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Frigga's Fantasy Football: Vikings Draft Preview

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Frigga Logo (via ccnorsemen)

Welcome to the inaugural issue of the Frigga's Fantasy Football series. And just what is Frigga's Fantasy Football? Well, anyone versed in Norse Mythology surely knows that Frigga (sometimes known as Frigg) is one of the most prominent Norse goddesses, most known for her prophetic ways. As the wife of Odin, she is the god of love and marriage, and thanks to her power of prophecy I chose her as the perfect muse to consult for fantasy football advice about our Minnesota Vikings. Each week during the regular season I'll draw on the inspiration of Frigga to answer the following question: Which Minnesota Vikings players should we start this week? In this first article however, since the regular season is still about a month away, Frigga will help us determine which Minnesota Vikings players should be drafted on our fantasy teams. In typical Daily Norsemen aggregating style, I'll be scouring the internet for as many projections as possible and cull them all together for your reading pleasure. Fair warning, this first one is pretty long-winded, but subsequent articles will be much shorter.

For this draft preview, I'll be looking at the rankings and projections of the four most popular fantasy football websites, as well as the consensus projections at FantasyPros.com. It's worth pointing out that Frigga's Fantasy Football articles will always assume a standard scoring 10-team league, such as those at ESPN. Each table below includes total season projections from each source to help gauge the value of each player, and ultimately, what round to draft the players. Check out Matthew Berry's point targets for each position, taken from his excellent draft day manifesto. A starter at each position should be able to get you the following point totals in an average week:

QB: 17 points (272 for the season)
RB1: 13 points (208 for the season)
RB2: 10 points (160 for the season)
WR1: 11 points (176 for the season)
WR2: 10 points (160 for the season)
FLEX: 10 points (160 for the season)
TE: 7 points (112 for the season)
D/ST: 8 points (128 for the season)
K: 8 points (128 for the season)
Total: 94 points

Why is 94 points significant? Well, according to the same article the top four teams across all ESPN standard leagues achieved at least 8 wins last season, and scored an average of at least 94 points per week. So, teams that can average 94 points would make the playoffs 95% of the time with those 8 wins (per 13 weeks). What's neat about this scoring chart is that you can adjust any of these numbers up or down to get to 94 points. For example, if you draft the best QB on the board that averages 20 points per week you've gained 3 points over your target, and therefore you can take a 3-point loss at another position, like your FLEX, and still get to 94 assuming you hit the targets at the rest of the positions. Or even better, if you can still make your point targets, then you'll be sitting pretty with 97 total points. So, let's take a look at our Minnesota Vikings to see how they will fare in fantasy football this season.

Quarterback: Christian Ponder

First up is Christian Ponder. In short, his 2012 fantasy season left a LOT to be desired. Sure, he had a couple of amazing weeks where he put up over 20 points, but he also had some really, really bad weeks where he was in the single digits (and even had three games of 2 or less fantasy points). It was maddeningly inconsistent. Let's cut right to the chase. Here are his projections for 2013:

Christian Ponder Season Projections

ESPN

Yahoo!

CBS Sports

NFL.com

Fantasy Pros

2012 Stats

Passing Yards

2679

2408

3497.3

2865

2938.2

2935

Passing TDs

17

12.6

21

15

17.2

18

INT

13

10.7

15

15

13

12

Rushing Yards

204

280

209.7

211

206.8

253

Rushing TDs

1

0.5

1

0

0.8

2

Avg. Draft Position

170+

170+

170+

150

240

-

Total Fantasy Points

165

159.6

238

151.7

176.7

180

Aside from the projections being all over the place, the first thing that jumps out at me is that 4 out of 5 sources predict that Ponder will score less fantasy points in 2013 than he did in 2012, which is pretty remarkable considering he was already pretty bad last year. Last season, Ponder was ranked 30th among all quarterbacks averaging a measly 11.3 points per game. So, if these "expert" rankings are to be believed, we shouldn't touch Ponder with a 10-foot poll (or except in the deepest of leagues).

But what does Frigga think? Well, I see Ponder as a high upside player with a lot of potential, at least for one more year. He's been on a slight upward trajectory the past 2 seasons in his average fantasy points per game, and there's no reason to believe that trajectory won't continue. He has arguably no worse a situation at receiver in 2013 than he did in 2012 with the swapping of Michael Jenkins for Greg Jennings and Percy Harvin for Cordarrelle Patterson. And if anything it might be a little better assuming Jerome Simpson is healthy and Jarius Wright takes a big step forward in his development. Most of the other pieces on offense are the same as last year, so how can he not improve? He was near the bottom of the league last year and really has nowhere to go but up. I do think he'll improve upon his 11.3 average per week, but only slightly. I suppose if these sources are worried that Ponder will get injured in 2013 or plays poorly, then he has less value with Matt Cassel potentially seeing time under center. But even then, I don't think projections should account for potential injuries, because they are impossible to predict.

