VikesCentric is written by Twin Cities football writers Bo Mitchell of SportsData and Patrick Donnelly, who has written on a variety of Minnesota sports topics. Mitchell and Donnelly are Twin Cities-based Vikings and NFL experts who crunch numbers, watch video and tell you what's on their minds.

Posts about Vikings

VikesCentric: Jennings' value (both real and fantasy) remain intact

Posted by: Bo Mitchell Updated: March 21, 2013 - 11:05 AM

The signing of Greg Jennings by the Minnesota Vikings represents decent value, even if you think five years and $48 million is fairly pricey. Face it, that's the market for wide receivers of his ilk. It's a more palatable contract than the five-year, $60 million deal that Mike Wallace signed for in Miami. It's also easier to swallow than the five-year, $56 million deal that Dwayne Bowe signed for in Kansas City this offseason or the five-year, $55.6 million Vincent Jackson was given by Tampa Bay last offseason.

 
Jennings is every bit as good as Jackson – even better in some aspects of his game. V-Jax is the better downfield threat (for now), but Jennings is more versatile, has better hands and is better after the catch. He's also eight months younger than Jackson. And I'd take Jennings any day of the week over Bowe, who's had exactly one great season surrounded by several inconsistent campaigns. Wallace is more explosive than any of the four receivers in this discussion, but he's the most one-dimensional and the least-accomplished. He's also the youngest of the bunch by a wide margin, but making him one of the highest-paid receivers in the NFL was a stretch.
 
A year or two from now, comparable wide receivers will be getting paid even more in free agency. The sticker shock will wear off for all of the above.
 
In as much as the signing represents fair "real world" value for Jennings, it also represents sneaky value for him in another aspect that I know is near and dear to the hearts of many reading this: fantasy football.
 
The knee-jerk reaction to the Jennings move from many in the fantasy football industry was that it would severely hamper his fantasy value. The argument against Jennings is clear. He goes from catching passes in a pass-happy offense from Aaron Rodgers to catching passes in a run-first offense from Christian Ponder. That's a valid point, and not as much of a rip on Ponder (at least from my perspective) as it is a nod to Rodgers, who many (including yours truly) believe is the best quarterback in the NFL. From where I sit, Jennings was looking at a downgrade in quarterback quality by some degree regardless of where he decided to sign.
 
Based on the move west and the fact he's coming off his most injury-riddled seasons, many fantasy cheat sheets will have Jennings ranked outside their top-30 or maybe even top-40 wide receivers next summer.
 
That could make him a fantasy value.
 
To be certain, in those fantasy football drafts conducted in Minnesota amongst (presumably) a majority of Minnesota Vikings fans, Jennings' value will be inflated due to the homer factor. Elsewhere, that won't be the case.
 
Despite the drop-off in passing scheme – Rodgers led the NFL in passer rating once again in 2012, whereas the Vikings ranked 31st in passing offense – there is reason for optimism for Jennings based on where you might be able to draft him. First off, he's the big fish in a little lake rather than just one of many receiving mouths to feed in Green Bay's pond.
 
Jennings will be the Vikings' go-to guy in the passing game, and he will be spending most of his time in the flanker, or "Z" position, where Percy Harvin used to line up a lot. You saw last year what kind of catch-per-game rate Harvin was on prior to injuring his ankle. For that reason I foresee Jennings having the most value in poin-per-reception fantasy formats. His yards-per-catch will likely fall short of his 15.4 career average and he might not haul in 10 touchdowns for the third time in his career, but he will most certainly have value if he stays healthy.
 
Where would I draft him? Ideally, he'd be a very good WR3 or flex receiver on fantasy teams in standard-sized leagues. If he's your No. 2 receiver, you're going to want to draft some insurance in the form of a pretty good WR3.
 
 
Bo Mitchell is the VP of Content at SportsData and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America.
 
You can follow Bo on Twitter at @Bo_Mitchell

VikesCentric: Jennings' value (both real and fantasy) remain intact

Posted by: Bo Mitchell Updated: March 21, 2013 - 11:00 AM

The signing of Greg Jennings by the Minnesota Vikings represents decent value, even if you think five years and $48 million is fairly pricy. Face it, that's the market for wide receivers of his ilk. It's a more palatable contract than the five-year, $60 million deal that Mike Wallace signed for in Miami. It's also easier to swallow than the five-year, $56 million deal that Dwayne Bowe signed for in Kansas City this offseason or the five-year, $55.6 million Vincent Jackson was given by Tampa Bay last offseason.

