I recently was at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport, and I saw an electronic sign saying the terror level was orange. Funny, that it's not green in Minnesota, because the Vikings aren't a threat to terrorize anyone this year -- at least offensively.
The Vikings have an allegedly promising quarterback in Tarvaris Jackson running the show this year, but that dude is so green that he's already for a candidate for Ortho Weed-B-Gone Gardener of the Year. Comparisons have been drawn between he and Donovan McNabb, but make no mistake, McNabb is a truly special quarterback, and Jackson is one who has done nothing yet.
Though Jackson figures to be good in time, the team's offense won't be operating at a high level this season because of Jackson's inexperience. The addition of Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson has created some buzz, but opponents figure to be shutting down the run and forcing Jackson to throw all day. This young QB isn't ready for that, especially with jobber starting receivers named Bobby Wade and Troy Williamson. Where have you gone, Cris Carter and Randy Moss? Jackson will fail to be a fantasy producer this year.
The Vikings should continue to be good defensively, but if there are offensive troubles as expected, this defense won't be fresh enough to be a top 10 unit.
We also hear a rumor that the sound of snoring will replace the famed Vikings horn sound at the Metrodome this season. Yikes.
Projected draft round Player Round Tarvaris Jackson, QB DND Chester Taylor, RB 5-6 Adrian Peterson, RB 7-8 Bobby Wade, WR DND Troy Williamson, WR 17-DND Visanthe Shiancoe, TE DND Ryan Longwell, K DND Defense/special teams 16-17 Draft position based on a standard 12-team combined scoring and yardage league with a 17-round draft. DND: Do not draft.
Key additions: LB Vinny Ciurciu, S Mike Doss, TE Visanthe Shiancoe, WR Bobby Wade. Key losses: LB Napoleon Harris, WR Bethel Johnson, QB Brad Johnson, CB Fred Smoot, TE Jermaine Wiggins.
You were expecting some?
You're getting warmer.
Adrian Peterson, RB. Adrian Peterson battled a hip injury early in camp, but he came through the first preseason game just fine, rushing 11 times for 33 yards. That also should be an indication that the broken collarbone he sustained his final season at Oklahoma is no longer an issue. It's unclear just how Vikings coach Brad Childress will utilize both Peterson and Chester Taylor in the backfield, but Peterson gets the better rating because he's more of the game-breaking back because of his speed. Just be careful of taking AP too high, especially with competition for carries and because of the Vikings' QB situation.
Vikings defense/special teams. The Vikings were No. 1 in the league against the run in 2006, and not just because they could be easily passed upon. This defense was truly a run-stuffing bunch that earned its ranking. However, the defense was terrible rushing the quarterback, amassing just 30 sacks (T-25th) last year. The secondary can't make a lot of plays when they have to cover all day. If the Vikings' pressure up front improves, the Vikings' defense will improve. If you're into drafting a second defense, the Vikings' group is one to choose from.
Chester Taylor, RB. Taylor carried the ball a personal-high 303 times in 2006 -- his first year as a starter in his NFL career. But bruised ribs really hurt him down the stretch, and his numbers tailed off. Taylor won't get 300-plus touches this year with Peterson also in the mix, which means his value takes a hit. Taylor will stay fresher because of the reduced load, but also realize running room should be tough to find because of Jackson's inexperience. Taylor's value is best in point-per-reception leagues, especially if the Vikings utilize the short pass to take pressure off Jackson.
E.J. Henderson, LB. Henderson had his first 100-tackle season of his career in 2006, and his move back to middle linebacker should help him notch his second in '07. Henderson isn't a major playmaker, but he knows how to hit and won't disappoint in that area.
Ryan Longwell, K. Sometimes we recommend kickers in poor offenses because of the chance that drives will stall in enemy territory and give them the opportunity to make a significant number of field goals. But we're not recommending Longwell because he hasn't scored more than 100 points in a season since 2004, and because of the fact we don't think the Vikings will be consistent enough moving the football.
