Culpepper's Numbers Talk

Daunte Culpepper has a lot of pressure on his shoulders this season. If you believe the early fantasy football magazines, he's being downgraded to pedestrian level. Why is this? Nothing he's given reason for.

It's July and football fans are starting to turn their heads to fantasy football -- a game that uses NFL touchdowns as the primary basis for winning, losing and determining a player's value.

VU has followed fantasy ball over the years and perhaps nobody was as surprised as us to see that, on some lists Daunte Culpepper has dropped to the very end of the top 10 quarterbacks in the NFL.

If anything, our question would be "why?" Sure, some fantasy sites can say Cris Carter is gone, which would be seen as an adverse affect on Daunte, but the numbers don't support his drop in production. Consider the following:

There's no telling if there are stats to back this up -- we're sure somewhere in the bowels of the idiot savants that do the hard-core stats there is something to support this -- Culpepper may have set an NFL record by running or throwing for a touchdown in each of his first 25 NFL starts.

Prior to his knee injury during the Nov. 25, 2001 game vs. Chicago, Culpepper had thrown or run for at least one TD in his first 25 starts. To take that one step further, he had two or more touchdowns in 18 of those 25 games. That streak was broken vs. Chicago, and his last game of the 2001 season vs. Pittsburgh he left before Todd Bouman lit up the Steelers in the second half.

Yet, go to the sites of the "experts" and, at many of them, you'll find Culpepper ranked behind guys like Trent Green of Kansas City, who is likely one bad start away from being benched.

With Culpepper entering his fourth year with the Vikings, he is prepared to have his "take care of my family" contract put on the table. While VU has been told those talks likely won't begin in earnest until late this season, the Vikings aren't going to take any chances on losing their franchise player. Expect to see him get a contract comparable to Randy Moss -- something in the seven-year, $75 million range with $15-20 million thrown out front.

For those who are wondering why the fantasy football people are down on Culpepper, understand they are a reactionary breed. Culpepper is in the top handful of QBs in the NFL, and the Vikings wouldn't trade him even up for Donovan McNabb or Tim Couch -- the two QBs taken ahead of Culpepper that have lived up to the hype.

Other than Kurt Warner, no QB has as bright a future with his team as Culpepper has with the Vikings. No defense has ever learned how to stop him and, in the two games of his two-year starting career that he didn't throw or run at least one touchdown, he was hobbled with injuries. If he stays healthy an entire season, not only will his fantasy numbers kick butt, but his reality NFL numbers will send him back to Honolulu ... guaranteed.

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