My Circle of Life: Revival, and Death, of the Minnesota Vikings?
Welcome to Edition III of My Circle of Life. This week, we dive into more injuries across the league. The 2016 NFL has been full of them, and they are affecting even some of the top teams. Also, I review my Week 2 fantasy team and look ahead to Week 3.
Injuries Crippling Chargers’ Offensive Potential
Keenan Allen has never played a full season in his four-year career. He set a career-high in receptions (77) and targets (121) in 2014 in 14 games played. In 2015, in eight games played, he nearly broke his high in receptions (67) with just 89 targets.
His catch percentage was 75.3 that year. If he had played 14 total games and kept the same pace as far as targets per game (just over 11), he would have had about 155 targets. With his catch percentage at 75.3, he could have caught 116 balls. If he played a full season, he could have had 177 targets and 132 receptions.
Again, those numbers are purely based off of the assumption that Allen would have seen the same number of targets each game, and would have caught the same percentage of those targets.
It is impossible to know whether Allen would actually be able to put up those numbers in a full year, but it shows his talent. He can do a lot with a football. With a quarterback like Philip Rivers, his ceiling is probably top five receiver in the league.
His problem, though: injuries. He’s missing this year with a torn ACL. He can’t stay healthy, and it’s a problem. In the NFL, repeated injuries makes finding a job a lot harder. If Allen were to suffer another major injury next season, San Diego may feel inclined to cut bait. And there’s no guarantee another team would swoop him up, at least as quickly as he may hope.
Danny Woodhead is another key cog in San Diego’s offense that will unfortunately be shelved for the rest of the season. He doesn’t have a major injury history like Allen, but his injury on top of Allen’s makes what could have been a lethal Chargers offense into something much less than that.
While rookie Melvin Gordon struggled last season, Woodhead majorly picked up the slack. Even in Week 1, after two Gordon touchdowns, Woodhead out-snapped him by 27.
Gordon is a better pass blocker than Woodhead, but Woodhead’s pass-catching ability out of the backfield makes it easy to play him a lot of snaps. He only rushed for 336 yards and three touchdowns last season, but set career-highs across the board as a receiver with 106 targets, 80 receptions, 755 yards and six touchdowns. San Diego will miss that.
Losing two dynamic playmakers this early on has to suck the life out of the Chargers. Adding Travis Benjamin and Gordon now with a year under his belt, this offense could have been pretty good. It still can be, but it will require other guys to fill some pretty big shoes.
New England’s Rotating Door
I will be extra short on this, but Jimmy Garoppolo looks damn good. If his shoulder injury causes him to miss the remaining two weeks before Tom Brady’s return and the Patriots successfully plug in rookie Jacoby Brissett, just…wow.
Wow is pretty much all you can say to anything Bill Belichick and New England does. Belichick is a historic coach that can replace anyone on the field, even future Hall of Famers. He can get someone in his system and prepare them to play in what seems like no time.
If Brissett does end up starting and beating Houston on Thursday Night, I will simply not have words.
Sam Bradford’s Debut and Adrian Peterson’s Finale
The 2016 NFL season has put a lot of teams through a roller coaster beginning. San Diego loses Keenan Allen and Danny Woodhead, Cleveland will have started three quarterbacks after Week 3, and the Patriots will be on their third string quarterback as well.
Minnesota, however, has had it probably the worst. With Super Bowl aspirations coming into the season, they lost their starting quarterback and could have lost their starting running back for the season.
On Sunday Night Football against the rival Green Bay Packers, Sam Bradford made his debut in the Vikings’ new U.S. Bank Stadium. 15 days after being acquired, Bradford was thrown into the fire. With new terms just learned, old ones just forgotten, little timing and chemistry with his receivers.
Bradford just went out there — despite all that — and had the best game of his career. And because of that, his top receiver Stefon Diggs did, too.
From Peter King’s MMQB:
“But you know that part of the story. Could you have ever figured the next part? That Bradford would have his best game as a pro — his only game in his 64 NFL games completing at least 70 percent of his throws, for at least 250 yards, with a rating above 120, and winning — in his first start for his third team?”
That paragraph perfectly describes the insanity of the night for Bradford and the Vikings. The defense was stout and the offense got its job done.
Bradford looked like a good quarterback. Not mediocre, not above average. Good. Maybe he needed a team like this. A good team. He didn’t have much good in Philly or St. Louis.
