Saturday, 28 January 2017 00:00

Lesson's Learned From 2016: D/ST

A Defense can be one of the biggest conundrums in fantasy year in and year out. People tend to go with popular Defensive choices like the Seattle Seahawks or Carolina Panthers rather early in drafts. Just because it’s Round 10 doesn’t mean choose a defense. There are still valuable players and handcuffs to acquire during the latter rounds of a draft.

Going by the finishing statistics of 2016, only one defense finished in the top five as their projection at the beginning of the season. According to ESPN Scoring, Denver Broncos D/ST had an average ADP of pick 67 which is asinine and only scored 152 points in 2016. That’s mid-fifth round in 12-team leagues and mid-sixth round in 10-team leagues. Let me ask you a question would you rather have Broncos Defense or future 2016-17 MVP Matt Ryan whose ADP was pick 114.

Think smart on average defenses can score you 150 to 180 points in a good year depending on your league scoring. Every other position eclipses those numbers by mid-season. Kickers score more than Defenses do on average per year, and they get chosen as flier picks in the last round of every draft. Last season, the Atlanta Falcons Kicker Matt Bryant scored a whopping 212 points outscoring the highest Defense by 46 points, that’s astonishing for a position we thought was worthless.

It’s time to implore a new philosophy of choosing Defenses last in drafts instead of Kickers.  Don’t panic when you see four or five Defenses already off the board here a few tips to finding the Defensive Gems of 2017. Choose a Defensive Unit with one of these qualities:

·         D/ST VS Consistent Bad QB Play

o   Look for a D/ST that goes up against a lot of inexperienced QBs like Brock Osweiler, any Cleveland Browns QB, or Blake Borltes. Zeroing in on a defenses schedule will help you find the gems you need that will help you succeed during the regular season.

o   Bad QB Play turns into natural points either sacks or turnovers. Rookie QB’s have a tendency of struggling against any defense, so look for those type of matchups as well.  

o   For instance, the Chiefs was the No. 1 D/ST of 2016. They took advantage of games where they faced QBs like Ryan Fitzpatrick, Trevor Semian (twice), Jameis Winston, Brock Osweiler, and Blake Bortles. All of which are either young or turnover prone.

·         D/ST That Creates Turnovers

o   Teams like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or San Diego Chargers were barely drafted but were some of the top turnover leaders. Tampa Bay led the league with four interceptions returned for touchdowns, which is a huge boost to any roster.

o   Overall Arizona Cardinals high ranked defense lived up to expectation by creating a league-high 25 forced fumbles and 48 sacks.

·         D/ST With a Lethal Special Teams Unit

o   Kansas City Chiefs, Minnesota Vikings, and Philadelphia Eagles are teams that boast lethal Special Team units. Cordarrelle Patterson, Ty ”Freak” Hill and Darren Sproles are one of a kind talents that can take any kickoff return to the house.

All of these qualities are pertinent to selecting a Defense that will be beneficial to your team and draft position. I learned to wait on this position and collect value at others in 2016. So, try philosophy in 2017 and see if you can come out more dominant rosters from top to bottom. It always feels good to get bailed out from somewhere you least expected it. 

Published in Fantasy Coverage
Saturday, 13 June 2015 00:00

Episode 73: The Adrian Peterson conundrum

On a special Saturday episode of the podcast, Rotowire's Dominick Capetillo stops by to talk about drafting players for logical reasons vs. emotional ones and why it's important not to factor off-the-field issues too much when drafting a player. He also states his case for Adrian Peterson as a No. 1 overall pick in fantasy drafts for 2015.

Follow Dominick on twitter here.

Subscribe to Rotowire.com to check out Dominick's latest analysis on Adrian Peterson.

View original photo from this article here.


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Published in Podcasts
Monday, 04 May 2015 00:00

Draft Grades: NFC North

The 2015 NFL Draft has come and gone, and while fans eagerly wait the start of rookie mini-camps I feel it is the appropriate time to grade how teams fared in the draft.  The first edition of the Fantasy Football Helpers draft grades will feature the NFC North, with the rest of the NFC/AFC to come shortly there after.

 

Chicago Bears

Players Drafted

1.     (7) Kevin White WR/West Virginia

2.     (39) Eddie Goldman DT/FSU

3.     (71) Hroniss Grassu OG/Oregon

4.     (106) Jeremy Langford RB/Michigan State

5.     (142) Adrian Amos S/Penn State

6.     (183) Tayo Fabuluje OT/TCU

 

New Bears General Manager Ryan Pace was stuck with the task of bringing some ferocity back to the Monsters of the Midway. With the 7th overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, and a new coaching staff that is switching from Lovie Smith’s 4-3 Tampa Two defensive scheme, to Vic Fangio’s aggressive 3-4 defense. After trading Brandon Marshall to the Jets in exchange for a 5th round pick the Bears were left with a massive hole at wide receiver opposite Alshon Jeffery. The addition of Kevin White with the 7th overall pick should provide the team with an instant impact player. Although White may not be as refined as Amari Cooper, who ended up getting drafted by the Raiders, White’s blend of size/power/speed make the Bears wide receivers one of the top young units in football.

As far as the defensive side of the football Pace did a great job of adding some meat to the defensive line. Florida State defensive tackle Eddie Goldman should fit in immediately at the 0, or nose tackle position in the Bears 3-4 front. Although Goldman does not possess elite pass rush skills, he is a massive human being that should allow the Bears linebackers to run free to the ball.

The most underrated drat pick for the Bears in my opinion came in the 4th round with the selection of Michigan State running back Jeremy Langford. Despite not showing elite athletic ability on tape, Langford lit up the NFL Scouting Combine after posting the lowest 40-yard dash time out of running backs (4.42). Despite having great long-speed, Langford is a versatile back with the ability to make plays in both the passing and running game. With veteran running back Matt Forte entering the last year of his contract and rumors swirling that Forte could hold-out,  Langford could be in a position to take over the bulk of the carries in Chicago as soon as next season.

