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Bernard Berrian is expected to be released by the Minnesota Vikings this week. His is due $3.9 million this year, $6.9 million in 2012, and $7.9 million in 2013. Obviously the final two years of the contract will never come to fruition, but is it wise for them to release the veteran with Sidney Rice set to test the free agent waters?
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All I have to say, is did you see him last year? The Vikings were  without Rice most of  the season and Berrian had managed just 28 catches for 252 yards. He had one game against Arizona that he actually looked like an NFL caliber receiver, catching nine passes for 89 yards. Berrian failed to top 30 yards in any other game.
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His numbers have dropped in each of the last two years. He went from 48 catches for 964 yards and seven touchdowns to 55 catches for 618 yards and four touchdowns, to the aforementioned 28 catches for 252 yards. He has not caught a touchdown pass since Week 11 of 2009. He hasn’t had a 100 yard game since Week 13 of 2008.
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Money aside, I don’t think he’s even worth the roster space. You always have to worry about whether or not his hamstring, toe, or another ailment will pop out. Besides, the way he failed to step up when the Vikings were in a bind at receiver last year left a bad taste in my mouth. Whether they address their wide receiver needs via the draft or via free agency, the Vikings can do a lot better than Bernard Berrian.
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This article is also featured at NFLTouchdown.com, where I am the lead Vikings writer.


Image courtesy of Icon SMI

 

I was a little concerned with Sidney Rice’s hip in July (click to read article). He went from the #5 rank in February to #7 in April as I came to the conclusion that the Vikings would run more in 2010.

 

In mid-July I bounced him down to #14 as the hip injury began to trouble me. In my most recent rankings two weeks ago, he dipped down to #19 as the hip and a possible contract dispute as the cause for the slide.

 

Now there are rumors (via Judd Zulgad’s Twitter) that he may undergo surgery to repair his hip. This procedure could cost him half the season. Until we hear otherwise, it’s time to start preparing for the worst. You can no longer risk taking Rice as one of your top two WRs. Even taking him as a WR3 is risky.

 

Meanwhile, Bernard Berrian should start rapidly climbing the draft board. With Rice’s hip issue and Percy Harvin’s migraine issues, Berrian could easily find himself as the team’s number one receiver. Brett Favre went to Berrian early and often in the NFC title game against the Saints. He would not hesitate to go back to him.

 

The Vikings are taking a look at Javon Walker, but don’t waste your time with him. Greg Lewis, who was on the receiving end of the ESPY Play of the Year, is far more likely to pick up the scraps should Rice and Harvin miss time.

 

****UPDATE****
Star Tribune is reporting that Sidney Rice did have hip surgery. If you already had your draft and picked Rice, try to get Bernard Berrian. Don’t worry about Brett Favre. He will be fine with Harvin, Rice, Shiancoe, Greg Lewis, etc.

So Brett Favre decided to grace the Vikings with his presence. If you were one of the one or two people that fell for his act…shame on you. For the rest of us, who always knew he was coming back, we can get on to the real question at hand. What does Favre’s return mean to us fantasy football players?

 

For starters, you can add Brett Favre in the mix as one of the top eight to twelve fantasy starters. I wouldn’t put him ahead of the likes of Rodgers, Brees, Peyton, Brady, Rivers, Romo, or Schaub, but after last year’s brilliant performance, I can see you rolling the dice and taking him as a low-end fantasy starter. I know he’s never missed a game and has been a top tier QB for the past three seasons, aside from the last few games with the Jets when he blew out his arm, but you should strongly consider adding a quality backup if you’re using Favre. He will turn 41 this year, and after the success the Saints had attacking Favre, you have to imagine other teams will follow suit and try to take down the new grandpa.

 

I am not worried that Favre’s return will hamper Adrian Peterson. He put up big numbers before Favre and put up big numbers with him. I’m more concerned with his fumbling issues, but that’s a different topic for a different day. I still consider AP the number one fantasy running back since teams can’t stuff the box on him.

 

The Viking wide receivers have to be breathing a sigh of relief. It’s not that I don’t think Tarvaris Jackson is not capable of moving the chains and putting up some points, but he is not to be confused with Brett Favre. Favre sweats out more experience every game than T-Jack has accumulated, and it will benefit the Viking wideouts.

