Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was rarely comfortable in the pocket (and was sacked five times), and only Mike Wallace and Kyle Rudolph tallied more than 50 receiving yards. It didn’t help that Adrian Peterson racked up a mere 31 rushing yards as the 49ers defense looked like a dominant force throughout the game.
Here is a look at the final numbers from Bridgewater, Wallace and Rudolph:
Many had high expectations for Bridgewater entering his second season, especially since he threw for 2,919 yards, 14 touchdowns and 12 interceptions as a rookie and added 209 yards and a score on the ground.
He seemed to make a leap once he grew accustomed to NFL defenses in his final four games, notching 1,092 passing yards (273 a game) and six touchdown tosses. There was reason for optimism, and Nerdy Football’s Matt Miller was fully on board:
If you are firmly on the Bridgewater bandwagon, don’t jump off just because of one lackluster performance. His ability to rack up yards with his legs and extend plays by escaping pressure translates well in fantasy circles, as does the presence of an established receiver like Wallace, which he didn’t have last year.
What’s more, Peterson will likely shake off the rust moving forward after missing all but one game in 2014. Once he does that and again looks like one of the best players in the league, defenses will be forced to stuff the box, which will open up more throwing lanes for Bridgewater.
Still, the second-year signal-caller does not boast enough of a track record to start in fantasy at this point unless you are in a deep league, especially since he looked lost at times Monday. He must prove the opening loss was more of a fluke than anything else before he can be considered a must-start.
While Bridgewater is not starter material in fantasy football yet, make sure he is on your roster or radar in some capacity. He showed improvement as the 2014 season progressed, and it’s reasonable to expect the same in 2015 once he is accustomed to playing with Peterson and Wallace. That bright future will serve your team well if injuries become an issue in the second half of the year.
As for Wallace and Rudolph, their values are naturally tied to Bridgewater performing at a higher level than we saw Monday.
The same principles apply to the pass-catchers: If Peterson starts regularly churning out 100-yard games, the passing attack will open up for the Vikings.
It is also impossible to ignore Wallace’s track record for fantasy purposes. He has never tallied fewer than 756 receiving yards in a single year and topped the 1,100-yard plateau twice. He also notched a career-high 10 touchdown catches last year to go along with 862 receiving yards, so there’s no evidence that he’s tailing off after six seasons in the league.
There are no other wide receivers of note on Minnesota’s roster, so Wallace will continue to be the clear-cut No. 1 option when Bridgewater drops back to pass.
Wallace must develop chemistry with the young signal-caller (to be fair, the entire offense was a mess Monday), but you should trust the career numbers more than a one-game sample and keep the receiver in your lineup moving forward.
Rudolph is not a sure thing, considering he finished with only 231 receiving yards and two touchdowns in nine games last year and has never topped 493 yards in a single campaign. It would be easier to optimistically point to his nine touchdowns in 2012 if they didn’t appear to be an anomaly, as he has only eight in his other three seasons combined.
The Vikings offense was a disaster Monday, and the team will likely turn to its known playmakers as a remedy in future games. Rudolph does not fit into that category yet, although he is worth monitoring as Peterson works his way back and the offense ideally improves moving forward.
For now, continue to start Wallace and keep an eye on Bridgewater and Rudolph for depth and injury-insurance purposes. If the Vikings offense eventually finds its footing, they will become more valuable in the second half of the year.
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