1.20 (20) - Kenechi Udeze - Defensive End - Southern Cal - The Vikings are slowly building what could be a very potent defense and new DC Ted Cottrell was given a few more pieces to work with in this draft. Up until the draft, Udeze was consistently projected as a top-10 pick and the best DE in this class, but he slid on draft day due to some questions about a shoulder injury and was a steal for the Vikings this late. They also were able to pick up an additional 4th round pick from the Dolphins in exchange for moving down one spot from #19 to #20. He's an ideal fit at LDE in that he is strong enough to hold up against the run, but also quick and athletic enough to put lots of heat on opposing QBs. He skipped 8th grade and enrolled at USC as a 17-year old 355 pound overweight DT, but worked hard to lose the weight and become a star at DE. Udeze had a spectacular junior season with 56 tackles (26 for a loss), 16.5 sacks, and 5 FF, including 14 sacks in his last 8 games. Scouts have compared him to players like Charles Grant, Courtney Brown, and Michael Strahan and have described him as one of the best DE prospects in years. As good as he was over the past couple years, he is only 20 years old and still has room to improve. Adding him will allow the Vikings to keep Kevin Williams inside at DT next to Hovan, and gives the Vikings a very formidable group of linemen.
Fantasy Outlook: Udeze is good enough to start from day 1 and he has the potential to eventually become a Pro Bowl player. As a rule, rookie defensive linemen don't generally make a big impact right away, but players like Dwight Freeney and Julius Peppers have proved in recent years that it can happen. Udeze is probably the rookie defensive lineman most likely to make a significant impact right away and thus should be the first rookie DL drafted in both redraft and dynasty leagues.
2.16 (48) - Dontarrious Thomas - Outside Linebacker - Auburn - The Vikings added another starter to their defensive unit in round 2. Thomas played OLB for his first 3 years but then moved inside to MLB for his senior season. He has good size (6'2", 240), good speed (4.63), and is a great athlete (38.5" vertical, 10'9" broad jump). Thomas is a very aggressive player with natural LB instincts who is great in pursuit. The one knock on his game has been his ability to drop into coverage but he is a good enough athlete to improve in that area. He can play at any LB position but the Vikings plan to use him at WLB where he can use his speed and athleticism to fly around unblocked and make plays. Adding Thomas to the weakside will give the Vikings a very talented group of LBs with E.J. Henderson taking over at MLB and Chris Claiborne manning the SLB spot.
Fantasy Outlook: Thomas didn't make as many plays while playing MLB during his senior year as he had in the past. He's a better fit on the outside where he'll have a bit more time to read and react. As of now, the Vikings plan to start him on the weak side, which means he could make a huge impact for fantasy owners right away. He is definitely worthy of a roster spot in both redraft and dynasty leagues, and should probably be drafted in the same area as players like Teddy Lehman (DET), Karlos Dansby (ARI), and Daryl Smith (JAX).
3.25 (88) - Darrion Scott- Defensive End - Ohio State - Scott is a versatile player who can line up at DE or DT. While in high school, he rushed for over 1,600 yards as a fullback. He had his best season playing DE in 2002, but then moved inside for his senior year. He's got great size at 6'3", 289 lbs, but is probably not strong enough to hold up at DT so he'll likely play DE for the Vikings. Scott is a very good athlete and he plays hard at all times. He doesn't have great speed, but he does have good initial quickness and has some potential as a pass rusher if he improves his technique.
Fantasy Outlook: The Vikings have some questions regarding their RDE spot and Scott will likely be given a chance to compete for playing time right away with Kenny Mixon, Lance Johnstone, and Nick Rogers. Unless he wins the starting job, his fantasy value is going to be minimal. Long-term, he could emerge as a decent starter opposite Udeze but probably doesn't have enough upside to be on a fantasy roster anytime soon.
4.19 (115) - Nat Dorsey - Offensive Tackle - Georgia Tech - Some people thought Dorsey should return to school and work on his consistency. As much can happen from one year to the next, predictions often ring hollow, but if he'd had one more year of college play, he probably would have been a top-3 tackle off the board in 2005. No worries though, as the Vikings and Mike Tice should be able to coach him up every bit as well as the staff at Tech. He's got plenty of power and size, but his technique and balance need a little work. Also, Dorsey needs to watch his weight, but aside from that, he should develop into a solid tackle for the Vikings in the next couple of years.
