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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
Chad Henne given green light to audible
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(11:48 am ET) Jaguars quarterback Chad Henne said he has the green light from offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch to audible as much as he wants to, reports the Florida Times-Union.

"He’s pretty much given us all the tools. Whatever we see out there, if we have to throw it every down because they’re giving so many guys at the line of scrimmage, we’ll throw it," Henne said.

Henne said he has a better grasp of the offense in Year 2.

"Jedd has been putting a lot in our shoulders, more audibles, but it’s really just taking ownership of it. If I see something out there and I check out of something, he gets excited. It’s exciting for us because it shows him that we’re understanding the defense, understanding the offense and getting in the best plays that will work," Henne said.


49ers waive Fou Fonoti
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(11:39 am ET) The 49ers waived guard Fou Fonoti to make room for newly-signed running back Alfonso Smith.

For Terrance West, pass protection is the key
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(11:30 am ET) Browns rookie running back Terrance West must prove he can pass protect at the NFL level to make an early splash, reports CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora. If West can show well during preseason games, "he just might be able to make an impact early. He is an explosive runner and he has great hands as well," La Canfora wrote.

After Monday's practice, West said his pass protection is coming along. "Today I had some good feedback from the coaches and picked up some big blocks in pass protection," he told La Canfora.

"And I want to be an every down back in this league, so I have to show them I can run, and catch and pass protect, and today was a great day. I feel like I started really picking it up in OTAs and during the break I stayed in my playbook and that helped me get caught up to speed."


Browns expecting double coverage for Jordan Cameron
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(11:24 am ET) With Browns receiver Josh Gordon likely to be suspended, defenses are going to focus on stopping tight end Jordan Cameron. CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reports the Browns "are fully bracing for opposing defenses to stick a linebacker and a safety" on Cameron and "sell out to stop the only big target the Browns are likely to have at their disposal."

Cameron caught 80 passes for 917 yards and seven touchdowns last year.


Sam Brenner carted off
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(11:19 am ET) Dolphins backup center Sam Brenner went down during an 11-on-11 drill Tuesday and was carted off the field with his right shoe removed, reports the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Brenner started four games as a rookie last year after going undrafted out of Utah.

Alex Green leaves with chest injury
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(11:15 am ET) Jets running back Alex Green left Tuesday's practice with a chest injury, reports the New York Post.

Ray Rice looks like the 'Rice of old'
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(11:13 am ET) Ravens running back Ray Rice "sure has looked good in training camp," observes the Baltimore Sun. "He had two long runs Saturday where he looked like the Rice of old. He never had great speed, but his cuts were excellent."

Due to his suspension, Rice won't play until Week 3.

Tre Boston ready to practice
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(11:01 am ET) The Panthers activated rookie safety Tre Boston (sports hernia) from the PUP list. A fourth-round pick, Boston made 94 tackles and five interceptions last year with North Carolina.

Cowboys to put Dez Bryant in the slot more often
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(10:58 am ET) Dez Bryant made 11 of his 93 receptions out of the slot last season. The Cowboys plan to use him there more often this year, reports ESPN.com. 

"He's grown as an inside receiver," coach Jason Garrett said. "The trait and the qualities are different. I've been around a lot of outside receivers who looked like a fish out of water when they moved inside.

"If you picture an X receiver in right formation, there's no one outside of you. You're typically working against a corner by yourself or there's a safety rotating over the top. When you're inside, you have people inside of you and outside of you. You have a linebacker walked out, you have a safety coming down, and you have to have a feel for how to run the routes because there's a lot going on.

"It has a lot to do with your feel as an athlete -- your vision, your instincts and your experience. You have to get in there and do it."


Todd Haley compares Dri Archer to Jamaal Charles
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(10:51 am ET) Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley said rookie Dri Archer's running style reminds him of Chiefs star Jamaal Charles, minus 20 pounds, reports NFL.com. Archer is listed at 5-8, 173 pounds. Charles goes 5-11, 199 pounds.

 
 
 
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