This was a preseason with raised optimism for Teddy Bridgewater.
In a pair of preseason games he completed 78.3 percent of his passes for an average of 11.0 yards per attempt with two touchdowns and no interceptions — all without the luxury of having Adrian Peterson in his backfield.
On Tuesday, Bridgewater’s bounce-back season took a turn for the worse when he suffered a “significant knee injury” during practice according to coach Mike Zimmer. As of now, there’s no word to the severity but Zimmer said it “doesn’t look good.”
The Vikings offense was going to revolve around Adrian Peterson and the run game anyway. Why wouldn’t it? But the bright side of Bridgewater’s improvement was the potential of a Vikings passing game to force defenses from focusing solely on Peterson. If they can’t do that then Peterson will see more loaded fronts as opponents dare the Vikings to go vertical on them.
Of course, this is something Peterson has succeeded against before — the guy came back from a torn ACL and ran for 2,097 yards and totaled 13 touchdowns with Christian Ponder as his quarterback in 2012.
Well, that was then — Peterson is 31 years old now. If he’s getting targeted more often by defenders because the Vikings pass attack isn’t as feared, you can’t help but think the hits will take a toll on him.
For now, Shaun Hill takes over for Bridgewater. He most recently started eight games for the Rams in 2014, completing 63.3 percent of his attempts for 7.2 yards per attempt with eight touchdowns and seven interceptions. There’s just not a way to take Hill’s numbers and assume he’ll be anywhere close to as good as Bridgewater.
But Zimmer didn’t quite commit to Hill as his starter in place of Bridgewater. He quickly expressed confidence in Hill but deflected his comments toward the overall team and finding ways to win. There’s a chance Hill won’t be the Vikings starting quarterback for very long.
Because the Vikings quarterback situation is so fluid, Stefon Diggs‘ potential for big 2016 is stunted. He’s still able to help the Vikings out a bunch thanks to his speed and route running but the likelihood of a breakout season is no longer promised with someone like Hill as his quarterback. You can say the same thing with every other receiver and tight end in Minnesota.
What about Peterson? It’s probably safest to lower expectations for him a little bit, which also means prioritizing the selection of Jerick McKinnon with a mid-round choice in case Peterson does end up missing a game here or there. Peterson remains worthy of a first-round pick but now toward the end of Round 1. McKinnon, fresh off a superb preseason game against the Chargers, is a priority for Peterson owners in Round 8 and a target for non-Peterson drafters in Round 9. If you’ve already drafted Peterson and don’t have McKinnon, it might behoove you to open up trade talks — either to get McKinnon or trade away Peterson for a king’s ransom.
This isn’t to say Peterson will be a bust. For months it’s been said that Fantasy owners should bet against Peterson at their own peril. It’s a little easier to shy away from him now that defenses will aim for him, but to suggest he’s a descending player, especially since no one’s seen him play in a game since last January, is short sighted. His track record, his pedigree and his history suggest he’s not your typical 31-year-old running back. The legendary breaks tend to last a little longer than the others.
Source: CBS Sports / 2016 Fantasy Football Strategy: Bridgewater injury a concern for Adrian Peterson?