 
Jennings is every bit as good as Jackson – even better in some aspects of his game. V-Jax is the better downfield threat (for now), but Jennings is more versatile, has better hands and is better after the catch. He's also eight months younger than Jackson. And I'd take Jennings any day of the week over Bowe, who's had exactly one great season surrounded by several inconsistent campaigns. Wallace is more explosive than any of the four receivers in this discussion, but he's the most one-dimensional and the least-accomplished. He's also the youngest of the bunch by a wide margin, but making him one of the highest-paid receivers in the NFL was a stretch.
 
A year or two from now, comparable wide receivers will be getting paid even more in free agency. The sticker shock will wear off for all of the above.
 
In as much as the signing represents fair "real world" value for Jennings, it also represents sneaky value for him in another aspect that I know is near and dear to the hearts of many reading this: fantasy football.
 
The knee-jerk reaction to the Jennings move from many in the fantasy football industry was that it would severely hamper his fantasy value. The argument against Jennings is clear. He goes from catching passes in a pass-happy offense from Aaron Rodgers to catching passes in a run-first offense from Christian Ponder. That's a valid point, and not as much of a rip on Ponder (at least from my perspective) as it is a nod to Rodgers, who many (including yours truly) believe is the best quarterback in the NFL. From where I sit, Jennings was looking at a downgrade in quarterback quality by some degree regardless of where he decided to sign.
 
Based on the move west and the fact he's coming off his most injury-riddled seasons, many fantasy cheat sheets will have Jennings ranked outside their top-30 or maybe even top-40 wide receivers next summer.
 
That could make him a fantasy value.
 
To be certain, in those fantasy football drafts conducted in Minnesota amongst (presumably) a majority of Minnesota Vikings fans, Jennings' value will be inflated due to the homer factor. Elsewhere, that won't be the case.
 
Despite the drop-off in passing scheme – Rodgers led the NFL in passer rating once again in 2012, whereas the Vikings ranked 31st in passing offense – there is reason for optimism for Jennings based on where you might be able to draft him. First off, he's the big fish in a little lake rather than just one of many receiving mouths to feed in Green Bay's pond.
 
Jennings will be the Vikings' go-to guy in the passing game, and he will be spending most of his time in the flanker, or "Z" position, where Percy Harvin used to line up a lot. You saw last year what kind of catch-per-game rate Harvin was on prior to injuring his ankle. For that reason I foresee Jennings having the most value in poin-per-reception fantasy formats. His yards-per-catch will likely fall short of his 15.4 career average and he might not haul in 10 touchdowns for the third time in his career, but he will most certainly have value if he stays healthy.
 
Where would I draft him? Ideally, he'd be a very good WR3 or flex receiver on fantasy teams in standard-sized leagues. If he's your No. 2 receiver, you're going to want to draft some insurance in the form of a pretty good WR3.
 
 
Bo Mitchell is the VP of Content at SportsDataand a member of the Pro Football Writers of America.
 
You can follow Bo on Twitter at @Bo_Mitchell

VikesCentric Extra: What happens now that Harvin is gone?

Posted by: Bo Mitchell Updated: March 11, 2013 - 2:25 PM

I was plugging away at our palatial SportsData offices late this morning when NFL insider Adam Schefter appeared on SportsCenter telling ESPN's audience that the Vikings were in serious talks with the Seahawks about a trade involving Percy Harvin for draft picks. Not 10 minutes later my Tweetdeck feed blew up with reports that the deal was done, pending a physical.

 
"That escalated quickly" – Ron Burgundy
 
Jay Glazer of FOX Sports was the first to report it, according to my scorecard, not that it matters much. Within seconds, others like ESPN 1500's Tom Pelissero and the Star Tribune also had it. Within minutes, reaction to the blockbuster took off via Twitter… including much of my own (@BoMitchell).
 
Yeah, some of the reaction was clearly of the tongue-in-cheek variety (see photo) and much of it was wild speculation. That's where we come in.
 
We'll probably know a lot more within the next 24-36 hours, as NFL free agency kicks off at 3 p.m. CT on Tuesday, but what say you, Vikings fans? Where do the Vikings go from here at wide receiver?
 
If it wasn't already their most glaring position of need, it most certainly is now.
 
Reports currently have the Vikings armed with at least $17 million in salary cap space as well as two first-round draft picks (their own pick plus the Seahawks' pick in return for Harvin.) That's solid ammo to go after wide receiver help.
 
