Previewing the Vikings-Packers Wild Card Matchup
Robot model AP2K has been nothing short of incredible. Over the last 10 games, Adrian Peterson ran for 1,598 yards (which would still put him second in the league for the entire season behind only Alfred Morris) and averaged 6.8 yards per carry.
What makes Peterson’s feat even more amazing is that he became the Vikings’ offense after star receiver Percy Harvin missed the rest of the season after Week 9. Harvin was on pace for a career year before being placed on injured reserve.
With Harvin out of the lineup, quarterback Christian Ponder struggled. In games without Harvin (seven games), Ponder threw for over 200 yards just two times and had five games with one touchdown or less.
The other Vikings’ receivers were pretty much non-existent in fantasy. Even though he missed seven games, Harvin was the Vikings’ leader with 677 yards. Kyle Rudolph, the tight end, was second (493) followed by Michael Jenkins (449).
This week the Vikings face the Packers for the third time this season. In the previous two matchups, the Vikings relied on AP2K who ran for a combined 409 yards. It’s tough to expect that kind of performance from Peterson again, but there’s no doubt that the Vikings will lean on their Pro Bowl running back this game to provide the brunt of the offense.
Peterson is the only player on the Vikings I trust in fantasy this week. The other players have proved throughout the season that they don’t produce at a high enough level to be trusted on a consistent basis. The only other players worth considering would be Rudolph or kicker Blair Walsh who has nailed 11 of 11 field goal attempts over the past three weeks.
The Green Bay Packers are a fantasy football gold mine. Aaron Rodgers finished in the top three overall scorers for the second year in a row. They also had three receivers finish in the top 30, even though two of the three receivers missed playing time due to injury.
The three receivers, Jordy Nelson, James Jones and Randall Cobb, produced at high levels throughout the season. Nelson came onto the scene in a big way last season when he caught 15 touchdowns, but this season fell victim to injuries. Jones took over the touchdown role in 2012 as he caught 14, but he didn’t put up very many yards. Cobb took advantage of an injury to Greg Jennings and exploded for a 80-954-8 stat line on the season.
Jennings is back in the mix now and ended the season on a high note, catching eight passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns against the Vikings. He was able to get more looks with Cobb out of the lineup, but the second-year receiver is expected to be back for the playoff game this week.
All of these fantasy points to the wide receivers means that there’s not many points left for the running backs. The Packers only average 81 rushing yards a game and they only had seven rushing touchdowns from running backs this year. Three of those came in Week 16 against the Titans, with two from Ryan Grant and a third from DuJuan Harris who appears in line to receive the bulk of the carries this week.
Another disappointing element of the Packers offense is the tight end position. Jermichael Finley was a promising player at 6-5, 247 lbs, but he only caught two touchdowns on the year and had a lot of dismal performances. Still, Finley has been better in the second half with at least 50 receiving yards in six of his last seven games.
With the Vikings being one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL, Rodgers will likely have a field day. All four receivers (Jennings, Nelson, Cobb, Jones) will be involved, but it’s impossible to tell which one(s) will have the big day. The running backs (DuJuan Harris, James Starks and Ryan Grant) are hard to trust since they’re in a committee and haven't been consistently effective. Finley could be less involved with all four receivers back in the lineup.
Bottom Line: Vegas is predicting a 27-20 Packers win, and that sounds like about what to expect.