As part of our series of 2016 fantasy football team previews, here’s my look at the Minnesota Vikings.
Bridgewater completed over 65 percent of his passes last season, and he added to his fantasy value with three rushing touchdowns. But he only had 14 passing touchdowns, including four in one game, and was sacked 44 times.
The Vikings upgraded their offensive line depth this offseason, and they drafted a potential No. 1 wide receiver. But for fantasy purposes, Bridgewater is a low-end QB2 this year and nothing more.
Adrian Peterson led the NFL in rushing last season (327 carries for 1,485 yards), along with 11 touchdowns on the ground and 30 receptions. A big workload is coming again, assuming full health, but at 31 years old Peterson can’t defy Father Time forever. You’ll have to draft Peterson in the first round, under the assumption he’ll be a top-five fantasy running back again, but there’s a lot of risk involved.
Jerick McKinnon made a strong case for a bigger role late last season, and he offers much more than Peterson as a pass catcher (21 receptions on 73 touches in 2015). McKinnon is a priority handcuff, for fantasy owners that want to go that route, and he has some stand-alone value as a RB5 in deeper leagues.
Matt Asiata was a fantasy asset when Peterson missed most of 2014, with nine rushing touchdowns, before falling way to the background last year. Asiata is not draftable in any format, but injuries above him in the pecking order could make him an appealing waiver wire add at some point.
Stefon Diggs had a fast start as a rookie last season, with 25 receptions for 419 yards and two touchdown over his first four games, and he finished with 52 catches for 720 yards and four touchdowns. If the Vikings’ offenses shifts toward the pass more this year, after attempting the fewest passes in the league in 2015, Diggs should get more opportunities. But he’s only a WR4 or WR5 in 12-team leagues until Bridgewater shows improvement.
The Vikings used their first-round pick on Laquon Treadwell, and his strengths seem to fit well with what Bridgewater does best. I see the Ole Miss product as a good red zone weapon right away, but if target volume eventually blooms Treadwell has some upside potential in PPR formats.
Jarius Wright has never quite found a way to a prominent role, and 2015 was no different with 34 receptions for 442 yards. From a fantasy perspective, there’s nothing to see here without injuries.
Charles Johnson had buzz as a fantasy sleeper at this time last year (not from me), and then he promptly was injured and fell off the radar with just nine catches in 11 games. He’s battling for a roster spot now, and fantasy owners can ignore Johnson completely until further notice.
Cordarrelle Patterson has never built on the momentum from a strong finish to his 2013 rookie season, and now his roster spot is not assured. If a bigger opportunity arises, Patterson could be worth adding off the waiver wire in-season.
A bad offensive line led to Kyle Rudolph being forced to block a lot in 2015, but he did have 49 receptions for 495 yards (a career-high) and five touchdowns. It’s fair to say he will be running more routes this year, and Rudolph is worth targeting as a value pick and a TE1.
MyCole Pruitt showed a bit of promise as a rookie last year, with 10 catches in limited action. Rudolph missed 15 games in 2013 and 2014 combined, and another extended absence would put Pruitt on the waiver wire radar in fantasy leagues.
Blair Walsh went 34-for-39 on field goals (6-for-8 from 50-plus-years out) and 33-for-37 on extra points last season, yielding 135 points (fourth in the league). The short field goal he missed in the playoffs may linger on the minds of fantasy owners, but Walsh is firmly in the second tier of fantasy kickers as the Vikings move back indoors.
The Vikings were a top-10 fantasy defense in 2015, even without a ton of takeaways. A repeat is easily within reach this year, especially if some key pieces play all 16 games.
From an individual defensive player standpoint, safety Harrison Smith, defensive end Everson Griffen (22.5 sacks over the last two seasons), linebacker Eric Kendricks (93 total tackles and four sacks last season) and linebacker Anthony Barr are the best options on the Vikings’ defense.