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What now for Vikings’ Skill Players?
Posted By Robert Bode On Aug 3 2010 @ 10:35 pm In Fantasy | No Comments
As of right now Brett Favre will not be playing for the Minnesota Vikings in 2010. While a return for Favre is entirely possible (some would say probable), I’m going to assume #4 will stay retired, thus leaving Tavaris Jackson as the Vikings’ starting quarterback. So what does that mean for Jackson and the rest of Minnesota’s offensive skill players? Let’s just say Adrian Peterson is no longer in the running for the first overall pick.
Adrian Peterson – Peterson, or AD, will have even fewer running lanes this season, and his offensive line was suspect in 2009. Last year’s rookie right tackle Phil Loadholt should improve, but left tackle Bryant McKinnie and Steve Hutchinson appear to be wearing down a bit. As for Peterson, his fumbling issues are a slight concern, but with Jackson under center, the biggest issue is defenses stuffing the line, especially in the red zone. In 2008, with Jackson as the starting quarterback, Peterson actually ran for nearly 400 more yards than in 2009, but he had eight less rushing touchdowns. Peterson seems to be a better running back on his 25th carry than his fifth, so perhaps a bigger workload will benefit AD and the offensive line, but with such a bruising running style more injuries are a definite concern. Peterson could still remain very valuable in PPR (Points Per Reception) since his role in the passing game has grown each season in the NFL, plus Chester Taylor is no longer on the roster.
Toby Gerhart – The rookie out of Stanford isn’t your prototypical third-down back, but he should expect to see 5-10 touches a game in order to give AD a rest. Also, Gerhart could be a nice option near the goal line, but realistically his touchdowns will be at a minimum with Peterson being so good at finding the end zone.
Sidney Rice – A consensus top-15 wide receiver before Favre’s retirement, Rice is the player most impacted by #4’s decision. Sidney is only 23 after leaving South Carolina as a redshirt sophomore, but before Favre’s arrival, the 6’4” Rice was a rarely used red zone target. In 2007 and 2008 combined, Rice had 46 catches for 537 yards and eight touchdowns. With Favre in 2009, Rice had 83 receptions for 1,312 yards and eight scores. So does this mean Rice will fall off the elite WR radar? Not exactly, because I think he is finally becoming the wideout many thought he would become when he left the Gamecocks, but I don’t expect him to be a top-20 WR again in 2010, especially with a nagging hip injury. That being said, with Favre gone Rice goes from being slightly overrated to incredibly underrated, and potentially fantasy football’s best value pick.
Percy Harvin – So being a University of Florida grad, I must admit my man-crush of Harvin. That being said, I am worried that Harvin will take a step back this season with Jackson under center. Percy will still be a threat on kick return and out of the backfield on occasion, but as a WR he will likely see less passes go his direction. While Harvin does a very good job of getting open with his speed and quickness, what made him so valuable to Favre was his strength and willingness to go across the middle of the field. Favre and his gunslinger mentality was great for Harvin since #4 had no problem forcing throws into tight windows, but with head coach Brad Childress emphasizing ball security with Jackson, Harvin will probably see 15-20 less targets this season than in 2009. Harvin will still get his screens and quick slants and drag routes, but he is no longer a fantasy number two option.
Bernard Berrian – His value wasn’t good with Favre, and it probably won’t be much better with Jackson, but expect some deep scores for Berrian this season. In 2008, Berrian averaged 20 yards per reception with Jackson at quarterback, with seven touchdowns. However, Berrian was the number one option then, and now he is the third, fourth or fifth choice.
Visanthe Shiancoe – The big red zone threat will probably continue to see plenty of targets inside the 20, but it is hard to see him improving on his 11 scores in 2009. Shiancoe is still a viable tight end option, but no longer a true number one on your fantasy roster.
Ryan Longwell – OK, so he isn’t a skill player, but his fantasy value could actually improve with Favre gone. Yes, the Vikings won’t be as good on offense, but they won’t be terrible. If anything, they will probably have to settle for more field goals in 2010, meaning more points for Longwell.
Tavaris Jackson – The biggest question mark of the 2010 season. Jackson says he learned a lot from sitting behind Favre last season, but saying it and proving it are two different things. Jackson has tons of talent around him, but he has to take better care of the football while not being afraid to make the big play. Jackson has a big arm and can make plays on the run, but with Childress and offensive coordinator Darren Bevell likely to reign in the offense, anything close to 20 touchdowns would be unbelievable. He could be a passable second option, but nothing more.
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