DAY 25: Minnesota Vikings

As we anticipate the start of the 2017 NFL season, the DFF Degenerates (@DFF_Degenerates) are tearing down every team in the NFL – #32Teams32Days. We’re going round-trip to tackle the entire country – AFC East to West, then NFC West to East. We didn’t have to do it, but we did.

Buckle up! It’s a bumpy ride. We’re traveling to another dimension between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge… that’s the signpost up ahead – our next stop – the RED ZONE.

 

NFC NORTH

Continuing our series, we visit the

Minnesota Vikings

Is Sam Bradford finally living up to his #1 draft pick status?

@DiBari22: So far, he has looked the best he ever has. He gets hit with the “injury prone” label often, and while he may have been deserving, he has had some awful O-lines during his career. Last season was no exception. He stayed upright for a full season and looked decent. I’m interested in seeing how he progresses. Will he live up to the #1 pick level of expectation? Probably not, but he seems to finally be a quarterback that can be counted on for fantasy. In one league, where I have Andrew Luck as my only QB, I snatched up Sammy B to get me started as the Vikes have one of the most QB-friendly schedules in all of football, but especially over the first 4-6 weeks. If you’re a Luck owner, grab Bradford.

@TravisNFL: Unlike Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Bradford is the perfect QB2 or QB3 in superflex leagues. I’m still not touching him in single QB leagues, as I don’t believe the upside is there, but he is a perfect bye-week QB or injury insurance.

@DFFMemphis: Nope, and that’s OK. He may not be a weekly starter in 1QB leagues, but he is good enough to make Kyle Rudolph, Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, and Dalvin Cook all top options at their positions in PPR leagues.

@DFF_Madman: I think he is living up to his billing and potential now. Minnesota has been a great fit for Bradford, and Bridgewater knows it. Make no mistake, this is now Sam’s team. In 2016, the top-4 QBs in adjusted completion percentage on third downs were 1) Brady, 2) Ryan, 3) Bradford, and 4) Brees. That’s good passing company. In overall adjusted completion percentage, Bradford was the best. Bradford is accurate. That’s indisputable and inarguably valuable in both real football and to some degree, the fake football too. He’s always been particularly adept on underneath throws, but last season his deep ball passing was elite.

 

There are plenty of jokes about Bradford checking down, but generally when he does, it results in completions. Bradford also doesn’t fold under pressure. He was ranked number one overall in completions under pressure last season. Yes, everyone knows that the Viking O-line was a joke. All jokes aside, Bradford is a man’s man at QB and I think 2017 will be a career year. All the pieces are in place: They’ve improved the O-line; he has more weapons now than at any point in his career; the Vikes are loaded at RB, fielding no less than three very capable backs to keep the chains moving; and the Vikings’ schedule starts out against very soft opponents. Bridgewater may make a comeback, but on this team, he’s coming back to be the backup QB. After all of this, we’re still talking about a middling fantasy QB. Draft Bradford accordingly.

@DynastyGOAT: I don’t think Bradford will ever live up to the hype of being the #1 pick. His career has been reduced to dinking and dunking down the field, which is fine for competing in football games, but is not great for fantasy point production. Bradford is a fine QB2, but he’s basically just a younger version of Alex Smith.

DFF_Walk: Bradford will be forever known for two things: 1) Wearing shoulder pads that are entirely too big for him, and 2) Being the last of the top picks to land a franchise-killing rookie contract (hello collective bargaining agreement).

On July 30, 2010, Bradford signed a six-year, $78 million deal, which had $50 million in guarantees and has a maximum value of $86 million making it the largest contract ever for a NFL rookie.

Bradford has removed all upside from his game and is the NFL’s new “Checkdown Charlie.” He has little to no fantasy upside outside of 2QB or streaming strategies.

 

Does Teddy Bridgewater ever come back?

@DFF_Madman: See my comments above. If Teddy comes back, he’s not the starter. He’ll likely get a shot to be a starter somewhere soon, since a third of the league has old geezers they need to replace. Teddy will get a bridge(water) type role.

