Minnesota Vikings; 2012 Offseason Breakdown

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2012 Offseason Breakdown; Minnesota Vikings

By, Eric Hartvigson


Stadium: Metrodome (final season)

Schedule Strength: 26th

Postseason Weather issues: None (all dome games)

Offensive Line Ranking: 23rd


Head Coach – Leslie Frazier;      Frazier’s time in the NFL began as a Cornerback on the vaunted “85” Chicago Bears (arguably the greatest defense in NFL history).  As a coach, Frazier has been either a Defensive Backs Coach or Defensive Coordinator his entire NFL coaching career including time spent time in Philadelphia under the late great Jimmy Johnson.  Frazier was eventually hired as the DC for the Vikings in the 2007 replacing now Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin.  In 2010 Frazier was promoted to Head Coach after the departure of Brad Childress, inheriting a team bare in many areas.  Being a Frazier is a defensive coach, in the rebuilding process, he will have his many responsibilities leaving the game plan and play calling in the hands of Offense Coordinator

Offensive Coordinator – Bill Musgrave;       A four-year starter at Quarterback for the University of Oregon Musgrave still holds the Ducks all-time passing yard record with 8343 yards.  Musgrave would play QB in the NFL under Coach George Seifert in San Fran and later Mike Shanahan in Denver. During his tenure as a coach in the NFL Musgrave has bounced around from team-to-team including stops in; Oakland, Philadelphia, Carolina, Atlanta, Jacksonville and Washington.  Hired as the OC by the Vikings in 2011, Musgrave made the best of a depleted roster, coming off the NFL Lockout with a rookie QB under center, without Adrian Peterson for much of the season.  Examining Musgrave’s history indicates a strong connection to the West Coast Offense.  However, having a defensive head coach we should expect a more balance run / pass version.

QB – Christian Ponder;      A 1st round draft choice of the Vikings in 2011, Ponder began the season backing up veteran QB Donavan McNabb.  After a 1-5 start Ponder replaced McNabb as the starter in week 7.  In a lockout season, with a depleted Offensive Line, on a “run-first” team missing their best RB, and no vertical receiving threat, also, it would be unfair to evaluate Ponder’s 2011 performance.   The Vikings made baby steps towards shoring up their issues this past Offseason drafting Left Tackle Matt Kalil with the 3rd overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, and signing of vertical WR Jerome Simpson from the Bengals.  Given a full Offseason to work as the starting QB will aid Ponder, but he continues to face an uphill climb with a Player Rating of 6.8.

RB – Adrian Peterson (or AD as he prefers);      Considering Adrian Peterson is amongst the most highly publicized players in the NFL, there isn’t much to talk about (but I’m going to try).  We’ll begin with the obvious.  Peterson is easily the most dominant RB of his generation. A superior athlete Peterson has the perfect combination of; power, speed, agility, vision, toughness, great hands and goal line prowess (we could go on-and-on).  However, he is gaining a reputation for being Injury Prone.  In week 8 of 2011 Peterson suffered a high ankle sprain causing him to miss 3 games.  Two games after his return for the ankle issue (week 16) Peterson tore both his ACL and MCL ligaments in his knee.  Without injury concerns, Peterson would be the consensus number one overall selection, no questions asked.  However, players coming off devastating knee injuries “late in the season” tend to linger as the healing process is typically 8 to 10 months.  Although still early, we are hearing multiple reports indicating the Vikings will start the season with AD on the PUP list, meaning he cannot play in the opening 6 games.  Given all we know right now, Peterson has a Player Rating of 7.9 (just hurts me to write that).  Should AD land on your team, Toby Gerhart is must handcuff.

RB2 – Toby Gerhart;       A big powerful straight-line runner Gerhart proved last season that he has the skill set to play in the NFL and become a contributor on our fantasy team.  Having a defensive Head Coach often means the team will employ a more balanced run / pass Offenses Systems, further upgrading Gerhart’s value.  Do not forget, this is Adrian Peterson’s job if / and when he returns. However, should Peterson’s recovery linger, Gerhart makes for an excellent flyer who could develop into a 3-Down-RB (the golden goose of fantasy football).  Gerhart’s value will fluctuate depending on the development of Peterson, but as of right now he has a Player Rating of 8.0 (as stated, a must handcuff should Adrian Peterson end up on your fantasy team).

WR1 – Percy Harvin;       I must admit that I was caught off guard when reviewing Harvin’s production from 2011.  I knew he had finished the season 11th in WR scoring, but more impressive was the second half of the season (weeks 8 through 16) in which Harvin averaged 13.4 points per game, tied for second with Victor Cruz, and Roddy White, and a meager one-tenth of point behind Jordy Nelson (for those of you keeping score at home, that’s more points than Calvin Johnson).  When evaluating Harvin, the talent is obvious.  A dynamic underneath WR who is also provided opportunity as a RB averaging four carries per game in 2011 and scoring 2 rushing TDs.  A subpar Offensive Line, along with the second year quarterback creates cause for concern.  Also, the ongoing migraine issues can jump up at a moment notice.  All told Harvin should emerge as the Vikings most productive WR warranting a Player Rating of 8.6.

WR2 –Jerome Simpson;      A former second-round pick by the Bengals in 2008, Simpson’s time in Cincinnati is impossible to evaluate always playing behind Chad Ochocinco, TJ Housh, Terrell Owens and AJ Green.  At 6’ 2” 190 pounds Simpson runs a 4.42 40 yard dash, meaning he’s fast enough to give the Vikings the downfield threat they’ve lacked since the departure of Sydney Rice.  Simpson is receiving much praise during the Vikings OTA’s and minicamp, but these reports are team generated so take them with a grain of salt.  We should also remember that Simpson will be suspended the first three games of the season. The real question is, can Minnesota generate enough of the passing attack to sustain multiple fantasy wide receivers.  Offseason projections have Simpson with a Player Rating of 7.1, meaning he is higher WR4 with upside.

TE –Kyle Rudolph;      Coming out of Notre Dame, Rudolph was praised for his size speed combination, but also criticized for shoulder in hamstring injuries.  The loss of Visanthe Shiancoe will propel Rudolph into the starting lineup increasing his opportunity.  Returning to examine the history of the OC we are reminded of a connection to the classic West Coast System in which the Tight End is used as an extra receiver down the middle the field.  As the Vikings lone “Big Man”, Rudolph may be the Vikings lone Red Zone target becoming a high-end TE2 with spot start ability warranting an Offseason Player Rating of 7.4, with room to grow.

Def – Minnesota Vikings;     Once amongst the league’s more dominant fantasy defenses, like the rest of the Vikings franchise this unit has been on a slow and steady decline. The lone bright spot is Defensive End Jared Allen, however one player equates to a poor fantasy defense. Look for better options with a Rating of 5.5

K – Ryan Longwell;     Like so many of the Vikings players Longwell was once amongst the elite kickers in fantasy football in the Brett Favre era. However an anemic offense coupled with the below average defense equates to poor fantasy production and a Player Rating of 6.5

About Eric Hartvigson