After a night that had to make the people of Minnesota very excited, some bad news was delivered.
Adrian Peterson — who had a rough night for the second week in a row — took a handoff with 3:31 left in the third quarter. He ran up the middle for five yards and was brought down by Packers’ defensive end Kyler Fackrell. It just looked like a routine play, until Peterson stood up.
He gave the impression that he never even felt anything. Peterson tried to stand up like normal, but on his way up, he could tell something was wrong with his right leg.
Before even putting pressure on it, Peterson fell back to the ground holding his right shin area. The trainers sprinted out, and ended up carrying him back to the locker room.
In instant replay, you can see his foot get stuck in the ground while his body twisted the other direction.
After tests, it was determined Peterson tore his meniscus and will have surgery on it the morning of Thursday, Sept. 22. He may have also torn his LCL (lateral collateral ligament), but the Vikings refuted that.
Even if it is just the meniscus, typical recovery is three-to-four months. That would most likely end his season.
So even though they have a 2–0 record, the Vikings basically can’t win. Their defense is still healthy at the moment and have seemingly replaced Teddy Bridgewater for the year, but who fills Peterson’s shoes? Despite his rough start to the season, we know what he is capable of. No one on that roster can replicate that.
The Vikings have done a good job at patching up the holes on the go thus far, but this hole may need a little more than just a patch.
Fantasy Football: Week 2 Review, Week 3 Preview
QB: Marcus Mariota ($6,000) — 17.62 points — Mariota clutched up for me with two fourth quarter touchdowns and managing 238 yards. I was really upset with myself for starting Mariota early on in the game when he had just about seven points in the third quarter. I have a history of starting cheap, inconsistent fantasy quarterbacks to save money and it has bit me in the ass (i.e. Dak Prescott last week).
But, luckily, he found Delanie Walker and Andre Johnson (game-winner) for touchdowns and somehow got the win in Detroit.
I don’t expect much from a cheap quarterback like Mariota, and am fine with his 17 points. When trying to save money at QB, 15–20 points is reasonable. But, for the future, I think I’ll be spending more there. And on proven guys. I would prefer to get over 20 points from my QB. Starting Week 3, you won’t see as many sleeper picks at QB.
RB: C.J. Anderson ($6,800) — 18.30 points — Anderson didn’t run as rampant on the Colts as I expected, but he did just fine. He didn’t get as many touches as in Week 1, mostly because Devontae Booker had nine carries after just one last week due to a fumble.
RB: DeAngelo Williams ($7,100) — 23.20 — It is insane how good of a fill-in Williams has been for Le’Veon Bell the past two seasons. He is a must-start every week that Bell is out. Bell just has one more week remaining on his suspension, so put him in your lineup before his touches plummet.
WR: Kelvin Benjamin ($6,500) — 32.80 — First of all, Benjamin’s two third quarter touchdowns were clearly a result of me subtweeting Cam Newton.
So, if you had Benjamin (or Newton, for that matter) in your lineup and won, you’re welcome.
Benjamin has just been a beast in his first two weeks since injuring his knee last season. Even though I respect the hell out of the Vikings’ defense, it will be tough for me to not play him in Week 3.
WR: John Brown ($5,300) — 2.40 — Took a risk on Brown this week after just four targets and one reception against the Patriots in Week 1. Was hoping Carson Palmer would spread the ball around a little more against Tampa Bay, but Brown got just one more reception and only three targets.
With the way Larry Fitzgerald has been playing and David Johnson stealing some targets out of the backfield, Brown may have a tough time replicating his 2015 success. He won’t be in my lineup until he reemerges in that offense, if that ever happens.
WR: Willie Snead ($5,800) —16.40 — After last season 52–49 shootout between the Saints and Giants, a 16–13 final score was the perfect follow-up.
Snead has seemingly become Drew Bress’s favorite target, so even in this low scoring affair, he was able to manage 16 points. At that price, I can’t complain. But I’m not going to act like I didn’t expect 25+ from him this week. That Giants defense ain’t no joke anymore, though.
TE: Jason Witten ($4,300) — 8.10 — Witten was targeted 14 times last week in Dak Prescott’s rookie debut, and scored 15.60 fantasy points. I mentioned last week that I would ride with Witten until those targets went down. And I was unsure if that would happen for a while.