 

The player I like the most is Percy Harvin. Of course he is a weekly risk thanks to his recurring migraine issue, but he has so much natural ability. He is strong and shifty and racks up yards after contact like a running back. Favre showed a willingness to deliver the ball to him in the red zone so double-digit touchdowns is not out of the question. Sidney Rice was his favorite target last year, but he is dealing with a hip issue. He has not walked the walk with injuries like the gunslinger so there is cause for concern. If he can stay healthy, he should be able to put up big numbers thanks to his body control and leaping ability. He’ll be gone from fantasy drafts before I’m willing to role the dice on him. Bernard Berrian is an interesting option. He’s too widely know to be considered a sleeper, but he could far exceed his expectations.

 

First, he’ll have to stay healthy, which has been a challenge. If he can do his part, and Percy (migraines) or Sidney’s (hip) issues flare up, he could see a lot of targets. He was almost the forgotten man last year, but was heavily featured (9 catches, 102 yards) in the NFC title game vs. the Saints. Don’t sleep on him despite his 161 ADP (57th WR).

 

Perhaps the player that is happiest to see Favre’s return is Visanthe Shiancoe. Not because they can sort out the great training camp tweet debacle, but because Favre loves throwing to tight ends in the red zone. Shiancoe had 11 TDs last year to back up that claim. He loses some value in PPR leagues because he likely won’t catch more than 55-60 passes, but another double-digit season is a distinct possibility.

 

I know you’re sick of the Favre drama, but the Vikings are a better team with him under center. Their players become better fantasy options as well. As far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing not to like about Favre’s return.

 

***Update*** 
Percy Harvin collapsed during practice and was taken to a hospital via an ambulance. He vomited prior to collapsing, most likely the symptoms of a migraine. He has been dealing with them for two weeks now. You should probably slide Harvin down a few notches on your draft board. More importantly, my thoughts and prayers are with Harvin. Hopefully they find a way to improve his condition. That is now way to go through life, not knowing when you’ll be knocked on your butt from a crippling migraine.


Tarvaris Jackson running the offense.

 


T-Jack looked pretty good.

 


Berrian looked fast.

 


The extent of Sidney Rice and Adrian Peterson’s practice.

 


Present QB?…Doubtful

 


Future Viking?

 


Touchdown!

 

Tarvaris Jackson looked good. Chris Cook is going to be a player. Berrian was solid. The guy I was most impressed with, though, was Visanthe Shiancoe. He caught everything that came his way. When everyone took a break, he kept working.

With the Brett Favre saga finally over, Bernard Berrian gets a bump in value.  Berrian had a solid year with 48 catches for 964 yards and 7 TDs despite playing with the likes of Gus Frerotte and Tavaris Jackson.  With Favre he should surpass the 1000 yard mark he’s been hovering around the past two seasons.  Berrian has averaged 6 TDs a year over the past three seasons, a number that could also increase with #4 on board.  Even if Favre did go down, Sage Rosenfels would be an adequate replacement.  Berrian is going in the 7th round in fantasy drafts, though he’ll likely begin to creep up the draft board with his new QB.  I would roll with Berrian as a WR3.  I expect him to catch 65 passes for 1100 yards and 7 TDs.
 
Devin Hester is another speedy WR that got a shiny, new Quarterback this year.  Even though he annoyed Jay Cutler recently, I think Hester could have a real nice year.  With another year at WR under his belt, he should be more comfortable.  Having a QB with a big arm to take advantage of his speed should also help.  He was spotty at best last year with just three games with over 70 receiving yards.  He had six games with less than 30 yards.  You would think he would have rushing numbers to increase his value, but he ran just six times for 61 yards.  He had 11 return TDs in his first two years, but failed to reach paydirt last year.  He isn’t slated to do any returns this year, so don’t expect any bonus scores.  Having him concentrate full-time on his WR duties should help him stay focused and healthy, but it also takes away what comes naturally for Hester.  I expect him to be more consistent with Cutler, but I still don’t think I would want to rely on him as a WR3.  He’s going in the 7th round in fantasy drafts.  I’m expecting 55 catches for 850 yards and 6 TDs.

Steve Breaston is another speedy WR that is being counted on in 2009.  Only he’s the third WR on his team, which means, barring injury, that I would want him as a WR4 at best.  He had a great year catching 77 passes for 1006 yards and 3 TDs.  He was very inconsistent with eight games with 77+ yards and eight games with fewer 55 yards (five with fewer than 40 yards).  He only added 3 TDs.  The Cardinals are going to balance their offense more this year with the addition of first round pick Beanie Wells.  Unless Boldin or Fitz get hurt or Boldin is miraculously traded, Breaston’s fantasy value takes a hit in 2009.  He is going around the ninth round of fantasy drafts, which is a bit early for my tastes.  I’m expecting around 55 catches for 825 yards and 4 TDs.

