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2012 Fantasy outlooks: Minnesota Vikings

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Adrian Peterson's knee is the biggest storyline for the Vikings and Fantasy owners this season. He suffered multiple torn ligaments in his knee on Christmas Eve in Week 16, and he is trying to make a full recovery in time for training camp.

Through Minnesota's minicamp in June, Peterson had been running at full speed and starting to cut. He said he was able to do everything with his knee, and his goal is to be ready for training camp and be on the field in Week 1 against Jacksonville.

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We're cautiously optimistic about Peterson. He's an athletic freak, and he's dedicated himself to his recovery. All the reports are glowing -- he was even beating teammate Percy Harvin in sprints -- but we want to see him in pads and in preseason action.

There's still a chance he could suffer a setback or just not be the same Fantasy standout we've become accustomed to when Peterson first entered the league in 2007. Fantasy owners will gravitate to Peterson based on all these positive reports and his pedigree, but anything prior to Round 3 is a risk in our estimation.

Most likely, you will have to draft Peterson in Round 2, and hopefully he lives up to the billing. But we're not ready to invest in a running back less than nine months removed from such a devastating injury.

Instead, consider waiting and draft Toby Gerhart with a mid- to late-round pick. Gerhart might have the chance for quality production if Peterson just isn't the same dominant rusher -- at least initially -- following the injury.

Fantasy Value Chart
Player Draft Day value Estimated round
Quarterbacks
Christian Ponder ND
Running Backs
Adrian Peterson 3
Toby Gerhart 8
Lex Hilliard ND
Jordan Todman ND
Wide Receivers
Percy Harvin 4
Jerome Simpson 12
Michael Jenkins ND
Devin Aromashodu ND
Greg Childs ND
Tight Ends
Kyle Rudolph ND
John Carlson ND
Kickers/Defense
Blair Walsh ND
Vikings DST ND
ND - not expected to get drafted

Sleeper ... Kyle Rudolph, tight end
We hope Rudolph is able to build off his performance to end last season over 16 games this year. He had three touchdowns in his final seven games, and if his targets increase he could be a quality contributor for the Vikings. Fantasy owners shouldn't consider Rudolph anything more than a late-round flier in deeper leagues, but he could be someone to add off the waiver wire if he starts off the season playing well. The Vikings need playmakers in the passing game, and Rudolph was a star at Notre Dame. He is a big target at 6-foot-6, and the Vikings have said he will be featured in two tight-end sets. John Carlson will cut into his production, but if Christian Ponder can rely on Rudolph, especially in the red zone, this could be a good year for Rudolph and those owners who trust him.

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Breakout ... Toby Gerhart, running back
I'm skeptical Peterson will be ready and 100 percent for Week 1, which means more touches for Gerhart. And even if Peterson is back and ready to go, it would be surprising to see him get 19 carries a game, which is what he's averaged for the past three years. The Vikings don't want to overwork Peterson coming off his injury, and Gerhart was solid in place of Peterson last year. Gerhart had double digits in Fantasy points for five games in a row from Week 12-16, and he averaged 4.9 yards per carry. Gerhart is never going to be a dominant running back, but it's clear he can be a weekly starter if given enough touches. If something happens to Peterson in his comeback then look for Gerhart to shine, and he's definitely worth drafting in all leagues with a late-round pick.

Late-round flier ... Jerome Simpson, wide receiver
Simpson will play 13 games at most for the Vikings in 2012 after being suspended for three games because of an offseason arrest and guilty plea to a drug charge. But once he returns in Week 4 at the Lions, he should be a key figure in the Minnesota passing game. He'll be an upgrade over Michael Jenkins as the starter opposite Harvin after posting career-highs in 2011 with 50 catches for 725 yards and four touchdowns with the Bengals. He's got some potential to serve as a quality reserve for Fantasy owners -- not a consistent No. 3 receiver -- making him worth a late pick in drafts. Just remember, he'll miss the first three games of the year, so if you draft him you have to commit to keeping him for a little while, and he could be slow in his development and rapport with Ponder. But the talent is there, and Simpson should get the opportunity to succeed once he gets back on the field.