However, despite the fact that I think he will do better than most of these projections suggest, the fact is there are probably 20 QBs who I would definitely draft ahead of Ponder. In a deeper league though, (14+ teams) I might consider Ponder as a backup on a Vikings fan's team. I would put Ponder on a similar level as Jay Cutler, Sam Bradford, Carson Palmer and Alex Smith in terms of fantasy value. And I would also put him ahead of guys like Brandon Weedon, Matt Flynn, EJ Manuel and Jake Locker. Even with slight improvement to say, an average of 13 points per game, that barely makes him worth having on the roster, even as a backup.

Round to Target for Ponder: not draft-able in standard leagues (or last few rounds of a deep league)

Frigga's Bold Prediction: Matt Cassel will ride the pine all year, so don't even consider drafting him.

Running Back: Adrian Peterson

Next up is the reigning MVP Adrian Peterson. I was tempted to leave this section completely empty, except for a single sentence: "Draft Adrian Peterson #1 overall." But, numbers are fun so here are his projections:

Adrian Peterson Season Projection

ESPN

Yahoo!

CBS Sports

NFL.com

Fantasy Pros

2012 Stats

Rushing Yards

1692

1824

1612.3

1878

1666.5

2097

Rushing TDs

13

11.8

13.7

11

12.8

12

Receiving Yards

308

317

259.7

284

275

217

Receiving TDs

1

0.8

1.7

2

1.4

1

Avg. Draft Position

1.2

1.2

1.02

1.89

1

-

Total Fantasy Points

279

284

260.8

287.8

274.3

297

He was the best RB in fantasy last year averaging an insane 18.6 points per game, and it wasn't close. So, don't overthink it. If you're looking for a safe, elite pick in the 1st round, Peterson is your guy. He's without a doubt the best RB in the NFL on a run-heavy team and will get his carries, yards and TDs. Even better we still have at least another couple years of Peterson in his prime. So, take advantage! And he'll give you such a bonus at your RB1 spot in terms of point targets you'll be able to take a hit at another position and still get to 94 points.

It's worth mentioning that despite the fact that Peterson has boasted all off-season that he wants 2500 yards, every single source on the table above expects Peterson to regress a little bit in 2013. What does Frigga think? Yes...he'll regress. Despite his super-human strength and cyborg machinery, there's just no reason to expect Adrian Peterson to actually do better in 2013. There is no precedent for it, and I would be shocked and surprised if he breaks 2,000 yards again.

Round to Target for Peterson: 1st round (nay, 1st overall pick!)

Frigga's Bold Prediction: Peterson leads all fantasy rushers in 2013 once again, but fails to top 2,000 yards

Wide Receivers: Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson

This is where it gets really interesting. I was tempted to discuss the top four receivers (Jennings, Patterson, Wright and Simpson), but after looking at the projections in depth, Wright and Simpson just weren't worth spending any time on, and this article is long enough already. Starting with Greg Jennings, he's been a fantasy stud in the past when healthy, but what about 2013? Help us to make sense of the receiver position Frigga!

Greg Jennings Season Projection

ESPN

Yahoo!

CBS Sports

NFL.com

Fantasy Pros

2012 Stats

Receiving Yards

806

835

875

1,008

871.3

366

Receiving TDs

7

4.3

7

7

6.2

4

Rushing Yards

0

0

0

0

0

0

Rushing TDs

0

0

0

0

0

0

Avg. Draft Position

78.8

88.2

90.6

87

81

-

Total Fantasy Points

122

108.5

121

140.8

123.9

57

Just as most of the fantasy experts are down on Christian Ponder, so too are they down on Greg Jennings. And I don't blame them. Jennings hasn't had over 1,000 receiving yards since 2010. He's dealt with injuries the past 2 seasons and had a particularly bad year in 2012 where he really wasn't effective until the final 3 games of the year.

Does Frigga think we should expect Greg Jennings to top 1,000 yards in 2013? No, probably not. Even Percy Harvin wasn't able to top 1,000 yards in the past 4 years with the Vikings. The last 1,000 yard receiver the Vikings had was Sidney Rice in 2009, and he had Brett Favre throwing him the ball. And before that you have to go all the way back to 2004 to find another one: Nate Burleson with Daunte Culpepper throwing him the ball. With the exception of 2009, the Vikings haven't had a respectable passing game in many years. And based on Ponder's play the past 2 seasons, there is no reason to expect that Jennings will suddenly turn that around. So, if these projections are to be believed, then that makes Jennings a receiver ranked 30th - 40th averaging about 7.7 points per game. In other words, he's suitable as a backup but he doesn't even meet the point target for the WR2 or FLEX spots. Going a little deeper, in terms of usage Greg Jennings looks like he'll take over for the aging and oft-injured Michael Jenkins at the "Z" position. And Jenkins had the following stat line last year in that position: 449 yards and 2 TDs. The expectation is that Jennings should be able to roughly double that production and I agree. But that still doesn't make him a starter.

