Dalvin Cook
.
With Latavius Murray sidelined, Dalvin Cook is establishing himself as the lead back for the Minnesota Vikings. Early indications are that Cook should be moving up draft boards. I have adjusted my preliminary rankings to put him in the top 15. The Vikings have been praising his pass protection, which is wonderful news if Cook wants to establish himself as a three-down back.
.
Cook was impressive in his three years at Florida State. As a freshman he ran for 1,008 yards and eight touchdowns on a 5.9 yards per carry average. He followed that up with 1,691 yards and 19 touchdowns on 7.4 ypc as a sophomore and 1,765 yards and 19 touchdowns on 6.1 ypc as a junior.
.
Cook’s receiving totals increased every year also going from 22 catches for 203 yards to 24 catches for 244 yards to 33 catches for 488 yards.
.
Minnesota finished dead last this past season with 1,205 yards and 3.2 ypc. They were also one of seven teams that failed to reach double-digit rushing touchdowns. Clearly a change was needed.
.
Murray was solid last year with 788 yards on 4.0 ypc and 12 touchdowns, but Oakland had one of the league’s best offensive lines last season. Jalen Richard (5.9 ypc) and DeAndre Washington (5.4 ypc) had some impressive moments as well. He isn’t as dynamic as Cook though. I can see Murray getting a crack at goal line carries, but Cook should lead the team in touches and total yards.
.
How much do you like Cook?

Latavius Murray
.
The Minnesota Vikings closed the chapter on Adrian Peterson’s tenure with the club with the signing of Latavius Murray. While Peterson is still looking for a home, we’ll take a look at the fantasy football impact of the signing.
.
Murray ran for 788 yards last year and 12 touchdowns, sharing the load with Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington. Richard finished with 491 yards while Washington had 467 yards. Murray ran for a decent 4.0 yards per carry, but some of that success can be contributed to running behind one of the best offensive lines in the league last year. Richard (5.9 ypc) and Washington (5.4 ypc) were more effective per touch, minus the scoring of course.
.
Murray did a nice job in the passing game with 33 receptions for 264 yards.
.
In 2015 Murray ran for 1,066 yards at 4.0 ypc and six touchdowns with 41 receptions for 232 yards. In 2014 he had 424 yards at 5.2 ypc and two touchdowns with 17 receptions for 143 yards.
.
He should see his fair share of carries as the primary running back, but will likely see his production in the pass game see a dip. Jerick McKinnon, who ran for 539 yards at 3.4 ypc and a pair of touchdowns with 43 receptions for 255 yards and two more scores, should remain the Vikings’ primary pass catching running back.
.
The Vikings have made some upgrades to their offensive line, but they were dreadful last year, averaging 3.2 yards per carry as a team. Peterson had a 1.9 average, McKinnon was 3.4 and Matt Asiata was 3.3. While they will be better, it’s pretty safe to say Murray will be running behind an inferior line in 2017.
.
Despite that fact, Murray still figures to be a solid RB2 thanks to his ability to get in the end zone. Asiata had six scores last year and Murray is most certainly a preferred back. McKinnon, meanwhile, falls to RB4-5. He really only has value in PPR leagues.


.
The Vikings have so many questions on offense that it’s easy to overlook their defensive issues. The Vikings were once considered a unit in the same company as Baltimore and Pittsburgh, at least in terms of fantasy production. They were great against the run thanks to a dominant front four, which was the heart and soul of their defense. That may not be the case in 2011.
.
For starters, Kevin Williams and Pat Williams are expected to serve a four game suspension for the star caps case that finally caught up with them. That’s if Pat Williams returns to the club. The odds are good that he’ll be back. Ray Edwards, on the other hand, has already made it quite clear that he no longer wants to play for the purple. Brian Robison will take over for Edwards, but that is a step back in terms of talent. Jared Allen is still Jared Allen, but he won’t be as effective without his supporting cast.
.
Their division got tougher on them. Green Bay is as dominant an offense as there is in the NFL. Detroit, forever the NFC North’s punching bag has made dramatic improvements on offense. Even if Matthew Stafford goes down again, they have shown they can produce without him. Jay Cutler is either brilliant or brutal so it’s a gamble starting your defense against him.
.
The secondary has issues, and by taking a quarterback and a tight end (along with giving away the third round pick for a few games with Randy Moss), the Vikings failed to truly address their needs in the draft. Unless they add some key components via free agency, this could be a troubled position.
.
The strength of the defense will be the linebackers, who are anchored by Chad Greenway. They have the ability to make plays, but I don’t see this defense as a starting fantasy football unit. The ADP according to MockDraftCentral is ninth among defenses. Personally, I’d go in another direction.
.
.

