For a fourth straight season, Razzball will be interviewing local NFL beat writers for some actual in-depth football knowledge to shed some additional light on our fantasy football knowledge. Keep your eye out for an interview for every NFL team through the summer. This installment comes courteous of Christopher Gates from leading Minnesota blog the Daily Norseman:
1) Adrian Peterson is pretty much everywhere the consensus #1 RB and #1 player off the board for fantasy football. Welcome back to the top AD! He obviously had the well-publicized knee injury and almost inhuman recovery time to put together one of the best running back seasons in NFL history. I know it’s early, but is there any concern on that knee and all the wear put on it so soon from the ACL tear last year? And can we expect another elite-level of production from the league’s top back?
At this point, I’m not sure how much of a concern the knee is. If anything, he might be even stronger still, as this off-season he had the ability to go through a normal workout program rather than having to rehabilitate a serious knee injury. I don’t think it concerns him or the Vikings too much. If you’re in a fantasy league, it would be surprising for Adrian Peterson to fall past the second overall pick in most formats, and I would expect him to have another huge season for the Vikings, what with coming into the season completely healthy and having the same offensive line in front of him for the second consecutive season.
2) A TE I’ve always been a fan of, Kyle Rudolph started last season hot, then disappeared weeks 7-9 then finished pretty solidly. As obviously a big possession and red zone target, will he emerge even more this season, or is he only going to be primarily a red zone threat?
I think that Rudolph will continue to improve as a fantasy option at tight end. He’s obviously Christian Ponder’s favorite target when the Vikings get into the red zone, and with good reason. He’s big, he’s got very soft hands, and he catches everything that comes near him, for the most part. If Ponder can gain a measure of consistency, I think Rudolph can become more of a threat between the twenties as well as continuing to be a red zone threat.
3) Christian Ponder. First, what’s your opinion of him as a Vikings writer non-fantasy wise? I personally have never been a big fan, but it must’ve been very painful to not be able to play in his shot in the playoffs. Any chance Matt Cassel gets a look if Ponder struggles mightily early in the season?
I like Ponder a lot. I realize that I’m one of the few people that falls into that category, and that’s fine. I think he was really hindered by his receivers last season, though, even Percy Harvin. Harvin has dynamic playmaking ability, but wasn’t a great route runner, which is why a lot of his touches had to be manufactured in various ways. I think that with the way the Vikings have gone about upgrading this off-season, he will be significantly better once he develops some timing and rapport with his receivers. Do I think he’s going to be an elite quarterback? Probably not. But I don’t think he’s the disaster that a lot of people think he is, either.
4) One of the biggest free agent acquisitions was Greg Jennings from the division rival Packers. He gives the Vikings the best playmaker other than Peterson and hopes to fill in Percy Harvin’s shoes, who left for the Seahawks. What do you project he does numbers-wise this year?
As is the case with a lot of players, it depends on whether or not he can stay healthy. He has missed significant time the past two seasons, but some of that may have stemmed from a misdiagnosis of an injury he had last season with Green Bay. When he’s healthy, he still has the ability to be great (see his 8-catch, 120-yard, two-touchdown performance against Minnesota in the regular season finale). I think he’s capable of having the best season we’ve seen from a Vikings’ receiver since Sidney Rice’s 2009 season, though not quite to that level. I would think somewhere in the neighborhood of 70 catches, about 1,100 yards and 10 touchdowns seems about right – again, if he can stay healthy.
5) The only offensive skill position player the Vikings drafted was first-round WR Cordarrelle Patterson from Tennessee. He is assumed to be the starting WR opposite Jennings I believe, but on our NFL Draft Recap Podcast, I thought he would be a bust more because of the situation than his skills. Is he a good fit in Minnesota’s offense and will he have any sort of consistency that will keep him on fantasy players’ radars this season?
At this point, it isn’t entirely clear if he’s going to be the starter for the Vikings, although a lot of the reports coming out of camp are saying that he is much further along than a lot of people anticipated already. From the sounds of things, the Vikings see him as being able to fill that Percy Harvin-type role, as he did a lot of the same things at Tennessee (lining up in the backfield, a lot of end-around type plays), as well as taking Harvin’s place in the return game for the Vikings. In terms of just pure physical gifts, he was probably the top receiver in this year’s draft class, but we’ll see if that translates to the field. If nothing else, he should be a pretty valuable asset in a league that counts return yardage as part of their scoring system.