Overall, the Bears did not make a lot of splash move outside of the selection of Kevin White, but they were able to add some much needed depth along both the offensive and defensive line. While the Bears rebuild was never considered a one-year process, new GM Ryan Pace did a good job adding some quality young talent that has the potential to become starters.

Grade: B-

 

Green Bay Packers

Players Drafted

1.     (30) Damarious Randall S/Arizona State

2.     (62) Quentin Rollins CB/Miami (OH)

3.     (94) TY Montgomery OW/Stanford

4.     (129) Jake Ryan LB/Michigan

5.     (147) Brett Hundley QB/UCLA

6.     (206) Aaron Ripkowski FB/Oklahoma

6.   (210) Christian Ringo DE/Louisiana-Lafeyette

6.   (213) Kennard Backman TE/UAB

 

As long as Aaron Rodgers is around the Packers should be one of the elite offenses in the NFL, but if they want the Lombardi Trophy to come home again it is essential to improve on the defensive side of the ball.

With the departure of Tramon Williams and Davon House to free agency the Packers were left with a gaping hole in their secondary. With the team’s first round selection the Packers drafted Arizona State safety Damarious Randall, an athletic safety who has the ability play deep as a single-high safety as well as the ability to roll down into coverage against slot WR’s and TE’s. Packers GM Ted Thompson did not stop there when adding young talent to his secondary as he invetsed the team’s 2nd round selection into the intriguing Quentin Rollins, a former 4-year starter on the Miami (OH) basketball team who has played just one year of college football. Despite the lack of experience playing football at a high level Rollins showed great ball skills and impressive instincts.

After the first two picks for the Packers I really started to question the moves the team made. The team drafted Stanford offensive weapon Ty Montgomery with their third round selection. Although Montgomery possesses some unique skills with incredible athleticism, he is extremely raw as a receiver and will most likely be relegated to KOR or PR duties during his rookie season.

Despite the selections of Ty Montgomery and Brett Hundley I feel the Packers had a solid, but not great, draft. Randall and Rollins should be day 1 starters for the Packers, and 4th round selection Jake Ryan could see some playing time during his rookie season now that A.J. Hawk has signed with the Bengals. Although the draft was not as flashy as teams like the Titans, Vikings, or Jaguars, the Packers did add two starting caliber players and should continue to be one of the premier teams in the NFC this season.

Grade: C+

 

 

Detroit Lions

Players Drafted

1.     (28) Laken Tomlinson OG/Duke

2.     (54) Ameer Abdullah RB/Nebraska

3.     (80) Alex Carter CB/Stanford

4.     (113) Gabe Wright DT/Auburn

5.     (168) Michael Burton FB/Rutgers

6.     (200) Quandre Diggs CB/Texas

7.     (240) Corey Robinson OT/South Carolina

 

As much as I miss the days of Matt Millen being the GM of the Lions and investing in wide receivers year in and year out, the Lions have shed the laughing stock label and become one of the better drafting units under Martin Mayhew.

Under new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi the Lions passing offense took a step back, finishing outside of the top-3 for the first time in three seasons. Part of the issue with the Lions offensive inconsistencies lay within the deficiencies along the offensive line. With the addition of first-round pick Laken Tomlinson the Lions have an immediate upgrade in terms of pass-protection. During Tomlinson’s last season at Duke he established himself as one of the top pass-protecting lineman in the nation, allowing 0 sacks and 0 QB hits during his senior season. If Matthew Stafford is going to make the jump from being an above average quarterback into the upper echelon the addition of Tomlinson to one of the better offensive lines in the NFC North should help immensely.

For all of the dynasty owners that thought the departure of Reggie Bush to the 49ers would mean an increased role for Theo Riddick, those thoughts were quickly put to bed after Lions invested their 2nd round pick on Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah. Despite not having the frame of a typical 3-down running back, Abdullah runs with underrated power between the tackles and is matchup nightmare when used as a receiving option out of the backfield. With Joique Bell struggling to hold onto the ball consistently (11 fumbles lost since 2012) and just one more year left on his current contract, Abdullah could push Bell for the starting job as soon as next season.

While the Lions draft does not possess a lot of fantasy relevant draft picks, they once again filled plenty of needs. The additions of Alex Carter and Quandre Diggs to the secondary should provide some quality depth behind Darius Slay and Rashean Mathis, as the Lions continue to have one of the best defensive units in all of football.

Grade: B-

 

Minnesota Vikings

Players Drafted

1.     (11) Trae Waynes CB/Michigan State

2.     (45) Eric Kendricks ILB/UCLA

3.     (88) Danielle Hunter DE/LSU

4.     (110) T.J. Clemmings OT/Pittsburgh

5.     (143) Mycole Pruitt TE/Southern Illinois

5.   (146) Stefon Diggs WR/Maryland

6.     (185) Tyrus Thompson OT/Oklahoma

6.   (193) B.J. Dubose DE/Louisville

7.   (228) Austin Shepard OT/Alabama

7.  (232) Edmond Robinson OLB/Newberry

 

Teams of the NFC North beware; Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer is building a juggernaut on the defensive side of the football. After investing in Harrison Smith, Anthony Barr, Xavier Rhodes, and Shariff Floyd in the first round over the last 4 years, the defense is loaded with young talent just waiting to take off.

Although I thought the Vikings would go with wide receiver DeVante Parker or defensive end Bud Dupree in the first round, the team made the wise move and added the physical press-corner Trae Waynes out of Michigan State. Waynes, if all goes well, should fill in immediately as the team’s no. 2 CB this season opposite Xavier Rhodes.

