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

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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.


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.


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.

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Despite finishing 4th in the league with 1312 receiving yards and tied for 16th with 8 receiving TDs, I’m a little nervous about Sidney Rice. Even after the 10 catches for 184 yards and 4 TDs in playoff games against Dallas and New Orleans. After all, he is dealing with a hip injury that will limit him in training camp.  Injuries have plagued Rice in the past, and one would hope that he would have been fully recovered by now.


The injury prevented him from participating in Larry Fitzgerald’s offseason program. One could argue that his participation in that program last year was second only to Brett Farve’s arrival in explaining Rice’s breakout year. He’s busy rehabbing his hip, but will his absence cause his production to suffer?


Brett Favre will return barring a reversal for the ages, which helps. However,  they were not on the same page in the interception that cost the Vikings a chance to return to the Super Bowl. Even though Favre isn’t blaming Rice for the interception, you have to wonder if he’ll be as willing to throw the ball up to him, trusting Rice will make a play.


What’s scary is that Rice could conceivably improve on last year. He had 8 TDs in his first 46 catches in 2007 & 2008. He had 8 last year in 83 catches. At 6’4″ with good leaping ability and body position, he could turn in a double-digit TD season.


I don’t have him completely falling off the map, click here for my 2010 WR rankings,  but I do have him taking a step back in 2010. I’d still take him as a WR1, but, honestly, I’d prefer him as a WR2.


For starters, I think they run the ball more this year. At times they went away from Adrian Peterson last year. I think Brad Childress got wrapped up in the Brett Favre mania and leaned a little heavy on the pass. That should change this year.


With Brett Favre throwing fewer passes, it stands to reason that Rice could see fewer targets. I also think Percy Harvin plays a bigger role in the offense, which will further dip into Rice’s production.


Prediction:  75 catches, 1200 yards, 7 TDs


What are your thoughts on Sidney Rice?

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I’m working under the assumption that Brett Favre will return to the Vikings. If he doesn’t things will change for the Purple, but the likelihood is extremely high that #4 will be back.

Fantasy Playoffs Schedule:  Difficult
The Vikings start things off with the Giants at home in Week 14. Next they take on the Bears at home. Finally, they play in Philly for the fantasy championship. Favre could be under heavy fire for this stretch.

Five Star Fantasy Options
Adrian Peterson – I don’t understand why he missed practice for Adrian Peterson Day. Couldn’t they try to adhere to his schedule? Aside from that lack of judgement, Peterson’s only other concern is putting the ball on the turf. I trust that he’ll improve that aspect of his game. I have him as my #1 fantasy RB.

Four Star Fantasy Options
Brett Favre – At some point his game will decline, but after witnessing last year’s explosiveness, I’m not banking on this being the year. He has so many weapons, and he just has fun with this group.

Sidney Rice – I’m a little worried that he’ll see a major regression in 2010 simply because there are so many other options for Favre. He has such good length, leaping ability, and body control that I don’t see him slipping too far.

Vikings Defense/Special Teams – As long as Jared Allen is roaming the field, the Vikings are a good bet for sacks. Throw in Ray Edwards and the Williams Wall and you got yourself a tough defense. If E.J. Henderson can stay healthy, the LBs will be rock solid as well. Unfortunately their second game against Detroit comes in Week 17, but they should still be an elite fantasy defense in 2010.

Three Star Fantasy Options
Percy Harvin – Harvin was an explosive player last year for the Vikes. It seemed like only his migraines would slow him down. I actually think they’ll be more creative with Harvin this year, making him even more of a headache to cover.

Visanthe Shiancoe – He racked up 11 TDs last year and 7 the year before so clearly he’s a great target in the red zone. He just isn’t going to give you big yardage because of the other options.

Two Star Fantasy Options
Bernard Berrian – Berrian was somewhat overlooked last year. In part because he struggled through injury. He’ll have his moments, but consistency will be an issue.

One Star Fantasy Options
Ryan Moats, Albert Young, Toby Gerhart – The Vikings had a key loss on offense when Chester Taylor went to Chicago. They have other options, but they likely won’t be as good. Taylor was a decent flex option, whereas this trio will only be viable if Peterson gets hurt.

Click here for additional 2010 NFL Team Previews.

Happy Birthday Justin!

I’ve been invited to participate in Fantasy Trader’s fantasy football roundtable.