Also check out:

 


.
In a recent interview with the Virginia Pilot’s Ed Miller, Vikings receiver Percy Harvin said he feels “the best he has since kindergarten.” He has not had a migraine for nearly six months.
.
Percy’s migraines have  been an issue even before he exploded on the scene for the Vikings in 2009. He has only missed three games in his career, but he has missed countless practices.
.
The Vikings have already stated that they want to get the ball in his hands more this year, and  Bill Musgrave’s offense should be much more dynamic than Brad Childress’ Kick Ass Offense.
.
With a rookie quarterback a strong candidate to start, the Vikings will look to get the ball in Harvin’s hands early and often.
.
From what Percy is saying, he’ll be up for the challenge. “My explosion is to a whole ‘nother level. My speed has gotten back to top-notch level, so I’m feeling great and really anticipating the season”. Sounds like a dream come true for Vikings fans and a nightmare for opposing defenses.
.
This article is also featured at NFLTouchdown.com, where I am the Vikings Fan Voice writer.


.
By Andy Boyum
.
From all the reports and speculation coming out in the last few days regarding the ongoing labor issues in the NFL, it seems that we may have a deal in place by the end of the month. That, of course, begs the question. What type of free-agency rules will be put into play under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement? For the Vikings front-office, they may be crossing their fingers in hopes of rules more along the lines of the former CBA.
.
Sidney Rice will be a free-agent in 2011. At this point, it’s just a matter of whether he’ll remain restricted as per current rules or hit the lucrative unrestricted market in hopes of landing a larger long-term deal than the one offered him by the Vikings prior to the lockout, of which he subsequently pointed his nose up at.
.
Everybody knows the Vikings are a work in progress and have significant question marks all over the field, most importantly at the quarterback position. That is exactly why, in my opinion, it would be a mistake to let such a young and talented, field-stretching and potentially game-changing receiver walk right into the arms of the Robert Kraft’s and Jerry Jones’ of the world.
.
You could make the argument that, presumably, the NFL will revert back to the salary-cap under the new CBA, and that you simply can not afford to pay and resign all the important skill positions. When you think of guys like Adrian Peterson, Chad Greenway, and Steve Hutchinson and in another year or two, Percy Harvin, it makes swallowing the “long-term extension for Sidney Rice” pill akin to that of castor oil. But you simply can not deny the offensive production shift of performance when Rice was healthy and in uniform playing on Sunday.
.
Losing Rice last season to hip injury, I believe, was as big of a loss to the organization as losing E.J. was to the defense in ’09. I still remember all the talk at the time was that he’d only had one good season. That he was injured in ’07 & ’08 and we didn’t need him with the play of Adrian Peterson, and of course the ultimate denial in that “Favre will make any receiver look better.” Maybe it’s my small-town upbringing, but to me, a pig with lipstick is still a pig.
.
For as good as Rice was in ’09 with Favre, you could make a case for him being that consistent in his first two years with undoubtedly inferior quarterback play. Injury of course being the caveat here, but ’08 was his worst statistical season and still managed four touchdowns in three games. His rookie season, despite only playing in four contests, had an output of 31 catches for 396 yards and four touchdowns.
.
Extrapolate those numbers into a 16-game season (while forgetting the fact that the Vikings quarterbacking tree consisted of Tarvaris Jackson, Kelly Holcomb and Brooks Bolinger) and you have a monstrous 124 receptions for 1584 yards and 16 touchdowns. Unlikely as it would have been, those numbers would put him amongst the best single-season production for a receiver in the last ten years.
.
You can’t argue his ability to stretch the field and jump over defenders. His importance on the field and to the success of the offense is paramount. Percy Harvin is a wonderful talent, but he is not a true #1 receiver. When he was out wide and defenders were able to isolate him on the edge he looked as stranded as Gilligan and the Skipper.
.
I think all Vikings fans will admit that Christian Ponder needs to be the future of the franchise. Part of that responsibility is having the confidence in yourself to make the throws and in your receivers, that they will make the catches. We all expect, and Bill Musgrave has confirmed, that the offense will basically run through Peterson, in which it should.
.
So in a power-running offense you need one of two things: A) good play-action or B) a vertical passing game. If you are Musgrave and are going to start a rookie QB, would you gamble on him being able to transition from run to pass without having that outside threat that can drag one if not two defenders with him?
.
Receivers that do not create separation cost the quarterback time and cause the offensive line to break apart more quickly. As evidenced last season, holding onto the ball that extra one or two seconds longer can be the difference between a 1st & 10 or a 2nd & 17, or worse. And over a large enough sample size, can be the difference between Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf.
.
I’m not trying to insinuate that the presence of Sidney Rice is going to catapult Ponder into the conversation with Manning, and hopefully the lack of #18 doesn’t mingle his name with the latter either. What we do know if that Musgrave is a maker of QB’s. Under his tutelage and with the right weapons, I believe Ponder can thrive and replicate numbers close to that of the last rookie quarterback to study under our new Offensive Coordinator.
.
Musgrave earlier admitted that Matt Ryan would not have started as a rookie in Atlanta without having all the pieces in place. Michael Turner, Roddy White and Michael Jenkins versus Adrian Peterson, Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin…which tandem would you rather have? The Falcons group is good – a very close second, but second nonetheless…I’ll take the Purple.
.
I believe it is of utmost importance to resign Rice to a deal in the event his free agent status becomes unrestricted under the new CBA. Not because he is the missing link to our Super Bowl run, although it doesn’t hurt. Rather, it’s the best thing to do for the continuity and development of our new offense, and the confidence that will enable our future signal-caller for years to come.
.
And let’s face it…the guy can flat jump out of the gym!

