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Frigga's Fantasy Football Fridays: Week 7

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The Daily Norseman takes a look at the fantasy football prospects of our Minnesota Vikings as they go on the road to face the Buffalo Bills.

Jerick Mckinnon, Jedi Warrior and leading fantasy scorer of Week 6...our only hope.
Jerick Mckinnon, Jedi Warrior and leading fantasy scorer of Week 6...our only hope.
Adam Bettcher

Do you know what I love about Star Wars?  For me, it's the character archetypes and timeless story about the struggle between good and evil.  It's the ultimate story of redemption, and overcoming terrible odds in the face of all-but-certain despair.  In the opening scene Darth Vader storms aboard Princess Leia's ship on the hunt for the stolen plans to the Death Star, in a show of power from the Empire that is meant to intimidate and instill fear.  But do the heroes of the story panic, and does Princess Leia bow down and give up?  No they do not.  Instead while her ship is being overtaken by Darth Vader, Princess Leia sends out a message...a sort of distress call...to her only hope: retired and recluse Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi.  The thing I like about that opening scene (aside from the cool blaster fire, ominous music and sleek black costume of Darth Vader) is that against all those odds Princess Leia never loses hope.  Despite being taken prisoner by Darth Vader and held captive on board his Super Star Destroyer she still has hope that not only will she be rescued, but that her Rebel Alliance will manage to defeat the evil Empire.  She believes that against all odds something good can still happen.

And so it is with our Minnesota Vikings.  We sit at 2-4 after the first six weeks of the season.  We've lost two important offensive players for the year with several more out for many weeks.  We sit in last place in one of the more difficult divisions in the NFL and after two abysmal offensive performances in back-to-back weeks, things look grim.  But do not despair Vikings faithful.  Good things are just on the horizon, especially in Fantasy Football, because our version of Obi-Wan Kenobi even has what would be a cool Jedi Name.  Help us Jerick Mckinnon, you're our only hope.

This week the rebel Vikings jump through hyperspace to take on the Bills of the Buffalo star system.  The Bills have a terrifying run defense, tops in fantasy allowing only 8.7 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs.  They haven't allowed a rushing TD all year and have held every team they've faced under 86 rushing yards per game.  But do not despair!  The Bills represent a pretty friendly fantasy matchup to opposing quarterbacks and receivers.  They are ranked 18th best against QBs, allowing an average of 16.5 points per game and 24th against wide receivers allowing an average of 23.8 points per game.  They are even ranked 14th against tight ends allowing 7 points per game.  While the Vikings may struggle to get much going on the ground with Matt Asiata and Jerick Mckinnon, there should be plenty of fantasy points to be had in the passing game.  What follows are the Fantasypros consensus projections for Week 7, which take into account 7 different sources including CBS, ESPN and Pro Football Focus among others.

Minnesota Vikings Fantasy Projections for Week 7

Vikings Player

Rush Att.

Rush Yds

Rush TDs

Rec.

Rec. Yds

Rec TDs

Pass Yds

Pass TDs

Pass INTs

Total Points

Season

Average

QB Teddy Bridgewater

3.9

17.1

0.3

n/a

n/a

n/a

215.8

0.6

1.2

12.0

10.7

RB Jerick Mckinnon

11.9

47.9

0.1

3.2

24.3

0.0

n/a

n/a

n/a

7.8

4.3

WR Cordarrelle Patterson

0.8

6.8

0

3.2

37.3

0.1

n/a

n/a

n/a

4.9

5.5

WR Greg Jennings

0

0

0

3.6

46.7

0.2

n/a

n/a

n/a

6.0

5.2

WR Jarius Wright

0.1

0.5

0

3.8

44.7

0.1

n/a

n/a

n/a

4.9

3.5

TE Chase Ford

n/a

n/a

n/a

2.5

24.0

0.1

n/a

n/a

n/a

2.7

2.3

Let's be honest: Teddy Bridgewater looked abysmal last week in terms of fantasy football.  With three interceptions, no touchdowns and under 200 yards passing he limped his way (literally and figuratively) to a whopping 2 total fantasy points.  After lighting up the Atlanta Falcons to the tune of 22 fantasy points in week 4, expectations were high for Bridgewater.  But he struggled against one of the strongest defenses in the league.  The Bills have a great pass rushing defensive line which could cause problems for Teddy, but their secondary is not as good as the Lions or Packers.  Our receivers should have an easier time getting open, so hopefully Teddy won't hold onto the ball so long and can have something of a bounce back week.  After seeing significant time in three games this year, he's only averaging 10.6 fantasy points per game, but I think his projection of 12 fantasy points represents his floor.  The Falcons have a similar defense against QBs for fantasy purposes (also allowing 16.2 points per game) as the Bills, so I expect a bounce back game for Bridgewater.  Plus, his ankle is back to 100% as he has not appeared on any injury reports so far.  Still, despite my optimism, Teddy Bridgewater is not worth a starting in standard leagues as there are much less risky options out there.