This week’s topic:
Which top ten 2009 wide receiver do you believe could struggle to repeat?

Click here for the full article.

My response:
Obviously Wes Welker won’t replicate his 2009 success. His absence could make things tough for Randy Moss as well. Will Reggie Wayne yield more to the youngsters? Is the Giants’ Steve Smith for real? Santonio Holmes wass traded and suspended? Brandon Marshall has a new home. Can DeSean Jackson do it with Kevin Kolb all year long? How about Larry Fitzgerald post Kurt Warner? Was Miles Austin a fluke? I can’t remember a year where the top WRs came in with so many question marks.

The player I’m concerned about is Sidney Rice. Brett Favre will be 41 next season should he return. He’s coming off one of the best statistical seasons of his legendary career. I’m not sure Grandpa Brett can come close to what he did last year.

Even if he does, there are plenty of mouths to feed. Percy Harvin figures to have an increased role. Bernard Berrian was overlooked for the most part. Visanthe Shiancoe remains a quality option. Both of Favre’s INTs in the painful loss to the Saints in the NFC title game were on forced passes to Sidney Rice. Too many times Favre zeroed in on Rice and just threw it up to him, covered or not. With so many quality options, it doesn’t make sense to repeat that practice.

The Vikings often would scrap the run last year despite having one of the game’s elite RBs. Adrian Peterson’s fumble issues were part of the reason, but it was like the whole team was swept up in Favreapalooza.

Adrian Peterson is a tireless worker and a consummate professional. I’m willing to bet that he is working on his fumbling issue as we speak. In 2010 he’ll return as the focus of the Vikings’ offense at the expense of the passing game.

With an outside chance that he has a new QB, or one who’s a grandpa and 41, a more balanced passing attack, and a shift towards the running game, Sidney Rice will come up short in his attempt to match the 1312 yards and 8 TDs he produced last year.

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Brett Farve Likes Rice

6 October 2009

Sidney Rice
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If you’ve watched the Vikings past two games it’s clear Brett Favre likes Rice.  With Brett Farve, anything is possible, but just to be clear I’m not talking about his eating habits.  I’m talking about his 6’4″ Wide Receiver Sidney Rice who can seemingly jump to the roof of the Metrodome.

The first couple of weeks he had just five receptions for 46 yards on 9 targets.  The last two weeks though, he has 9 receptions for 126 yards and 2 TDs on 13 targets.  Farve knows how to take advantage of a mismatch, and when you have a tall WR with good wheels and great hops, it’s hard not to go his way.  Especially when he’s hauling in those bullet passes.

With St. Louis up next, Rice makes an attractive WR3 play.  They are going to have their hands full containing Adrian Peterson, who cannot be happy with his Week 4 showing.  When the Rams stuff the box to contain AP, look for Favre to take advantage of his opportunity and get the ball to Rice deep.  When setting the table that is your fantasy football lineup this week, don’t forget the Rice.

Written by 
Eric Stashin the Rotoprofessor

While it’s just the season’s first week, that doesn’t mean you aren’t already looking towards the waiver wire for a little help.  Maybe an injury has opened up a void.  Maybe you’re just unhappy with your draft results.  Whatever the reasons, here’s a few under-the-radar offensive options to look at:

Mark Sanchez – New York Jets
It’s tough to lean on a rookie in his first career start, but Sanchez steps in to a pretty good situation.  The Jets are going to lean on the running game while trying to protect Sanchez, much like the Ravens did in 2008 with Joe Flacco.

He also gets to face a team in the Houston Texans who was in the bottom third in the league in defense last season, allowing 336.6 yards per game.  They didn’t do anything significant to upgrade either, outside of adding first round draft choice Brian Cushing at LB. 

They were among the leagues worst in interceptions, with just 12, so if the Jets can wear them down on the ground there should be plenty of opportunity for him to succeed.
Owned in 23% of Yahoo Leagues and 25.1% in ESPN Leagues

Ahmad Bradshaw – New York Giants
We all know the successes of last seasons Giants #2 RB, Derrick Ward, who managed to rush for 1,000 yards despite being the understudy to Brandon Jacobs.  The third back in that vaunted trio, Bradshaw opens the season as the new Giants #2 man, which could lead to some huge success.

