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2010 Fantasy Football Preview: Minnesota Vikings

Fantasy Football SpinCorrespondent IJuly 21, 2010

NEW ORLEANS - JANUARY 24:  Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings runs the ball against the New Orleans Saints during the NFC Championship Game at the Louisiana Superdome on January 24, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

As we make our way through all 32 teams we have come to the Minnesota Vikings.  

The 2009 playoff run for the Vikings ended in similar kick below the belt fashion to the 1998 playoff debacle when munchkin body double Gary Anderson shanked a gimme field goal giving the Atlanta Dirty Birds a gift ride to the Super Bowl.

Last season’s overtime loss to the eventual Super Bowl champion Saints was just as heart wrenching for Vikings fans.

Only this time it was real football players that cost them a shot at the ring when No. 4′s brain cramp interception and Adrian Peterson’s butterfingers cost the Vikings their first Super Bowl trip since 1977. 

This season is playing out like a scene from “Groundhog Day” as Favre is yet again contemplating retirement following offseason ankle surgery.

It appears that its just a ploy to avoid training camp and more of the melodramatic from the drama queen country boy.  

I fully expect Brett to have his wranglers packed for training camp in Mankato by mid-August and  reports have surfaced that head coach Brad Childress made a trip the casa Favre in South Carolina this week.  Its tough to argue with the Vikings allowing the old war horse to call the shots after he posted arguably the best season in his 11-year career throwing for 4,200 yards, 33 touchdowns and a shockingly low 7 interceptions.

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In 2009, the Vikings ranked 5th in the NFL in scoring averaging an impressive 29 points per game. Favre’s presence had rippling effects on the entire receiving corps and WR Sidney Rice, who had previously be criticized for poor work ethic, had a breakout season.

Rice finished with 1,312 yards, eight touchdowns on 83 catches, and a ticket to the Pro Bowl. That is a spectacular jump after totaling only 46 receptions in his first two NFL seasons.

The 23-year-old is an ideal red zone threat at 6’4'' and should be a Top 10-15 fantasy WR heading into his fourth NFL season.  Rookie Percy Harvin battled migraines that cost him playing time in Weeks 14/15 but he is a threat to score from anywhere on the field and finished with 790 receiving yards, 135 rushing yards, six touchdowns and a pair of return touchdowns.

TE Visanthe Shiancoe was a red zone monster last season finishing with 11 touchdowns.  However, in his past two seasons he has averaged only 600 yds/season (under 40 yds/game) which makes him a lower end TE1 and a guy that could easily slip to a TE2 as the weekly fantasy production with be up and down.

The running game took a slight step back last season as Minnesota finished 13th in the NFL (120 yards per game).

After averaging 110 yds/game, AP regressed a bit in 2009 (86 yards per game) but he did lead the league with 18 touchdowns.

Running mate Chester Taylor (727 total yards, two TDs) signed with division rival Chicago so Peterson should see more receptions and should dominate red zone carries provided he has solved the fumbling issues which led has caused him to give the opposition the ball an unbelievable 16 times over the past two seasons. Peterson has been working with a sand-filled, 14-pound football in order to improve his ball security.

Rookie second round pick Toby Gerhart will likely serve as AP’s backup.  The 2009 Heisman runner-up could be used in the red zone as the 6’0''/231 pounder posted an amazing 28 TDs in his senior season at Stanford. He also ran an impressive 4.53 at the combine and finished second in the nation, behind Ryan Mathews, in rushing yards.

Gerhart will be a wise handcuff pick late in drafts for all AP owners The more AP fumbles the more action Gerhart will see in the red zone.

The second coming of the purple people eaters (Jared Allen, Williams Brothers, and Ray Edwards) will yet again be wreaking havoc in the the NFC North.  A mullet-less Jared Allen should be more aerodynamic in the pass rush.

The Vikings defense/special teams unit finishing as a Top-10 fantasy football unit in 2009, totaling 47 sacks, 11 interceptions, 23 forced fumbles (13 recovered) and three touchdowns (one defensive, two on returns thanks to Percy Harvin).  Smart money is on the Williams Wall dodging a suspension since by all appearances they truly are innocent victims of a misleading StarCaps label.

Defensive End Ray Edwards will return having signed a one-year contract.  The pass defense is cause for concern for fantasy owners and Vikings fans alike. They ranked 19th in the NFL last season surrendering 218 yards per game.

Corner back Cedric Griffin will miss the early part of the 2010 season after suffering an ACL tear in the painful NFC title game loss.

 The Vikings are hoping first round pick Chris Cook can step in for Cedric Griifin and will need Antoine Winfield to return to form after he was hampered all season by a foot injury sustained in Week 6. 

FANTASY FOOTBALL SPIN

Stud

RB Adrian Peterson

Even in PPR leagues,  I would not shy away from taking AP in the top two and a case can be made for taking him over Chris Johnson in standard scoring leagues.

With Chester Taylor’s 44 catches now in Chicago, Peterson will likely become more involved in the passing game and I’m expecting yardage totals similar to 2008, when AP had close to 1,900 total yards.  In three seasons, Peterson has never failed to top 1,300 yards and has averaged 13 TDs per season.

As long as Favre returns, defenses will be unable to focus their attention on the running game which might allow AP to top 20 touchdowns in 2010.

Overvalued

Vikings Defense /ST  

The front four is one of the best in the league as evidenced by the fact that the Vikings led the league in sacks in 2009.  However, their secondary is porous and lacks any true playmakers. CB Cedric Griffin is a below average cover corner and is likely to miss part of 2010 recovering from ACL surgery.

His apparent replacement is second round pick Chris Cook, who some GMs had pegged as a safety.

Antoine Winfield is one of the fiercest hitters in the NFL but will need to show that he’s recovered from a foot injury that limited his effectiveness for most of the second half of the 2009 season.

 One also must factor in the possibility that there is a good chance of suspension for the Williams wall due to the violating the league's substance abuse policy.

Percy Harvin is a major plus for as long as the team will continue to take advantage of his elite kick return skills (two return TDs in his rookie season).  The Vikings current ADP has them off the board as the #2 DEF/ST but I would caution that their low turnover total from 2009 (24 turnovers: 13 fumbles, 11 interceptions) is a product of a weak secondary that might ultimately cost them a chance at an elusive Super Bowl.

Undervalued

WR Percy Harvin

The electric rookie proved his worth in 2009 emerging as the Vikings No. 2 WR and a special teams nightmare for opposing defenses. 

The versatile Harvin and the creativity with which he was utilized by the Vikings coaching staff may have set a precedent for similarly small, speedy, and multi-dimensional threats (see Dexter McCluster).

The departure of Chester Taylor could lead to increased carries for the multi-talented Harvin, further increasing his fantasy value.  He caught 60 passes for 790 yards (13 yds/catch) in 2009 and has the game breaking skill to approach 1,000 yards in his 2nd year in the Vikings system.

The migraine issues are a concern but his upside potential makes him a high end WR3 / low end WR2 and ideal pick in dynasty leagues.

Go to FFSpin to get the fantasy football spin on all of the NFL news and follow us on Twitter @FFSpin.

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