The addition of Waynes was just the start for the Vikings, as they added ILB Eric Kendricks and LSU DE Danielle Hunter with the teams 3rd and 4th round selection. Kendricks, an “undersized” linebacker from UCLA should be an immediate starter for the purple at either WLB or MLB.  Despite being a tad bit undersized for an NFL ILB, Kendricks has a nose for the football and is underrated in coverage. Guys like Chris Borland have gotten me to realize that linebackers who are tackling machines in college, translates very well to the NFL game. Hunter is an intriguing defensive end prospect with elite size (6’5”, 252 lbs.), speed (4.57), and incredibly long arms (34 ¼). Despite being raw as a pass rusher Hunter has all the physical tools to be a dominant RDE at the NFL level. If Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer and Defensive Line Coach Andre Patterson Sr. can get Hunter’s physical tools to show up on the field, the Vikings could have one of the steals of the 2015 NFL Draft.

If second year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is going to take the next step into being one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL, the Vikings have to find a way to protect him better. With the additions of Pittsburgh tackle T.J. Clemmings, Oklahoma’s Tyrus Thompson, and Alabama’s Austin Shepard, the Vikings added some much needed depth to the offensive line.

Of all the teams in the NFC North the Vikings had the most impactful draft of any team. With two players that will step in and be day one starters (Waynes, Kendricks), and four players that have the ability to develop into starting caliber players (Clemmings, Hunter, Diggs, Pruitt) the Vikings not only had the top draft in the NFC North, but one of the top in all of football.

Grade: B+

 

 

 

Photo Courtesy of Neon Tommy Flickr Page

Published in Fantasy Coverage

Every season I like to put fantasy players into two different categories. The first category is a player that I BUY, or that I believe is going to possess above average fantasy value for the 2015 season. One the other hand, a player that I SELL is deemed as a player that I feel is either going to be a bust, or fall to live up to the expectations of their draft slot. 

Quarterback

Buy: Teddy Bridgewater QB/Minnesota Vikings

If you follow me at all on twitter (@JoshMenschNFL) you will know that I am a diehard Minnesota Vikings fan, but I promise you my love for the fantasy potential of second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is not just a case of myself drinking the purple cool-aid. Going into the 2014 NFL Draft, a lot of people questioned Bridgewater from a number of ridiculous aspects including his preference to wear gloves, his "skinny knees" or my personal favorite — that he wasn't tough enough to play QB in the NFL (Played with a two severely sprained ankles and a broken wrist in college).

Bridgewater came out scorching hot in his first career start as he picked apart the Falcons defense for 317 yards passing and a rushing touchdown, a performance good enough to win him Pepsi's Rookie of the Week. In the next 7 weeks, Bridgwater definitely had the look of a rookie adjusting to the pace of the NFL game, sporting a worrisome 3:5 TD:INT as well as ranking in the bottom 10 in the NFL in yards-per-attempt (6.6).

With those numbers some of you may be wondering why someone with numbers like this would be a quarterback that you would want as a QB1 in fantasy football. In the second half of the season Bridgewater looked like a quarterback that was finally becoming comfortable running an NFL offense.  In weeks 11-17 Pro Football Focus graded Bridgewater as the no. 3 quarterback in all of football (9.6), trailing just Drew Brees (13.6) and Aaron Rodgers (17.3), posting a much improved 11:7 TD:INT and a quarterback rating of 95.2. 

Going into his sophomore season Bridgewater has a chance to take a major step forward, for a fraction of the price of some of the premier quarterbacks in fantasy football. Disgruntled running back Adrian Peterson's status is still unknown, but if he is still in a Vikings uniform that will no doubt relieve some pressure off of the young quarterback. Besides the charades that have been going on with Peterson the Vikings have been very active adding potential playmakers to the offensive side of the football this offseason. The Vikings acquired Mike Wallace and a 7th round pick from the Dolphins in exchange for a fifth round selection in the 2015 NFL Draft.  Although Walace was not able to match the production in Miami that he did in Pittsburgh, Wallace is still a legitimate deep threat and should benefit from the downfield passing game Vikings' offensive coordinator Norv Turner likes to employ. 

According to Fantasy Football Calculator's average draft position chart, Bridgewater is currently being drafted in the middle of round 10. At this position Bridgewater is being drafted after players like Colin Kaepernick and Ryan Tannehill. Not to say Kaepernick or Tannehill cannot be successful fantasy options, but they do not possess the natural passing abilities, or offensive weapons Bridgewater does.

Sell: Peyton Manning QB/Denver Broncos

Now before anyone rips my head off for telling you to SELL Peyton Manning I just want to let it be known that I am not telling you not too draft the soon to be first-ballot Hall of Famer. What I am telling you fantasy owners is too proceed with caution with the soon-to-be 40 year-old quarterback for two reasons.

      1.  Gary Kubiak Offense

Anyone that has followed Gary Kubiak's career knows that there are a couple of things his teams features on offense. The first is a running back that possesses the ability to be successful in a zone-blocking system, and with C.J. Anderson they definitely have that. 

Due to the presence of a strong rushing attack, Kubiak has not been one to feature a quarterback that puts up gaudy passing numbers. Just for comparison's sake, while Matt Schaub played under Kubiak in Houston he only surpassed 4,000 passing yards three times, a number that Manning has reached in all but two of his 17-year-career.

The second aspect Kubiak likes to feature is a mobile quarterback that has the ability to make plays outside the pocket on bootlegs and roll-outs. I think it is safe to say that Manning is not going to make many plays on such plays. 

Despite posting the second-highest yardage total in his career in 2014, Manning saw his average yards-per-attempt drop below 8.0 for the first time in three seasons. In an offense that will be predicated on short throws that rely on the receivers ability to make plays after the catch Manning could see that average continue to slide.

 

      2.  Departure of Julius Thomas

I expect Julius Thomas' departure to Jacksonville to have major impact on the Broncos offense next season. When healthy, Thomas was one of the most productive tight ends in the NFL, posting a 108/1,277/24 line over the last two seasons. 

