Minnesota Vikings deep sleepers? It might be Irv Smith Jr. Some would opine Kene Nwangwu. Maybe Brian Asamoah on defense.
But for fantasy football purposes, the Minnesota Vikings 2022 ‘deep sleeper’ pick is rookie running back Ty Chandler, according to Athlon Sports. Chandler joined the Vikings in 2022 via the NFL Draft, plucked out of the 5th Round by general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah. Hailing from the University of North Carolina, it is unclear as of midsummer if Chandler will blossom as an offensive contributor in 2022 — or live on the team’s practice squad.
Chandler is late to the party for his embryonic NFL season. He’s 24 years old, and most RBs get cracking in the league at 21 or 22. For that reason, Chandler could be on the Vikings menu earlier than surmised because if not now — when? Unless they’re Adrian Peterson or Frank Gore, halfbacks who make it to age 29 and receive a bulk of carries in an offense are scarce.
In college at Tennessee and North Carolina, Chandler tallied 3,819 rushing yards and 30 touchdowns in 58 games. As the NFL undeniably trends toward passing the football, general managers can “get away with” spending low-round draft capital on running backs. The cream of the crop at RB tends to be drafted in Round 2, and the others follow — some even in the 5th Round like Chandler. Don’t get tempted by “oh, he’s only a 5th-Rounder” prittle-prattle to relegate Chandler as a non-factor in 2022. Draft positioning for running backs really doesn’t matter anymore, much to their chagrin — and their agents.
Of course, if Chandler contributes to a standard 10-team-league fantasy football team, something horrendous and season-sinking would have to happen to Dalvin Cook. Yet, he’s not an NFL iron man, missing games in each of his five seasons thus far. In that regard, if Cook encountered a doomsday injury, then, yes, Chandler could be classified as a fringe RB or FLEX starter.
Overall, the Vikings have the best of all worlds at running back heading into training camp in about a week. Cook is the showstopper, tabbed by ESPN recently as the fourth-best running back in the world. Mattison is an experienced RB, complementing Cook well because his style is bowling ball-ish, more prone to slamming into the line of scrimmage and living to tell about it. Nwangwu is faster than a dog with stolen table scraps, situating him as an intriguing candidate for the Vikings new-look RB-as-WRs offense. And Chandler is a hodgepodge of all three Vikings tailbacks — not a Pro Bowler like Cook, not a battering ram like Mattison, and certainly not a speed merchant like Nwangwul — but proverbial rookie upside in tow. All the bases are covered.
Athlon Sports also called Jalen Nailor the Vikings “top rookie,” Irv Smith Jr. the prime choice “bouncing back,” and Danielle Hunter as a supreme choice for fantasy leagues with ‘Individual Defense Player’ in the scoring system.
The Vikings first preseason game is on August 14th against the Las Vegas Raiders in Nevada.
Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).