@DiBari22: Even if he does, what is he? I was never blown away by anything I’ve seen in the pros. Unless you’re in a 2QB league or a super deep superflex league, he’s a fantasy afterthought, injured or not.

@TravisNFL: Completely agree with JDB here. Barely rosterable in superflex. He finished as QB22 in 2014 and QB23 in 2015, and he played 16 games in 2015. I don’t understand what fantasy owners are hoping for by stashing Bridgewater.

@DFFMemphis: Dead owls and I don’t give a hoot about Teddy. He seems like a nice kid, but a nice kid that was QB23 in 2015. He’s been Wally Pipp’ed. All you youngsters throw ol’ Wally Pipp in the Google machine. It’s Sammy Biscuit’s team now.

@DynastyGOAT: I’m not completely ruling out a return at some point, but I’d be shocked if it is with Minnesota. For what it’s worth, Bridgewater has a better chance at a comeback than both Johnny Manziel and Tim Tebow.

@DFF_Walk: Depends on what you mean by comeback.  Does he ever come back to football? Likely. Does he ever crack the Top 20 at his position? Unlikely. If Bradford has another semi-competent year in Minnesota, then they probably give him another (largely unwarranted) contract and let Teddy hit the open market. If the Vikes fall flat on their faces, 2018 will be a great year for them to draft a quarterback early.

 

Which WR will lead the team in fantasy points?

@TravisNFL: This may be an un-popular opinion, but I think there’s a chance it’s Adam Thielen in PPR leagues. Now, before you burn me at the stake, let me say that I absolutely love Stefon Diggs. Diggs is a better receiver than Adam Thielen. With the recent switch-up (Thielen moving to the primary slot receiver role), however, I think Thielen will catch more balls than Diggs this year. Sam Bradford showed last year that he will target the hell out of the short-to-intermediate areas of the field in this offense, and now the guy in those areas will be Thielen.

@DynastyGOAT: Travis took the words right out of my mouth. Thielen’s move to the slot greatly opens up his opportunities. Both he and Diggs will share in leading this receiving corps, but my money’s on Thielen to score more fantasy points.

@DFF_Walk: Per Fantasypros ADP, Diggs (WR 28, 64th overall) is being drafted much sooner than Thielen (WR 46, 128th overall) and rightfully so. If memory serves, Thielen thrived in a few games down the stretch while Diggs was dinged up. A healthy Diggs presents as a much more appealing target for Bradford and his RAC ability will be key in this short passing offense. Now, if you were to ask me who is likely to land on more of my fantasy rosters – it’s Thielen, but that’s because of value rather than expected production.

@DiBari22: I guess Diggs, but I say that with absolutely zero confidence. I think Kyle Rudolph is the guy to own in the passing game here, but we’re only talking wide receivers, so I’ll go Diggs by a slight margin over Thielen.

@ChristipherBean: I don’t think it’s outlandish that Thielen outperforms Diggs in Fantasy.  Thielen was really good last year. Except for a true Treadwell fire sale (I have a weakness for 1st round picks on the cheap) Thielen and Diggs are the only guys I’m interested in having on my roster.

@DFF_Madman: According to PFF, Diggs has a 78% catch rate from the slot. There is really no position he can’t play; he can play anywhere. However, I think his ideal position is at outside receiver. Matt Harmon (aka Mr. Reception Perception) pointed out that Bradford’s numbers illustrate a preference toward throwing to the right side. Couple that with Diggs’ abilities to play the ball, as well as his being used predominantly on the right side of formation, and it’s like money in the bank! So far in his career, Diggs has only 6-drops. That’s fantastic. Some experts have put a hard cap on his TD expectation, but I think they’re full of hot air and Diggs will have his best year so far in both yardage and TDs.

@DFFMemphis: I think Diggs will have the most WR points in 2017, but those points will come in an erratic fashion. Diggs will have boom and bust weeks that will make his owners crazy as times. Thielen has the potential to be Jarvis Landry-esque: a solid WR2 with a predictable floor and a limited ceiling. Thielen is a great bench guy that can fill in during bye weeks and a player that isn’t on your opponent’s roster. Stash him where you can.

