Minnesota Vikings Team Profile 2016 by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles
The Vikings topped the NFC North Division in 2015, with a winning record of 11-5. If Minnesota history stays true however, head coach Mike Zimmer had better have another winning season in 2016, if he wants to keep his job. In 2009, HC Brad Childress had a winning season- 12-4. The following year his Vikings went 6-10, and he was canned. In 2012, HC Leslie Frazier had a winning season- 10-6. The following year his Vikings went 5-10-1, and he was canned.
2016 Team Outlook-
The Vikings division win in 2015 was their first since 2009. Usually Green Bay will win the 2-3 years in a row, then Chicago or Minnesota will sneak in a year and will one. Detroit never participates. Green Bay has the best shot at winning the division in 2016, but Minnesota will have a competitive team. Chicago has many question marks going into 2016, and Detroit will likely under-achieve as usual.
2016 Fantasy Football Outlook-
QB- Teddy Bridgewater was drafted by the Vikings in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, so making 2016 his 3rd year in the NFL. Bridgewater ended the 2015 NFL season as the #23 quarterback in the NFL, with 3231 passing yards, 14 touchdown passes and only 9 interceptions. His 9 INTs were the 2nd lowest for any QB playing in all 16 games. Teddy has one of the best running backs to ever play the game joining him on the offense, but his receiving corps either aren’t as talented as many thought, or are a held back by Teddy Bridgewater’s weak arm and the Vikings’ run-based offense. Bridgewater threw for one TD pass or less, in 14 of 16 games last season. ( and none in the post-season.)
RBs– Most running backs cannot follow a long layoff in the NFL, by coming back the next season and ranking as the #1 or #2 RB in the NFL….but Adrian Peterson isn’t most running backs. He’s done it twice. On December 24, 2011, Peterson torn his ACL and MCL in a game vs Washington. He was placed onto injured reserve. The following year, AP was the #1 RB in the league. On September 12, 2014, Peterson was indicted for brutally beating his child, and subsequently missed the remainder of the season. The following year, 2015, AP was the #2 RB in the league. Regardless of his situation, Peterson is an athletic freak and will always rank at the top when playing. Back-up RB Matt Asiata is a free agent. UPDATE: Matt Asiata re-signed 1-year deal w/ MINN.
WRs– In 2015 WR Charles Johnson, who Vikings OC Norv Turner said was “far and away our best receiver”….played in only 6 game last season, racking up a paltry 127 yards and 0 touchdowns. He was a 2015 fantasy football draft pick that fantasy owners wish they hadn’t made. Rib injuries and inconsistent play by Johnson allowed WR Stefon Diggs to step up and become the Vikings #1 receiver. ( although even Diggs only ranked as the #46 WR in 2015, with 720 receiving yards and 4 TDs.) Minnesota may try to upgrade their receiving corps beyond WRs Diggs, Wallace and Wright in 2016, but the real problem is the limitations of QB Bridgewater. UPDATE: Free agent Mike Wallace signed w/ BALT.
TEs– In the 2015 NFL Draft , the Vikings used their 5th round pick on TE MyCole Pruitt who was a bigger hit at the NFL Combine in April than he was on the playing field during this past season. Pruitt was drafted to play in two tight end packages opposite Kyle Rudolph, but Pruitt was out-played by TE Rhett Ellison, a 2012 Viking draft pick. Ellison unfortunately suffered a torn patellar tendon in Week 17 in 2015. (His career is now in doubt.) Kyle Rudolph’s stats after the 2015 season were 495 yards and 5 TDs, and that’s probably the ceiling for any Viking tight end in 2016.
K– In the Vikings’ first playoff game since 2012 against Seattle on January 10, 2016, Blair Walsh was 3-for-3 on field goals before missing a potentially game-winning 27-yard attempt late in the 4th quarter. Walsh kicked the laces of the football and hooked the attempt wide left. You had to feel for the guy, but Walsh has remained positive and said ‘It is Not Going to Ruin My Life’.
DEF– The Viking’s were focused on improving their #27 defense from 2014, by using their first 3 picks in the 2015 NFL Draft on quality defensive player. The result, in part, helped the team rise to the #14 defense in 2015. The Vikings have a lot of good pieces in place offensively for the 2016 season, so it wouldn’t be surprising if they attacked the draft in April the same way as 2015.
2015 Minnesota Fantasy Surprises– In August, 2015….the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s reported that Charles Johnson is “the receiver Teddy Bridgewater trusts most.” Rotoworld forecasted “a breakout year for Johnson in 2015″, as did many fantasy football websites. Utter-Fantasy had Charles Johnson ranked #18 in the preseason, ahead of Amari Cooper, Jeremy Maclin and Eric Decker. Johnson ended 2015 with 127 receiving yards.
2016 Free Agents that Minnesota Needs to Address– TE Rhett Ellison, RB Matt Asiata, CB Terence Newman, OG Mike Harris, OLB Chad Greenway, SS Andrew Sendejo, SS Robert Blanton, DT Kenrick Ellis, CB Marcus Sherels, MLB Audie Cole, CB Josh Robinson
2016 NFL Draft- The Vikings wisely used their first selections in the 2015 NFL Draft on defensive players, starting with CB Trae Waynes. They followed Waynes with ILB E Kendricks, then DE D Hunter in Round 3. In 2016, Minnesota will address their defense and grab a needed safety, but they also need O-Line help…..at guard and at offensive tackle.
Did You Know– In a 1997 game against the Carolina Panthers, Vikings quarterback Brad Johnson became the first NFL quarterback to ever throw a touchdown pass to himself. He did this after catching his own deflected pass and running three yards into the end zone.
Team Home Page: www.vikings.com
All team reports can be seen at this link- TEAM REPORTS