Well, in Week 2, Witten just had four targets.
Prescott is just more mature for a rookie, and he spread the ball out well vs. Washington. I still believe Witten will be a favorite of Prescott’s moving forward and the targets will start levelling out.
Flex: Danny Woodhead ($5,200) — 4.10 — Woodhead’s day, along with Brown’s, was one of the guys that brought me down this week. He would have probably managed another 20 or so points this week. But, unfortunately, he suffered a non-contact knee injury, which usually leads to something catastrophic.
I can be a terrible person, and if someone I am playing in fantasy gets hurt, I sometimes worry about the effect on my team more than the actual player, the real person. For Woodhead, though, I didn’t care about my team.
I love Woodhead as a player, and even argued against Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman that he was the most underrated player in the NFL. My main argument was that he carries San Diego’s offense and doesn’t get the praise he deserves.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Network is reporting that Woodhead will be out for the year with a torn ACL. Thoughts and prayers out to him.
DST: Ravens ($3,000) — 12.00 — Thank God the Browns are the Browns. Cleveland got out to a 20–0 lead and blew it, losing 25–20. And of all things to get momentum swung in Baltimore’s favor, it was a blocked extra point attempt. That made it 20–2. Baltimore went on to score 23 more points; Cleveland scored none.
That swing — along with two Josh McCown interceptions, one at the very end — made Baltimore a solid play here. After this debacle, it’s almost like you have to play the defense that faces Cleveland that week.
QB: Joe Flacco ($6,100) —The Jaguars gave up 23.56 points to Aaron Rodgers in Week 1 and 24.8 points to Philip Rivers in Week 2. With Flacco’s new deep threat target in Mike Wallace and Steve Smith back healthy, he could have his way with the young Jaguars.
RB: David Johnson ($7,700) — Johnson is a great PPR play every week because of his ability to catch out of the backfield. He’s had 11 targets in his first two weeks and the ability to turn any simple catch to a big play. In Week 1, he turned one for 58 yards.
Against Buffalo, after Matt Forte’s three touchdowns against them last Thursday night, it’s smart to bet on Johnson for a big day.
RB: DeAngelo Williams ($7,500) — Like I said earlier, Williams has been very productive while standing in for Le’Veon Bell since last season. No matter the matchup, he’s worth the play.
WR: Cole Beasley ($3,200) — Spending top dollar on the two most expensive running backs this week, I have to save my money with receivers. Beasley is not a threat to score touchdowns, but Dak Prescott has shown a liking to him through two weeks.
He has averaged eight targets a game thus far, and for his price point, he’s worth the start to me simply for his potential of just catching a lot of balls and adding those points to his yards gained.
WR: Kelvin Benjamin ($7,200) — Kelvin Benjamin is a beast. Minnesota has a very good defense, but Cam Newton is a great quarterback and Benjamin is a huge target. Even if the Vikings give the Panthers’ offense fits, I’m hoping Newton can find Benjamin often enough.
WR: Mike Wallace ($5,000) — Wallace is another money-saver, but he still has big-point potential. His targets have been rather low (six each game, turning to a total of seven catches), but he can make a big play at any time. That young, inexperienced Jacksonville secondary is why I’m starting Flacco, and hopefully Wallace can beat them for a touchdown at least once.
TE: Jason Witten ($4,300) — I won’t go away from Witten until it kills me. Prescott will look for him often, I believe.
Flex: Melvin Gordon ($5,800) — With Danny Woodhead out for the year, and Gordon’s success early on, he might be a good bet to produce. Especially against the Colts this week, who let Theo Riddick and Ameer Abdullah run all over them Week 1, and C.J. Anderson last week.
DST: Vikings ($3,100) — This defense will finish the season top five or better in most if not all categories. Even against the Panthers’ big play potential on offense, I still see them forcing some turnovers. I’m OK with them giving up a Kelvin Benjamin touchdown or two, but otherwise shutting down Carolina.
Week 3 Picks
Week 2: 10–6
Patriots over Texans
Broncos over Bengals
Chargers over Colts
Cardinals over Bills
Raiders over Titans
Dolphins over Browns
Ravens over Jaguars
Packers over Lions
Vikings over Panthers
Giants over Redskins
Buccaneers over Rams
Seahawks over 49ers
Jets over Chiefs
Steelers over Eagles
Cowboys over Bears
Saints over Falcons