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Offseason Primers: Minnesota Vikings

Senior Fantasy Writer
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It's safe to say there were a lot of improbabilities in the Vikings 2012 season. It was improbable that their star running back, Adrian Peterson, would not only be ready to play in Week 1 after tearing his ACL late in the prior season but rush for over 2,000 yards. It was improbable that quarterback Christian Ponder, not Peterson, would ultimately steer the team to a playoff berth without the benefit of a quality receiver like Percy Harvin. Heck, it was improbable that the Vikings were a playoff team!

And how improbable was it that the Vikings were forced to use backup quarterback Joe Webb in their playoff loss at Green Bay?

2012 Touches Leaders
786 total touches (rush attempts + receptions)
Adrian Peterson 388 (348 car., 40 rec.) 49.4%
Percy Harvin 84 (62 rec., 22 car.) 10.7%
Toby Gerhart 70 (50 car., 20 rec.) 8.9%
Christian Ponder 60 car. 7.6%
Kyle Rudolph 53 rec. 6.7%
Michael Jenkins 40 rec. 5.1%
All Others 91 11.6%

Fantasy Football deals with probabilities as much as improbabilities, but there's seemingly one sure player on the Vikings: Peterson. His story from 2012 was enough to make him the league MVP after rushing for the second-most yards in a single season with 2,097 yards. He added 12 touchdowns on the ground and one more through the air. Peterson regained his form as a dominant rusher capable of rumbling for over 120 yards on the ground per week, which he did in half of his regular season games. He's got a hammerlock on the amount of work he'll get from week to week (he had under 20 touches just three times last season) and will run behind a solid offensive line. Though there's a smidge of concern Peterson could exhaust himself after taking on 370 carries over 17 games last year, the reality is that he's too good a player to pass up taking if made available on Draft Day. Owners shouldn't hesitate to take him with the first overall pick.

The rest of the Vikings? Defensively it's looking good but offensively there are a lot of questions after the team traded one of the NFL's most explosive playmakers.

Jarius Wright -- Sleeper

2012 Target Leaders
483 pass attempts
Kyle Rudolph 96 19.3%
Percy Harvin 85 17.6%
Michael Jenkins 72 14.9%
Jerome Simpson 52 10.8%
Adrian Peterson 51 10.6%
All Others 127 26.3%

With Percy Harvin moving on to the Seahawks and Greg Jennings serving as an outside receiver the door is open for Jarius Wright to contribute in his second season. He sat out the first nine games of the year, only getting playing time once Harvin got hurt. Wright didn't have a major impact in place of Harvin but did cobble together two touchdowns on 22 catches for 310 yards. He also caught 60 percent of his targets. But that little experience combined with what he did in college helps project him into someone worth taking. At Arkansas he set the school's career records for catches (168) and yards (2,934) and is second in school history with 24 touchdowns.He's also pretty much the same size as Harvin, so the measurables are there if the Vikings wanted to try and use Wright like they did Harvin. That's definitely not to say Wright will produce like Harvin but if given the chance to see over 60 percent of the snaps week in and week out he could work his way into 50-catch territory with some modest numbers to go with it.

Greg Jennings -- Mid-round value

Jennings' arrival in Minnesota should be welcomed considering the lack of receiving threats on the roster before he came to town. He'll be in a familiar role – the No. 1 receiver – but won't have quite as good of a quarterback throwing to him. That's an obvious factor that hampers his value compared to years past. Health is also a concern after missing 11 games over the last two seasons with leg, groin and abdomen problems. The glimmer of hope comes in what Jennings did for the Packers just before he left, catching 25 passes for 280 yards and four touchdowns over his last four games including two in the postseason.That's the kind of stuff the Vikings offense needs to keep going strong. Jennings might be boiled down to a top-of-the-line possession receiver but he should still be effective so long as he's upright. Best of all, Jennings can be had at a much later point in drafts compared to recent years as you can probably make it to Round 7 and still see him there. Consider him a No. 3 Fantasy receiver with obvious upside.

