The Vikings lost for winnning last season as their week 16 meaningless victory in Washington was very costly in multiple ways.

All everything RB Adrian Peterson suffered a torn ACL/MCL and is still a potential PUP candidate (miss first 6 games) despite being labeled as not human based on his remarkable recovery. The victory also dropped Minnesota to the #3 draft position – one spot behind St Louis which was able to acquire a bevy of picks from Dan Snyder in the RG3 sweepstakes.

Ragnar and Company can step back off the ledge as we expect a few steps forward in 2012 as Minnesota had a strong draft in our opinion. The Vikings smartly selected the best OT in the draft in USC’s Matt Kalil which should keep 2nd year QB Christian Ponder from weekly trips to the ER. They also bolstered one of the weaker WR corps in the league with the additions of Arkansas teammates Jarius Wright and Greg Childs. Minnesota also added former Bengal WR Jerome Simpson best known for his Pot Smoking and the ability to leap over defenders. Once he serves his 3-game suspension for Marijuana possession – Simpson is expected to get the start opposite Percy Harvin. However, keep an eye on the rookie Hogs as they could be worth targeting in deeper dynasty leagues as the Vikings continue their youth movement and look to return to the glory days of Carter & Moss.

Here is how we see the Minnesota Depth Chart entering training camp.

QBChristian PonderJoe WebbSage Rosenfels
RBAdrian Peterson (INJ)Toby GerhardtLex Hilliard
WR1Percy HarvinJarius Wright ('R)Devin Aromashodu
WR2Jerome SimpsonMichael JenkinsStephen BurtonGreg Childs ('R)
TEKyle RudolphJohn Carlson

WINNERS: QB Christian Ponder (ADP: 223 Overall / QB29)

The rookie signal caller had more downs than ups last season but did show promise. In his defense he was positioned behind one of the worst O-lines in the NFL (allowed 49 sacks – 5th most in the league) and had a less than impressive WR corps (Harvin was the only starting caliber option).

Michael Jenkins and Devin Aromashadu are complimentary options at best and should be replaced in the starting lineup by free agent signing Jerome Simpson. Rookies Jarius Wright (a Harvin clone) and self proclaimed Steal of the Draft Greg Childs (a potential red zone threat at 6’3) should provide Ponder with a solid young nucleus of weapons. Golden Dome TE combo of Kyle Rudolph and John Carlsen will also be targeted early and often in Bill Musgrave’s offense (expected to run mulitple 2 TE sets).

Ponder finished last season with a mediocre 13 TDs:13 INTs while averaging just 168 YPG. His running ability could become a factor especially early in the season if AP is forced to sit out the first 6 games on the PUP list. As a final round roll of the dice – Ponder’s dual threat ability and upgraded supporting cast (namely O-line and WR corps) should make him a serviceable BYE week filler especially with the Vikings playing catch up most weeks.

LOSERS: WR Michael Jenkins / TE John Carlson

As Jerome Simpson sits in the penalty box for the first three weeks of the season – Jenkins (29 year old Ohio State alum) is expected to get the start but his less than impressive resume keeps him off the fantasy radar.

Jenkins has failed to average more than 50 YPG in any of his eight NFL seasons and has just 23 career TD catches. With too many newly added mouths to  – feed Jenkins will find himself buried on the bench by mid-season at the latest.

The Vikings made one of the more puzzling offseason signings when they ponied up $25 million over 5 years for a backup TE in former Seahawk John Carlsen (missed all of 2011 with a shoulder injury). GM Rick Spielman’s love for the Irish may have clouded his rationality. Carlsen hasn’t averaged more than 40 YPG in any of his first three seasons. Kyle Rudolph (2nd pick in 2011) is thought to be one of the more promising TEs in the game and should have a breakout 2012 - provided the Vikings use Carlsen in more of a blocking role and free up Rudolph to take advantage of his above average receiving ability. Rudolph should be a favorite in the red zone and makes for a high end TE2 target with TE1 upside especially in dynasty leagues.

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