Summer Sleeper: Minnesota Vikings

Eric Olinger

We begin our annual 32-part Summer Sleeper series where DLF scribes identify a lightly-touted player on each NFL roster who may be worthy of your consideration. Our subjects all have varying levels of “sleeperness,” but each merits a bit of in-depth discussion here in the Premium Content section.

To help everybody along, we are going to be categorizing our sleepers under one of three headings:

  • Super Deep Sleepers – Players who aren’t roster-worthy in 12-team leagues, but are still worth keeping an eye on.
  • Deep Sleepers – An end of the roster player who is more often than not on the waiver wire in 12-team leagues.
  • Sleeper – A likely rostered player who makes for a good trade target. Their startup ADP puts them out of the top-175 or so.

Because we aren’t going give you the likes of mainstream sleepers, most of these players will undoubtedly fizzle. All we are asking is for you to keep an open mind and perhaps be willing to make room for one of these players on your bench. You never know when the next Willie Snead is going to spring up.  Feel free to add your own thoughts about our choice for the designated sleeper, or nominate one of your own in the comments below.

The 2016 season wasn’t an easy one for Vikings fans. They had to endure a long series of ups and downs. First, we saw quarterback Teddy Bridgewater shred his knee and almost lose his leg in a freak non-contact injury. Then, the team sent a 2017 first round pick and a conditional 2018 pick to the Eagles for quarterback Sam Bradford, a trade which left many scratching their heads. It looked like the Vikings had done the right thing after the first five weeks of the season because they were undefeated and looking strong heading into their bye week. Unfortunately, they would finish the final 11 games with a 3-8 record and miss the playoffs.

Bradford was a big reason the team finished 8-8 but he had his best all-around season as a pro with 3,877 yards, a 71.6% completion percentage, a 4:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio with 20 scores to just five picks. With Bridgewater unlikely to be back to full health soon after that horrific leg injury, Bradford will be under center again and with a strong arsenal of weapons both in the backfield and amongst the pass catchers.

Even though they parted ways with “Purple Jesus” himself, Adrian Peterson, they signed Latavius Murray in free agency and drafted a very talented runner in Dalvin Cook from Florida State. They join perennial sleeper target and SPARQ superstar Jerick McKinnon in Minnesota, but I’m not going to beat the McKinnon drum again. My sleeper is among the pass catchers and carries quite a bit of name recognition but pretty much zero ADP value and plenty of flameout potential but he also carries the highest return on investment.

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Michael Floyd, WR

Category: Super Deep Sleeper / High Risk Player

Anyone still with me? Listen, I get it. Floyd’s career has a front row seat on the “Justin Blackmon Express” after his latest alcohol related snafu. Maybe the most frustrating detail of the whole incident is the high school level excuse of blaming his failed tests on Kombucha tea. If you screw up, man up and take responsibility for your actions. Acknowledging your problem is the first step to defeating it. Did I mention he failed the monitoring five times the day BEFORE his arrest ended? The Vikings had the perfect opportunity to wash their hands of the entire Floyd experiment if they wanted but, instead, they threw support behind him saying publicly they believed in him and he would remain on the roster.

So why even waste one of our roster spots on someone like this? Fantasy isn’t any different than the NFL; talent will get you chance after chance until Commissioner Goodell suspends you indefinitely. Michael Floyd is only 27 years old and can still make the tough catches. He can also drop the easy catches, but over the last four years he’s scored at least five touchdowns in each. While he’s never consistently lived up to his first round draft pedigree, he has flashed that potential off and on throughout his five year career with twelve 100-yard games. While nobody is going to confuse Sam Bradford for Carson Palmer or Tom Brady, he is coming off his best statistical season and has had the entire off-season to gel with his teammates. It’s pretty crazy Bradford and offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur have been together three different times on three different teams, the Rams, Eagles and Vikings.

One more reason to roll the dice on Floyd, the support system. Head coach Mike Zimmer has been around quite a few players who have had issues with the law and/or drug abuse. The Vikings also have Kyle Rudolph and Harrison Smith on the roster, both of which he played with in South Bend. Throw in the fact Floyd is played his high school ball in Saint Paul Minnesota and he has a lot of people he doesn’t want to let down. Are any of these important enough reasons for Floyd to finally beat his demons and walk away from the booze? I don’t know. Will he face league discipline for his off the field transgressions? Most likely. Does he possess the talent to be rostered in 12-team fantasy leagues? Absolutely.

This Vikings team isn’t good enough to trade blows with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, and will have its hands full with Matthew Stafford and the Lions. This means there’s an opportunity for receiving statistics, albeit in garbage time. This depth chart is filled with talented question marks from top to bottom. Stefon Diggs is the WR1 on this team but has to prove he can play through the nicks and cuts. Adam Thielen exploded out of nowhere last year finishing with 69 catches for 967 yards and five touchdowns. The Vikings gave him a $17 million extension this off-season in hopes he can continue his upward trajectory. The team is also expecting a huge leap from sophomore Laquon Treadwell after his unbelievably underwhelming rookie season in which he caught a single pass for 15 yards. The biggest beneficiary of the Bradford-Shurmur regime thus far has been Kyle Rudolph. A fantasy afterthought, he came back to life in 2016 with 840 receiving yards, easily a career high, and seven touchdowns. Having guys like Diggs, Floyd and Treadwell on the field with Rudolph and Dalvin Cook in the red zone should make life a lot easier for Bradford in 2017.

To wrap this sales pitch up, Floyd literally costs you nothing to acquire right now in 99% of fantasy leagues. People have bailed and moved on from the once promising former Golden Domer. While he’s likely facing a four game suspension to start the season, he could pay off later in the year, especially if Diggs gets nicked up again, Thielen crashes back down to earth or Treadwell continues to struggle getting acclimated to the pro game. If he screws up again at least you can cut him without reservation. How many players carry that kind of guarantee?

Follow me on Twitter @OlingerIDP.


eric olinger
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