The biggest downside of Thomas' game lies in his ability to stay healthy for an entire season. In the three games that Thomas missed last season Manning and the Broncos offense took a step back in terms of productivity. In the three games that Thomas missed in 2014 Manning averaged only 203 yards-per-game, and two touchdown passes a game, equating to about 14 fantasy points-per-game with Thomas sidelined. While some of the struggles could be attributed to the quad injury Manning suffered, it was clear that he missed his safety blanket in the middle of the field. 

Overview

Obviously Peyton Manning is going to cost a premium pick in fantasy football drafts, but I urge fantasy owners (Who are not in 2QB leagues), to wait too address arguably the deepest talent pool in fantasy football.

Like I said earlier I am not telling you guys that Manning is a player who will bust, but I do think that he is line for a dip from his normal production. Manning is currently being drafted as the third quarterback of the board in fantasy football behind Andrew Luck and Aaron Rodgers, coming of the board at the end of round 3. While there are still plenty of weapons on the Broncos offense to think they will be one of the top-10 units in football next season, I think there are better values at the quarterback position in fantasy football.

 

Photo Courtesty of Jeffrey Beall's Flickr Page

 

Published in Fantasy Coverage

Adam Inman of FFLockerroom.com and I recently debated the long-term potential of Vikings third-year wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson. Inman took the stance that the offseason trade speculation surrounding the talented, yet raw, Patterson were valid and could potentially moved by April's draft. I on the other hand am of the opinion that Patterson is still well within the long-term plans of the Vikings offense, and have layout two main reasons why I believe Patterson will take a step forward in the third professional season.

To read the complete article of FFlockrroom.com take the link here:

 

Image Courtesy of Rick Burtzel Flickr Page

 

Published in Fantasy Coverage
Wednesday, 25 March 2015 00:00

Episode 51: The situations

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On Wednesday's edition of Treatment, The Helpers welcome guest Adam Inman, senior writer at FFLockerRoom.com. They discuss three running backs who will change the fantasy value of other players and themselves in the offseason.

You can follow Adam on twitter at @adaminman.

Adrian Peterson — Barring the Vikings executives holding a boom box over their head outside Adrian Peterson's estate, it's looking like All Day will be All Out of Minnesota at some point, most likely via trade. Only problem with that is it's going to take a lot for the Vikings to get rid of him. The Arizona Cardinals have reportedly been willing to offer a high-round pick for him, while Dallas is also still in the running. Most people know Dallas will be the ideal fantasy fit for Peterson because of their offensive line. But let's take a look at Arizona could mean for Adrian Peterson's fantasy value if he winds up there.

House of Cards

The Arizona Cardinals were a below average offensive line last season, ranking 24th according to Pro Football Focus. That's actually an improvement over last year's squad that finished dead last, but there's still plenty of room for improvement. You could argue that starting RB Andre Ellington playing with a severed tendon in his foot in 2014 didn't make things easier on the unit. The Cardinals also had some quarterback injury woes with veteran Carson Palmer going down for the season with a torn ACL. Still, there's room for improvement along the offensive line.

Keep in mind, the Arizona Cardinals drafted a top 10 offensive linemen in 2013, a draft that could've been given the theme of 'the big guys up front.' There was a lot of offensive linemen drafted in the first round of that draft and to a lot of teams badly in need of a good protection for their quarterback. Cooper was drafted seventh overall in 2013 and has only played in 10 games entering his third season and didn't play his entire rookie season. He's an X factor when it comes to bolstering the Cardinals' offensive and subsequently Adrian Peterson's value if he in fact does get traded to Arizona. Cooper is a guard and stands 6'2, 311lbs, he would be an absolute beast in the run blocking game if he could get healthy, but there's a lot of doubt that can happen as of right now.

As far as the rest of the offensive line goes, left tackle Jard Veldheer was solid after coming over from Oakland. He was one of the main reasons their ranking got better. The interior linemen such as center Lyle Sendlein didn't fare as well. Ted Larsen filled in admirably when Cooper was hurt but clearly isn't as physically gifted as the former Top 10 pick. Peterson, who's now in his 30s, will need to have a good offensive line to help maximize his fantasy value and make him worthy of a top 5 fantasy draft pick. I just can't see taking him as anything other than the 8-10 range if he ends up in Arizona. You also have to factor in Carson Palmer's age and the fact that his body will heal differently from an ACL tear than a player in his 20s likely would. Everybody heals differently.

When it comes to Ellington, he would most likely take the back seat to Peterson and see his fantasy value drop significantly.

And if there's any quarterback in the league that needs ample amount of protection, it's Carson Palmer. Guy is a statue in the pocket. But he can make throws when given the time.

He went to Jerick

Jerick McKinnon — The Vikings have another running back waiting in the wings if Peterson refuses to come back, and that man is sophomore running back Jerick McKinnon. A third-round pick in last year's draft, McKinnon filled in for the Vikings after Peterson was suspended. He wasn't incredible by any means due largely to a back injury that relegated him to the I.R. for the last five games of the season, but he was a very consistent back and strung together numbers along the lines of Alfred Morris in Washington in terms of consistent fantasy scoring. He scored 60 fantasy points total in eight games. He's 23 years old.

He started out with a bang when he rushed for 135 yards and 14 fantasy points against Atlanta (a team that allowed nearly every running back to morph into Bernie Sanders last season) in Week 3. Managed to rush for over 100 yards against a good Buffalo rushing defense in Week 7. Aside from one dud performance against Detroit, McKinnon never rushed for less than 50 yards as long as he carried the ball at least 10 times. Of the eight games McKinnon played last year, he scored at least eight fantasy points in four of them. If Peterson decides not to come back to Minnesota or demand a trade, McKinnon becomes an RB2 with RB1 upside.

The Vikings offensive line struggled a lot at times due to injuries to Phil Loadholt and Brandon Fusco on the right side of their line, but overall they weren't a terrible run blocking team. They managed to get a first down 68% of the time on third down runs with two yards or less to go. They also had a stuffed ranking of No. 2 overall, meaning they were second best at not allowing their running back to get stopped behind the line of scrimmage. Again, these stats aren't crazy impressive in terms of fantasy value, but I'm just looking at the positives here. Only Pittsburgh was better. So this is an offensive line that didn't get pushed back too often. They still gave up 51 sacks last season which ranked among the bottom in the NFL. The Vikes might opt to draft a lineman somewhere in the earlier rounds of the 2015 draft since it's one of their bigger needs.