Schedule breakdown

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
JAC @IND SF @DET TEN @WAS ARI TB @SEA DET bye @CHI @GB CHI @STL @HOU GB
The Vikings play 12 games indoors, which helps them since they're built for turf -- but it's not going to make their season any better. They might start off 2-0, even if they're without Peterson, but it gets tougher from there with matchups against the 49ers and Lions. It gets worse late in the year when they face the Bears and Packers twice each over their final six games. If they don't improve their offensive line, they could have some real trouble for those games along with a tough Week 16 game at Houston. The silver lining is that their last four games are in domes, so there shouldn't be any weather issues slowing them down, which is nice.

Training camp topics

Aside from Peterson's knee, Fantasy owners will pay close attention to Harvin and his attendance. He caused a controversy in June when he said unknown issues may cause him to hold out.

2011 Touches Leaders
Player Touches
Adrian Peterson 208 carries, 18 catches
Percy Harvin 87 catches, 52 carries
Toby Gerhart 109 carries, 23 catches
Michael Jenkins 38 catches
Visanthe Shiancoe 36 catches

Harvin said he wasn't upset at his contract, and reports surfaced he wanted a trade, which the Vikings quickly said would not happen. Now, we have to see if he will show up on time.

We like Harvin a lot as a No. 2 Fantasy receiver. He was a Top 10 Fantasy receiver last year as a third-year breakout when he totaled more than 1,300 yards with career-bests in total touchdowns (eight) and catches (87). If he shows up on time as expected then he should be drafted in Round 4 or 5 in most formats. His value will also be on the rise if Peterson is out.

The key for Harvin and the Vikings will be the development of Ponder. He had some positive moments as a rookie last year -- in 10 starts last season, Ponder had multiple touchdowns in five games -- but he needs to improve for Minnesota to have any success (he also had no touchdowns in three games). The Vikings gave Ponder some new weapons in Simpson and Carlson, and we hope Rudolph's improvement will help as well. The biggest key for Ponder could be if Peterson is out, which would force him to carry more of the load on offense.

We know he can rely on Harvin, but Ponder would need to do a lot of heavy lifting to keep the Vikings competitive. Keep Ponder on your radar because he's a No. 2 quarterback who could reach Top 15 status with a good year. He is not worth drafting in the majority of leagues.

Injury update

Peterson (knee; questionable for the start of training camp) ... Harvin (shoulder; probable for the start of training camp) ... Gerhart (knee; probable for the start of training camp) ... Jenkins (knee; probable for the start of training camp) ... Greg Childs (calf; probable for the start of training camp) ... Antoine Winfield (shoulder; probable for the start of training camp)

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Jamey at @JameyEisenberg and on Facebook .

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Player News
Cardinals' Larry Foote '50-50' on playing in 2015
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(2:17 pm ET) Though Larry Foote is on the Cardinals' coaching staff at the moment, he hasn't ruled out a potential return to the team

Speaking to the team's website, Foote said he's "50-50" about playing in 2015. He talked about the factors that could play into whether or not he returns to playing. 

“Draft, what happens with (suspended linebacker) Darryl Washington, stuff like that, how my knee feels (after offseason surgery),” Foote said. “I’ll sit down with (Bruce Arians) and the next couple of months are really going to be the deciding factor.”

If Foote doesn't play, he'll be the linebackers coach for Arizona's upcoming season. He's been adjusting to the role of being a coach this offseason. 

“I am starting to like coaching,” Foote said. “It’s a little tough in the office, eating M&Ms, snacking all day, drinking coffee. I started my diet a couple days ago.”


Panthers pick up option on Luke Kuechly contract
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/25/2015) What was promised by general manager Dave Gettleman is now official - the Panthers have picked up the fifth-year option on the rookie contract of standout linebacker Luke Kuechly, per the team website.

The two-time Pro Bowler has led the NFL in tackles in two of his three seasons and was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2013. He has racked up 473 tackles since 2012, the most in the NFL.


Ravens TE Dennis Pitta hopeful for 2015 return
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(4/25/2015) Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta hopes to take the field in time for the 2015 season, but admits it's too early to determine if that goal can become a reality.

Pitta has undergone surgeries to repair a fractured and dislocated hip in each of the last two years.

"We still have some time to be able to assess where I'm at," Pitta told the Baltimore Sun. "I sure hope that I'll be on the field next year. That's my hope; that's my goal. We'll just see if I can get there."

Pitta has played in just seven games in the last two seasons combined.


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by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(4/25/2015) Eagles quarterback Mark Sanchez said he wasn't concerned that the team signed Tim Tebow, because the Eagles told him Tebow was just there to throw in camp.

