2012 Team Outlook: Minnesota
TE John Carlson, MIN (TE - #39) - Bye Week Fill-in
Carlson signed one of the bigger head scratching free agent contracts when the Vikings inked him to a five-year, $25 million deal. He missed the entire 2011 season with a torn labrum in his shoulder, but is fully expected to be 100% healthy for the 2012 season. The Vikings will employ multiple 2-TE sets which could give Carlson some relevance in deeper leagues. In three seasons with Seattle (2008-2010), the Notre Dame product has averaged just 32 YPG. He did post 7 TDs in 2009 and has 13 touchdowns on his career. With Kyle Rudolph penciled in as the starting TE, Carlson is nothing more than a BYE week fill in.
UPDATE (August 1st): Carlson suffered a grade 2 MCL sprain and is expected to miss 2-4 weeks putting his status for week 1 in jeopardy.
PK Blair Walsh, MIN (K - #15) - 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 (Def - #20) - 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.