They drafted guard David Yankey in the fifth round last year and he might challenge for a starting spot in 2015 now that the Vikings got rid of veteran Charlie Johnson earlier in March. Yankey's play will be a crucial part to the offensive line success in Minnesota. The Vikings decision on whether or not to pick up left tackle Matt Kalil's fifth-year option is also an issue. They will decide on that in May. A former No. 4 overall pick in 2012 who was named to the Pro Bowl in his first season, Kalil started off slow in 2014 (which could've been the result of offseason knee surgery which set his offseason training back) but he only allowed one sack in the final five games of the season. He also had some mental lapses which included an altercation with a fan after a rough game against Green Bay. If he can play like he did in the final weeks of the 2014 season, McKinnon should be much better off.

Eva Rinaldi's flickr page here.

Published in Podcasts

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Rick Spielman and the Minnesota Vikings front office are not known for being big spenders in free agency. Last season the team "splurged" on Linval Joseph and Captain Mannerly, two players that had ups-and-downs during their first season with the Vikings. This season the splash for the Vikings came in the form of the disgruntled Dolphins wide receiver Mike Wallace, after the team acquired Wallace and a 7th round pick for the Vikings 2015 5th round pick. 

After missing out on guard Clint Boling and defensive end Michael Johnson, both of whom re-signed with the Bengals, the Vikings turned their attention to improving the weakest position on the roster, the wide receiver position. Despite the near-diva attitude of Wallace, there is no doubting his ability to stretch defenses vertically.

If Wallace is able to keep his head on straight, and more importantly develop chemistry with quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, this could turn into one of the more underrated acquisitions of the offseason. 

Offensive Fit

Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner is known to employ the Air Coryell offense, an offensive system predicated on a vertical passing game. If there is one thing Wallace has it is the ability to get behind defenses with his world-class speed.After being acquired by the Vikings for a late round pick Wallace will step in and become the team's no. 1 wide receiver, manning the "X" or vertical role in the Vikings offense. 

Early on this offseason it seemed as if third-year wide receiver Charles Johnson was going to become the focal point of the Vikings passing game, as offensive coordinator Norv Turner called Johnson "far and away our best receiver". Despite having the measurables of a no. 1 receiver (6'3) Johnson struggled mightily during his first season with Minnesota making contested catches.  

Although many people question Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s ability to drive the ball down the field, Bridgewater showed massive improvements during his rookie season.

Over the first 9 weeks of the season Bridgewater struggled with is accuracy and timing on vertical passes, completing just 9 of 26 attempts on balls 20+ yards down field.

From week 10 on, Bridgewater started to develop good timing with his receivers on vertical routes. In the last 8 weeks of the season Bridgewater ranked 2nd in the NFL on deep passes, completing 7 of his 15 pass attempts.

 

Weeks 1-9

Deep Passing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#

Name

Team

Att.

Comp

Drops

Yards

TDs

INTs

Att. %

Acc. %

20

 Teddy Bridgewater

MIN

26

9

1

233

2

0

13.2

38.5

Weeks 10-17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

 Teddy Bridgewater

MIN

15

7

2

234

3

3

7.3

60 

The biggest improvement in Bridgewater’s game came in his accuracy rating. During the first 9 weeks of the year PFF only charted 38.5% of Bridgewater’s deep passes as accurate. In the second half of the year Bridgewater seemed like a different quarterback, posting an accuracy % of 60. 

As you can see from the table above Bridgewater was becoming a very efficient QB on deep throws, posting more yards and touchdowns on fewer attempts than he did the first half of the season. Bridgewater's progression in the second half of his rookie season has to be promising for Vikings fans and coaches for a team that has been held back by paltry quarterback play since Brett Favre retired.  

The addition of Wallace to the Vikings finally gives the Norv Turner the vertical threat that he need to make his offense successful. As long as Wallace is able to stay committed and Bridgewater is able to continue his progression from his rookie season, the Vikings offense could be in a position to take a major leap forward next season.

Quarterback/Wide Receiver Disconnect

During Wallace's time in Pittsburgh he established himself as one of the premier deep threats in football averaging over 17 yards-per-reception during his his four years in black and yellow. 

After signing a 5 year/$60 million deal with the Dolphins in 2013 the hope Wallace would bring his electric speed to South Beach and become the focal point of their passing attack. It seemed as if Wallace was starting to develop into an all-around wide receiver after posting a career high 73 receptions in his first season in Miami. 

Despite posting a new career high in receptions, Wallace saw his yards-per-reception and touchdown receptions drop for the third straight season.  

According to Pro Football Focus’ metrics that separate receptions by direction Wallace and Tannehill only connected for 6 out of 24 attempts for 199 yards and one touchdown on passes travelling 20+ yards down the field. The most staggering statistic I noticed was of the 24 attempts that Tannehill threw 20+ yards down field, only 7 of those passes were deemed “catchable”.

 

 

Games

Receiving

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Year

Tm

Pos

G

GS

Tgt

Rec

Yds

Y/R

TD

Lng

R/G

Y/G

2009

PIT

WR

16

4

72

39

756

19.4

6

60

2.4

47.3

2010

PIT

WR

16

16

98

60

1257

21

10

56

3.8

78.6

2011*

PIT

WR

16

14

114

72

1193

16.6

8

95

4.5

74.6

2012

PIT

WR

15

14

119

64

836

13.1

8

82

4.3

55.7

2013

MIA

WR

16

16

141

73

930

12.7

5

57

4.6

58.1

2014

MIA

WR

16

16

115

67

862

12.9

10

50

4.2

53.9

Career

 

 

95

80

659

375

5834

15.6

47

95

3.9

61.4

 

Fantasy Implications

Last season Wallace scored a total of 170.5 fantasy points (.5 PPR leagues) a total good enough for the 21st highest wide receiver in fantasy football. In layman's terms, even with Tannehill's inconsistencies throwing the ball down the field, Wallace was still able to post number equating to a solid WR2 in fantasy football. 

