Jun 26, 2009
You may have noticed that we have yet to rank and project stats for QB Brett Favre – but this week we took a step in that direction by finally downgrading Viking QB Sage Rosenfels, who we have projected to beat Tarvaris Jackson out. That was the first step in adjusting for Favre, and we may soon have to go all the way and right the following:
Brett Favre (QB, Min)
On a personal level, I’ve been a Viking fan since I was about seven years old, which is odd because I lived in Brooklyn, NY, and right around the time I started following the Vikings moved to New Jersey, so there certainly wasn’t a geographical element at play. I suppose being half Norwegian was a factor. If there’s one person to blame for my affinity for the Vikings, ironically, it’s the uncle of a staff member.
I’m referring, of course, about the great Howard Cosell, the uncle of our own Greg Cosell. He’s to blame. For some reason, I was drawn to the Vikes due to his highlights at halftime on MNF in which he would frequently replay a TD pass from (in his voice) Fran Tark-en-ton to Ah-Mad-Ra-Shad. I absolutely adored the Vikings growing up, and at 10 years old cried like a baby watching Tarkenton’s last pro game, an ugly playoff loss to the LA Rams on 12/31/78. The Vikings have always been a tough team to root for because they were usually pretty good, so expectations were high, but never good enough to win it. And they choked. For every great moment, like Tommy Kramer’s miracle Hail Mary pass to Rashad in 1980 to get the Vikings into the playoffs, there was heartbreak, like Wade Wilson failing to get the ball in the endzone in the closing minutes (or even seconds) in the 1987 NFC Title game (it would have tied the scored and likely forced OT). But nothing – not even the Hershel Walker trade and the fallout from it – was worse than 1998. It was a dream season for the Vikings, and at least in the NFC, it was *their* year. I went to the game, of course. I partied it up all night the Saturday night before the NFC Championship with fellow Viking fans, and even snuck into Jesse Ventura’s inaugural party in the city that night, half in the bag, which was an experience (never saw some many mullets in one place). That next afternoon, I wound up walking out of the Metrodome catatonic, and I remained catatonic for several days, haunted by an image from the day before, the site of Falcon LB Jesse Tuggle’s mom walking by me at the airport with her son’s jersey on confidently doing the “Dirty Bird” the whole time.
I thought that was bad, and while it was heartbreaking, it wasn’t nearly as “Bad” as 2000, when the Vikes got lambasted and embarrassed by the Giants in the NFC title game. I was very close to the field, and watching WRs Randy Moss and Cris Carter warm up pregame, I figured we were done. The weather was a little nasty, and the field conditions were terrible. Moss, Carter, Robert Smith, and Daunte Culpepper were deadly that year. Smith rushed for 1500 yards, Culpepper accounted for 40 TDs, and Moss and Carter combined for 2700 yards receiving and 24 TDs. Potent offense, right? They got shut out, 41-0. They also made QB Kerry Collins look like Joe Montana. While watching that game it occurred to me why I was so into fantasy football: because I was a Viking fan. I figured we’re never going to win a Super Bowl, so I might was well win one or 20 of my own. I wrote an essay on the experience at that game and my epiphany that was published on ESPN.com, and I wish I still had that, but it’s long gone. Moss, by the way, quit about midway through the second quarter, something I saw first-hand at the game and something I’ll never forgive him for. That’s why I call him a “front-runner.” Interesting note on Collins, too. I ran into him just 18 months before the game down in Key West, Florida. I spoke to him for a little while, but let’s just say he probably didn’t remember the conversation. He had a small problem then if you recall, yet less than two years later he managed to destroy my team in the second biggest game of the year. I’ll forever give Collins a ton of credit for turning his life around.
Over the last ten years or so, due to my frustrations with the franchise and my chosen career, I have slowly but surely been losing my fanaticism with the Vikings. Although I got somewhat riled up watching them play the Eagles (my local team) in the playoffs last year, I’d say my interest level is only about 30% of what it was back in ’98. I just don’t care like I used to.
That said, I don’t know how I feel yet about this Favre thing. He’ll clearly help the team and make them better, but I’m not sure a Viking Super Bowl would mean the same with Favre as it would with another QB leading the team. Ideally, a team drafts a franchise QB and he wins one, like Peyton Manning did with the Colts (a team I have long compared the Vikings to, before their win of course). That’s ideal, but I also wouldn’t have a problem with the Vikings getting a high-end free agent and then winning one, or even a scenario that almost came to pass in ’98, with an aged Randall Cunningham running the show.
But if the Vikes win the Super Bowl with Brett Favre, I’m not sure it would be quite as sweet as it would have been had they, for example, had a crack at Joe Flacco in the draft and snapped him up.
But that’s not really why I’m posting a note on Favre. No one cares about what I’m rooting for or not rooting for, and I’m not even sure I do at this point. It’s all about fantasy, so let’s break Favre down on the Vikings.