Round to Target for Greg Jennings: 7th-9th (maybe 6th if you really want him and you're in a league with a bunch of Viking fans)

Frigga's Bold Prediction: Greg Jennings plays all 16 games in 2013, the first time that's happened since 2010.

Cordarrelle Patterson Season Projection

ESPN

Yahoo!

CBS Sports

NFL.com

Fantasy Pros

Receiving Yards

388

521

602

424

500.3

Receiving TDs

3

2.7

4

4

3.3

Rushing Yards

25

0

48

57

44.8

Rushing TDs

0

0

0.3

0

0.3

Avg. Draft Position

153.9

125.1

149.4

148.3

157

Total Fantasy Points

58

70.4

78.4

70.1

74.4

CP-84's projections are all over the place, and it's very difficult to project what a rookie will do in their first year in the NFL. But one thing stands out to me: rushing stats. Not one source projected Greg Jennings for any rushing stats, but Patterson (also known as "Flash" as he likes to be called) is consistently projected for at least some action in the running game in four out of the five sources.

What does Frigga think? Patterson is going to have a lot more rushing yards than people expect as he'll step into the role that Percy Harvin had: a Swiss army knife where he gets the ball all over the field, especially at the line of scrimmage. If we assume that Bill Musgrave's offense will essentially be the same offense that he's run for the past 2 years with only a few tweaks towards personnel, then based on the fact that Patterson had a healthy rushing total at Tennessee last year (308 yards and 3 TDs), then logically Patterson would be a good fit to assume most if not all of Percy Harvin's past rushing duties in the offense. The past two seasons, Harvin had averaged almost 3 carries a game for 17.4 yards (5.96 YPC). Even if we assume a slight downgrade for Patterson getting only 2 carries a game for 4.5 YPC that still more than doubles the most generous rushing projections on the table with 144 yards. So, I think Yahoo is dead wrong to project Patterson for 0 rushing yards (and incidentally, Yahoo pegs Jarius Wright as the only Viking receiver to get rushing yards, also wrong IMO), and we should expect Patterson to get a healthy number of carries.

As for the receiving totals, I think a range of 400-600 is appropriately conservative for a raw, rookie wide-out. Even the best rookie receivers last year had a hard time breaking 800 yards. Regardless though, it may not matter much, as you probably shouldn't even draft Patterson in a standard league, despite the fact that most of the average draft rankings above suggest people are drafting Patterson late in drafts (rounds 13-16). I think even that would be a mistake. He's outside of the Top 50 Receivers List in pretty much every source, and thus far through the first week of training camp, he's still behind Jerome Simpson on the depth chart. For deeper leagues (14+ teams) or dynasties though, he's a must get for depth and for the future, because his ceiling is through the roof. And if you're in a custom league where return yards are counted, then that raises his stock significantly as reports out of training camp indicate Patterson is going to be the #1 return-man for the Vikings. Patterson has a good chance to net the most all-purpose yards on the Vikings in 2013, but as a pure receiver we shouldn't expect much yet. But hey, if you're a Viking fan you're not out much if you spend a 14th round flyer on Cordarrelle Patterson. He's a lottery ticket type anyway.

Round to Target Patterson: not draft-able in standard leagues (late rounds in a deep league or with return yards, or for Viking fans)

Frigga's Bold Prediction: Patterson breaks 80 fantasy points this season, but still isn't draft-able.

Tight End: Kyle Rudolph

While there will likely be at least three tight ends on the Vikings roster in 2013 there is only one that you should even remotely consider for your fantasy team: Kyle Rudolph. For all the hype of Musgrave installing a "two-tight end system", we really didn't see much of it last year or the year before. And anyone who was worried about John Carlson stealing targets away from Kyle Rudolph should have found it very easy to sleep last year. John Carlson was a complete non-factor in 2012, and unless something miraculous happens, I don't see that changing anytime soon in 2013. So, let's get to the table of stats!

Kyle Rudolph Season Projection

ESPN

Yahoo!