The move to Minnesota could be a blessing for Wallace's fantasy outlook. Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner loves to throw the ball down the field and with Bridgewater's improved accuracy on deep passes, and the addition of Wallace's speed is just what the Vikings offense needs to make Turner's system go. 

According to fantasyfootballcalculator.com's ADP calculator Wallace is on average the 31st wide receiver drafted in fantasy drafts, slotting Wallace to be selected at the beginning of round 7. In my opinion that is incredible value for the speedster as he will likely be the Vikings leading receiver in 2015, and has a chance to produce his first 1,000 yard season since 2011.

 

Published in Fantasy Coverage

For Minnesota Vikings fans, the Adrian Peterson situation has become more of a soap opera than a regular collective bargaining disagreement. It seemed as if the saga was close to its conclusion after Judge David Doty ruled that the NFL unjustifiably used a new personal conduct policy to suspend Peterson for the full season, however the NFL has appealed this decision. There are a lot of rumors swirling that Peterson could be potentially trying to force his way out of Minnesota, the place where he was spent his entire 8-year playing career. While I see Peterson's departure from the Twin Cities as unlikely, I am going to go through possible destinations for Peterson if the Vikings pursue a trade. 

Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys seem to be the first team mentioned when talking about a potential landing spot for Adrian Peterson. Peterson is a Texas-native, and has always said that he wouldn't mind playing for the Cowboys at some point in his career. Now that the possibility that Peterson could be available via trade, the Cowboys are being called one of the front-runners to land the former-MVP.

While the situation may seem like a perfect fit, I would say that the likelihood of Peterson ends up playing for the Cowboys is slim. The Cowboys are in an interesting place this offseason with their salary cap situation. The team currently has $130 million tied up into next years salary, $37 million of which is occupied by Tony Romo, and have several key free agents to address. 

First and foremost is trying to lock up Dez Bryant to a long-term contract. It has been reported that the Cowboys have offered Dez in the range $110 million with around $20 million in guaranteed money. Getting in the way of locking up Dez long-term are the swirling rumors over a potential domestic violence issue involving Dez and a female in a Wal-Mart parking lot. The Cowboys seem to be leery of offering Dez a deal with heavy guaranteed money before figuring out whether or not the tape really does exist or not. 

The other barrier in the way of Peterson landing in Dallas is the presence of DeMarco Murray. While Murray is currently slated to test free agency this offseason, I fully expect the Cowboys to find a way to lock Murray up long-term. Coming off of a career-year in which he led the NFL in rushing yards (1,726), Murray is expected to be looking for a deal that pays him among the top-5 running backs in football. The Cowboys apparently have different plans, as they have reportedly only been willing to offer Murray a contract of 4 years/$16 million, a salary that Murray wants no part of.

The dilemma is simple: Which player do you want to give the long-term contract to? Do you give it to the wide receiver who has been one of, if not the best wide receiver in all of football over the last few seasons? Or do you give it to a 28 year-old running back who is coming off a career season in which he was able to stay healthy for the full 16-game season for the first time in his career? 

Looking at the situation I expect a couple of outcomes. The first outcome I expect is for Dez Bryant to be hit with the franchise-tag. If you are unfamiliar with what the franchise tag is, it is a one-year, fully guaranteed contract that pays the player a salary in the top 10 percent of his position. The final situation I see coming to fruition is the Cowboys and Murray coming to an agreement on a long-term extension. There is no secret that Murray is what made this team go last season, and I feel like Jerry and the rest of the Cowboys front-office realize Murray's importance as well. 

Indianapolis Colts

The next team on the list of potential suitors for Adrian Peterson is the Indianapolis Colts. While some Colts fans may see this and thinking "please god do not let Grigson trade for another running back", I think that the addition of Peterson is just what this offense has been missing over the last few seasons. 

The Trent Richardson trade in which the Colts surrendered a first-round pick in last years draft has been a colossal bust, and it seems like Richardson may be given his walking papers this offseason. If Richardson is let go, the Colts are going to be looking for someone that has the ability to carry the load for their running game.

While the Colts could very well wait and add some talented young depth at the running back position through the draft, I do not think the team wants to wait for a rookie to develop when there is a proven, all-pro caliber running back available via trade. 

Could you imagine Colts fans; Andrew Luck and Adrian Peterson in the same backfield? How would defenses attempt to stop them? Do they load the box in hopes to take the run game away? Or do they play coverage and allow Peterson to get to the second level on a consistent basis? Either scenario has to be enticing for the Colts front office and coaching staff. 

As far as fantasy perspective goes, I feel like the Colts are the best place for Adrian's fantasy value, if he is not in Minnesota that is. The Colts are equipped with an elite young quarterback, an above-average offensive line and good weapons at the wide receiver position to take pressure off of him. 

If the Colts want AP to line up in their backfield in 2015 it could very well take another first-round pick, a price tag that I feel is well-worth the risk associated with taking on a 30 year-old running back. 

Arizona Cardinals

In an interview with the Pioneer Press' Chris Tomasson, Adrian's father Nelson Peterson recently mentioned the Cardinals as a spot that Peterson would like to play next season. If you remember back to when Adrian declared for the NFL Draft in 2007, the Cardinals were one of the teams that reportedly had a ton of interest in the former Sooner running back. However, when the Cardinals pick was on the clock they decided to pass on Peterson for Levi Brown, a massive left tackle out of Penn State University. 

Brown went on to an under-whelming NFL career in which he battled several season-ending injuries, and issues with the speed of NFL pass rushers. Brown was released from the Cardinals in 2012 after suffering a torn triceps, and currently finds himself out of football after being released by the Steelers in 2014.

