VikesCentric is written by Twin Cities football writers Bo Mitchell of SportsData, Arif Hasan of Vikings Territory, Aj Mansour, who hosts Minnesota Vikings Overtime on KFAN, and Joe Oberle a long-time Minnesota based writer. The VikesCentric crew crunches numbers, watches video and isn't shy about saying what's on their minds.
We are in the midst of fantasy football draft season. I can tell because my calendar is filling up with drafts and auctions, my Twitter feed is filling up with fantasy football questions and my refrigerator is filling up with beer. On that note, let’s take a look at six pack of burning questions (both Vikings and non-Vikings related) being kicked around by fantasy owners this week. Better yet, I’ll also attempt to answer said questions.
Q: Which of the top-ranked running backs concerns you the most?
A: Every year, several of the running backs ranked in the top-10 on cheat sheets turn out to be busts. It never fails. Be it due to injury or simply under-producing, there are disappointments every year – and when the disappointment is a top-flight running back that you likely spent a first or high second-round pick on, it can be tough to overcome. This season, one such running back sticks out like a sore thumb to me: Jamaal Charles of the Chiefs. He’s going in the top-3 in every draft, but has almost nothing around him on offense. If I’m an opposing defensive coordinator facing the Chiefs this season, I have one game plan: stop Charles and let Alex Smith try to beat me with his cute little four-yard passes.
Q: Which Vikings player is being most undervalued?
Few Vikings players are undervalued in drafts taking place within the Minnesota borders. However, Greg Jennings is one that stands out as getting absolutely no love. No, he didn’t have the greatest season in 2013, but neither did his quarterback for most of the year nor his offensive coordinator. Right now Jennings is going in about the 12th round, according to average draft position (ADP) statistics in ESPN.com leagues. He’s the 45th wide receiver off the board on average, behind highly suspect options such as Dwayne Bowe and Hakeem Nicks. Is this ADP info perfect? Hardly. But it’s an indication of a soft market for Jennings, who now finds himself playing in a Norv Turner offense and catching passes from Matt Cassel, with whom Jennings vibed last season. In the seven games Cassel either started or had the most playing time last year, Jennings had 41 receptions for 491 yards and four touchdowns. In the other nine games he had 27 receptions for 313 yards and zero touchdowns.
Q: Should Matt Cassel go undrafted in fantasy leagues?
Cassel is, in fact, going undrafted in standard-sized leagues nation-wide. However, I would argue he’s a solid QB2 in 12-team or even 10-team leagues. The more it becomes apparent he’s going to be the Week 1 starter, the more I’m moving him up my draft board. Right now I have him at 21 among quarterbacks. He’s not a fantasy starter, but given the weapons he has at his disposal and the offensive guru he has calling the shots, I don’t mind him as a plug-in player on certain weeks.
QB: Are you worried about Blair Walsh?
In a word: no. The naysayers are getting riled up after Walsh missed field goal attempts in each of his first two preseason games. One was from 51 yards, the other from 53. Those are kicks he usually made indoors. I do have him ranked a little lower this season, but he’s still a top-10 fantasy kicker in my book. Moving out from under the Teflon sky at the Metrodome to the elements at TCF Bank Stadium will have an effect but not enough to completely derail his fantasy value.
Q: Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel or Blake Bortles in a dynasty league?
Two weeks ago I thought this was going to be a redshirt season for Bortles, the top quarterback taken in this year’s NFL Draft. Now I’m not so sure. He’s definitely passed the eye test this preseason. The problem is that he has very few weapons in Jacksonville. Manziel doesn’t have it much better in Cleveland. I think he might get the nod over Brian Hoyer to start for the Browns, but no Josh Gordon would leave a giant hole in their receiving corps and the Browns are going to feature a run-heavy offense this season. Even though I think Cassel starts the season ahead of Bridgewater, the next two or three seasons should be bright for Teddy. He sure looked good on Saturday night, albeit with a second-string offense against a third-string defense, and when you compare his surrounding talent to the supporting cast in Jacksonville and Cleveland, it’s no contest (assuming Gordon remains suspended this season). I give the nod to Bridgewater.
Q: How would you rank Percy, Patterson and Crabtree in a full PPR league?
This is a Twitter question asked of me by @ryanhorner7 that I thought might be interesting to Vikings fans. The ESPN.com ADP metrics currently have Percy Harvin as the No. 20 wide receiver, Michael Crabtree at 21 and Cordarrelle Patterson at 24 so this is kind of a tough one. However, I’d rank them Patterson, Harvin and Crabtree in that order. We know Harvin’s upside, but we also now his downside: namely injury. Percy is a huge injury risk and plays in a Seattle offense that called the second-most rushing plays in the NFL last season. Crabtree is never healthy for more than five minutes either. Give me the dynamic Patterson in Norv Turner’s offense. He has the makings of a top-10 fantasy wide receiver.
By the way, you can also send me your fantasy football or Vikings-related questions and comments via Twitter any time and I will do my best to answer all of them.
Bo Mitchell is the Vice President of Content at SportsData, head writer at VikingsJournal.com, co-host of the Fantasy Football Pants Party at 1500ESPN.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America.
You can follow Bo on Twitter at @Bo_Mitchell
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