense did not perform as well as fantasy owners might have hoped.
The Vikings defense should score considerably more fantasy points this season.
With Fred Pagac calling the shots, the unit will be more aggressive and should cause more turnovers while holding opposing teams to a lower point total.
If the Vikings secondary can stay healthy, their athleticism will cause problems for opposing teams.
With kick returners like Percy Harvin, Lorenzo Booker and Jaymar Johnson, the Vikings special teams should also be able to score a few touchdowns.
The Vikings defense/special teams will likely be under-rated heading into the season due to the loss of Ray Edwards, Pat Williams, Ben Leber and Madieu Williams, but there are several young, talented players that will step in and make plays (Brian Robison, Erin Henderson, Letroy Guion and Jamarca Sanford).
Just make sure you don't jump the gun.
It is best to wait until the final rounds of your draft to fill your D/ST roster spot. The difference between top defenses and mid-level defenses over a full season does not justify even a mid-round draft pick.
Top 10 fantasy defense/special teams