Happy New Year! With Week 16 officially in the books, that means for the vast majority of fantasy leagues, your season is now over. What better way to ring in the new year, than with a look at this past season's fantasy football statistics? I know, right?
For the Minnesota Vikings there was pretty much Adrian Peterson and not much else. Well, that isn't entirely true, but there wasn't a lot to like from the other members of our favorite squad in fantasy football. What follows is a position by position breakdown of how things went for the Vikings in fantasy, along with a look at my Preseason "Bold Predictions."
Vikings Fantasy Review
Quarterback: Teddy Bridgewater
Teddy was 16th quarterback drafted in fantasy football, and his average draft position was 118th overall. He was a popular late round draft pick as a backup quarterback with upside after a fantastic finish to the 2014 season. Unfortunately, he failed to meet such lofty expectations and finished as the 23rd best quarterback in fantasy, totaling only 186 ESPN Standard scoring points. He was one of the worst starting quarterbacks in fantasy football among those quarterbacks who played the entire season and wasn't really usable from one week to the next. That's not to say that he didn't have some good games. In fact, he had the best single game of his career against Chicago in week 15 where he scored over 30 fantasy points for the first time ever. But his week to week average was pretty abysmal. That doesn't mean he's a bad quarterback, it just means the Vikings employed a low volume passing attack, since he had one of the lowest passing attempts per game in the NFL. It was pretty much the Adrian Peterson show this season and that hurt Teddy's fantasy production.
Preseason bold prediction: Teddy will score above 20 points 5 times or less. Unfortunately, this one came true. He scored above 20 points only once all season!
Running back: Adrian Peterson
There were a TON of question marks for Peterson coming into the season from his age, motivation level after missing an entire year, and injury concerns after missing lots of games the last few seasons. But that didn't stop people from drafting him highly. In fact, he was not only the first running back drafted, his average draft position was as the consensus #1 overall pick in fantasy drafts. And that ranking turned out to be totally justified as he is currently the NFL's leading rusher. Although in a year where many of the top running backs were lost to injury (LeVeon Bell, Jamaal Charles, Arian Foster and Marshawn Lynch), I'm not sure how impressive the rushing title really is. To put it in perspective, he's currently competing with Doug Martin for the title, which isn't saying much. While he may currently hold the title with only one more game to go, he is not the #1 running back in fantasy football. That distinction goes to DeVonta Freeman. Freeman has 13 more fantasy points on the year, mostly due to the fact that he has 13 total touchdowns (both rushing and receiving) to Peterson's 10. Peterson has 1,639 total yards from scrimmage, and Freeman has 1,540 total yards from scrimmage, so you can see just how close the two players are. Peterson's 99 more yards isn't enough to overcome Freeman's three extra TDs in fantasy scoring. Freeman's usage in the Falcon's passing game gives him a big edge over Peterson who is mostly a 2-down running back.
Preseason bold prediction: Despite being drafted and ranked #1 overall, he will not lead the league in rushing. Well, it would appear I was wrong on that one! I would have been curious to see how Bell, Charles, Lynch and Foster might have done this year if all of them had been healthy, and Bell was having such a strong year before his injury that he might have earned the rushing title on only 14 games!
Wide Receivers: Stefon Diggs, Mike Wallace, Charles Johnson
Coming out of training camp all of the hype was around Charles Johnson and the budding rapport he and Teddy had. Unfortunately Johnson never got anything going in the early weeks of the season, and then lost his job to Stefon Diggs after getting injured. Johnson hasn't even been seeing snaps the last few weeks. Meanwhile, the big off season acquisition of Mike Wallace has mostly been a bust. Aside from a few good plays here and there, Wallace and Teddy have had zero chemistry this season. This was especially frustrating from a fantasy perspective since both Wallace and Johnson had relatively high average draft positions. Wallace was drafted as the 31st wide receiver off the board (81st overall) and Johnson was the 33rd receiver off the board (89th overall). Both were viewed as viable flex options in the preseason. They both finished outside the top 50, with Wallace ranked as WR #72, and Johnson so poorly he wasn't even ranked (he scored only 10 total fantasy points, yes...10). I wasn't the only one who whiffed on Johnson. He was the player voted on by all DN readers as the "best draft day value" as a 10th round pick! Needless to say both Wallace and Johnson were HUGE busts this year. On the other hand, Stefon Diggs has come in as a rookie and showed a bit of potential knocking off four games in a row of at least 8 fantasy points or more and emerged as Teddy's most targeted wide receiver. He finished the year as the #43 receiver overall in fantasy, which is impressive for having not played in the first three games of the year.