The Vikings have a major need to address at Quarterback.  Tarvaris Jackson may evenutally turn into a decent QB, but this defense is aging, and their window is closing quickly.  The Vikings are more than set at RB with Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor.  Bernard Berrian was the deep threat they were looking for and Bobby Wade is a solid slot WR.  Sidney Rice was a disappointment, but everyone was probably a year off in his development.  He’s a red zone threat with 8 of his 46 career receptions (17%) going for a TD.  Visanthe Shiancoe had a breakout year at TE for the Purple.  Blocking TE Jim Kleinsasser is an Unrestricted Free Agent, but I think they’ll find a way to bring him back.  The same can’t be said for Matt Birk, who will be moving on.

Defensively the Vikings could start the season withouth the Williams Wall (Pat & Kevin) for the first four games if their suspensions aren’t overturned.  Jared Allen was all the Vikings could have hoped for an more.  The Vikes D-Line is in good shape, but some of their key backups (Fred Evans, Otis Grigsby) are Free Agents.  They’ll likely try to bring them back for depth and suspension insurance.  They’ll get a big bump from the return of MLB E.J. Henderson, who forms a solid LB corps with Ben Leber and Chad Greenway.  Napolean Harris was decent filling in for E.J.  He’s a free agent so there’s a chance they don’t bring him back.  I’m guessing they’ll take a MLB to groom in the draft.  S Darren Sharper has more than likely played his last game for the Vikings, in which case they’ll have to address that need.  They could use some more depth at Corner as well.

KFFL Free Agent Tracker:

Pos Player Name FA Status Previous Team Current Team
RB Albert Young Re-signed Minnesota Vikings Minnesota Vikings
FB Naufahu Tahi RFA Minnesota Vikings Free Agent
WR Robert Ferguson UFA Minnesota Vikings Free Agent
WR Jaymar Johnson Re-signed Minnesota Vikings Minnesota Vikings
TE Jim Kleinsasser UFA Minnesota Vikings Free Agent
OT Marcus Johnson RFA Minnesota Vikings Free Agent
C Matt Birk UFA Minnesota Vikings Free Agent
OL Brian Daniels Re-signed Minnesota Vikings Minnesota Vikings
DL Kenderick Allen UFA Minnesota Vikings Free Agent
DL Fred Evans RFA Minnesota Vikings Free Agent
DL Otis Grigsby RFA Minnesota Vikings Free Agent
DL Jimmy Kennedy UFA Minnesota Vikings Free Agent
DL Jayme Mitchell RFA Minnesota Vikings Free Agent
DL Kenechi Udeze UFA Minnesota Vikings Free Agent
DL Ellis Wyms UFA Minnesota Vikings Free Agent
LB Heath Farwell UFA Minnesota Vikings Free Agent
LB Napoleon Harris UFA Minnesota Vikings Free Agent
LB Dontarrious Thomas UFA Minnesota Vikings Free Agent
CB Charles Gordon RFA Minnesota Vikings Free Agent
CB Benny Sapp UFA Minnesota Vikings Free Agent
CB Marcus Walker Re-signed Minnesota Vikings Minnesota Vikings
SS Michael Boulware UFA Minnesota Vikings Free Agent
SS Darren Sharper UFA Minnesota Vikings Free Agent

Minnesota Vikings Preview

27 August 2008

The Vikings made some big splashes in the offseason by acquiring Jared Allen via trade and signing one of the biggest free agents on offense in Bernard Berrian.  Was it enough to put them over the hump and get them in the playoffs?  I think so. 

The Vikings Offense will rely heavily on the rushing attack of Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor.  They have the best Guard in the NFL in Steve Hutchinson, who should provide good running lanes for the aforementioned backs.  They will have to deal with the looming suspension of Left Tackle Bryant McKinnie for his misdeeds in the offseason.  However, I think the Vikes will be able to patch their line enough to get by.  In the passing game, Tarvaris Jackson will be asked to play relatively mistake-free football.  He won’t be required to make a lot of plays.  He just needs to avoid screwing up.  He also needs to prove that he can stay healthy.  At least if he goes down this year, they are in better hands with Gus Frerotte waiting in the wings.  Aside from Berrian, Sidney Rice should show improvement from a decent rookie campaign at the other WR slot.  Bobby Wade moves to the Slot, which he is better suited for. 