The most immediate reaction to the news was that the Vikings now have more cap room to make a run at Mike Wallace or Greg Jennings in free agency. And more of a dire need to do so.
 
The Palm Beach Post reported Monday that Wallace to the Dolphins was a "done deal," but that was before the Harvin Twitter bomb exploded. The USA Today had a piece on Jennings over the weekend in which the soon-to-be-former Packers wide receiver said that the quality of quarterback would be a factor in deciding where to sign in free agency. That would seem to work against the Vikings, but never forget: money talks. Plus Jennings seems to have a certain level of admiration for Adrian Peterson, if his late-season comments are any indication.
 
One theory has the Vikings taking one of those first-round picks and making an offer to Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz, who is a restricted free agent and was assigned a first-round tender about an hour after the Harvin news broke. Should the Vikings make Cruz an offer he can't resist to come and do his salsa dancing in Minnesota? They have an "extra" first-round pick to give the Giants now.
 
Then there's Larry Fitzgerald, for whom many Vikings fans have been pining for a long time. "Bring home, Larry," the thinking goes. "He's one of us. He belongs in purple." There's no arguing he'd be a great fit in the Vikings offense (or pretty much any offense for that matter). There's also no arguing with the potential PR bonanza, jersey sales, etc. Fitzgerald has never been a malcontent a la the departing Harvin. Quite the opposite, actually – he's long been considered a "good guy." To borrow a popular Twitter meme, if the NFL were the WWE, Fitzgerald would be a face and Harvin would be a heel. Both are fantastic, yet different, talents.
 
Of course, the Vikings could just stay the course, lay low in free agency, and grab one or two wide receivers in the draft. Having multiple first-round picks also affords them the option of moving up in round one to grab someone they really covet.
 
Let's face it, the Vikings had to get rid of Harvin because it's likely only a sliver of what actually transpired between him and the team was ever made public. He was going to be a free agent in a year, was likely going to hold out, reportedly didn't want to be here and definitely would have left in 12 months for a fat payday elsewhere. They got a good return for him, all things considered, as my VikesCentric colleague Ted Carlson points out. Moreover, if the likes of Wallace, Jennings, Cruz, Fitzgerald, or some other wide receiving talent we're not even considering yet, winds up in Purple as a result, even better.
 
Time for you to weigh in, Vikings fans… who would you like to see your team pursue at wide receiver now that Percy is gone?
 
Bo Mitchell is the VP of Content at SportsData
You can follow Bo on Twitter at @Bo_Mitchell

VikesCentric: Harvin package exceeds expectations

Posted by: Updated: March 11, 2013 - 2:05 PM

Well done, Rick Spielman.

We'll likely never have all of the insider details around the Vikings' choice to trade Percy Harvin, but if it absolutely had to happen, the Purple did well in netting a sizable return for the dynamic, multi-faceted All-Pro.

Harvin brings a different skill set to the table than a typical NFL wide receiver, but prior to a deal being done, we still had to gauge his trade value against recent history. A few weeks ago, I told fellow VikesCentric bloggers Bo Mitchell and Patrick Donnelly that people were crazy to think we'd even get a first-round pick for Percy.

My evidence:

>>In March 2012, the Bears acquired Brandon Marshall from the Dolphins in exchange for two third-round picks.

>>In October 2011, the Rams acquired Brandon Lloyd from the Broncos for a conditional sixth-round pick (turned into a fifth). Lloyd led the NFL in receiving yards in 2010.

>>In April 2011, the Jets acquired Santonio Holmes from the Steelers for a fifth-round pick. Holmes had 79 catches and 1,248 yards in 2010.

>>In March 2010, the Dolphins acquired Marshall from the Broncos in exchange for two second-round picks.

>>In March 2010, the Ravens acquired Anquan Boldin from the Cardinals in exchange for a third-round and a fourth-round pick.

Again, I understand that Harvin possesses a unique package of talents beyond just being a pass-catcher and is still headed into his prime years. But he also carries off-field baggage and a reported desire to sign a $16.5 million/year contract (or something close to that) in the very near future.

Given all that came with Harvin (good and bad) and given recent NFL history with notable wide receiver trades, Vikings fans should at least be pleased that the squad received a first-rounder (2013), a seventh-rounder (2013), and a mid-round pick (2014).