Jacobs was banged up a bit in the final preseason game, something that has become a common occurrence for him.  He did return, but you still have to wonder how healthy he’s going to be on Opening Day.

Facing the Redskins, running on the inside may be tough going, thanks to the new $100 million man in the middle of the defensive line, Albert Haynesworth.  If Jacobs is getting stuffed on the inside, or is still a bit banged up, they could turn to the speed of Bradshaw on the outside to get things going.
Owned in 48% of Yahoo Leagues and 98.2% of ESPN Leagues

Wide Receiver
Sidney Rice – Minnesota Vikings
Let’s make no mistake about it, Brett Favre is going to be coming out with something to prove.  He’s been listening to everyone doubt him and it wouldn’t surprise me if he steps onto the field and torches the Cleveland Browns, led by his former coach Eric Mangini.

It’s a season full of retribution for Favre, and Mangini is likely just the first on the hit list.

Bernard Berrian is going to be on one side, but he’s likely to draw the most interest from the defense.  That should open things up for Rice, a player who we’ve already discussed as having the potential to have a breakout campaign in 2009 (click here to read the article).
Owned in 18% of Yahoo Leagues and 13.3% of ESPN Leagues

Tight End
Brandon Pettigrew – Detroit Lions
We all know that tight end is a wild card position to begin with.  You just never know which player is going to step up and have a huge week.  With Pettigrew being named the starter for the Lions, as well as Matt Stafford being handed the starting role, it makes for a good combination.

When you have a rookie QB, they are going to be looking for an outlet.  They are going to be looking to get the ball out as quickly as possible.

Pettigrew was a first round draft pick, so we all know he can perform.  Look for him to try to prove to the masses right off the bat that he was deserving of his draft selection.
Owned in 21% of Yahoo Leagues and 18.9% of ESPN Leagues

How do you think these players are going to perform in the season’s first week?  Are there any other sleepers you are eyeing?

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Written by Eric Stashin the Rotoprofessor

Sidney Rice
Image courtesy of Icon SMI

One of the players who may benefit the most from the arrival of Brett Favre in Minnesota is third year receiver Sidney Rice.  The former second round draft pick has shown flashes of brilliance, but knee injuries in each of his first two seasons have derailed his opportunity for continued success.

He has appeared in 13 games in each of his first two years, only once amassing as many as 82 yards in a game.  In fact, last season his biggest game saw him log just 31 yards.

The selection of Percy Harvin in the first round this past season just muddies the waters even more.  It adds another weapon to a team that already has Bernard Berrian as it’s top receiver, Bobby Wade getting a significant opportunity and possibly the best running back in the game (Adrian Peterson) who requires the offense run through him almost exclusively (not to mention Vishante Shiancoe at tight end).

So, how exactly does Rice benefit from Favre’s arrival?

While Favre will do a lot of handing off of the football, he didn’t sign on with Minnesota to not get his chance to throw the ball downfield.  He’s going to look to make plays.  He’s going to continue to be the cowboy on the field that he has always been, taking chances when he puts the ball in the air hoping that the risk pays off in a big play or a big score.

We’ve seen it time and time again from Favre, and with it has come results.  While we are all quick to write him off, let’s not forgot that he steered the Jets to an 8-3 starts last season before the wheels completely fell off.  Both Jerricho Cotchery & Laverneous Coles had over 70 catches and 850 yards, showing he’s inclined to spread the ball around the field.

In 2007, his last season with the Packers, there were six receivers with at least 30 receptions.  Granted, that team also ignored the running game for the most part, but he’s not one to focus on one receiver and try to force-feed him the ball.  He’s going to spread it around and try to make things happen.

Does that mean that Rice is going to get the opportunity to get 60 catches for over 1,000 yards?  It’s doubtful, though not impossible.

He also has the potential to become a big-time target in the red zone, standing 6′4″.  He’s had 4 touchdowns in each of his first two seasons (of his 46 career receptions, 8 have gone for TD) and is by far the tallest receiver on the team (along with TE Vishante Shiancoe).  That potential is what is going to really help his value.

As for my prediction:

Receiving – 47 receptions, 675 yards, 7 TD

Those are not blow away numbers, nor are they ones that I would want on my active roster from week to week.  With Favre at the helm, however, he could fit in as a great bye week replacement with the potential for more.

What are your thoughts?  How good could Rice be?

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