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Frigga Fantasy Football Friday: Week 1 vs SF

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The Daily Norseman breaks down the statistical projections for the Vikings against the 49ers and what it all means for fantasy football.

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The sky looks blue. Lemons taste sour. Fire is hot. Roses are fragrant. What do all of these statements have in common? They are known quantities. Unfortunately for us, the 2015 NFL season has barely gotten off the ground, and therefore it is filled with the opposite of those things. Much of the upcoming season is unknown. And it is in this world of the unknown that we must venture in fantasy football. But it's not as if we are entering this world blind and without any tools at our disposal. We've seen what these players can do before, last season and a little bit in the Preseason. So we have to use whatever information we can to make sense of the unknown.

In this first game of the year the Vikings travel to San Francisco to take on the 49ers in the late game on Monday night. Much has been made about the 49ers turnover of the roster, and if there is any team that has the most "unknown quantities", it is the 49ers. They've not only had some of the most turnover among starters on any roster in the NFL, but they also have a new head coach with a new scheme. Therefore it's almost useless to look at the trends and stats from last year's defense to project what might happen this season.  But since it's all we have to go on, we'll do it anyway. Last year they had a very tough defense that was at least top 12 against quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers in fantasy football. The only skill position where they allowed more than league average was against tight ends. They excelled against quarterbacks in particular allowing an average of 14.1 fantasy points per game. Thankfully for the Vikings, that same defense has lost six of last year's starters and seems destined to be less effective. So with that in mind, let's take a look at the consensus projections from Fantasy Pros for our Minnesota Vikings. As always, these projections are a consensus of the following five sources: CBS Sports, ESPN, numberFire, FFToday and Stats.com, following standard scoring.

Minnesota Vikings Fantasy Projections for Week 1

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

2.5

12.6

0.1

n/a

n/a

n/a

233.2

1.5

1.1

14.7

0

RB Adrian Peterson

19.7

88.7

0.7

2.5

19.1

0.0

n/a

n/a

n/a

15.2

0

WR Charles Johnson

0.1

0.1

0.0

3.9

52.1

0.5

n/a

n/a

n/a

7.9

0

WR Mike Wallace

0.0

0.3

0.0

3.9

56.2

0.5

n/a

n/a

n/a

8.7

0

WR Jarius Wright

0.2

1.8

0.0

2.5

30.8

0.1

n/a

n/a

n/a

4.0

0

TE Kyle Rudolph

n/a

n/a

n/a

3.0

34.1

0.1

n/a

n/a

n/a

4.2

0


Teddy is projected for a number that I had pegged for his season average and is also pretty close to the average San Francisco allowed last year.  If we're being conservative, it's a pretty good projection.  But, if Teddy comes out throwing gang busters and replicates his performance during the final five games of last year, he should be able to top that projection.  I would put 14.7 fantasy points as his floor, and I would not be surprised to see him beat that mark.  While there is some concern about the offensive line, is it really any worse than where we finished the year last year?  I think even with Clemmings in for Loadholt, and Berger in for Sullivan, the offensive line right now is better than what we put on the field late last season.  Our depth is another question, but the starters should be serviceable in the short term.

I have no reason to doubt that Peterson can reach his projection, but we're all just waiting to see what he can do after a year away from football, and now at 30 years of age. In this early part of the season he should look very good, being rested and fully healthy.  Even DeAngelo Williams at age 32 looked great last night against New England topping 100 rushing yards.  While there are seemingly a lot of unknowns surrounding Peterson, if you own him, you drafted him in the top 5 of your draft for a reason. He'll start with the expectation of earning double-digit fantasy points.

At wide receiver Charles Johnson and Mike Wallace are projected for nearly identical point totals, as it's been all off-season. If there is any amount of "unknown" for the Vikings, it is how these two receivers will produce. Wallace should be the "deep threat", while Johnson works the middle of the field, but even that might be over-simplifying things.  Both guys are complete receivers who can do it all. A lot of people forget that Charles Johnson had 4.3 speed at the combine; he can run deep routes too. We'll all have to play a wait and see game during the first few weeks to see how the targets are distributed.  So in the meantime, start either guy as a low end #2 WR/FLEX play and see what happens.

Kyle Rudolph's projection seems awfully low this week. Remember, the 49ers defense's only real weakness in fantasy was against tight ends. Rudolph had a lot of hype coming into last season with Norv's reputation for throwing to the tight end position a lot.  But it never materialized for him, and even in the games he did play, it was underwhelming.  He only averaged 5 fantasy points per game last year in games he played in, and he was wildly inconsistent scoring 7.6 points in the first week, but only 0.9 in week 14.  Some of that was due to the merry-go-round at the quarterback position as well as his health, but regardless, it doesn't inspire a lot of confidence for this season. I think there are a lot of unknowns with Rudolph, but unlike with Johnson and Wallace, I wouldn't be testing the waters with Rudolph as a starter until we see what he can do.

As for Blair Walsh and the Vikings D/ST, I hope you didn't waste a draft pick on Walsh.  He's been dreadful this Preseason, and didn't finish in the top 10 last year. Hopefully you left him on your waiver wire.  It's worth pointing out that the 49ers were also ranked 7th against kickers last year.  The Vikings D/ST on the other hand is on the rise.  While they didn't finish in the top 10 last year in fantasy, they are a hot pick this week against Colin Kaepernick.  The 49ers offense was ranked 25th last year, and served up an average of 8.5 fantasy points per game to opposing D/ST units in fantasy, making the Vikings a sneaky start this week.  It gets tougher for the Vikings D/ST in the coming weeks, but at least for Week 1, start ‘em up!