VikesCentric: Receiver Wallace would be great fit

Posted by: Bo Mitchell Updated: March 6, 2013 - 11:12 PM

With free agency set to get underway on Tuesday at 3 p.m. the speculation and rumors have started percolating. More than anything, Vikings fans would love to see the team address their most glaring need: a wide receiver that could, you know, get open and catch the ball and stuff. Whether Percy Harvin is on the team next year or gets sent packing via trade, the Vikes need a wide receiver or two. Or three. It is highly likely they'll draft at least one wideout, but free agency would offer more immediate help.

 
On top of that "most wanted" list at wide receiver is Mike Wallace, the soon-to-be-former Pittsburgh Steelers speedster who will begin fielding phone calls from several teams starting at approximately 3:01 p.m. on Tuesday.
 
Fans of the purple have been eyeballing Wallace for months -- ever since it became apparent the Steelers would let him walk in free agency. Those dreams got a little shot in the arm on Wednesday when Jeff Darlington of NFL.com and the NFL Network mentioned in an online article that the Vikings are an expected suitor of Wallace. Of course, Wallace has been ranked by many as the top available free agent at any position so the Vikings will hardly be alone in their pursuit should they actually choose to make a run at him. Indeed, Darlington's article in which he mentioned the Vikings' interest (in passing toward the end) was primarily about how the receiver-starved Miami Dolphins have Wallace in their crosshairs.
 
It doesn't take much for a morsel of speculation like "the Dolphins anticipate competing with the Minnesota Vikings in bidding for Wallace's services," (as Darlington wrote) to spread like wildfire online. NBC's ProFootballTalk.com picked up the rumor and ran an article on it. The Miami Herald's Armando Salguero piled on, labeling the Vikings as a "significant threat" to land Wallace. Vikings fans were bantering about it on Twitter and Facebook all day.
 
Before placing your order for a Vikings jersey with Wallace's name on the back, however, take a deep breath.
 
The Dolphins are estimated to have about $36.5 million in salary cap space available. The Vikings reportedly have around $15-18 million. Advantage: Dolphins.
 
Moreover, Vikings general manager Rick Spielman isn't keen on spending big in free agency. He didn't last year and has stated ever since that his preferred model is to build through the draft rather than free agency. Could he be blowing smoke as GMs are wont to do this time of year? Sure. Do I think he's blowing smoke? Not really. I'm guessing the Vikings' initial priority will be re-signing right tackle Phil Loadholt and fullback Jerome Felton.
 
Listen, I completely agree that Wallace would make sense for the Vikings. Only one team threw for fewer yards than the Vikings did last year and only one team averaged fewer yards per pass attempt (6.1). Wallace has averaged 20 yards per reception over the last two seasons. He's a field-stretcher, a burner, a guy who can blow the top off a defense – a perfect complement to a productive running game.
 
Some would point out – and already have – that Wallace wouldn't be a great fit because Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder can't throw the deep ball. I'm not sure we know that yet. He hasn't exactly had too many opportunities to showcase his deep ball acumen since he's been in Minnesota. I'm confident he's no Aaron Rodgers when it comes to throwing bombs, but let's give Ponder at least one downfield weapon that can gain separation before we declare a verdict on his deep-ball abilities.
 
Will said weapon be Wallace? I doubt it. There will be several other teams throwing offers his way. Other than the Dolphins, the Colts, Seahawks, Texans, Titans, Patriots, Bengals and Browns are just a few of the teams rumored to be lining up to shove money at him.
 
And we're talking a lot of money here.
 
The Chiefs just signed Dwayne Bowe, who turns 29 in September, for $56 million over five years. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed 30-year-old Vincent Jackson to a five-year, $55.6 million deal last offseason. Wallace, who will be just 27 in August, will get paid more than both of them.
 
 
Bo Mitchell is the VP of Content at SportsData
You can follow Bo on Twitter at @Bo_Mitchell

VikesCentric: NFL's March madness set to begin

Posted by: Bo Mitchell Updated: February 28, 2013 - 3:39 PM

And we're back! After a brief sabbatical, it's time to once again spew forth opinions, observations and speculation from our little VikesCentric corner of the interweb. A lot has transpired since I last checked in so here are a few quick thoughts on the happenings of the last few weeks before we look ahead:

 
Cris Carter made the Hall of Fame. Finally. Only seven players have ever scored more touchdowns and no player ever displayed better hands. On stats and ability alone he should have received his call to the Hall on the first or second ballot. Mick Tinglehoff deserves to be the next Vikings great to gain enshrinement… more on him in a future VikesCentric post.
 