 

 

Talk to me about Dalvin Cook. No more Adrian Peterson. Anyone else to care about?

@TravisNFL: Dalvin Cook has a legit shot at rookie of the year. He has shown extremely well in preseason, quieting all the doubters. Latavius Murray has been out, so there is a chance he eats into Cook’s potential ceiling and takes some goal-line work, but I’m drafting him in the 3rd or 4th round of redraft and not looking back.

@DiBari22: I wasn’t keen on the landing spot and situation on draft day, but I’ve really liked what I’ve seen out of him all offseason and preseason. He’s looked phenomenal. Very real possibility that years down the line we look back at see him as the biggest steal of the draft.

@DFFMemphis: I like Dalvin Cook a lot. He was the rookie 1.01 in dynasty until the combine. He didn’t win the underwear Olympics (the combine) and he tumbled down both NFL and dynasty draft boards earlier in the year. Fast forward to August and we’re all back to seeing the guy who was 1.01 for a reason. The game is played on the field and not at the combine. Cook is a talented runner behind an improved offensive line and one that will get RB1 reps. I like Cook more in PPR as Bradford is a check-down machine and Cook is an exceptional pass catcher.

@ChristipherBean: Dalvin Cook has a very uncommon RB Profile. His only comp for me came up as Marshawn Lynch. It’s interesting and not a bad thing that his closest comp is an elite RB, however, it’s not ideal that there aren’t other similar players. He hits a lot of the target points for my RBs (Market Share, Target Share, YPC, 40 time), and looks like a potential elite RB. However, the Vikings didn’t pay Emperor Latavius $15 Million to sit behind someone else, and he’s a solid RB in his own right. Let’s also not forget that Jerrick McKinnon is the most athletic RB since we started recording combine times. He will also have a role.

@DynastyGOAT: Dalvin Cook might completely redefine the term “PPR Monster.” Upwards of 70-80 receptions is a possibility here.

@DFF_Walk: Dalvin Cook “is who we thought he was!” I still like Fournette and Mixon over him, but Cook was and remains my RB3 just ahead of Christian McCaffrey. The 13 career fumbles in college presents a problem and a fast way out of favor with coaches. Measurables are a nice, neat way to put players in a box, but tape doesn’t lie – and Cook is a football player through and through. If he holds onto the ball and keeps his nose clean the sky’s the limit for Cook.

@DFF_Madman: Cook arguably should have been the first overall RB drafted in dynasty. Unequivocally, it was between Cook and McCaffrey for me at 1 and 2. Ultimately, I had:

  1. Christian McCaffrey
  2. Dalvin Cook
  3. Leonard Fournette
  4. Kareem Hunt
  5. Joe Mixon

I’m okay with that… but I think I should have ranked Hunt above Fournette and Mixon below even more of the 2017 RBs.

I digress… Cook came into the pros with the highest grade in the FBS at elusiveness. He broke more tackles than any other RB in the 2017 draft. He’s money on missed tackles forced and yards after contact. He will be a fantasy beacon. You don’t replace Adrian Peterson, but you certainly can’t do it with Latavius Murray and Jerrick McKinnon. The Vikings want to move the ball and Cook gives them tremendous ability to do it consistently as a bell-cow back.

Thank you for joining us on our inaugural road trip. We hope this helps you on your quest to find the otherworld of dynasty football.

 

You can follow us on Twitter: @DFF_Degenerates

Individual Twitter accounts:

@DiBari22

@DFF_JamesH

@NFLDraftTalker

@DFF_Walk

@ChristipherBean

@bdhawkes

@DynastyGOAT 

@DynoEconomist 

@TravisNFL

@DFFMemphis 

@DFF_Madman

Previous articles in this series are available here.

jbrowand

Co-Host @DynastyTradesHQ / Senior Editor, Writer & Analyst @DFF_Dynasty / Member @FSWA / "Building Dynasties One Player At a Time" #2QB #Superflex #Devy #Cleveland #Buckeyes

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