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IDP Fantasy Forecast: 2021 Minnesota Vikings

The Minnesota Vikings had almost no pass rush in 2020. Will Danielle Hunter returning fix it?

The Minnesota Vikings finished a disappointing 7-9 in 2020. Mike Zimmer will be entering his eighth season as the Head Coach. The Vikings employ a co-defensive coordinator approach on defense, with Andre Patterson and Adam Zimmerman. Last season was a tough one on defense for the Vikings. Before the season started they lost Danielle Hunter, their top pass rusher, to a herniated disk. Anthony Barr also tore his pectoral muscle in week two of the regular season.

The Vikings had a terrible season on defense, not at all like a Mike Zimmer-coached unit. The injury to Hunter certainly took its toll on the unit as a whole. With his return in 2021, and some reinforcements in free agency the Minnesota Vikings are certainly looking to get their defense back on track. The Vikings have an IDP gem at each level of their defense. With everyone healthy, this is a really strong defensive unit.

Having one or two of their star players on your defensive unit could give you a competitive edge over your league mates.

Linebackers

Eric Kendricks, Middle Linebacker

Photo Credit: Bleacher Report

Kendricks is a fantastic middle linebacker, and a joy to watch on film. One of the first plays that I put on from the 2020 season in a film study of the Vikings defense, he made a huge play against Carolina. After the snap, Mike Davis was sent on a wheel route and Kendricks stepped in front and made the interception. It’s an example of the role that he is asked to play in the defense. He is not strictly asked to read and attack, but sometimes he is deployed in a robber role. This is a blend of man-zone, that tricks the quarterback into thinking the receiver is open when he is not. The ball was a bit off target by Teddy Bridgewater, but a very good play by Eric Kendricks to complete the catch.

When the Minnesota Vikings played against Dallas Cowboys, Kendricks started close to scrimmage and then quickly dropped back into coverage. He laid out for the ball from Andy Dalton in front of Dalton Schultz as if he was the intended receiver. It was quite an athletic play for a middle linebacker, one that most middle linebackers across the league probably could not make. In the same game against Dallas, he diagnosed the halfback dive and brought down Ezekiel Elliott behind the line. He almost got his hands on another interception playing robber coverage vs Dallas, an awful decision by Andy Dalton. Heck of a play by Eric Kendricks to get in the area to get his hands on the ball.

I thoroughly enjoyed watching Eric Kendricks play middle linebacker, he is something else in the middle of the field for the Vikings. He makes plays all over the middle of the field for them, and he seems to really understand what the quarterback is looking to do vs the coverage.

Looking at his career he has been the definition of consistent

This upcoming season, Eric Kendricks will continue to be one of the top startable options in the LB spot in IDP leagues. He is currently being drafted as the LB36, with an ADP of 190.2. I would definitely consider trading an early 3rd round pick in a rookie draft if Hendricks was on the trade block.

GGSIntPDFFFRSKTotal TacklesSoloAsstTFLQB HitsFantasy PtsFPPG
17171711211569466424514.41
Eric Kendricks 2021 Stats and Fantasy Points Projection

Defensive Lineman

Daniel Hunter, Defensive End

Photo Credit: Purple PTSD

Danielle Hunter missed all of the 2020 season with a herniated disc in his back. When healthy, he is Minnesota’s premier pass rusher. Without him in the lineup, the Vikings team sacks dropped off a whopping 48%. He should be ready to go at full speed once training camp arrives. Watching Hunter on film, he is so fast with his post-snap get off. Even though every Vikings opponent is aware of his timed 4.57 40 yard dash speed, it still catches opposing linemen off guard. And it’s foolish to chip him with a tight end, he just blows right by them.

His closing speed is what really does it for him. In a game against the Giants, Daniel Jones seemed to have the time to pull the ball back down to run/pass. But Hunter closed the gap between the two so quickly, Jones nearly fumbled the football.

With Anthony Barr as yet not showing the capability of being a capable NFL pass rusher, the burden of carrying the Vikings pass rush falls to Hunter. How soon Hunter can return to form in 2021 remains to be seen.

Currently, Hunter is being drafted as the DL19 with an ADP of 183.6. I am personally hesitant to trade valuable assets for players coming off an injury. Especially when he is their loan pass rush source, I would trade a late third-round pick in a rookie draft to get him.

GGSIntPDFFFRSKTotal TacklesSoloAsstTFLQB HitsFantasy PtsFPPG
1717011111553916131619211.29
Daniel Hunter 2021 Stats and Fantasy Points Projection

Defensive Backs

Harrison Smith, Safety

Photo Credit: Twincities.com

Smith is one of those players that you get jealous of another team for having. He makes a lot of deep plays on the football. Very sound in coverage, while at the same time being willing to come up and make the tackle. Now honestly, a few of the interceptions that he hauled in there is no way the pass should have been thrown, Looking at you Chase Daniel.

However, he is a more than capable safety, and the Vikings will need him to play above his head if the pass rush is as bad as it was in 2020.

Harrison Smith will be a solid option as a starter for you in IDP leagues at the DB position. He is currently being drafted as the DB23 with an ADP of 272.6. I usually like to find my safties in the waiver wire dumpster, but with solid weekly potential production. I would trade a mid third-round rookie pick to get him.

GGSIntPDFFFRSKTotal TacklesSoloAsstTFLQB HitsFantasy PtsFPPG
171737111.583622143207.512.20

Conclusion

The Vikings are a solid but not great defense on film. But these three players are really good startable options, and if you play in a deep league you need to find value where you can. For more articles like this, join the #NerdHerd and find us on Twitter. I can be found at @DoomzoneFF, hope to talk to you soon.

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