Sunday, August 16, 2009

Viking Fantasy Preview

I'm a Viking rube first, a fantasy rube second, but these passions sometimes bleed together. For funs, here are my thoughts on the fantasy prospects of various Viking players.

Adrian Peterson

AP should be the #1 pick in a snake draft: no other running back has his combination of reliability and potential. In an auction draft, he's worth the cost, depending on how you plan to budget your salary cap. For example, the the Hazelweird Auction, my friend Abe drafted Peterson for $133 (out of $300). I was able to draft Steven Jackson and Frank Gore for a combined $136. Abe shouldn't complain: he got the top RB in the draft, and had the remaining money to draft Drew Brees and Andre Johnson. I can't complain: I was able to draft my #2 and #3 running backs for roughly the price of AP, with enough salary left to fill out a balanced roster.

I think Peterson is worth the price he commands in an auction. However, if you are in a league with a lot of Viking fans, his price might escalate to an irrational level. At some point, you're better off passing and using the allotted money for multiple elite players. But whatever high price you pay for AP, I think you'll end up satisfied.

Bernard Berrian
I think if Sage Rosenfels wins the starting job, Berrian will have around 1,100 yards and 8-9 touchdowns. I've believed for a long time that Rosenfels will do a good job running the offense and making good, accurate throws. His main problem has been turnovers, but that doesn't have much bearing on Bernard Berrian's fantasy points. I think Berrian's fantasy numbers would benefit greatly if Rosenfels is the starter.

If Tarvaris Jackson wins the starting job, I just don't know. Late in the year Jackson had some nice connections with Berrian, but I don't trust Jackson's downfield accuracy. Of course in the past, the Viking coaches have either protected Jackson or lacked faith in him, because the playbook with him appeared limited. If they choose Jackson over Rosenfels, it is because they do believe in him, and I would expect more playcalling that could feature Berrian's downfield skills. But if Berrian is an inconsistent WR (he is), and Jackson is an inconsistent QB (he is), the combination is a completely unreliable fantasy starter, the most extreme boom or bust player possible.

From a fantasy perspective, I'd like to see more consistency from Berrian, but I don't know whether a deep-threat WR can provide that. I see him as a fantasy starting WR (I'd better: I drafted him), but only a #2 or #3. For now.

Percy Harvin
I have zero fantasy interest in Percy Harvin. It is unreasonable to expect legitimate fantasy production from a rookie WR: it just rarely happens. I think Harvin can have a noticeable positive impact on the Viking offense. However, I think that impact might be made in three to five big plays a game. I don't trust him to get the ball enough to justify a spot in your fantasy lineup.

Sage Rosenfels
The last three rounds of a snake draft should be devoted to, in order, a risky flier, a defense, and a kicker. I think Sage Rosenfels is a viable risky flier. If he gets the starting job, he'll be surrounded by fast, talented skill position players, and facing a managable schedule that includes some of last season's truly lousy defenses.

Tarvaris Jackson
Bill Barnwell suggested at Daily Norseman that if Jackson wins the job, he's a fantasy sleeper, because people overlook the added fantasy points of rushing yards and touchdowns. But I just can't like a fantasy quarterback who has thrown for over 200 yards in just six of 19 starts. Barnwell is right to point out the benefit of rushing stats. But Jackson's fantasy passing production has been so poor that, if Jackson gets the starting job and you draft him for your fantasy team, you're either 1) hoping he takes a dramatic step forward as a passer, or 2) relying on getting points from his running. I don't like either or those options (but then, that's why he's a "sleeper").

Visanthe Shiancoe
I wouldn't want Shiancoe as my starting fantasy TE. But if you're going cheap on the position, he might function.

Ryan Longwell
He's fine as far as kickers go.

Defense/Special Teams
In the Hazelweird Auction, most people paid $1 for their defenses, a few people $2. One person paid $7 for the Steeler defense. And then there's my brother Jerod, who paid $17 (SEVENTEEN!) for the Viking defense. I considered this utterly insane, until Jerod explained his logic here.

If you're a Viking fan, this is the team you are watching every single week, and it's the team you're rooting like crazy for every single week. It's nice to have some Vikings on your fantasy team. It's also nice to be able to watch your fantasy players. By drafting the Viking defense and special teams, Jerod gets a fantasy interest in a full half of the Viking team. When the Vikes do well, he gets to feel good about his fantasy team. He gets to watch a major producer of his fantasy team every week. He gets all sorts of pleasure out of drafting them, even if he overpaid.

So reach or overpay for the Viking defense if you want a lot of fandom pleasure. It might even be worth it in fantasy production. I know there will be times this year that I'll wish I had bid even more for the Viking defense.

Chester Taylor
Here's what you do. Draft Taylor cheaply, then stash him on your roster. If AP his healthy all year, all you've done is sacrifice a roster position. But if AP gets hurt, you've got a very good starting fantasy RB that you barely paid anything for. It's a wise move.

Did I forget anyone?
Bobby Wade? Sidney Rice? These are players you should not draft, but can pick up as free agents if they emerge as remotely useful fantasy players.

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