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Should You Draft Him?: Minnesota Vikings

I believe Adrian Peterson is the best running back in the NFL and the only remotely sensible choice for the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. But the only reason I feel that way is because I own a functioning pair of eyes. Admittedly, it’s possible and actually downright probable that Peterson won’t be the No. 1 player in all of fantasy in 2013. As a function of how many football players there are, Peterson’s chances of being top dog in fantasy again are well below 50-percent. It’s kind of like how Tiger Woods “only” won 28.4 percent of his tournaments from 1995-2008. He only won about a quarter of the time, but when you consider how many golfers are on the tour, the only thing you would be doing is blatant attention seeking if you said out loud that he was anything less than the most likely golfer to win any given tournament.

Even if every single bit of fantasy analysis led you to genuinely believe that Doug Martin would make for a better No. 1 overall pick, you’d still be an idiot not to take Peterson. Offering him up would likely net you a king’s ransom consisting of Martin, a No. 2 wide receiver and a high-upside tight end. If you failed to get a deal done, you’d have to only settle for a player coming off the greatest running back season in NFL history. Boo hoo.

But with Peterson firmly locked in as the No. 1 overall draft pick in almost all drafts, thoughts turn to what kind of impact the other Vikings players will have, if any. After watching Peterson personally drag the 31st-ranked pass offense and thoroughly mediocre defense to a 10-6 record and playoff appearance, it’s fair to wonder if there’s anyone else on the team even worth talking about. Will the 2013 Minnesota Vikings be like Saturday Night Live of the early 1990s with lots of stars carving out unique and memorable roles, or will they be like the Eddie Murphy-dominated early 1980s with one guy putting everyone to shame with his greatness while a bunch of other people just fill space? In order words: Should you draft him?

(ADP = Average Draft position. Kickers and defenses will be ignored as they should be.)

Christian Ponder (ADP: Undrafted):
He really doesn’t merit all that much column space. The loss of Percy Harvin and the gain of Greg Jennings and John Carlson make his receiving corps pretty much on the same level as what he had last season. His arm is still weak and he hasn’t really shown strong signs of improvement in his sophomore year. I’ll say the same thing I said about Brandon Weeden: I can name 24 quarterbacks I would rather have. I’m sure you can, too.


Should you draft him?

NO

Matt Cassel (ADP: Undrafted):
Joe Webb failing miserably in a playoff matchup against the Green Bay Packers prompted the Vikings to upgrade their backup quarterback situation by signing Cassel. He’s definitely an upgrade over Webb, but I can’t help but think that a Vikings team quarterbacked by Cassel would have gotten smoked just as hard by the Packers. I’m predicting that Cassel will be under center for the Vikings by Week 9, but I won’t want anything to do with him under any circumstance.



Should you draft him?

NO


Adrian Peterson (ADP: 1st Overall): I’ve already said everything I need to say about Peterson’s worthiness as the No. 1 overall pick, so let me use this space to squash the one concern people have about Peterson: the fact that he’s 28 and coming off a season of 388 total offensive touches. Let’s look at the age 28 seasons of other Hall of Fame running backs:

Barry Sanders

Offensive touches in age 27 season: 362

Rushing stats in age 28 season: 1,553 yards and 11 touchdowns

LaDainian Tomlinson

Offensive touches in age 27 season: 404

Rushing stats in age 28 season: 1,474 yards and 15 touchdowns

Marshall Faulk

Offensive touches in age 27 season: 334

Offensive stats in age 28 season: 2,147 yards from scrimmage and 21 total touchdowns

When we’re discussing a Hall of Fame running back like Peterson, your ideal of what a human being can withstand does not apply, because Hall of Fame rushers are not human. I repeat: there is no sensible reason not to take Peterson first overall.


Should you draft him?

YES


Toby Gerhart (ADP: Undrafted):

If something were to happen to Peterson, Gerhart would step up and become the starter. Then you’d have a mediocre talent behind a poor offensive line with a quarterback that defenses don’t respect. Using a draft pick on Gerhart means hoping Peterson gets hurt so you can beat everyone to the punch on a flex play.



Should you draft him?

NO


Greg Jennings (ADP: Mid-Round 7):

Entering his 30-year-old season, missing 11 games over the last two years, and going from having the best quarterback in the league to one of the worst has caused Jennings to fall from a consensus second-rounder in 2011 to a mid-round pick in 2013. However, on the plus side he closed the season strong when he finally got back last year.

Also, the quarterback situation is mitigated somewhat by his ability to do damage after the catch. In 2007, 2009 and 2010 he was top 10 at the position in yards after catch, Top 15 in 2008, and his 2011 stats extrapolated to 16 games would have put him in the top 10, so you can’t put all his success on Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre. Furthermore, one can’t forget that by moving to Minnesota he goes from sharing the field with three good receivers to being the only game in town. Before the hard-luck knee sprain that cut his 2011 campaign short, he was an elite producer and the most consistent wide receiver in all of fantasy.

The age of 30 isn’t terribly old for a wide receiver, he’s only one season removed from being one of the game’s best, and he has a long history of getting things done himself. Long story short, I love the value here.


Should you draft him?

YES


Cordarrelle Patterson (ADP: Early Round 13):

The Vikings wouldn’t have traded back into the first round to grab this dude if they didn’t like what they saw. Personally, I’m not terribly enamored with his upside in standard redraft leagues, because he’s still behind Jerome Simpson on the depth chart, his quarterback is mediocre, and he only played Division I football for a year, but his talent alone gives him more upside than other popular late round fliers such as Mohamed Sanu and Jacoby Jones. In dynasty/keeper leagues and leagues that award points for return yardage he’s a great late-round flier because he’s the obvious favorite to fill the returning void left by Percy Harvin, and he’ll likely begin to fulfill his potential a year or two down the line.



Should you draft him?

YES


Jerome Simpson (ADP: Undrafted):


The depth chart currently shows him as a starting outside receiver, but it feels almost inevitable that he’ll fall to backup duty. The only way he posts fantasy relevant stats is in the event of an injury or two. On a non-fantasy note, what is up with the size of this dude’s head? Simpson would control the world right now if it wasn’t for Pinky messing up his schemes.



Should you draft him?

NO

Jarius Wright/Joe Webb (ADP: Undrafted):
Nothing to see here. Wright is likely to be only the No. 4 receiving target on the team behind Jennings, Patterson and Kyle Rudolph, while Webb will be a surprise to see the field at all outside of five-receiver sets.



Should you draft him?

NO

Kyle Rudolph (ADP: Early Round 8):
Eh, the nine touchdowns last season were good, but the 493 yards were not. If it’s Round 8 and you still don’t have a tight end, instead of Rudolph you could grab unspectacular but undeniably reliable stalwarts Miles Austin or Stevie Johnson and choose from Jermichael Finley, Martellus Bennett, Greg Olsen, Owen Daniels, Antonio Gates or Brandon Myers in much later rounds. I just feel like the touchdown total from last year was a little on the fluky side, while the yardage is much more likely to be repeated. Basically, when I envision a scenario in which I draft Rudolph, all I can do is think about a whole bunch of things I would rather do instead.



Should you draft him?

NO

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