First of all, I don’t totally agree with Greg Cosell’s contention that Favre wouldn’t be much of an upgrade over the guys they currently have. Greg said as much in our podcast this week. Greg knows more than I do about QBs, but I think Greg may be placing too much of an emphasis on what he saw from Favre last year. If you recall, we were writing midseason about how something wasn’t right with Favre, perhaps before anyone else on the planet. That was all Greg breaking him down on tape. He looked done, but the fact that he actually had an injury changes things. If we can assume that the injury was the problem, and I’m inclined to believe it was at least 75% of the issue, and if it’s cleared up, then we need to look more at 2007’s numbers than 2008’s.
In ’07, he completed 66.6% of his passes, the highest number of his career other than, ironically, 2008, when he wasn’t throwing down the field. His 4157 yards and 28 TDs were excellent. That was only two years ago, technically, he was putting up his ’07 numbers still just 18 months ago.
He knows the Viking offense like the back of his hand, whereas picking up the Jet system last summer was like learning another language on the fly.
The Viking and Jet lines are comparable, but I’d give the Vikes a slight advantage this year in terms of pass protection. Most importantly, I think the LT McKinnie is a little better than D’Brick in New York.
And the running game? Please, that’s not even up for debate. Favre’s not the same player he was even 2-3 years ago, that really can’t be debated, so having the best back in the NFL behind him would greatly help him. I’m not 100% sure Favre will help Peterson, but Peterson will help Favre.
That leads us to the receiving corps. As solid as Laveranues Coles was, and knowing Favre may have stifled the Jet receivers last year, I actually think the guys the Vikings will be lining up with this year are better than the guys in New York last year. Bernard Berrian’s a really nice player. He’s not perfect, but he’s really explosive. I like the Viking TE a lot, and I like the versatility Vishante Shiancoe brings to the table in that he can be extended from the formation. Percy Harvin is a wildcard and I have confidence the Vikes will take advantage of him. If healthy, Sidney Rice could be just a notch below Jericho Cotchery, believe it or not. And don’t look now but the Vikes may be in the Marvin Harrison business in the next 30 days.
This stuff is all well and good, but what does Favre REALLY bring to the Vikings this year? More than anything else, it’s that intangible quality that the Packers missed last year. I love Aaron Rodgers, but Favre wouldn’t have gone 6-10 with that Packer team. Favre would have found a way to win at least a couple more games, and that’s what I’m talking about. I’ve watched Favre play as much as anyone not in Green Bay, but as a Viking fan, I’ve been more in tune with Favre’s ability to convert on 3rd down. It’s been maddening watching Favre the last 15 years or so when you’re rooting for the other team. The guy converts more often than not. That extends drives, and creates more plays and opportunities for fantasy.
That’s why I think Favre would be an upgrade for the Vikings, and if healthy he would make them definite Super Bowl contenders. A healthy Favre, for example, probably would have beaten the Eagles in Minnesota last year (that game was a lot closer than the final score would indicate), and I would have bet on him at home against the Cards the following week. Not sure about Pittsburgh in the big game, but Favre probably would have gotten them there.
As for the fantasy stuff, Favre under center can’t hurt Peterson, and he could easily help him, so that’s good. We saw Greg Jennings flourish with Favre in Green Bay, which is good news for Bernard Berrian, but I absolutely LOVE Shiancoe this year if Favre is there. Favre is also smart enough to take advantage of Harvin on the field.
So here are some projections, for a goof.
1. MIN @ CLE – 235 yards, 3 TDs
2. MIN @ DET – 250 yards, 2 TDs
3. SF @ MIN – 220, 1 TD
4. GB @ MIN – 215, 1 TD
5. MIN @ STL – 240, 2 TDs
6. BAL @ MIN – 195, 1 TD
7. MIN @ PIT – 185, 0 TDs
8. MIN @ GB – 210, 1 TD
10. DET @ MIN – 235, 3 TDs
11. SEA @ MIN – 225, 1 TD
12. CHI @ MIN – 220, 1 TD
13. MIN @ ARI – 240, 2 TDs
14. CIN @ MIN – 245, 2 TDs
15. MIN @ CAR – 195, 1 TDs
16. MIN @ CHI – 215, 1 TD
17. NYG @ MIN – 200, 1 TD
Totals: 3525 yards, 22 TDs
I’ll give him 40 yards rushing and 1 short sneak at the goal, which translates to 274.25 fantasy points. That ranks him currently at tied for 16th in our projections. A good preseason, and he’ll likely get bumped up to the 12-14 range. In other words, a good backup and right on the fringe of being a starter in a 12-team league. He’s probably not going to miss any time, which means he’ll probably just squeak into the top-12 by season’s end. And where did he finish last year? 11th in total points.
Now if he stays retired, after holding off as long as I could to chime in, I’ll feel like a real jackass.