Team Profiles- Minnesota Vikings by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles
Nowadays there are some teams that will give their new head coach only 1-4 years to produce a championship team, or he’s out on the streets looking for work. Going as far back as 1986, the Vikings organization usually gave their new head coaches 4-5 years to turn it around. HC Leslie Frazier was given from 2010-2013, but had losing seasons in 3 out of the 4, so he was fired. Mike Zimmer is now the head coach for the Vikings, and was previously the defensive coordinator for the Cowboys, the Falcons and the Bengals. HC Zimmer has a young team and job security until probably 2017.
2015 Team Outlook-
In 2014, The Vikings came in 3rd in the NFC North Division that consists of Detroit, Green Bay, Minnesota and Chicago. The Packers have dominated the NFC North Division since 2011, and they are clearly the team to beat. The last time the Vikings won the division was in 2009. (They also won in 2008.) With Chicago bringing in HC John Fox to take over the Bears, all three teams in the North…Minnesota, Detroit and Chicago have a good chance at coming in 2nd place. Unless they get riddled with untimely injuries this coming season, the Packers will win the division for the 5th year in a row, because they have the best team.
2015 Fantasy Outlook-
QB- The Minnesota Vikings had 2 first round picks in the 2014 NFL Draft, and wisely used their 1st selection on LB Anthony Barr, knowing that they could still get one of the rookie QBs later in the draft. With the 32nd pick of the 1st round, the Vikings grabbed QB Teddy Bridgewater. (The Browns wasted their 1st round selection on Johnny Manziel 10 picks earlier at #22.) QB Bridgewater, along with Oakland’s 2nd round pick up QB Derek Carr, had the best seasons as rookies among the top 4 that were drafted and had an opportunity to start. Bridgewater recorded the third-highest completion percentage (64.4) and seventh-highest passer rating (85.2) by a rookie in NFL history. Year 2 will be an important one for QB Bridgewater. The defenses now have had all winter to study him and game plan for him. WASH QB RG3 had a terrific rookie season, until defenses had all winter to study him and game plan for RG3, and he’s never been very successful since. UPDATE: Vikings traded QB Matt Cassel to Buffalo for a 2015 fifth-rd pick and 2016 seventh-Round pick.
RBs– The Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson only played in Week One of the 2014 season, because after that game he was being suspended (and faced a legal battle) for beating his 4 year old child. The Vikings took a RBBC approach the rest of the season, using the tandem of RB Matt Asiata and rookie RB Jerick McKinnon. A back injury to Jerick McKinnon in early December led to grinder RB Asiata spending most of the 2014 season as Minnesota’s feature back. The future of child-abuser Peterson is not close to being resolved, so the entire Vikings back-field is sheer speculation right now. My guess is that there is too much bad blood between child-abuser AP and Minnesota for him to ever play with the team again, and 2015 with be the tandem of RB Matt Asiata and rookie RB Jerick McKinnon once again. The Vikings could draft a running back as well to throw into the mix. UPDATE: The Vikings resigned RB Matt Asiata, signed former Packer RB DuJuan Harris and will not release RB A Peterson. UPDATE 2: Although things have calmed down regarding AP and he is slated to start, he is still very unhappy in Minnesota. He is a clear first round fantasy selection, but I would throw caution on selecting him #1 overall.
WRs– The only wide receiver who isn’t a question mark for the Minnesota coaching staff in 2015 is WR Charles Johnson, who Vikings OC Norv Turner said was “far and away our best receiver.” WR Johnson was originally drafted by the Packers in round 7 of the 2013 NFL Draft. Meanwhile, 1st rounder of the 2013 draft, WR Cordarrelle Patterson is looking like a bust and WR Greg Jennings is owed an $8.9 million salary going on age 32. So, the Vikings have rethinking and rebuilding to do. Minnesota did not draft a WR in 2014. UPDATE: Vikings released WR Greg Jennings. They also acquired WR Mike Wallace and a 2015 seventh-round pick from the Dolphins in exchange for a 2015 fifth-round pick. Wallace is going early in drafts as usual, but he hasn’t lived up to his potential in years! I’m going to pass on him.
TEs– Kyle Rudolph is a tight end that seems like he has been in the league for 6-8 years, but the truth is, he’s only been in the NFL since 2011. He was drafted by the Vikings using their 2nd pick in round 2. When healthy, TE Rudolph has fairly productive games, but he isn’t healthy very often. This tight end has never played a full season in college or in the a NFL. He only played in 7 of 16 games in 2014. Even though the Vikings drafted a TE in 2011 & 2012, they may opt to select one of big talents coming in April’s draft.
K– Blair Walsh has been with the Vikings since they picked him in the 6th round of the 2012 draft. He has a strong leg (There’s a video of him online kicking a 70 yard field goal during practice.) but he had consistency problems in 2014, making only 26 of 35 field goal attempts…including a disastrous 0 for 3 day against Division rival Detroit…a game the Vikings lost 14-16. In 2015, look for Walsh to either bounce back early, or to be bounced out of the organization.
DEF– It’s been a long time since the Vikings had a fierce and dominating defense. We don’t need to go all the way back the Purple People Eaters, but we do have to go back to 2009 just to find a Viking’s defense in the top 10 of the NFL. Mike Zimmer is a defensive-minded head coach, so having a defense ranked #14 in 2015 no doubt doesn’t sit well with him, and he’ll get help again in the 2015 NFL draft. UPDATE: Vikings signed former Cowboy/Bengal CB Terence Newman.
2014 Minnesota Fantasy Surprises– WR Cordarrelle Patterson is a big (6’2″) special talent, so seeing his final stats for 2014 are just unsettling. He only had 384 receiving yards and 1 TD for the entire season. We all know that Minnesota has had quarterback issues for a couple years now, but so has Buffalo, Cleveland, and Houston…and they have all had a wide receiver or two, somehow find success.
2015 Free Agents that Minnesota Needs to Address– QB Christian Ponder (signed w/ Oakland)- FB Jerome Felton (signed w/ Buffalo)- G Charlie Johnson- G Vladimir Ducasse (signed w/ Chicago)- C Joe Berger (re-signed)- DT Corey Wootton- DT Tom Johnson- LB Jasper Brinkley (signed w/ Dallas)
2015 NFL Draft– The immediate needs of Minnesota are on their O-Line, at wide receiver and on defense. QB Bridewater’s rookie season was impressive because of his ability to perform comfortably amid porous line play (OL), the Vikings receiver corps needs new some faces (WR) and corner back along with middle linebackers, were glaring weaknesses for Minnesota in 2014 (CB & LB). UPDATE: Minnesota’s entire 2015 NFL Draft can be seen at this link- MINNESOTA’S DRAFT
Did You Know– No depiction of any Viking warriors, and no preserved helmet has ever been discovered that has proven that Vikings helmets were ever adorned with protruding horns. Vikings have also been fictitiously depicted with winged helmets. This was done to romanticize the Vikings and their mythology, which had long been idealized in European culture.
Team Home Page: www.vikings.com