Scout Rick Tittsler on Why He's Avoiding all Vikings

EDITOR'S NOTE: We still feel Bernard Berrian is a great draft day bargain compared to his 14th round ADP.

One of the most important things I do to prepare for any fantasy draft is to prepare a “Do Not Draft” list. To me, it’s as important as knowing which players to target—and it makes decisions so much easier when you’re “on the clock.”

I’m surprised that so many fantasy players still don’t give it a thought. They simply enter their draft with a draft board that looks like 75% of all the other draft boards in the room, focus way too much on bye-week conflicts and let the chips (players) fall where they may.

My draft board starts out in much the same way, but then I “weed out” the problem children. Those “high mileage” RBs in committees, the aging WRs who now struggle to get separation, TEs who are on their 3rd team in as many years, etc. Then come draft time, I’m not wasting my time reading through names I’ll never call, no matter their perceived value at that point in the draft. There are simply some folks I won’t take—no matter the round.

For instance, I haven’t had Clinton Portis’ name on a draft sheet for probably 3 years now. I have no use for him, I don’t want to worry week-to-week about his status and I certainly know he’s no help whatsoever in a PPR league. Mike Shanahan? Kyle Shanahan? Larry Johnson? Just forget him and move on!

I want my list to focus on guys I want, not cluttered with those I don’t. If Portis is somehow there in the 11th, I’m taking Leon Washington instead. Period. Speaking of Seattle, TJ Houshmanzadeh is another ghost on my draft board. He was solid for years, with Chad “Eight Five” drawing all of the attention in Cincinnati. Now on a team without a strong running game, an aging/injured QB and no real WR threat on the other side, I don’t need TJ taking up space on my roster. I’ll let others add/drop him throughout the year to cover their bye week issues.

Is it possible that Portis has (a slight) resurgence under Shanahan? Sure, it’s possible, but I’m not investing any time thinking about it. I’m looking at the Houston RB situation, what LT might do at the goal line behind a great O-line and an improving situation in Oakland. Will TJ hit 660/4 in 2010? I don’t care, I’m focused on the OC in Chicago, who Kolb will be dumping the ball off to in Philly and which WRs are catching spirals from Peyton Manning.

As I worked my way through a dozen or so mock drafts this preseason, I noticed something that has never happened before. There is one entire team I am avoiding this season--I’m not taking any Vikings. I mean, there isn’t ONE Viking left on my board. Favre? Pardon the pun, but I’ll “pass.” AP? Obviously a true talent and his will most likely be the second name called in your draft (regardless of the fumbles). But if I’m sitting in the 2 hole, I’m taking Ray Rice and the stability of Baltimore this season.

Shiancoe? I think 2009 was the year to have him. Sidney Rice is out for half the season or more, Berrian is horribly inconsistent (55 receptions, 4 TDs with Favre in ’09) and Percy Harvin continues to have serious medical issues. Now there is news that Greg Camarillo is going from South Beach to the Twin Cities, but he’s merely a stop-gap measure to start the season. Don’t even get me started on Javon Walker (and I’m a longtime Packers fan!).

I didn’t purposefully cross off all the purple players, but as I’d look through my tiered draft board, I kept thinking of better options and avoiding Vikings players. It all started with Childress’ trip to Mississippi (or his being Favre’s chauffeur from the airport in ’09). What a circus. Talk about the tail wagging the dog! I worry that he has lost whatever credibility he had with his players—especially the veterans who didn’t make the follow-up trip to Mississippi in August. Favre wasn’t going to leave $12-20 million on the table if his ankle would flex at all. Do I want a prima donna QB (who is the only known grandfather active in the NFL) on a bad ankle with no clear-cut WR1 for the first 8-10 weeks of the season? Not so much.

Do I want a TE who will draw extra attention now that Rice is out? Nope. Do I want to use my crystal ball to figure out which undersized WR will move up the depth chart? That’s a no-win situation. Do I want Peterson, with all of this going on around him? Yes, and no. But for now, it’s a “no.”

I can hear the, “But what about that defense,” screams right now. Anyone can throw on the Vikings. You could throw on the Vikings! Their schedule also presents a major challenge in 2010, playing 2 against the Packers, and other games against New Orleans, Dallas, NY Jets, New England, NY Giants, and Philadelphia. That’s 8 of 16 games that raise a serious red flag about using them as your starting D. In fact, the Vikings could very easily be 2-4 after their first six games!

If Favre is out for an extended period of time, every skill player on the roster takes a hit. Is that likely? Well, it certainly is possible. If the offense struggles and the D remains tough, another rift will develop on this team. If Favre and Childress really mix it up, lookout! If they keep trying to zone block with 330 pound offensive linemen, AP will continue to be stripped of the ball by sliding LBs. There are just too many ways this can go sour in a hurry.

I also think there are two coaches that could be replaced mid-season--Jack Del Rio and Brad Childress. Del Rio for losing, and Childress for losing his team. The purple party boys in Minnesota strayed a few years ago, and it was ugly. It was ugly in real terms and in fantasy terms. There are a couple of players on the lowly Bills I would draft for the right price. The Bengals offer some value in the middle rounds, too. Even some Rams and Lions have a place on my board. You can call me nuts, but I’m allergic to purple this season!

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