So, I’ve made two previous posts about Vikings players in fantasy football. In the first one, I made the ridiculous proclamation that McNabb and Berrian had fantasy value this season. Ha! However, my analysis of the RB and WR positions was spot on in that post. In the second, I claimed Shiancoe would come on strong, and he really didn’t outside of one good game against Detroit late in the year. What follows is a recap of the Vikings fortunes in fantasy football this year. As always, this analysis assumes standard scoring.
QB: McNabb averaged 10.3 fantasy points per game during the first 6 games of the season, which is a pathetic point total in fantasy. Ponder came in full time at week 7, and for the 7 games in which he started AND finished, he averaged just over 14 fantasy points per game. He was fairly inconsistent, putting up a max of 22.4 points in his game against Denver, but only 7.3 points against Green Bay in week 9. The cutoff for viable starters points at the QB position (in standard scoring) is 15. So, Ponder wasn’t quite consistent enough to be an every week starter in fantasy football. If he can stay healthy and work on controlling turnovers, his prospects for 2012 look very good. His running ability is very attractive for fantasy purposes, and at the end of the day, Ponder was still the third highest scoring fantasy player on the Vikings, with limited action. Joe Webb didn’t have a start all year, but in the 3 games in which he saw significant time, he averaged 15 points per game. Where Ponder’s rushing is an attractive attribute, it is an absolute gold mine to Joe Webb’s fantasy prospects, and he has far greater potential to run it into the endzone. If Joe Webb ends up the starter, his upside is through the roof, thanks to his rushing ability.
RB: Well, unfortunately, this is the year we lost Adrian Peterson to a torn ACL, and he missed a total of 4 games this year due to injury. Even so, he was the 8th highest ranked running back in all of fantasy, and was the highest scoring Vikings player this year. In games that he played, he averaged 14.6 fantasy points a game, well above the cutoff of 8 for starters at the RB position. Nobody knows what kind of player he’ll be after he returns from the ACL injury, but history has shown that backs rarely put up the same level of fantasy points the year after returning from an ACL injury. Look for him to bounce back to full health in 2013. The bigger story IMO, is that Toby Gerhardt proved to be a competent hand-cuff. If given the opportunity, he’s an every week starter. Toby averaged 13 fantasy points per game in the final 6 games of the year, a mere 1.5 point dropoff from ADP. In very limited action Toby was the 5th highest scoring Viking in fantasy.
WR: The WR position was also hit with injuries as Michael Jenkins went on IR after showing some chemistry with Christian Ponder. He put up the first 100 yard receiving game of his career, and was averaging 5.5 fantasy points per game before the injury. He was a decent backup WR or flex play. Devin Aromashodu was not an adequate fill-in for Jenkins, as he only averaged 4 points per week during the final 7 weeks of the year. Percy Harvin however, had a breakout year. He finished the year ranked as the #7 WR in all of fantasy, and averaged 11.3 points per game, largely thanks to a boost to his point totals due to his rushing yards and TDs. After a slow start, he really came on strong when the team switched to Christian Ponder and Michael Jenkins went on IR. He was the only real weapon in the passing game and ended up just over 8 fantasy points behind Adrian Peterson on the year. His stock will be high in 2012 fantasy drafts, but I would be hesitant to jump on the Harvin bandwagon until I see what the team does to address the WR position.
TE: Visanthe Shiancoe had another disappointing year in fantasy football. He ended the year ranked 26th at the position and only averaged 3.7 points per week, although he didn’t record a single catch in the final 3 weeks of the year. Meanwhile Kyle Rudolph’s production saw a slight uptick in the second half of the year, and he averaged 3.8 points in the final 3 games of the year, essentially equaling Shiancoe’s production. In terms of fantasy, Rudolph should have about the same amount of value as Shiancoe heading into 2012, and if Shiancoe leaves in free agency, then I like Rudolph’s redzone potential. If he can continue to develop chemistry with Ponder, he could emerge as a top 10 starter eventually. Unfortunately, the TE position was not a fantasy strength for the Vikings in 2011.
D/ST: The Vikings Defense/Special Teams was a huge disappointment. They finished the year ranked 26th overall, and only averaged 5.1 points per week. They couldn’t generate turnovers, and allowed too many points. They weren’t rosterable, and unless they make major changes next year, their prospects for 2012 don’t look very enticing.
K: Ryan Longwell also disappointed this year. At the midpoint of the year he was ranked 11th at the position and had potential to improve as a dome kicker. But the offense stalled, and he missed a few opportunities and finished the year ranked 21st, and only averaged 6.8 points per week. The kicker position is easily the most variable and inconsistent of any of the fantasy positions, but Longwell was not starter material in the 2nd half of the year. While he was the 3rd highest scoring Viking in fantasy, after the bye week, he only scored double digit fantasy points in 2 out of 8 games.
So, in the end, there were only two Vikings worth starting: Peterson and Harvin. Ponder and Gerhardt were worth stashing on the bench, and Gerhardt proved to be a competent backup to Adrian Peterson. Joe Webb is an interesting option as the starting QB, but he likely won’t see the field much in that capacity. Outside of those guys, the rest of the Vikings players are not worth anything in fantasy football. Barring some unforeseen free agent pickups, or amazing rookies out of the draft, the fantasy prospects for the Vikings in 2012 look pretty dim. There just aren’t enough elite playmakers on offense.