Adrian Peterson was appropriately honored as NFL MVP and then underwent surgery for a sports hernia, adding yet another exclamation point to the absurdity of his accomplishments. It's not too soon to be talking about him as one of the all-time greatest running backs. He's 4,000 yards (two years?) away from cracking the top-eight all-time rushing leaders. Also, let's put a quick end to the Chris Johnson vs. Adrian Peterson talk before it goes any further. NFL Network and other media types have tried in the last 24 hours to stir the pot on that nonsense again, but it needs to stop. My money is on Peterson rushing for 2,500 yards before Johnson ever approaches 2,000 again.
 
Speaking of Peterson, he went on KFAN last month and said he wants Percy Harvin to remain a Viking. Leslie Frazier and Rick Spielman have echoed that sentiment. However, it seems Harvin's bipolar relationship with the team might leave them no choice but to deal him away. They should entertain any offers for Percy that come their way. It's a frightening concept for a team so desperately in need of wide receiver help even with Harvin on the roster. However, the Vikings might be better off with the juicy draft picks a Harvin deal could fetch rather than face the likelihood of a holdout as Percy enters the final year of his rookie deal. Harvin is a remarkable talent. But it's pretty clear he's also a malcontent who has no aspirations of playing for Minnesota any longer than he needs to. Call me crazy, but I doubt a franchise tag following the 2013 season would sit well with him.
 
That brings us to March Madness – not the college basketball, office-bracket mania that is about to grip the country. I'm referring to the NFL version of March Madness. The new NFL business year begins March 12. Before then teams have to be under the league's new salary cap. Hence the recent restructured deals for the likes of Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger and DeMarcus Ware. There's a chance Jared Allen could do the same and save the Vikes some cap room in 2013.
 
March 12 also marks the beginning of free agency and opens the door for trades to be made. And that's when the fun (a.k.a. "madness") really starts.
 
Vikings fans who thought the team should pursue a trade with the 49ers for quarterback Alex Smith had their dreams crushed Wednesday when it was reported a deal to send Smith to the Chiefs had been agreed upon. Let's face it, this was a purple pipedream. Now that Smith is on his way to Kansas City in a deal that will become official on March 12, it's likely the Chiefs will opt to release Matt Cassel. There's a better chance of the Vikings going after Cassel than there ever was of them being in on the Alex Smith bidding, but I'm not holding my breath. I'm guessing Cassel lands in Arizona. Besides, the Vikings have made it abundantly clear that Christian Ponder is locked in as the starter and any quarterback competition that takes place in Mankato this summer will be for the backup job. That means Joe Webb is probably on the way out. I'm keeping my ear to the ground for any more Matt Flynn rumors. Seattle is going to trade him and they'll probably only get a fourth or fifth-round draft pick in return.
 
Will the Vikings make a run at a free agent wide receiver like Mike Wallace, Dwayne Bowe or Greg Jennings? Probably not. Spielman is a proponent of building through the draft, not free agency. Thus, I don't expect the Vikings to make a free agency splash. They'll have to pay a lot to hold onto UFA right tackle Phil Loadholt and Pro Bowl fullback Jerome Felton. Beyond that, Vikings fans shouldn't get their hopes up. Does Steve Breaston do anything for you? How about Devery Henderson?
 
Might the Vikings March Madness have more to do with non-player news? The team picked Mortenson Construction a few weeks ago to build their new stadium and a schematic design is expected in March. The team also tweaked their logo a few weeks ago in what could be a precursor to new uniforms.
 
Could new uniforms be unveiled in concert with the stadium design later this month? Are the new uniforms going to have more of a throwback look than the current design? Will they ever bring back the purple pants for road games on more of a permanent basis? These are important matters and inquiring minds want to know.
 
So I asked the Vikings a few weeks ago about the prospect of new uniforms being announced soon and was told politely told the following by a Vikings spokesperson:
 
"We are continuing to work through some additional exciting changes for the fans, but nothing has been finalized at this point. We’ll have more on that later in the offseason."
 
I don't know about you, but that tells me there's probably something in the hopper on the uniform front. Then again, that might be just wishful thinking.
 
Will the Vikings' version of March Madness be highlighted by stadium and uniform designs? Is Spielman under-playing the team's free agency plans? Vikings fans might want to step away from the copy machine and put down the college hoops brackets long enough to find out.
 
 
 
Bo Mitchell is the VP of Content at SportsData
You can follow Bo on Twitter at @Bo_Mitchell

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