Yes, it's getting to be that time of year where preparation for fantasy football drafts ... such as it is ... begins in earnest. Now, if you're like me, you have a few rules that govern your selection process. For example, I have never drafted a Packer or a Bear to my fantasy football team, nor will I pick any up off the waiver wire. The reasons for this are obvious.
- Why would I want inferior players on a superior team; and
- Having them on my team means that I need to root for their teams in some way ... and, again, why?
But my other rule is that, regardless of how big a Vikings fan I am, I won't draft Vikings to my team just for the sake of having Vikings on my team. If you follow the same philosophy, but you still want some Vikings on your team, here are the five best bets to produce from a fantasy football standpoint for the Minnesota Vikings in 2010.
No. 5: Visanthe Shiancoe
With all the options the Vikings have on offense, one might think that Shiancoe is a forgotten man at times. Lots of people outside of Minnesota might forget Shank, which will make it easier for you to steal him in about the 10th round of your draft. Regardless of who the Vikings' quarterback is in 2010 ... and it's going to be Brett Favre, but let's just humor the haters for a while. Shiancoe is going to be a big part of the Minnesota offense. Remember, over the course of the last two seasons, the only two players in the NFL ... not tight ends, but players in general ... who have more touchdown receptions than Shiancoe's 18 are a couple of guys named Larry Fitzgerald (25) and Randy Moss (24). Nine or 10 touchdowns from a guy you're going to get in the 10th round or so? Sounds like a darn fine pick to me.
No. 4: Percy Harvin
The Vikings' second Offensive Rookie of the Year in the past three seasons was impressive wherever Minnesota lined him up in 2009. Whether he was catching passes, taking hand-offs, or returning kickoffs, Harvin was pure electricity for the Vikings every time he stepped on the field. I don't think that anybody would be surprised if he were to get even more responsibility on the offensive side of the ball this season. He's a mismatch for just about any defense, and the fact that he's added 10 pounds of muscle without sacrificing speed will make him that much more difficult to contain. He shouldn't be your No. 1 receiver by any means, but he's a pretty fine second option, and you should be able to get him somewhere in the fifth or sixth round.
No. 3: Brett Favre
Is Favre going to have the same kind of season that he had in 2010, when he threw 33 touchdown passes to only seven interceptions, becoming the first quarterback in league history to throw for more than 30 scores with that small a number of interceptions? Probably not ... but if everything goes well for the Vikings, he's not going to have to. Unlike last season, however, Favre won't have to use the first couple games of the season establishing a rapport with his receivers, and almost every member of the offense he called the most talented he's ever been a part of is going to be back this season, so there's no reason to think that he'll have anything less than a very good season in 2010. He's another guy you could probably get in the sixth round or so ... tail end of the fifth at the earliest.
No. 2: Sidney Rice
El Sid had the third-year epiphany that so many wide receivers have when they get to the NFL level. Sure, part of it may have been playing with Favre as his quarterback, part of it may have been the fact that he actually stayed healthy all season for the first time in his NFL career, but whatever it was, he's one of the NFL's best young receivers, barring a huge regression. With Favre back behind center, I certainly wouldn't expect that to happen. Also, like Harvin, Rice has added some muscle to his upper body, likely in anticipation of seeing more press coverage this season than he has in the past. In any case, Rice is a borderline No. 1 receiver, and if he's available to you at the tail end of the fourth round, you should pounce without thinking twice.
No. 1: Adrian Peterson
Seriously, who else was going to be here? Again, when we talk about Adrian Peterson, we're talking about a guy for whom 1,383 rushing yards and 18 rushing touchdowns is considered a disappointing season. According to ESPN.com's scoring system, Peterson has never been the No. 1 running back in fantasy, but he is the only one to finish in the top three each of the last three seasons (he was third in 2007, fifth in 2008, and second last year). Yes, yes, I'm well aware of the alleged "fumbling problem." Fact: Peterson had more fumbles in 2008 (nine) than he had in 2009 (seven). Plus, he says he's made a commitment to correcting the problem this season. Based on Peterson's work ethic, if he says he's working on something, I'm pretty sure that he's going to get the problem corrected. Unfortunately, if you're not picking in the top two of your fantasy draft, you can kiss pretty much any chance of getting the NFL's best running back goodbye.