2012 Team Outlook: Minnesota
TE Kyle Rudolph, MIN - Sleeper (undervalued)
Kyle Rudolph could be primed to surprise in his sophomore season with a decent chance at becoming the Vikings' 2nd leading receiver behind Percy Harvin. The 2nd pick of the 2011 draft finished his rookie season with just 26 catches for 249 yards and three touchdowns in limited playing time. Free agent Visanthe Shiancoe won't be back, which means Rudolph will see a significant uptick in playing time as Minnesota's starting TE. He could approach 700-800 yards with 6-8 TDs next season with the potential for more. Dynasty Leaguers would be wise to pounce now as the 22 year old Notre Dame alum could very well add his name to the class of up and coming young TEs that are taking the NFL by storm – think Gronk Lite as each player is a 6'6, 260 pound matchup nightmare for opposing secondaries. Minnesota added fellow golden domer John Carlson (Seattle) on a 5-year free agent contract, but the Vikings figure to use a good amount of 2-TE sets with Rudolph split out wide (more fantasy friendly).
PK Blair Walsh, MIN - Deep-league Only
The recent release of veteran kicker Ryan Longwell all but ensures that rookie Blair White (6th round pick from Georgia) will be the starting kicker for the Vikings in 2012. Walsh's senior season was a bit of a disappointment as he missed 14 of 35 field goal attempts. Some still considered him the best kicking prospect in this draft as he flashed solid accuracy in 2009-2010 when he made 40 of 45 attempts. He was a second-team All-SEC selection as a sophomore in 2009 and received first-team honors in 2010. Playing half his games in the Metrodome is an advantage and his big leg could be worth considering for leagues that award bonus points for 40+ yard FGs. Bottom line, his inexperience makes Walsh best left for the waiver wire until he proves that the accuracy issues of his senior season are behind him.
Minnesota Defense - Quality Backup
Despite totaling an NFL-best 50 sacks in 2011 (led by DE Jared Allen's 22 sacks), the Vikings Defense ranked among the bottom in fantasy production. The pass defense ranked 26th (251 YPG) and totaled just eight interceptions. CBs Antoine Winfield and Chris Cook missed most of last season, but both are expected to get the start when the 2012 season begins. Minnesota also bolstered their secondary with the addition of Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith at the end of round 1. Percy Harvin also remains an elite kick returning option. The Vikings Defense/Special Teams are unlikely to finish as a top 10 fantasy unit but can be useful as a matchup play.