So how about that Jerick Mckinnon?  He was the leading fantasy scorer for the Vikings last week, racking up 8 total points.  He was a useful flex play in standard formats, and after hauling in 6 catches was even better in PPR leagues.  If the offense wouldn't have struggled so badly he could have had an even better day.  I was definitely surprised to see him get the start, but it's something I've wanted to see after Matt Asiata had "Leroy Hoard-ed" his way to a measly 3.7 yard per carry average over the previous 4 games.  Don't get too excited though, as Mike Zimmer has said he wants to get Matt Asiata more involved in the run game going forward after he only got 2 carries to Mckinnon's 11.  But it would appear that Mckinnon will get the majority of the carries going forward.  I'm not real excited about either player this week against the best run defense in the NFL.  But long term, I think we have an exciting running back option in Jerick Mckinnon.  He still has a lot of work and developing yet to do though, especially in pass protection as he has allowed 2 sacks and 5 QB hurries already (PFF grades his pass blocking -3.1, better than only Matt Kalil), and he needs to do a better job of catching passes (his 17.65% drop rate is ranked 30th out of 32 running backs) but his athleticism and speed make him a threat that Asiata would never be.  For what it's worth, Asiata's drop rate is actually worse than Mckinnon (18.75%), but his pass blocking is a little better as he's only allowed 3 QB hurries and sports a -0.6 pass blocking grade.  Never-the-less, I'd be sitting both Asiata and Mckinnon against the Bills.

If I were a Cordarrelle Patterson owner, I would be getting him out of your lineup and/or looking for a trade.  While it's true that he dealt with an injury last week that limited his opportunities, he has been having a difficult time getting open.  Mike Zimmer called him out at a recent press conference saying, "He needs to get open, pretty simple."  Patterson is the 2nd most targeted player on the team, garnering an average of 5.5 targets per game (which is low when compared to top receivers in fantasy).  Even so, it's not an issue of dropped passes as his 0.0% drop rate is tied for tops in the NFL, but his production, as evidenced by yards per route run (1.05, ranked 78th out of 87 receivers), indicate that he is not getting open and not taking advantage of opportunities when he does catch the ball.  On top of all that, Norv Turner does not seem committed to using Patterson in the kind of "gadget" role that he was featured in last year under Bill Musgrave.  Turner and Vikings seem to want him to develop into a bona-fide NFL receiver and appear to be giving him experience at running routes as opposed to carrying the ball as a runner (he has only 2 carries in the past 5 games since getting 3 in week 1).  That will limit his upside going forward compared to last year.  As I mentioned last week, Greg Jennings is the Vikings receiver to own as he has outscored Patterson in each of the last 4 weeks and remains the most targeted receiver on the team.  Once again there are about 30-40 receiving yards missing from Bridgewater's passing yards projection when compared to the Vikings receiving projections.  Last week it turned out to be a Bridgewater over-projection.  This week, I think it could be the reverse, but your guess as to who would get the slight bump in production is as good as anyone else's guess.  If pressed, I would probably peg Jennings to outperform his projection, since he is the most targeted receiver on the team, but it could just as well be Adam Thielen or Charles Johnson who have both caught passes the last couple games.  At the end of the day, I wouldn't recommend starting any Vikings receiver despite the good matchup.

At this point, I really can't recommend a Viking tight end for fantasy purposes.  Chase Ford has only gotten 4 or 5 targets in each of the last three games and hasn't topped 37 receiving yards in any of them.  There should be much better options out there on the waiver wire.  Ford probably only has three more games as the starting tight end anyway as Rudolph appears to be on track to return in Week 11 after our bye week.  His recovery timetable is right on track as he resumed upper body weight training last week after his sport hernia surgery.  If you have room to stash Rudolph on your bench, jump on him sooner rather than later.

Blair Walsh has scored only 4 points the past two weeks as our offense has struggled to move the ball down the field.  Buffalo is a friendly matchup against opposing kickers, so if we can get our passing game on track and move the ball a little better it could mean good things for Blair Walsh.  He has now slipped to 13th overall among fantasy kickers after that pair of poor outings the past two weeks, but I would feel a lot better about starting him against Buffalo than I did last week against Detroit.  Amazingly, the Vikings D/ST scored 7 points in ESPN standard leagues, the 2nd most of the year.  As I highlighted in the Matchup Index this week, I think they are on track to have another good showing.  The Bills have allowed an average of 11 fantasy points to opposing defenses the past 4 weeks.  Orton has thrown an interception in each of his first two starts, and has been sacked a combined 7 times by the Lions and Patriots.  I think the Vikings D/ST would be worth a start in 12-team leagues and larger as the chance for another interception is high and I think we can pretty much guarantee at least a couple of sacks, but I think those of you in 10-team leagues and smaller can probably do better.

So, after six weeks I am now 26-22 overall in my 8 fantasy leagues.  As always here are the updated standings for the 6-team DN Writers League.  I'd like to point out just how unlucky I have been with the 3rd most Points For, but still sitting in 5th place.  Oh, and I think Arif Hasan has given up on this league as he still has Adrian Peterson and Robert Griffen III in his starting lineup (C'Mon Arif, you're being "that guy"):

Team Owner

Wins

Losses

Total Points For

1.       MarkSP18

5

1

902.29

2.       Kyle Segall

5

1

865.56

3.       Christopher Gates

3

3

827.03

4.       Eric Thompson

3

3

704.36

5.       CCNorseman

2

4

839.93

6.       Arif Hasan

0

6

668.85

Lastly, if Fantasy advice is what you seek, look no further.  I've stopped keeping track of the accuracy of Frigga's advice, but just know I tend to be slightly better than a 50/50 shot in the dark...slightly.  In any case, post your questions below in the comments section and Frigga's inspiration and wisdom shall be yours.