Bold Prediction: Charles Johnson will have the most yards and receptions of any Vikings receiver
Tight End: Kyle Rudolph
Rudolph has been such a frustrating player in fantasy football. With Norv Turner as the offensive coordinator, everyone wanted him to be the next Jordan Cameron or Antonio Gates, but unfortunately he just isn't that kind of player. He doesn't have the kind of speed or route-running prowess of those players. What he does have is pretty sure hands, and a gigantic frame that makes him a big target in the middle of the field and in the red-zone. And he does get several looks in the middle of the field and in the red-zone each game...unfortunately, only several. Rudolph only averaged 4.6 targets per game, and finished as tied for 11th in fantasy scoring with Zach Ertz. That sort of sounds respectable and makes it seem like he was a viable starter in a 12-team league, until you realize that he scored only 74 total fantasy points, half as many as the #2 tight end (Jordan Reed). Tight end was very thin this year with only 4-5 guys concentrated at the top and then a giant steaming pile of "everyone else." Still, Rudolph technically finished the year with value as he was drafted as the 16th best tight end with an average draft position of 150 overall. If you spent a late round pick on him as a backup tight end, he returned value, especially if you were lucky enough to start him during those few games when he found the end-zone. And that is what Rudolph's value is: a low end player with red-zone potential.
Preseason Bold Prediction: Kyle Rudolph will not start all 16 games this season. I was dead wrong on that one! Rudolph has had a surprisingly healthy 2015 season, having not missed any time.
D/ST and Kicker Blair Walsh
In the Preseason nobody was high on the Vikings D/ST in fantasy football. They were the #15 D/ST unit based on ADP, and they were ranked even lower by the consensus experts. But I believed in Mike Zimmer's ability to build a defense, and our young pieces were expected to take the next step in their development. If you spent a late round pick on them in your fantasy drafts they returned excellent value having finished as the 8th best fantasy defense.
Preseason Bold Prediction: the Vikings D/ST will finish in the top 10 in fantasy scoring. Well, I'd say I got that one right!
Blair Walsh had a rocky training camp and and even worse Preseason. Many analysts were skittish after Walsh finished outside of the top 10 last year. But if you listened to your purple heart and spent a draft pick on him anyway, you were rewarded with a top 10 finish! Walsh got back on track in a big way this season finishing as the 4th best kicker in fantasy.
Preseason Bold Prediction: Walsh will finish outside the top 10. Whoops! This is one of those instances where I'm glad to be wrong.
If you followed along with my "Well-played" and "Oops" picks all season, I got some of them right and some of them wrong. For those picks I tried to highlight players I thought had their consensus projection either too high (Oops) or too low (Well-Played). For the year I finished 17-13 with my picks for a 0.57 winning percentage, or just slightly better than a random guess.
Daily Norseman Fantasy League
And last but not least, the 2015 Daily Norseman Fantasy League held it's Super Bowl last week. It was a showdown between myself (Diggs Darklighter) and this blog's head editor Christopher Gates (Joe Webb Still Sucks). I am proud to report that I defeated Chris with a score of 119.76 to 84.50 to claim the bragging rights of league champion. I want to thank all of the Daily Norseman writers and those readers who earned a spot in the league for participating. I hope you all had as much fun as I did. The final standings are below:
1. Diggs Darklighter
2. Joe Webb Still Sucks
3. Heath Miller Time
4. 2 Glovez
5. CrisCarter's FallGuys
6. Jules Winnfield
8. Hitman Harry
9. We're Ball Witnesses
10. Zim Reaper
11. Jackson's Team
12. The Blair Walsh Project
Once again thank you for reading this season, and I look forward to what is in store for next season! If you won a league championship, then congratulations! If not, well I hope you at least had fun and are looking forward to next year.