CBS Sports

NFL.com

Fantasy Pros

2012 Stats

Receiving Yards

503

593

642.3

589

624.9

493

Receiving TDs

9.7

4.8

8

6

7

9

Rushing Yards

0

0

0

0

0

0

Rushing TDs

0

0

0

0

0

0

Avg. Draft Position

83.4

69.6

89.5

75.8

83

-

Total Fantasy Points

98

87.46

105

94.9

104.2

99

Almost every source predicts Kyle Rudolph to have a nearly identical season in 2013 as he had in 2012, at least in terms of a season total perspective. Anyone that owned Kyle Rudolph last year knows of his frustrating production (elite one week, and then a literal 0 the next). Since the Vikings offense is largely the same as last year, these projections are definitely reasonable. That said if you're looking to get 7 fantasy points per week from your tight end, then according to these projections you'll need to look elsewhere.

What does Frigga think? I think these projections are spot on. My hope is that Rudolph is more dependable and consistent this year than last and is able to raise his weekly average, but his yardage last year was low. The reason he even approached 100 fantasy points was because of his elevated TD total, and those are the most variable stat year to year. If I had to pick one projection I like, it would be NFL.com: a slight uptick in yardage, and a slight downgrade in TDs, but essentially the same overall point total. Kyle Rudolph is a low end starter in a 10-team league, or a really good backup.

Round to Target: 8th-10th (or maybe 7th if you're in a league with a bunch of Viking fans)

Frigga's Bold Prediction: John Carlson will catch less than 20 passes this year, so draft Rudolph with confidence knowing he's the clear go-to option at TE for the Vikings.

Defense/Special Teams and Blair Walsh

And now we're firmly in the "doesn't matter" territory of your fantasy team. And since it doesn't matter, I'm not going to give you any stats! You shouldn't draft the Vikings D/ST or kicker Blair Walsh before the last two rounds of your draft, and then you should feel lucky if one of them falls into your lap. So, don't reach for them!

Ok, fine, I'll provide a couple of stats (but the paragraph above is truth). The Vikings D/ST averaged 7.7 points per game last year, good enough to rank 11th. In other words, they were just bad enough to not own as a starter last year, and if you owned them and made it to the playoffs, they weren't doing you any favors. I did look at the 2013 projections, and as expected they are all over the place, and rightly so. D/ST production is the 2nd most variable from one year to the next. So, the Vikings might end up a Top 5 fantasy defense next year...or they might end up ranked 20th. Either is pretty much equally likely. I think the loss of Harvin will hurt their scoring production on Special Teams, and that even takes into account the arrival of Cordarrelle Patterson. But as a diehard Vikings fan, if they fall to my lap in round 15, I'll happily draft them!

The same goes for kickers. In fact, kickers are the most variable from one year to the next, and on top of that, they are the 2nd lowest scoring position (behind only tight ends) in fantasy, making them completely irrelevant. So, despite the fact that Blair Walsh was the #4 kicker last year in fantasy averaging 8.6 points per game, there's no reason to believe he'll even be in the top 5 next year. His point totals were boosted by the fact that he was insanely good from 50 yards out (10/10). If he misses even a couple of those tries (like most kickers do), he plummets to the bottom of the Top 10. If you draft Blair Walsh before the last round of the draft, know that you're passing up on a lottery ticket at wide receiver or running back that could potentially win your league. You'll get just as much value out of, say, Dan Bailey or David Akers in the last round. Both were ranked 9th and 10th last year, but have just as much of a chance as Blair Walsh of being the #1 kicker in 2013.

To close, I thought I would list my ideal Vikings Fan fantasy draft. If you were lucky enough to draft all of the players above and followed Frigga's advice, here is how it might go down:

Round 1: Adrian Peterson (Sweet, you've just won your league)
Round 2: ? (go for another RB!)
Round 3: ? (go for the best WR available!)
Round 4: ? (take another WR!)
Round 5: ? (take the best QB on the board not named Christian Ponder)
Round 6: ? (go for the best RB/WR for your FLEX)
Round 7: Kyle Rudolph (Boo Ya!)
Round 8: Greg Jennings (your bench is looking good!)
Round 9: ? (continue building your RB/WR depth)
Round 10: ? (ditto)
Round 11: ? (ditto)
Round 12: ? (maybe grab a backup QB not named Christian Ponder)
Round 13: ? (RB/WR Depth!!!)
Round 14: Cordarrelle Patterson (fingers are crossed on this lottery ticket!)
Round 15: Vikings D/ST (Let's hope for more INTs!)
Round 16: Blair Walsh (50 yarders here we come!)

And it is here at the end the article that we thank Frigga for her inspiration. If you take my advice, and it doesn't work out...don't blame me. Blame Frigga, and feel free to use her moniker in your swearing and curse word arsenal...it's kinda fun. FRIGGA!!!!!!!

This FanPost was created by a registered user of The Daily Norseman, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the staff of the site. However, since this is a community, that view is no less important.

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