Kevin Williams, DT. Williams' move inside has cut down on his sacks. Now he's more known for being stout against the run. That won't cut it for most fantasy owners. He's a desperation fill-in for IDP owners.
Visanthe Shiancoe, TE. Shiancoe was stuck behind Jeremy Shockey in his first four NFL seasons, so it's not a surprise he has 35 career catches. As a first-time starter, we're not expecting much from him. If you reach for this guy, you also must enjoy scraping paint off your house with your fingernails.
Tarvaris Jackson, QB. I watched Jackson in his first start last year against the Packers, and it was clear that he just didn't know what to do and when to do it. He will "get it" in time, but those mental aspects need to grow before he can fully utilize all of his physical tools. He remains a project for the Vikings and for fantasy owners. Don't waste your time this season.
Sidney Rice, WR. Rice has good size (6-4, 200), which could make him the team's best red-zone threat. However, most rookie receivers don't catch on right away, and Rice looks like he figures into that bunch. Maybe someday he'll be good, but not this year.
Bobby Wade, WR. This guy sounds more like a headliner at a honky tonk bar than a productive fantasy receiver. Knowing that the Vikings are counting on him to be a starter when he has yet to notch even a 500-yard season in four NFL seasons suggests Wade is in over his head. If anything, he's keeping a spot warm for Rice.
Troy Williamson, WR. You'll never find Williamson as a pitch man for a cellular phone companies. He dropped the second most passes (11) in the league last season. However, we will note that this is Williamson's third professional season, a time when many NFL receivers have breakout seasons. He also is the Vikings' most polished receiver, which may mean more balls coming his way if Tarvaris Jackson can get the job done. At best, Williamson is a late-round flier.
Ultimate Fantasy Football Tip: If Troy Williamson does step up and have a breakout season, he will be a bargain at $1.59 million. But there is no absolute reason to even consider Williamson for Week 1, despite the fact Minnesota plays the equally-horrific Falcons. Don't trust a totally unproven commodity so soon.
TO KNOW LIST
Coaching: Coach Brad Childress was railed last year for bland play-calling, but he also didn't have a quarterback (Brad Johnson) that was capable of carrying the team with his arm. Once Childress gets the guys he needs for his system to work, and some of his young talents develop, then we can evaluate whether or not he's truly a good coach. Losing defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin to the Steelers is a blow, but new coordinator Leslie Frazier is said to favor more blitzes, which should mean more pressure on the QB. That could be what the defense needs to become a more feared unit.
Offensive line: Minnesota's strength is to its left, with Bryant McKinnie, Steve Hutchinson and Matt Birk -- all of whom have been to the Pro Bowl. Right guard Artis Hicks is somewhat overlooked by the other big names but is solid. Ryan Cook is the only weak link, but he is adequate. This unit will have its work cut out for it because of Jackson's inexperience.
Schedule analysis: The Vikings play the NFC East and the AFC West in interdivision play, and most of those teams feature very tough defenses. Two games each against the Bears and improving Packers defense won't be easy, with the fantasy playoffs schedule feature games against the 49ers, Bears and Redskins. Games against the Falcons, Lions and Raiders are really the only overly inviting matchups to exploit. Fantasy Strength of Schedule: 14th toughest (or 19th easiest).
HOLY CRAP!!!! RAFF LOOK AT WHO WROTE THAT ARTICLE!!!!!
I went to high school with him... he was the guy who came off the bench at the end of basketball games and everyone yelled "KUUUUZ!" He sucked but he was nerdy with glasses and everyone loved him... I knew he was big into sports and was gonna do something in journalism ... awesome... it may not be the same guy, but how common can that name be among guys who planned on being in sports journalism and writing about a MN team? ... That is sweet...
Last edited by treat24 on Fri Aug 17, 2007 9:27 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Since you guys know this dude, why don't you tell him not to get me so depressed about the Vikings this year.
Pretty good recap, although AP is certainly warranting of a higher pick than the 7th to 8th round. In redrafts he's going 4th or maybe 5th at the latest. Everything else looks about right, although I expect Williamson to get in drafted in most 12 team leagues as well.