Defensively the Vikings need to shore up a pass defense that has been atrocious the past couple of seasons.  Ever since Tom Brady and New England carved them at the Dome a couple years ago, teams have basically abandoned the run and simply torched the Vikes through the air.  Jared Allen should put pressure on the Quarterback, which means they won’t have as much time to pick on the DBs.  That should have a great impact on their coverage ability.  Kevin Williams should receive less attention to as teams can’t focus on him with Allen by his side.  I could see both of them reaching double-digits sacks this year.

The Vikings should be able to win the division this year with the departure of Brett Favre.  I can’t imagine Green Bay being as good.  Chicago needs to prove it can actually score some points, and Detroit is just Detroit.  WIll they go anywhere in the playoffs?  It’s possible, but they will need T-Jax to make some plays.  We’ll see if he’s up for the task.  My guess is they are one-and-done.

Fantasy-wise it all starts with Adrian Peterson.  He has the ability to rush for 2000 yards.  Will he do it?  Not likely.  Is it a possibility?  You betcha.  Chester Taylor could be a flex position possibility in large leagues, but will mainly be used as a handcuff in case Adrian Peterson misses any time.  Bernard Berrian and Sidney Rice will be worthy or rosters spots, but I’m guessing it’s hit or miss with them.  If a team has a good pass rush, you probably want to avoid them.  Minnesota Defense should be one of the top fantasy units in the game as they will likely pile up the Sacks.  Ryan Longwell could be a nice value at Kicker.

  
Before I get started I wanted to direct your attention to a great fantasy football contest that one of my friends is co-hosting.  RotoNation and The Big Lead have teamed up for the First Annual Best Fantasy Football Team Name contest.  How do you enter, you ask?  It’s quite simple.  All you have to do is enter your team name using your real e-mail at RotoNation.  Don’t worry your e-mail won’t be available to the public, they just need it to let the winner know about the prizes.  Fabulous prizes, you ask?  Yes, the top five team names will win a complimentary copy of the Draft Analyzyer to prep you for your fantasy draft.  The top vote getter will get to run on guest post on RotoNation.  So get your creative juices flowing.  Let your wit and humor go to work for you.  Bragging rights in your league are just a few keystrokes away!

Serviceable WRs
We’ve profiled the Big Dog WRs, Second Tier WRs, and Third Tier WRs, now it’s time to examine the next wave of wideouts.  These will likely either be your 3rd WR or make up your WR depth. 

Kevin Curtis/Reggie Brown - Curtis was decent last year for the Eagles.  He had a couple of huge games.  I’d like to see DeSean Jackson push for the starting job opposite of Reggie Brown, who should bounce back from his mediocre 780 yard 4 TD season, which would allow Curtis to got to the slot and utilize his speed like Wes Welker.  If that happens, all three could be viable plays.

Laveranues Coles – Coles had a decent season going before the wheels fell off in Week 8.  If he can produce like he did the first seven weeks (460 yards, 6 TDs), he’ll be worth an occasional start.

Joey Galloway – How long can Mr. Galloway keep it up?  Dude will turn 37 in November.  He’s registered three straight 1000+ yards seasons though.  One warning, he was very inconsistent last year. 

Santana Moss – Moss has barely matched his outstanding 2005 numbers when you combine the past two years.  However, he still has big-play ability.  He’s scary to own, and even scarier to start, but he can occasionally almost single-handedly win a matchup for you.

Javon Walker – Who knows how he’ll respond following last year’s lost season and butt-whoopin’ he took in Vegas.  When he’s healthy though, he can produce.  That hasn’t always been easy for him though.

Bernard Berrian – He’s a mystery heading into the year.  He produced in Chicago, but we’ll see how he does in Minnesota.    The Viking certainly have the running game to keep the DBs honest. I’m just leery of T-Jack’s accuracy.

Anthony Gonzalez – Here’s another guy I’d love to see end up on my team.  He gained valuable experience as a rooke, and if Marvin Harrison returns to form, he could be looking at some cupcake matchups.  He could be the poison that defenses pick, which is great news to his fantasy owners.

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