The rookie QB from Florida State (12th overall pick) had his ups and downs in his first season with Minnesota. The Vikings O-line didn't do him any favors and a limited WR corps was also partially to blame for Minnesota finishing 28th in passing offense. Ponder finished with a mediocre 13:12 TD-to-INT ratio, 168 YPG and a 55% completion rate in 10 appearances (nine starts). Ponder has above average mobility and the offseason additions of first round pick Matt Kalil (LT) and free agent signing Geoff Schwartz (OG) could go a long way in bolstering the Vikings' pass protection. WR Percy Harvin and TE Kyle Rudolph will likely be Ponder's two go to weapons in 2012. The Vikings also added TE John Carlson, WR Jerome Simpson (suspended for 3 games) and rookie WRs Jarius Wright and Greg Childs. Consider Ponder a lower end QB2 and nothing more than a matchup play for 12-14 team leagues early in the season. However it is worth noting that if RB Adrian Peterson ends up on the PUP list (ACL surgery), the Vikings might be forced to open up the playbook more than they'd like to when it comes to the passing game.
A disastrous season for the Vikings got much worse when franchise player RB Adrian Peterson tore his ACL/MCL in a week 16 win over Washington. Peterson has shown remarkable recovery from the injury, but is still a candidate for the PUP list (miss the first 6 games). AP recently finished first in a wind sprint competition with teammates, but his ability to cut has still not been tested. He has averaged 80+ YPG in each of his first 5 NFL seasons while eclipsing 100 yards in 27 contests. Peterson is a red zone beast amassing 64 TDs on the ground in his career. His pass catching ability has also improved (averaged nearly 40 receptions in 2009/2010), but his fantasy value does take a small hit in PPR leagues. For now AP is best drafted as a higher end RB2 in the RB15-RB20 range. However his value could crack the top 10 if he shocks the world and is ready for week 1.
UPDATE: The resisting arrest charge from a July incident in Houston should be a non-issue (a fine is possible). Head coach Leslie Frazier has suggested that the Vikings will limit AP's workload if he's able to avoid the PUP list and is in uniform for the week 1 game against Jacksonville. A time share with Toby Gerhart is a very real possibility during the first month of the season as the Vikings look to play it safe with their franchise player in what appears to be a rebuilding season.
The Stanford alum averaged 20 touches and 99 yards in five late-season games and could be the Vikings' starting RB for the first 6 games of the season if AP lands on the PUP list. In two seasons, he has just two rushing TDs and lacks break away speed to be considered a solid fantasy starter except when the matchup is favorable. Gerhart still struggles in pass protection, which could limit his snaps and makes him best drafted as an RB3 if Peterson is forced to miss the early portion of the season.
UPDATE: Gerhart participated in Vikings minicamp and showed no signs of the MCL injury suffered in week 17 (no surgery was needed). Gerhart has averaged 21 touches per game in his five starts with AP on the sidelines.
The Vikings need to get the ball in the dynamic playmakers hands as much as possible. Despite playing only 58% of offensive snaps, Harvin set career-highs in receptions (87), receiving yards (967), and rushing yards (345) and finished 2nd to Wes Welker in yards after the catch (616). Injury concerns continue as the migraine issues and offseason shoulder surgery are worth monitoring, but Harvin has only missed 3 games over his first three NFL seasons. Harvin is a borderline WR1/ high end WR2 that is well worth taking in rounds 4-5 of most drafts. Harvin very well could be the focal point of the Minnesota offense if AP is forced to miss the early part of the season.
UPDATE: Despite contract extension demands, Percy Harvin fully intends to be on the field when training camps start in late July. He has reported that he will not suit up next season if a long term deal is not worked out. The Vikings front office appears apprehensive to dish out a long term deal until Harvin proves his durability.
Injury Status: Injured Reserve
The dual threat QB from UAB has shown flashes of his potential, but he'll likely remain more of a Kordell Stewart type / wildcat option provided Christian Ponder remains healthy. Webb is entering his 3rd NFL season and has 3 TD passes and 5 INTs in limited duty. His running ability is a true asset as Webb has amassed 4 rushing TDs, but remains as nothing more than waiver wire material unless he emerges as a starter in training camp (unlikely considering the Vikings used a first round pick on Ponder last season).
If your league awards bonus points for arrests then Simpson would be a first round pick. The former Bengal signed a 1-year prove it contract with Minnesota and will be suspended for the first 3 games of the season on a Marijuana arrest. Simpson was a non factor in his first three NFL seasons, but emerged as the starter opposite AJ Green in 2011 finishing with 50 catches for 725 yards and 4 TDs. He's likely to lineup as the starter opposite Percy Harvin once he returns from suspension and his downfield ability makes him worth taking a flier as a WR4/WR5.
Jenkins will be 30 years old when the 2012 season starts and he's yet to average more than 50 YPG in any of his first eight NFL seasons. His first season in Minnesota finished with just 38 catches for 466 yards and 3 TDs. Jenkins' inability to separate from defenses and the addition of Jerome Simpson makes him #3 on the depth chart. He does have ideal size (6'4) to excel in the red zone, but has just 23 TDs over his 8 seasons. Rookies Greg Childs and Jarius Wright could easily surpass Jenkins if the Vikings decide to go with upside over experience. It's worth noting that he could have some relevance in the first 3 weeks of the season with Simpson suspended, but his limited upside makes him waiver wire material except in the deepest of PPR leagues.
The Vikings resigned the Auburn alum to a 1-year contract, but his first year with Minnesota was less than impressive (just 26 receptions for 468 yards and one TD). He's entering his 5th NFL season, but remains off the fantasy radar despite his adequate size/speed combo. Aromashodu does remain a solid option if you're playing NFL scrabble.
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).
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.
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.
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.