Fantasy Football 2015: Previewing the Minnesota Vikings

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Mike Wallace, WR

Dec 14, 2014; Foxborough, MA, USA; Miami Dolphins wide receiver Mike Wallace (11) runs the ball against the New England Patriots during the first half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Wallace joined the Vikings via an offseason trade after playing two relatively productive, but ultimately underwhelming years with the Miami Dolphins.  He’s never been a high reception guy, so by no means a PPR terror, but Wallace makes his bones as a deep threat and having AP in the backfield may just open up some play-action opportunities for Mr. Wallace that weren’t there for him in Miami.

Wallace’s best years were 2010 thru 2012 as a Steeler when he sported per-year averages of 65 receptions, 1,095 yards and 9 TDs, and really he didn’t fall off that pace much in Miami where he averaged 70/896/8.  It just wasn’t the best fit for him with the Fins, so off to the Land of 10,000 Lakes he goes.  For non-PPR leagues his big play ability makes him a more viable WR2, but in PPR he’s a solid WR3.

Charles Johnson, WR

To hear Vikings’ Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner tell it,  Charles Johnson is by far the Vikings best receiver heading into 2015.  Chalk me up as one fantasy football owner who isn’t buying it just yet, at least not enough in terms of the type of production he’ll offer.  He came on late last year, sure, but the numbers weren’t mind-blowing.

Over the last seven weeks of the regular season Johnson only totaled 25 receptions on 47 targets, good for 415 yards two TDs.  While the yardage is undoubtedly there, it’s a leap of faith I’m not willing to take to say he’ll ascend to legitimate WR2 status — or even WR3.  Wallace is my preferred FF receiver on the Vikings and I’ll only grab Johnson in the late-middle rounds if other owners haven’t already reached on him.  For now I’m in “show me” mode with Johnson.

Dec 14, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph (82) jogs onto the field before the game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Rudolph, TE

Back in 2012 Kyle Rudolph was a top-10 fantasy TE, hauling in 53 receptions for 493 yards and nine TDs.  Poised to possibly build on that and shake the injury-prone label that has dogged him since his days at Notre Dame, Rudolph couldn’t stay healthy in 2013 and again in 2014.

In the two years since his breakout 2012 campaign, Rudolph has only played in 17 games with combined numbers (54 receptions, 544 yards, five TDs) similar to his ’12 output.  Rudolph is a low-end TE2 out of the gate but if he can stay healthy, and that’s a big IF, he could easily yield TE1 value.  Feel free to grab him late as your backup TE and hope for the best.

Cordarrelle Patterson, WR/KR

Many fantasy owners, myself included, were burnt by taking Patterson as a high pick in last year’s drafts.  Having seen something similar happen several years back with Devin Hester, a dynamic return man pushed into a prominent receiving role with unfavorable results, I feel like I should have seen this coming with Patterson.

Nov 16, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson (84) during the first half at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

In his rookie year of 2013 Patterson was recognized as a top return man, named a first-team All-Pro and earned a trip to Honolulu as a replacement for Antonio Brown.  Patterson scored TDs in multiple ways in ’13, making him one of the darlings of fantasy football.  Two touchdowns on kickoff returns, four on receptions and three on rushes had owners rightfully salivating for what he might do in his sophomore season.

His 2014 output?  One receiving TD (on 33 receptions for 384 yards), one rushing TD and no scores on returns.

After busting in ’14 it’s back to square one for Patterson.  With Mike Wallace in town coupled with the potential emergence of Charles Johnson, Patterson is a guy that owners should take a wait-and-see approach on.  He’s not somebody I’ll draft and I might just giggle at the fellow owner who does.

Jarius Wright, WR

Slated to be the Vikings starting slot receiver, Wright is just another “guy” in terms of his fantasy football relevance.  If the Vikings are beset by injury, perhaps he emerges as a viable WR3-WR4 late in the year.  He’ll be a member of the waiver wire brigade and depending on how things shake out, may be a WR you grab later in the year to fill a hole on your roster.

Next: Viable Running Backs Beyond AP?