As per last year, I’ll be sharing projections for every team in the NFL. I use past production in specific roles for each team’s scheme to work out realistic production profiles. You can see how accurate I was in 2017 in my IDP Projection Marking series.
The Vikings were an elite defense by any measure in 2017 and a defense that propelled their team all the way to the NFC championship game. I often point out that defenses don’t often remain elite across seasons, but the Vikings added some very good pieces in the off-season. Coupled with their head coach’s long history of excellence, they might be an exception to the rule.
Sheldon Richardson was brought in on a significant contract and is one of the key additions this year. If he can produce interior pressure (he managed 36 total pressures last season which placed him 18th of all interior players), it will totally change the shape of this line. He should be valued just outside of the elite group of tackles.
Linval Joseph actually managed about 30 total pressures last year – which is very impressive – but he’s probably not going to be consistent enough to pay off in most leagues. He’s a fine NFL player but not an IDP star.
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Last year, Everson Griffen (61) and Danielle Hunter (59) were both top-20 players in terms of total pressure. There’s nothing to suggest this will change at all and both should be treated like extremely valuable pieces. Griffen is being valued much higher at the moment on a higher sack total but Hunter is younger and probably a bit better.
Eric Kendricks remains the top asset here and should be a top-20 linebacker again. Anthony Barr is a full-time player but very inefficient given how much he sets the edge and rushes the passer. This trend should continue making Barr a tough player to start in most leagues.
All the players behind these two have their own defenders and fans but unless there’s an injury, none of them are likely to carry much value at all. There’s little to be gained from trying to work out who is next in the queue to get n the field except for in the deepest of leagues.
Xavier Rhodes is the best corner amongst the group and tends to be avoided. Trae Waynes played 981 snaps in 2017 and looks to be the most profitable option, but there’s a good chance he is usurped by Mackensie Alexander who should see improved playing time. Mike Hughes was a first-round draft pick but will likely be used sparingly (as coach Zimmer prefers with defensive rookies) until he’s up to NFL speed.
Harrison Smith is such a good player. He’s one of the most fun players in the NFL to watch from a down-to-down basis (excluding quarterbacks of course) because of the flexibility to how he lines up. Unfortunately, it often does not translate to fantasy excellence as he has such great ability to play deep as well as in the running game and as a pass rusher. He’s obviously great to own but also a prime candidate to sell if you can get top dollar for him.
Andrew Sendejo is the second starter and falls very much into the pot of solid players without much IDP value. If any injuries occur then Anthony Harris is the every-down replacement. That is a massive shame as Jayron Kearse is a fascinating player at 6’4” and 216 lbs. Sadly Kearse likely does not have full-time starter potential – at least in the Twin Cities.
Danielle Hunter. He has 25.5 sacks and is still only 23. There are only nine other players who have managed more than that at the same age and it reads like a who’s who of pass rushers. Shawne Merriman, Terrell Suggs, Mario Williams, Von Miller, Derrick Thomas, Jason Pierre-Paul, and J.J. Watt… Hunter is in amazing company here and should have a very good season again.
Anthony Barr. He is still treated as a good option by many of the crowd for whom any starting linebacker holds value. Barr is a unique player who does a good job for his team but is not a good IDP asset. Frustratingly, he doesn’t record enough sacks to really be valuable in big-play leagues either and is really a worst-of-both-worlds option. He should be traded wherever possible.
Sheldon Richardson keeps being underrated. He only has 2.5 sacks across the last two seasons but he’s going to be surrounded by elite talent in Minnesota. When all is said and done, he could easily end up being a top-six tackle in IDP leagues.
It looked a lot like it could really be the Vikings’ best shot to finally win a Super Bowl in 2017 and when it fizzled out, the possibility of the window slamming shut was very real. The team has done an excellent job in retooling for another tilt at success and so long as Zimmer is in charge, they should have a great platform for winning.
Thanks for reading.
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