When a team goes through growing pains, one wouldn’t expect so many players to literally be in pain. The Minnesota Vikings saw this happen in 2011. By the end of the season, they were hobbled and the biggest blow was when they lost RB Adrian Peterson with a torn MCL and ACL. His injury has overlapped into this season.
In 2011, the quarterback position was a big problem. Donovan McNabb was touted as their franchise quarterback at the start of last season, but rookie Christian Ponder took over early in the season. He has the starting job going into camp, but QB Joe Webb is a popular fantasy football sleeper.
The NFC North will be the most competitive division in the NFL. Will Minnesota be chewed up or surprise everyone by staying in the race? Here is our 2012 NFL team preview for the Minnesota Vikings.
2011 Win/Loss Record: 3-13
Key Additions: TE John Carlson, WR Jerome Simpson, OT Matt Kalil, S Harrison Smith, CB Zack Bowman, RB Lex Hilliard, LB Marvin Mitchell, K Blair Walsh, OG Geoff Schwartz, WR A.J. Love, DE Jeff Charleston, FB Jerome Felton, CB Josh Robinson, WR Jarius Wright, FB Rhett Ellison and S Robert Blanton.
Key Losses: QB Donovan McNabb, TE Visanthe Shiancoe, OG Steven Hutchinson, S Tyrell Johnson, LB E.J. Henderson, CB Cedric Griffin and CB Benny Sapp.
Non-Division Schedule: AFC South and NFC West
Fantasy Sleeper: WR Jerome Simpson – I would have listed WR Greg Childs here last week. He tore his patellar tendon in both knees and will miss his rookie season. The reasoning behind choosing Childs as Minnesota’s fantasy sleeper is his size. Michael Jenkins will be their big target, but he is inconsistent. Percy Harvin can’t fill that role because he is small. Devin Aromashodu lacks chemistry with Ponder, so Simpson has the best chance at having a couple big fantasy weeks. Simpson is suspended for the first three games in 2012, so he shouldn’t be drafted. If a wide receiver on your team suffers a significant injury early, he would be a nice fill-in.
Team Analysis: The only thing the Vikings have going for them this season is that they face the two weakest divisions in the league. On the flip side, they share the division with three of the best teams in the NFL. Christian Ponder needs to improve on his 13/13 touchdown to interception ratio. Ponder needs help from the running game in order to keep the safetys inside the box. Adrian Peterson could possibly be ready by Week 1, but if not, Toby Gerhart will be their guy. I like Minnesota’s tight end duo of Kyle Rudolph and John Carlson. The former Fighting Irish alumni will help Ponder in his development. On the defensive side, Jared Allen is still a beast and will rack up an insane number of sacks. Minnesota will have issues with pass coverage because their secondary is still very weak. Rookie Harrison Smith will get playing time this season, so expect quarterbacks to challenge the young safety. Minnesota is in a rebuilding phase and will take their lumps. They will not win many games, but the young talent will get much needed experience.
2012 Wins Over/Under Line: 6 (Prediction: UNDER)
2012 Projected Win/Loss Record: 3-13