Kyle Rudolph -- Top 10 tight end

Expected 2013 Draft Averages
Christian Ponder Late-round pick
Adrian Peterson Top 2 overall
Toby Gerhart Late-round handcuff
Greg Jennings 65-80 overall
Jarius Wright Late-round pick
Kyle Rudolph 115-125 overall
Blair Walsh Late-round pick
Vikings DST Undrafted

We doubt we won't tell you anything you don't already know but Rudolph is absolutely in the conversation regarding tight ends you can draft and start right away. In 16 games last season Rudolph didn't record more than 67 yards per contest but did have eight games with at least 7 Fantasy points, one of three tight ends to land that many productive games in 2012. Ponder and the Vikings coaching staff already recognize Rudolph as a major red-zone threat and he's come up big there, scoring all of his eight touchdowns down there with 12 of 15 red-zone targets caught. There's room for improvement as Rudolph had the worst target conversion percentage of any tight end with at least 90 targets, catching just 56 of the 96 passes sent his way. An improvement in that area along with more targets in general would better serve Fantasy owners, but the reality is that he'll get picked with a mid-to-late choice anyway.

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

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Player News
Cowboys sign punter Chris Jones through 2017
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(3:50 pm ET) The Cowboys agreed to a contract extension with punter Chris Jones on Tuesday, the team announced.

The deal will keep Jones under contract with the Cowboys through the 2017 season. He recently signed his tender offer of $1.54 million.


Broncos QB Peyton Manning says 2015 will not be farewell tour
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(3:37 pm ET) Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning indicated Tuesday that he does not plan to make the 2015 season a farewell tour, reports The Denver Post.

"I wouldn't call it that," he said.

Manning, 39, is preparing to enter his 18th season and said he feels like a 'young 39.' After attending the first day of voluntary workouts Tuesday, Manning added that he feels good physically.

"I like to think I'm pretty versatile, believe it or not," he said.

Over the last two seasons, Manning has waited until after the season before deciding to return. 


Vikings' Rick Spielman on Adrian Peterson: No interest in trading him
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(3:19 pm ET) Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said he has no interest in trading running back Adrian Peterson, reports the Associated Press.

Various teams are reportedly interested in acquiring Peterson. He was recently reinstated by the NFL after missing 15 games last season due to being placed on the commissioner's exempt list.

Peterson is under contract with the Vikings for the next three seasons. He has yet to attend any of the team's voluntary workouts during the offseason. 


Bills exercise 5th-year option on CB Stephon Gilmore
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(3:06 pm ET) The Bills picked up the fifth year on cornerback Stephon Gilmore's contract, the team announced Tuesday.

Gilmore will make $11 million in 2016 as a result of the team exercising the option. In 14 games last season, Gilmore totaled 46 tackles with three interceptions.


Texans' Smith encouraged with progress of Jadeveon Clowney
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(2:56 pm ET) As Texans linebacker Jadeveon Clowney continues his rehab process from knee surgery, general manager Rick Smith said he's been pleased with how Clowney is progressing, according to the team.

"I've been encouraged and impressed," Smith said. "He's doing well. We expect him to be a major contributor this year."

Clowney had his rookie season cut short last year when he required knee surgery. He previously said the rehab was going well and he thinks he can return to being the same player as before the injury.


Bucs LB Lavonte David not concerned about contract status
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(2:13 pm ET) With the Buccaneers wanting to wait until after the draft to start discussing a contract extension with linebacker Lavonte David, he said his contract situation does not concern him, according to the team's website.

David said he'll start to focus on the contract once the team and David's agent start discussing an extension.


Report: Eagles discussed trading guard Evan Mathis
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(2:06 pm ET) Before Dion Jordan was suspended for the 2015 season, the Eagles reportedly discussed trading guard Evan Mathis in order to obtain Jordan, a source told The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Mathis has come up in trade rumors and he missed the first day of the team's voluntary workout program last week.


Report: Texans trying to part with safety D.J. Swearinger
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1:56 pm ET) The Texans are trying to trade safety D.J. Swearinger, sources told NFL.com.

Swearinger has started 22 games for the Texans over the last two seasons. In 2014, Swearinger totaled 73 tackles and two interceptions.


Report: NFL suspends Dolphins DE Dion Jordan for 2015 season
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1:21 pm ET) Dolphins defensive lineman Dion Jordan has been suspended for the entire 2015 season after violating the league's substance abuse policy, sources told ESPN.

Jordan, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2013 draft, was also suspended for the first four games of the 2014 season after violating the league's performance enhancing drugs policy. 

The 2015 suspension was a result of a diluted sample, which the NFL considers a violation. Jordan will not appeal the season-long suspension. 


Jets QB Ryan Fitzpatrick says he'll be healthy for training camp
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(12:46 pm ET) Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said he is on schedule to be healthy to participate in training camp, the team announced.

"I'm on pace right now to be healthy for training camp," he said.

Fitzpatrick's 2014 season ended when he sustained a broken leg in December. He is expected to compete with Geno Smith for the starting quarterback role.


 
 
 
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