.
.
Andy Boyum
Farmington, MN
Fantasy Football enthusiast since 1999
Commissioner: Purlple Pride Fantasy League 2002-present: 1 Championship (2004)
RT Sports Commissioner Money League Champion: 2003 & 2005
Keeper League Champion 2006, 07 & 09
Yahoo PPR Champion: 2010



.
The lockout drags on, but the media machine that fuels the NFL keeps churning. The latest news out of Winter Park confirms what was already expected. The Vikings are going to lean heavily on Adrian Peterson in 2011.
.
Why wouldn’t they? They no longer have to appease Brett Favre so they can afford to hand the rock to arguable the most physically gifted running back in the league time and time again. While the Vikings may eventually bring in a veteran quarterback, right now it’s a fight between rookie Christian Ponder and second-year Joe Webb.
.
In a recent interview Bill Musgrave was quoted as saying “We’ll major in giving the ball to Adrian, and we’ll need a quarterback that can keep defenses honest and can have a little bit of movement to himself. Not just be a statue back there because with the pieces that are in place we won’t be just a drop-back, stay-in-the-pocket type team. We’re going to really attack the defense on the edges both with Adrian and also our quarterback.”
.
Both Ponder and Webb have good mobility so don’t read into that statement in hopes of a hint as to who will line up under center in Week 1.
.
While All Day will get plenty of carries this year, don’t count Toby Gerhart out. He will certainly be in the mix for the Purple as well.
.
.

Also check out:

.
This article is also featured at NFLTouchdown.com, where I am the Vikings Fan Voice writer.


.
Adrian Peterson delivered once again despite playing on the Vikings’ sinking ship. He ran for 1298 yards and 12 touchdowns. He added 36 catches for 341 yards and another score. After being dogged by fumbles, he improved his ball control by coughing up just one fumble all year. Peterson is once again in the conversation for the first overall pick in fantasy leagues. He shouldn’t slip by the top four or five picks even in PPR leagues. With a rookie quarterback he’ll likely be called upon to take some of the pressure off. Toby Gerhart showed he was capable towards the end of the year, and should see an increase in touches this year. He remains strictly a handcuff though.
.
Matt Forte bounce back from a somewhat disappointing 2009 season by running for 1069 yards and six touchdowns. He averaged a career high 4.5 yards per carry. Forte also added 51 catches, his third straight year with 50+, for 547 yards and three more scores. Forte figures to be a high-end RB2 in non-PPR leagues and a low-end RB1 in PPR leagues. Chester Taylor will keep Forte fresh and provide veteran insurance should Forte go down, but isn’t a hot fantasy commodity.
.
Jahvid Best will operate between the 20s, but rookie Mikel Leshoure will get the touch carries near the goal line as well as closing out games. Best deal with turf toe last year which sapped his explosiveness, but injuries have been commonplace for Best. He has the ability to put up huge numbers, but is a fantasy risk even as an RB2 because of his injury concerns and Leshoure’s presence. It’s possible that both Best and Leshoure could each have weekly fantasy value.
.
Green Bay has a bit of a mess at running back. For starters, we already know that they are first and foremost a passing team. We also know Aaron Rodgers always steals a few rushing touchdowns per year. With Ryan Grant and James Starks sharing carries, there may not be a reliable weekly option barring injury. The Packers added Alex Green in the draft who will likely handle third down duties and further muddy the water.
.
.

