Just as a reminder or for those who may be new to the Eyes of the Guru series. For reference, when mentioning where players finished in the rankings last season, the model will be the standard Footballguys scoring system:
- Tackles = 1.5
- Assists = .75
- Sacks = 4
- Forced fumbles = 3
- Fumble recoveries = 3
- Interceptions = 4
- Passes defended = 1.5
- Touchdowns = 6
Keep in mind that based on scoring systems, rankings will vary (sometimes greatly) from league to league.
Since hiring former defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer as their head coach in 2014, the Vikings have improved considerably on that side of the ball. After finishing second versus both the run and the pass in 2017 and first in scoring at less than 16 points per game, they have clearly become one of the league’s elite defenses. While this is great for the Vikings and their fans, it does IDP owners no favors. The Minnesota defense faced 956 offensive snaps last year. That is 16 more than the Steelers, who had the lowest total; 135 fewer than the Bengals, who were on the field the most; and 90 below the league average. So in essence, Vikings defenders had roughly a game and a half less opportunity than the average defensive player.
Reduced opportunity takes a bigger toll on guys we count on most heavily for tackle numbers, but it has some effect on every position. No Vikings lineman has reached the 40 tackle plateau since Linval Joseph in 2015, but there is still a ton of value in the Minnesota front four. In fact, this could be a rare instance where all four starters land among the Top 20 at their respective positions.
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