Fantasy world dishes reality to Vikings

The Vikings will be facing five of the top 10 receivers in the fantasy world twice a season for the near future.

Fantasy football used to be considered as a diversion of the same pasty types that spent hours playing video games or elaborate Dungeons and Dragons scenarios. To top it off, there was the exchange of money, which, as recently as 10 years ago, was viewed as a form of gambling – even though nobody is doing a stretch at Attica for winning his fantasy football league and bragging up that fact.

Flash forward a decade and not only is fantasy football not viewed as the root of all evil, it is embraced by the NFL as astutely noting that a new fan base is a good fan base. In the new and modernized era of the NFL, the alliance with fantasy football is not only ironclad, it is a precursor to reality football.

The marketable stars of the offense-is-sexy world of fantasy football are often the players that get highlighted by the league. For the last week or so, there have been two players on the wallpaper of the NFL’s official website – Adrian Peterson and Johnny Manziel. Peterson makes sense. Manziel doesn’t. Not only was he the second quarterback taken in the draft, he was the second draft pick of the one team that took him. But, in July, he was box office.

What makes fantasy football so intrinsically linked to the real world of the NFL is that the venerable bastion of sports news – Sports Illustrated – has devoted an issue to appease fantasy football owners.

SI, like thousands of other projectionists, are putting reputations on the line in terms of player projections.

The unfortunate portion of that equation is that SI only ranked 15 defenses. The Vikings weren’t one of them. The more unfortunate portion of that equation is that, of the 32 wide receivers SI ranks, five of the top 10 are players that are expected to play the Vikings twice.

To nobody’s surprise, Calvin Johnson is the top-rated fantasy football wide receiver. He plays the Vikings twice. That covers Detroit. SI said both of Chicago’s starters are to be feared – Brandon Marshall is ranked No. 2 and Alshon Jeffery clocks in at No. 8. Not to be left out, Green Bay was represented well with Jordy Nelson (No. 6) and Randall Cobb (No. 10).

What is the fantasy football world telling the reality football world? Half of the best wide receivers (for now…in August) are in the NFC North. What does that really mean in the non-fantasy reality?

It’s time for the back four of the Vikings defense to step up.

Perhaps the Vikings knew what they were doing when they hired Mike Zimmer when they did. The numbers say the back end of the Vikings defense had best be ready. Early and often. The secondary may be primary in the Vikings’ return to the postseason. The fantasy version of reality football says that the Vikings are in trouble.

The reality is yet to come. Let the naysayers have their moment. Are five of the top 10 wide receivers going to build their numbers against the Vikings? Of all the battles that will go on during the 2014 season, if the Minnesota secondary isn’t up to snuff, it will be a long season for the Vikings. Zimmer may have something to say about that.

Get your popcorn ready. The fantasy world has spoken.

Reality is taking its time.

John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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