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Fantasy football: Don't be so quick to wish away Keenum for Bridgewater

 

Teddy Bridgewater is coming; Teddy Bridgewater is coming!

 

Thanks Paul Revere, we know.

What we don’t know is when.

And if his coach knows, he’s not telling us.

“We still don't know where [practice reps are] going to go or where that's going to lead to,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said Wednesday. “[Bridgewater] has been in a very controlled environment for the last 14 months. So, eventually, we have to work him into some uncontrolled environments.”

Until another quarterback not named Kyle Sloter has a left knee that can stand up to physical contact, this is the Case Keenum show.

As seen thus far, that’s not a bad thing – from a real-life or (more importantly here) a fantasy football perspective.

Keenum has completed 64.2 percent (13th best in the NFL) of his passes for 1,134 yards (21st), five touchdowns (tied for 25th) and one interception – he and Kansas City’s Alex Smith are the only two quarterbacks with 150-plus pass attempts and one or fewer interceptions.

He’s thrown five fewer attempts than Indianapolis’ Jacoby Brissett but 75 fewer yards and one more attempt than Washington’s Kirk Cousins but 200 fewer yards.

No, he hasn’t been the starter for all six games.

So, for comparison, the Vikings pass attack ranks 12th in yards per game (238.8), sixth in completion percentage (66.0), tied for 16th in touchdown passes (eight) and second in fewest interceptions (one).

 “While he might not be the long-term answer at the position,” Star Tribune Vikings reporter Ben Goessling wrote of Keenum in Thursday’s newspaper, “he’s afforded some semblance of normalcy.”

That semblance of normalcy has given the Vikings (in PPR scoring, according to Fantasy Pros) two top-12 wide receivers (Stefon Diggs, eighth, and Adam Thielen, 12th) and a top-10 tight end (Kyle Rudolph, ninth).

New England is the only other offense that compares – with two top-11 wide receivers (Chris Hogan, seventh, Brandin Cooks, ninth) and a top-two tight end (Rob Gronkowski, second) – and it has the Tom Brady advantage.

When we left Bridgewater as the Vikings franchise quarterback in 2015 none of his wide receivers ranked in the top-40 in fantasy football – Diggs checked in at No. 42.

That receiving corps featured Diggs as a rookie, a seemingly old Mike Wallace, Jarius Wright and Rudolph – who was PPR’s 13th-best tight end, placing him behind the likes of Green Bay’s Richard Rogers and Detroit’s Eric Ebron.

Star Tribune Vikings and NFL Insider Mark Craig declared Bridgewater’s statistics that season “’70s throwback numbers,” noting the Louisville product had nine games where he threw for 188 or fewer yards.

Bridgewater should be better in 2017 and beyond than he was as a second-year pro, and the Vikings also have more talented pass catchers in 2017 than 2015 – which should make Bridgewater look better.

But will Bridgewater really be better than Keenum – given the current state of both players?

Bridgewater doesn’t quite have Titanic-level rust, but it’s been 13-plus months since he’s played meaningful football.

No, Keenum doesn’t have the pedigree of Bridgewater – undrafted free agent vs. 2014 first-round pick. But it’s also important not to undersell the value of continuity and rapport, which Keenum and the receivers appear to have.

Buy Bridgewater long term, but don’t be so quick to buy him as better for Vikings skill players in fantasy football than Keenum.

Want to talk more fantasy football? E-mail Mike at mike.nelson@startribune.com or heckle him on Twitter @mike_e_nelson.

Say goodbye to some Twins rivalries under this baseball expansion plan

If you haven't noticed, Major League Baseball hasn't added any teams since 1998. That's the longest stretch without new teams since baseball added four teams in 1961 and 1962, when the Washington Senators moved to Minnesota. The prevailing wisdom in recent years has been that baseball has run out of cities that could sustain new franchises.

But, as a recent story in Baseball America pointed out, there's an ownership group in Portland, Ore., that's being taken seriously and Commissioner Rob Manfred has talked about another West Coast team being part of any plan to expand. In addition, there's a push to bring a team back to Montreal, which lost the Expos to Washington in 2005.

So what could that mean for the Twins?

In the Baseball America story, Hall of Fame baseball writer Tracy Ringolsby cited a plan that would address concerns about the demand of travel and the lack of days off in the current 162-game schedule.

Here's where it could get, ummmm, interesting for the Twins.

Ringolsby writes: "One proposal would be to geographically restructure into four divisions, which would create a major reduction in travel, particularly for teams on the East Coast and West Coast, and add to the natural rivalries by not just having them as interleague attractions, but rather a part of the regular divisional battles."

What about the Twins, though?

The plan cited by Ringolsby includes a Midwest Division that would include the Cubs, White Sox, Colorado, Houston, Kansas City, Milwaukee, St. Louis and Texas.

Is there a team missing from the "Midwest?"

That would be the ... Twins.

You could find them in the North Division with the Yankees, Mets, Toronto, Montreal, Boston, Cleveland, Detroit.

In other words, the current Royals rivalry, a reignited Brewers rivalry and the potential for twice-a-year road trips to Wrigley Field and Busch Stadium wouldn't happen because the Twins would be one of two teams pushed out of their natural geographic reasons to make the plan work.

It wouldn't be an unprecedented twist of pretzel logic: Think of Atlanta being in the National league West before the current baseball set-up, or the Minnesota Wild's place in the previous NHL alignment, in which they were going to the West Coast and western Canada more often than playing Chicago and St. Louis.

The plan cited by Ringolsby includes a 156-game schedule, an expanded round of playoffs and days off every week.

On the Twins, he writes that the plan "would drastically reduce travel, while keeping teams in their time zones, except for the Rockies and Twins. They, however, would be playing teams in a time zone an hour earlier, which is less demanding than an hour later, and also provides increased TV ratings because of prime time viewing. The other intra-division teams would have to travel to Colorado or Minnesota just six games per year."

What do you think, Twins fans? Earlier starting times for most road games and more games against the Yankees and Red Sox in exchange for losing a busload of opportunities for Twins fans to take car trips to some of baseball's best road venues ... and for fans of those teams to make similar trips to Target Field?

Does this sound to anyone else like a trade that wouldn't be good for the Twins?

You can read Ringolsby's full story, which includes the reasons it would make sense for many other franchises, here.