The Vikings and Saints opened up the NFL season in what promised to be an offensive shootout.
We saw something much, much different on Thursday night.
While neither team looked like an offensive juggernaut, it’s painfully obvious the Vikings have a lot of things to repair if they have any hope to make a Super Bowl run.
Fantasy owners of Viking players should be a concerned this morning. While it’s not time to panic, there were some offensive issues last night that can’t be denied.
First, the loss of Sidney Rice is a very significant problem. While Brett Favre attempted to get other players involved, nobody was able to make the plays Rice would have. The Vikings really missed having someone to rely on to make tough catches.
The Saints did the opposite of what everyone expected and dropped back to cover receivers rather than bring pressure. That game plan worked and the Vikings should expect to see much more of that in weeks to come.
So, what should fantasy owners expect from the offense in Minnesota?
As we expected, it’s going to be very difficult for Brett Favre to have the same numbers as he did last season. He’s still a borderline No. 1 quarterback, but it’s going to be tough to justify using him as a top five option this season. More practice time with this new group is needed for them to gel. Too bad they didn’t have time before the season to work on it, right?
Adrian Peterson is fine. Nothing to worry about here.
Percy Harvin is explosive, but he’s not a No. 1 receiver right now. He’s still a worthy flex play, but don’t expect him to put up the same numbers that Rice did.
Bernard Berrian had an awful game and it’s obvious that Favre doesn’t trust him. He looks slow and lacks explosion. I wouldn’t want him on my roster at this point.
Expect Greg Camarillo to be on my waiver list for next week. While many people may look at the box score and find he only had one catch for 29 yards, he’s possibly going to overtake Berrian’s spot on the depth chart here shortly. You should prepare for that now, just in case it does happen. I actually expect it to sooner, rather than later.
The one person who likely benefits from the loss of Rice is Visanthe Shiancoe. Favre looked his way often and he’s certianly worthy of considering a No. 1 TE in fantasy, with or without Rice in the offense.
It’s just one game and not time to panic, but I’m not resting easy if I’m relying on Favre and company to put up the same numbers they did last season. Perhaps they just need some time and they certainly played a terrific defense. Defenses typically have the advantage early in the season as well.
I just find myself unconvinced that offense will perform the same after watching them last night.
On the flip side, we learned some things about the Saints as well.
First, Drew Brees is still amazing. He distributes the ball as well as any quarterback in the league. While his numbers weren’t on par with what we come to expect, much of that was based on the Saints ability to run the ball in the second half with success we didn’t anticipate.
The other takeaway from last night is in regards to that aforementioned running game. Pierre Thomas is going to be the bellcow for the Saints, rendering Reggie Bush nearly unplayable in non-PPR formats. I picked Thomas to have the biggest rise in fantasy value this year and stand by that after what I saw last night. He had 22 touches compared to just seven for Bush. That’s all I need to see.
Meanwhile, Marques Colston remains the only must-start player in the Saints receiving corps. Lance Moore, Robert Meachem, and Devery Henderson will all have good games now and then, but can hardly be relied upon with Brees spreading the ball around so much.
Henderson will likely be a top addition off the free agent wire this week, but fantasy veterans should know better. Novice players will see the two catches, 38 yards, and especially the one touchdown and think they can hit the jackpot. I look at the four total targets and find myself uninspired. Henderson is one of the most inconsistent players in fantasy. Expect that to continue.
That’s just one game of sixteen this week, and we already have things to talk about.
Welcome to football season!
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