"We needed another guy to throw while Sam's (Bradford) still recovering. So that's the reason (for the signing), at least as explained to me," Sanchez said, per CSN Philadelphia

The Eagles signed Tebow on Monday. He hasn't played in the NFL since getting cut by the Patriots at the end of training camp prior to the 2013 season. He spent last year as a television analyst for the SEC Network. 

Tebow and Sanchez were teammates on the Jets in 2012. Tebow's presence as a back-up created a quarterback controversy among fans and media that last ed throughout the season. 


Vikings CB Terence Newman has familiarity with Mike Zimmer
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) Vikings cornerback Terence Newman won't have a steep learning curve now that he's with his new team. 

Newman played under Vikings coach Mike Zimmer when he was the defensive coordinator with the Cowboys. Drafted in 2003, Newman learned Zimmer's defense from his rookie season through 2006, before Zimmer left to take the same position with the Falcons. 

“I just know exactly what to expect from him as a coach, as well as everybody else in this locker room,” Newman told the Vikings' website. “You play your best football under him.”

In his career, Newman has recorded 741 tackles and 37 interceptions. Entering his 13th NFL year, Newman has already impressed his teammates with voluntary workouts underway. 

“I met with him and he seemed like a great guy,” cornerback Xavier Rhodes said. “Like he’s going to come in and teach us what we need to know about the technique of the game and about the defense because he’s been in it before, so he’s going to help us out a lot. He’s a big asset to this team and the defense.”


Chiefs pick up option on NT Dontari Poe
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) The Chiefs have exercised their fifth-year option on two-time Pro Bowl nose tackle Dontari Poe, per NFL.com. He is set in Kansas City through 2016, when he will earn $6.146 million.

The 350-pound Poe has earned the money. He racked up six sacks and contributed to 46 tackles in 2014.


Lions GM Mayhew OK with James Ihedigbo skipping workouts
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) Safety James Ihedigbo was the lone absence from voluntary workouts this week for the Lions. But general manager Martin Mayhew understands. After all, Ihedigbo's agent has stated that he would not work without a new contract.

"I look forward to talking with James," Mayhew told ESPN. "I understand what he's going through. I've been through that myself as a player, when I felt that a time in my career that I was underpaid and I had to deal with that.

"So I have empathy for him. I understand what he's going through and I look forward to sitting down and talking with him. I have great respect for him as a player, as a man. I've gotten to know him a little bit away from football and I understand how he feels."

Mayhew declined to discuss whether the Liins will rework Ihedigbo's contract.

The 31-year-old Ihedigbo contributed 71 tackles and two sacks with a career-high four interceptions in 2014 despite missing three games at the start of the year with a nerve injury. He earned Pro Bowl alternate status.


Eagles withdraw qualifying offer to RB Chris Polk
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) Running back Chris Polk is now a free agent. 

According to the NFL transaction wire, the Eagles rescinded their $1.6 million tender they offered this past March. The Eagles placed the tender on Polk, previously a restricted free agent, before signing both DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews in free agency. 

With Darren Sproles on the roster, it didn't make much sense for Polk to stay with the Eagles. 

In 2014, Polk ran for 172 yards and four touchdowns. 


RB Bobby Rainey signs qualifying offer with Buccaneers
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) The Buccaneers have announced that running back Bobby Rainey has signed a one-year qualifying offer the team extended to him before the free agency period. He was a restricted free agent and was given an opportunity to negotiate with other teams.

Rainey will compete for playing time with Tampa Bay. He rushed for 406 yards in 2014, but faded at the end of the season with just two carries in the last six games combined.


Jaguars planning to play 2015 season without Justin Blackmon
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) As far as the Jaguars are concerned, Justin Blackmon will not be lining up at receiver for them this season. 

At least that's the approach Jacksonville is taking. Blackmon has been indefinitely suspended since Nov. 1 2013 for three violations of the substance-abuse policy under the old CBA.

"Our process hasn't changed," Caldwell said, via ESPN.com. "[We] plan to go without him, but if he emerges, he emerges, and he's going to go in with those top guys and compete with those other guys. Hopefully we're able to get some news, but if not we weren't planning on [having Blackmon]. We're just going to go [without him]."

Before he can re-join the Jaguars, he'll need to file an application for reinstatement, with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell making a decision within a 60-day window. The application letter would include details of the treatment he's received. 

Since being selected with the fourth overall pick in the 2012 draft, Blackmon has only played in 20 games. He has 1,280 yards and six touchdowns in his career. 


 
 
 
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