4.23 (119) - Mewelde Moore - Running Back - Tulane - More than a couple of fantasy players had Moore on their sleepers list. After he wound up in Minnesota, they might have crossed him off entirely. Things just keep getting more and more crowded in for those who line up behind Culpepper, but there is plenty of reason not to worry. Moore has a rather interesting and unique ability to gain yards. Lots of yards. He catches the ball well. Runs it outside well. Blocks well. Catches and runs some more. And on and on and on. The knock on Moore is that he can't handle the pounding of being an every-down back, particularly against NFL competition. So, what is there to like? Well, plenty! Mike Tice has shown absolutely no hesitation is using more than 1 running back in a game. Or more than 2. Or even more than 3. In short, although it seems like fantasy hell for us, in deep leagues, a rarely used running back like Moore could have some understated value just because so many people think he won't get a chance to play. However, I have a bit of a theory: I think the Vikings are willing to let Bennett leave via free-agency after 2004 if his price is too high. As such, the team will have Onterrio Smith to carry the ball inside and Mewelde Moore to act as the change-of-pace guy. Doesn't sound so bad to you now does it?
Redraft: Moore has very limited value in redraft leagues. However, if Michael Bennett were to get hurt again, his value would quickly increase. Keep an eye on the health of the Vikings runners and don't be shy about scooping Moore up if opportunity even thinks about knocking.
Dynasty: Moore is worth selecting after the top-tier of WRs and QBs are gone. Think of it this way: Running Backs are obviously the most valuable position in fantasy football. At the end of the second round in a rookie draft, you're likely looking at either a solid WR prospect (Darling, Henderson) or a guy like Moore. Knowing that WRs don't develop all that quickly in the first place, if they develop at all, should make Moore and his future prospects every bit as attractive as any WR after the top 6 or 7 are gone. Don't forsake Moore just because you aren't crazy about his situation. Bennett could leave, Moe could return to special teams, somebody could get hurt. Situations change, and upside at the running back position is often worth the risk.
5.23 (155) - Rod Davis - Inside Linebacker - Southern Mississippi - Greg Biekert retired and E.J. Henderson is expected to take his place in the starting lineup so the Vikings had a need for depth at MLB. Rod Davis has been extremely productive as a college LB and was selected 1st team All-Conference USA three times in a row. He slipped in the draft because he lacks great speed and has some character concerns. However, he has good size and great instincts, and should be a more than adequate backup if he wants to be.
Fantasy Outlook: Due to his lack of speed, Davis will probably never be a 3-down LB but he may find a niche as a run stopper on 1st and 2nd down. E.J. Henderson has some durability concerns that caused him to drop in last year's draft so Davis could end up seeing the field as a rookie. There is a chance the Vikings may use some 3-4 sets with Ted Cottrell in town, which could open up a spot for Davis as well. He's probably not worth picking up just yet, but is someone to keep an eye on during training camp and preseason. If he impresses the coaching staff, he could see a bigger role than expected.
6.19 (184) - Deandre Eiland - Cornerback / Free Safety - South Carolina - He has played both CB and FS in college. He has good size, adequate speed, and is a physical player who can help in run support. He has a chance to earn a roster spot by contributing on special teams, and could develop into a nickel or dime package player eventually.
Fantasy Outlook: No real fantasy value. Most likely a special teams player or practice squad candidate.
7.19 (220) - Jeff Dugan - Tight End - Maryland - I really like this pick, as I have long believed that teams should use their 6th round picks on "ability" and their 7th round picks on "head." In that, I mean that 7th round picks so rarely stick in the long-term that it's more important that roster space be used on a guy who has the work-ethic and football brain to possibly overcome some physical limitations, as opposed to taking a guy with marginal physical ability and no football sense. Anthony Dorsett aside, "marginal physical ability" rarely makes it in the NFL without a solid set of fundamentals and a solid work ethic. Dugan is the kind of guy with average size, average speed, and average strength. But he's a hard worker and he's got a lot of technique, particularly as a blocker, down pat. He finds his man quickly after the snap and rarely gets out-leveraged, even by larger opponents. Qualities like that make it possible that he'll stick around long enough to turn into a real NFL tight end. Even thought the team has Kleinsasser serving as its main receiving threat out of the tight end position, do not be surprised to see Dugan work himself into being the #2 tight end for the Vikings in the next couple of years.
Redraft: Dugan has very little value in redraft leagues.
Dynasty: Dugan is worth a roster spot in very large leagues that allow you to keep players for long periods of time without penalty. While I don't imagine he'll ever be a productive tight end in fantasy football, playing with a quarterback that isn't shy about throwing it to the tight end in the red zone certainly makes giving a Dugan a look worth the trouble.
16-team PPR Keeper League
QB: T. Romo, V. Young
RB: M. Turner, B. Wells, T. Hightower
WR: A. Johnson, J. Ford, N. Burleson, A. Roberts, J. Simpson
TE: D. Clark, J. Cook
K: R. Gould