This season, I'm going to highlight one player I think will outscore their consensus projection by giving them the "Well Played" designation (yeah, I'm stealing this from some earlier Preseason articles...deal with it), and then also highlighting one player I think will fall short of their projection by giving them the "Oops" designation.  Here are my picks for this week:

Well Played of the Week

Well Played

QB Eli Manning vs Dallas

Manning has a consensus projection of 16.1 fantasy points this week.  He's up against Dallas who recently lost Orlando Scandrick for the year in the secondary and whose defense was never good to begin with. These two teams have dropped a ton of points on each other the past few years and I'd expect another shootout.  While Dallas allowed an average of 16.2 fantasy points per game last year, Manning put up 23 against them both weeks last year.  I'd expect similar numbers this week too, especially now that he has a bona-fide go-to receiver in Odell Beckham Jr.

Oops of the Week

Oops Award

WR Mike Evans vs Tennessee

Mike Evans is someone that I felt was overrated during this last draft season.  While he finished as a top 10 wide receiver last year, 75 of his 177 fantasy points came during a bizarre 3-game stretch against terrible defenses: Atlanta, Washington and Chicago.  His point total was also artificially inflated due to his scoring 12 touchdowns, and touchdown totalss are very difficult to repeat year after year.  What concerns me the most is that during the final six games of the year Evans failed to top 54 receiving yards in a game, and in five of those six games he was under 50 yards.  Evans had a terrible quarterback last year, but I'm not convinced that the rookie Jameis Winston is that much of an upgrade.  All the same, Evans is projected for 11.6 standard fantasy points this week, and I'm just not buying it. He is also dealing with a hamstring injury and has been limited in practice this week, so I'm taking a too easy choice this week as he may not be 100% even if he does play.  But that's all the more reason to question this projection. And oh yeah, Tennessee was not terrible against wide receivers last year ranked 16th overall and allowing an average of 21.9 fantasy points combined to opposing wide receivers.  With Vincent Jackson and Louis Murphy in the mix, I find it nearly impossible for Evans to hit his projection.

HELP ME FRIGGA

I put the call out a few days ago for twitter questions and thank you to those of you that submitted some questions.  I had some good ones, including one that asked about last night's game.  Since one of the folks asked about some Vikings players (and I basically addressed those above), this week I've chosen the following question from @Corbichov, who asked:

First of all, let me shed some light on how I make a decision about several players at the same position.  I like to check four variables and whoever seems to do the best in those four variables, gets the nod.  First, I check consensus rankings to see which players the experts like. The consensus rankings have them ranked in this order (I hand-picked the most accurate):

#31. Joique Bell
#41. Tre Mason
#42. Darren McFadden

Next, I check their projections.  They are projected as follows for standard leagues:

Joique Bell: 8.2
Tre Mason: 5.2
Darren McFadden: 6.1

Next, I look at their matchups.  This is especially important if two players are ranked and projected similarly, because I can use the matchup as a tiebreaker.

Joique Bell vs SD (ranked 14th last year, allowing 16.9 fp)
Tre Mason vs SEA (ranked 3rd last year, allowing 14.5 fp)
Darren McFadden vs NYG (ranked 26th last year, allowing 20.3 fp)

And lastly, I look at their health and role in the offense.  At this point, both Bell and McFadden were full practice participants this week, while Tre Mason hasn't been practicing yet (as of Thursday).  While Bell was banged up in the Preseason, it is definitely a good sign to see him back at full practice.  At this point, it looks like Mason may not even play this week, so the choice comes down to McFadden vs Bell.

And in that case I don't think it's a close decision, start Joique Bell.  While both are in a time-share of sorts, Bell seems to be the one in line for more work in Detroit as the starter, while McFadden seems to be the one with less work as the backup to starter Joseph Randle in Dallas. Based on their rankings, projections, matchups and health/role status, Bell gets the nod from me because he beats McFadden in the rankings and projections. While McFadden has a slightly better matchup, it doesn't really matter in this case.  So if I had to choose between those three guys, I'd be taking Joique Bell.  Good luck!

Be sure to give @Corbichov a follow on Twitter, and if you have any questions for me that you'd like to see answered in next week's article, be sure to hit me up on twitter and include the hashtag: #HelpMeFrigga. In the meantime, I'll do my best to answer any other sit/start or roster questions that come up in the comments below leading up to the games on Sunday, and feel free to help each other out too!

There's no real update to give about the official Daily Norseman Fantasy league, but if you missed it, check out my draft recap article from earlier in the week.  And side note, I was up against Jackson McIntire's "Jackson's Team" (C'mon Jackson, choose a team name already!) who own's Rob Gronkowski, DOH!  If Brady and Gronk play like they did last night every week, look out.  However, I'm not totally out of it, because I own Antonio Brown to counter him, who also had a monster game (thank you garbage time touchdowns!). We'll see what Sunday brings...

EDIT: I forgot to put this into the article last night, but if you're interesting in taking me on in a Daily Fantasy League, join my Week 1 Fanduel league!  It's a $2 entry, and the first 20 people to register get in. It will payout to the top 6 finishers. If you're interested, join here.