Also check out:


.
The general consensus is that the lockout will put rookies at a disadvantage because they won’t be able to go through the OTAs, which will delay their adjustment to the NFL. While that may be the case for most rookies, Minnesota’s rookie QB Christian Ponder is trying to beat the odds.
.
Ponder has a copy of the Vikings’ playbook. After scoring a 35 on the Wonderlic the fear that he won’t grasp the offense should be minimal.
.
He’s also working with Minnesota native and fellow Florida State quarterback Chris Weinke as well as Joe Webb at the IMG Academy.
.
Ponder displayed his leadership qualities by organizing an unofficial minicamp. While the heavy hitters were not in attendance Ponder and Webb got a chance to work with rookie Kyle Rudolph. Greg Camarillo was also there to provide a veteran presence.
.
While this doesn’t mean Christian Ponder will be ready to hit the ground running whenever the labor dispute is settled, it is certainly a good sign for Vikings fans.
.
.

This article is also featured at NFLTouchdown.com, where I am the Vikings Fan Voice writer.
.
.

Also check out:

 

 | Posted by | Categories: NFL | Tagged: Christian Ponder, Minnesota Vikings, NFL |


.
Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers is by far the best in the division. The writing was on the wall the wall he handled the Brett Favre situation while still delivering on the field. A concussion cost Rodgers from reaching 4000 yards for a third straight year, but fantasy owners can live with the 3922 yards, 28 TDs (11 INTs), 356 rushing yards, and four rushing TDs. If he’s not the best fantasy quarterback in the league, he is certainly a top three choice.
.
Chicago’s Jay Cutler cut his interception total from 26 to 16. His yardage (3274) and touchdowns (23) also dipped, but the Bears were winning and more committed to the run. He doesn’t have great weapons around him, but he makes do. The Bears drafted Gabe Carimi to provide some much needed improvement on the offensive line. His toughness may have come into question, but his arm strength never will. He’s a solid QB2 that is really hit or miss.
.
Detroit’s Matthew Stafford just can’t seem to stay healthy. The Lions did not invest heavily in their offensive line, as their play was actually not that bad. They did give him some complimentary weapons in the form of Titus Young and Mikel Leshoure to add to Calvin Johnson, Brandon Pettigrew, Nate Burleson, and Jahvid Best. Don’t look now, but the Lions are on the rise. If the injury bug bites again, Shaun Hill has shown that he’s more than capable to step up.
.
The Vikings finally addressed the quarterback situation with a long-term solution. Christian Ponder is a good fit for the offense and has the experience to play right away. The team will likely add a veteran to mentor Ponder, but it appears he’ll get his shot. If Sidney Rice does not return, the Vikings will need to give Percy Harvin some help at WR. Adrian Peterson will make the life of a rookie quarterback easier.
.
.
Also check out:

 


.
After possibly reaching on their first pick, and taking a talented player that wasn’t a big need with their second pick, the Vikings were off to a rough start in the 2011 NFL Draft. Especially when you consider the Patriots used the Vikings’ third round pick from the Randy Moss trade to take Ryan Mallett.
.
Ballard gives the Vikings flexibility on the defensive line thanks to his ability to play both defensive end and defensive tackle. The former tight end has the quickness to play outside and the strength to move inside on passing downs.
.
This doesn’t make the draft a home run by any means, but it does ease the concerns a bit of Vikings fans that were confused by the Kyle Rudolph selection.
.

Also check out:

.
This article is also featured at NFLTouchdown.com, where I am the Vikings Fan Voice writer.


Partner of USA TODAY Sports Digital Properties