We have entered into the final weeks of August, and some of our readers have likely been involved in some early actual fantasy drafts, or perhaps you have been participating in mock drafts, such as those run by Howard Bender’s Mock Draft Army. If so, you have undoubtedly had to select a team defense (TD) as part of your roster, and perhaps you have made the move to an IDP league (Congratulations!). Thus, this series of articles which have discussed the value of certain defenses and the players that make up those squads. Obviously, with one article a week, it will be impossible to cover all available options, but then again, once the regular season begins, the regular IDP Reports will begin again with matchup information you can use on a weekly basis. Until then, we have a couple of chances to look as a couple more TDs and a handful of IDPs, too. This week, our focus is turning to the Minnesota Vikings.

If you want to secure the services of the Vikings this season, be prepared to select them early in your drafts, perhaps after the first two or three defenses come off the board. The Minnesota defense is being ranked as a top-five TD, and speaking of the Mock Draft Army, the Vikings currently have an ADP of 175.74, which in a 12-team league puts them in the middle of the 15th round, or the 18th round of a 10-team league. Of course, the old adage that last year’s stats are not how to evaluate any player or team applies, but the defense did not lose a boatload of players from the 2016 squad, except for CB Captain Munnerlyn who departed to join the Panthers in 2017 and the retiring LB Chad Greenway.

The defensive line is a strength for Minnesota, but is not overly deep, so injuries may be a concern this season. Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen are projected to start on the edge, with DT Tom Johnson and NT Linval Joseph there to plug up the middle. All are capable of providing starting DL production, but the one to keep an eye on to make certain his last season was not a fluke is Hunter. He collected 12.5 sacks in 2016 while only playing on 57% of defensive snaps, and is now the starter, slated to play in 80% of the snaps this season. Griffen on the other side of the D-line has been incredibly stable, missing only one game over the past six seasons, and racking up 30.5 sacks over the past three seasons. He also picked up 48 total tackles in 2016, including 36 solos. Joseph is one of the best run stoppers in the league, and is coming off a year that resulted in 77 total tackles (37 solo), and he recently signed a four-year contract extension that has the possibility of keeping him in Minnesota until 2022. Johnson is the weakest fantasy option among the starting defensive line, and is coming off a hamstring injury suffered last December, so hold off on him unless you play in a mandatory DT league.

The backups for the line are interesting as the Viking philosophy is to rotate the DE, meaning that Brian Robison and Datone Jones will see enough snaps to make them at times fantasy relevant, especially if the starters do not stay as healthy as in 2016. Jones is looking to bulk up so he can play at DT as well as DE, and fourth round pick DT Jaleel Johnson was a value draft selection as some scouts actually felt he was a second round value. None of the backups should figure in your drafts, however, so leave them on the wire unless trouble hits one of the starters.

The Vikings employ a 4-3 defensive scheme, and their starting linebackers are anchored in the middle by with Eric Kendricks, who is flanked on the strong side by Anthony Barr and on the weak side by Emmanuel Lamur, who steps into a starting role due to the departures of Chad Greenway and Audie Cole. Lamur will be pushed to keep the starting gig by both Edmond Robinson and Ben Gedeon. Realize that due to the tendency to use a nickel back in place of the WLB, none of these three have great fantasy value. You would want to target either Kendricks or Barr if looking to add a Viking LB to your IDP roster.

It is no surprise that a top-five defense would be strong at defensive back, too. FS Harrison Smith is a DB1, although he is coming off surgery on his ankle that caused him to miss a couple of contests at the end of 2016. He has been a full participant at practices, and looks good to go again, and despite missing 2 games, put up 91 total tackles (69 solo) with two passes defensed (PD) and a pair of sacks. Andrew Sendejo is back to cover the strong safety position this season, He also missed a couple of games and had off-season knee surgery but is back after totaling 69 tackles (45 solo), with four PDs, two INTs and a pair of fumble recoveries. The obvious choice at safety is Harrison, but Sendejo is someone to keep in mind as bye weeks and injuries occur during the course of the season.

At cornerback, the Vikes will go with Xavier Rhodes and Terence Newman. Newman signed a one-year contract while Trae Waynes continues to develop. At this point, you most likely do not want a 39-year old cornerback (he is currently 38, but will advance one year before the first regular season game) on your roster. The Vikings would like to be able to slip Waynes into the starting role as the season progresses, which will push Newman into a backup role at some point. Rhodes is a DB1-2, especially in leagues that require you to start a CB. Minnesota rewarded him with a new five-year extension this July and he will look to continue to make his presence known on the field, coming off a 2016 campaign where he collected 52 total tackles (44 solo), 11 PDS, four INTs and a forced fumble.

Special teams is also a productive unit, with Marcus Sherels returning as the primary punt returner. Sherels did return two punts for TDs in 2016. Sherels may also be called up in the kick return game, especially if rookie Rodney Adams or backup RB Jerick McKinnon do not measure up.

This is a talented group of defensive players, although the team will need to hope all the major pieces start the season as healthy, and remain that way for most of the year. You will need to monitor your drafts if you want to snag the Minnesota team defense, or one of the IDPs discussed above.

As ever, good luck and Godspeed in your fantasy efforts. Make sure to read all of our great articles to help you win your fantasy match ups every week and ultimately bask in championship glory. If you have any fantasy football questions, especially about IDP leagues, send your inquires to ia@fantasyalarm.com.