Now as far as a potential landing spot for Adrian Peterson, the Cardinals and Colts make far and away the most sense for teams that could acquire the former-MVP.

The Cardinals are in a "win-now" mindset. Quarterback Carson Palmer has maybe three years left in him, so the Cardinals front-office needs to do as much as they can to ensure a deep playoff run.

Now the Cardinals currently have a young running back by the name of Andre Ellington. Ellington was a hot commodity in fantasy football drafts last season, but struggled to live up the value after suffering torn ligaments in his ankle. Ellington was able to play in 12 of the teams 16 games this season, and showed that he may be better suited for a change-of-pace role within an offense rather than being the focal point.

If the Cardinals were to add Peterson to their team he would instantly become the focal point of their offensive gameplan. I know that Bruce Arians loves to throw the ball down the field as much as anyone, and with the presence of Adrian Peterson on play-action fakes could be the missing factor in the Cardinals offense. 

I put the Cardinals as the second runner-up in the Adrian Peterson-sweepstakes behind the Colts and the Minnesota Vikings at this point in the process. The addition of Peterson to the Cardinals offense could be the stabilization factor that Arians' offense needs. 

Minnesota Vikings

The final team that I expect to be in the running for the services of Adrian Peterson is his current team, the Minnesota Vikings. In my personal opinion, there is no place that Adrian would be embraced or utilized like he would be in the Twin Cities. 

Adrian Peterson was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings as the 7th overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, and immediately took the league by storm. During Peterson's time with the Vikings he was awarded the Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2007, and the MVP award in 2013 after rushing for over 2,000 yards one season after suffering a torn ACL.

It seemed as if Peterson was going to do something rare in this day in age, play his entire career for one team. However a wrench was thrown into those plans after Peterson was indicted on child abuse charges. Due to the legal issues, Peterson was placed on the Commissioner's Exempt list, allowing him to still earn his full $12 million salary, but to stay away from the team until his legal situation was finished.

It seemed as if the entire situation was starting to go away, as Minnesota Supreme Court Judge David Doty ruled in favor of the NFLPA and ruled that the suspension of Peterson was unjust, and is now being sent back to Harold Henderson, the "independent" arbitrary that Goodell hired to oversee Peterson's original appeal hearing. 

As of now Peterson is still on the Commissioner's Exempt List, which means he is still technically suspended by the NFL, but is also give the Vikings some advantage in that they are now allowed to have contact with Peterson and his representation directly. The situation is going to likely come down to one thing: money. Peterson is a very proud person from all the accounts I have been told and money is important too him, and playing the position he does I cannot entirely blame him. 

In the end, it's going to come down to the decision of the Vikings front office. Do they pay Adrian his entire 2015 salary of $12.75 million? Or do they try and get AD to restructure his contract to ensure more guaranteed money later in his contract? I expect the team to offer to pay Adrian his full $12.75 million salary (15 million cap hit) for this season, and possibly restructure his contract next offseason. Now people may look at the 12.75 million salary and say no running back is worth that just remember, this is the same guy that ran for 2,000 yards just 9 months after ACL reconstruction surgery. History could also be on the side of Peterson, as the Vikings have had a history of paying their veterans big money. If you remember, the Vikings paid defensive end Jared Allen $17 million in his final season despite being past his athletic prime. 

Outcome

Where Adrian Peterson plays next season is going to be one of the major story lines of the NFL offseason. While Peterson is starting to reach the back half of his career, he still has plenty left in the tank to produce at a high level for a few more seasons. 

I would currently rank the Vikings as the favorite to have Adrian on their team next season. After the Vikings I believe that the Cardinals and Colts would be the most attractive options for both Peterson and the Vikings front office. 

Compensation is going to be crucial for the Vikings if they do end up trading AP. Right now the reported asking price for AP is at least a first-round pick, and with the Cardinals an Colts both sitting at the end of round 1, I expect both teams to be associated with trade rumors involving Adrian Peterson.

Image Courtesy of Joe Bielawa Flickr Page

You can contact Josh with questions at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or follow him on twitter @joshmenschNFL

Published in Fantasy Coverage
Tuesday, 13 January 2015 00:00

What happened in 2014: Teddy Bridgewater

Shhhhhhhh.  I’m about to reveal something that only a small percentage of football fans, both NFL and fantasy football fans know.  Minnesota Vikings rookie QB Teddy Bridgewater, finished his 2014 campaign on one of the all-time best runs by a rookie QB.  Because of their record at the time (4-7), most people stopped paying attention to the Vikings from an NFL standpoint, and fantasy owners who were gearing up for the playoffs already had a reliable starting QB, so they ignored the end of the season statistical barrage that will be referred to as Teddy Time later in the article.

It obviously wasn't all smooth sailing so I’d like to further analyze Bridgewater’s season and answer the question that should be on your mind.  What happened?

Coming Into the Season

In 2012 as a sophomore Teddy Bridgewater punched his ticket into the NFL throwing for 27 TDs vs. 8 INTs, his season culminating as the Sugar Bowl MVP in a victory over Florida.  He remained in school for 2013 and capped off his storied career with a 31/4 TD/INT ratio.  He was the 3rd QB selected in the 2014 draft behind Blake Bortles and Johnny Manziel.  A concern over Bridgewater’s arm strength knocked him down to third on the totem pole, but the Vikings thought enough of him to trade 2nd and 4th round picks to Seattle in order to select him with the last pick in round one.  In hindsight, the slip to the end of round 1 was the best thing that could’ve happened for Teddy, as he is clearly comfortable in Minnesota and is standing firmly at the head of the 2014 QB class after disastrous seasons by Bortles and Manziel. 

2014: Weeks 1-2 – Holding a clipboard

Despite being the favorite to start heading into the season, Bridgewater lost a camp battle to Matt Cassel that lasted all the way until the last preseason game.  Neither QB met the expectations of head coach Mike Zimmer and Offensive Coordinator/QB Guru Norv Turner, so they decided that winning was the top priority and they’d stick with the veteran Cassel.     

