Vikings want balanced offense: After rushing for 2,000 yards last season, Adrian Peterson has repeatedly said he’s aiming for 2,500 yards as an encore. Head coach Leslie Frazier hopes it doesn’t come to that. Minnesota’s sideline boss says he’d like for this season’s offense to be a little more balanced, with the passing game picking up some of the slack. File that away under “best laid plans”. In 2012, Peterson carried the ball 348 times, second only to Arian Foster — and second-most in Peterson’s career. However, lessening the reliance on the running game means more work for the underwhelming Christian Ponder. To make matters worse, Ponder could find himself in a QB battle with the chronically-underachieving Matt Cassel. Let’s not start writing off extra Peterson carries just yet.
Pitta is Flacco’s top target: Off the field, Joe Flacco and Dennis Pitta are close friends. On the field, it shows. During the Baltimore Ravens minicamp, Pitta was reportedly far and away Flacco’s top target. That’s not too far off from last season when he was third on the team in targets (94) and tied for second in receptions (61). But with Anquan Boldin out of the mix, there is an opening to be Flacco’s new favorite pass-catcher. The assumption is that it would be Torrey Smith — and it still could be. But apparently there’s no substitute for a good security blanket, a role Pitta seems to fill quite well. Look for the tight end to be a valuable piece on fantasy rosters this season.
Age working against Gates: This isn’t a news flash, but Antonio Gates is no longer the tight end he once was. The Chargers veteran turned 33 earlier this week, which has traditionally been a death knell for the production of players at his position. The only tight end of note who has been able to escape this fate has been Tony Gonzalez. But while Gates overall production has taken a nosedive, he remains a viable red zone target. Last season, the Kent State product saw the second-most targets inside the 20-yard line (behind Ronnie Brown. Who knew?) and was far and away the leader in red zone receiving scores with six. It’s hard to imagine Gates as No. 1 tight end option anymore, but in the right situation, he can still be productive for fantasy owners.
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