2014: Weeks 3-4 – Season debut, first start and injury

After Cassel went down with a foot injury, Bridgewater was inserted into the lineup mid-way through week 3’s game against the Saints.  With the Adrian Peterson child abuse story having just popped up, and with breakout candidate TE Kyle Rudolph going down with a significant injury, the Vikings season was in shambles.  All eyes were on Bridgewater to salvage any hope for the future of the Vikings franchise.  Taking over for Cassel, Bridgewater struggled in his first action against the Saints. However, his first start of the season resulted in a 41-28 rout over the Atlanta Falcons, a game in which Bridgewater threw for 319 yards and ran for a crucial TD, without committing a turnover.  Bridgewater led several long drives and consistently hooked up with Jarius Wright (132 yds) setting up three Matt Asista goal line plunges.  Things were finally looking up for the Vikings.  The Vikings' balloon was deflated however when it was revealed that Bridgewater suffered a potentially severe ankle injury during the game. 

2014: Weeks 6-11 – The low point, followed by steady improvements

Bridgewater’s ankle recovered quicker than expected and he only missed one game. However, his next two games, both Vikings losses, were anything but smooth as he was sacked 13 times against the Lions and Bills while throwing only 1 TD vs. 5 INTs.  It was apparent that the rust from the injury was there and the game was moving too fast for Bridgewater during these losses.  He looked indecisive and took too many sacks against the ferocious pass rushes that these two teams brought to the table. 

He’d settle down and show steady improvements in the next three weeks against lesser defenses (TB, Washington, Chicago), going 2-1 as a starter and throwing 3 TDs vs. 1 INT, but there were still two huge elephants in the room when viewing the Vikings' offense.  One was that Bridgewater was checking down time after time so despite the winning record against the Bucs, Skins, and Bears, fans were left scratching their heads asking themselves when Norv Turner’s offense would become even remotely explosive.  The other elephant in the room was the play of young, speedy WR Cordarelle Patterson. Patterson had a fine rookie campaign (627 total yds, 7 TDs) and was the NFL’s preseason fantasy football darling at the WR position, with experts placing him amongst the top 15 for 2014. The coaching staff did their best to feature Patterson early in the season but he was an utter disappointment in Turner’s offense.  Patterson struggled with route running, effort, and dropped passes.  He became less and less featured in the offense over time. His poor play opened the door for another athletic freak at WR, Charles Johnson.  Eventually Johnson would take over for Patterson as Patterson became a pure part time player.

 

2014: Weeks 12-17 - Teddy Time

The turning point of Bridgewater’s season actually came in a 24-21 loss to the Green Bay Packers.  Nobody had given the Vikings a prayer to be alive in that game and Teddy went toe to toe with Aaron Rodgers, even executing a 4th quarter drive to bring the team to within three points with four minutes to go.  He finished the game with 210 yards and 2 TDs, his first multiple TD game.

The emergence of Charles Johnson gave Bridgewater a legitimate big play, down field threat.   From the Green Bay game forward, the cast of receivers including Johnson, Greg Jennings and slot man Jarius Wright was a balanced, dangerous crew.  Each player had a defined important role.  They had their dynamic #1 WR in Johnson who excelled on intermediate and deep balls (56 yard TD on go route vs. NYJ), along with a short-intermediate pass receiver and pro’s pro in Jennings (4 TDs in last 6 gms) and the speedy sneaky slot receiver Jarius Wright (2 TD last 6 gms).  Bridgewater looked comfortable slinging the ball to this trio, winning 3 of his last 5 games and averaging 246 yds and 1.6.  He’d finished the season with 4 multiple TD games in his last 6 and completed 68%+ in each of his last 5 games.  The offense produced 30+ points 3 times bringing fantasy value not only to Bridgewater but to players at all positions on the Vikings offense.  

To go into further detail, during the last 5 weeks (Teddy Time) the following accolades that Bridgewater racked up were not only impressive for a rookie but for any quarterback:

·          *Second highest completion percentage (Behind Romo)

         *First rookie ever to complete over 70% of passes in four straight games

       *Eighth highest passer rating

       *Seventh highest yards per attempt

 *Pro Football Focus’ second-highest graded quarterback (Behind Rodgers)

Lessons Learned

You may not have realized, but Teddy Bridgewater’s 64.4% completion rate on the season was the 3rd best ALL TIME by a rookie behind Ben Roethlisberger and Robert Griffin III.  Norv Turner gained more confidence in his young QB, and dialed up deeper passes once Bridgewater started to trust his offensive line and his WRs.   If you don’t catch my drift, his five game streak of greatness to end the season went unnoticed but was truly special.  With another year to work with Turner and his WRs, Bridgewater is sure to be undervalued and I’m pegging him as the breakout QB of 2015.  He finished with a 14 TDs and 12 INTs in 13 games.  Maybe it’s a coincidence but he also had this same TD/INT ratio in his first year starting at Louisville…the next season he finished with 27 TDs/8 INTs.  Take what you want from that.  A QB with this level of elite accuracy in a Norv Turner offense cannot be ignored.  Turner will allow Bridgewater to air it out starting in week 1 and a huge breakout could be on the horizon.  At minimum he will be a solid high end QB2, one that I would go out of my way to draft in the later rounds.  Those who like to wait on QB would be wise to pair him with another mid-level QB and play matchups.  Think of him as next year’s Ryan Tannehill.     

Published in Fantasy Coverage
Monday, 15 December 2014 00:00

Episode 38: First Aid (Week 15)

On Monday's Week 15 edition of First Aid, the Helpers analyze Seattle/San Francisco and Detroit/Minnesota and give out fantasy value to the players in those contests. Plus weekly awards and a quick preview of Chicago/New Orleans tonight. Enjoy.

Published in Podcasts

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