We all know the superstars carry teams to big victories, the playoffs and even the Super Bowl. The Vikings superstars such as Justin Jefferson, Dalvin Cook and even Adam Thielen have been the ones talked about in the past years. Lets not forget that football is a team game and it is more than just the superstars that create a winning atmosphere. The Vikings have several under-the-radar assets and here are some names to watch out for this upcoming season.
It is not very often that a kicker is highlighted within a teams efforts. Guys like Justin Tucker may be talked about more because of his pure force, but the Vikings had a sleeper of a kicker on their roster last year, who now returns this year.
Joseph was heavily underrated for his efforts last season although he did have some mishaps. The first two weeks of the season were rough for Joseph, but improvements came along the way.
In most kicking categories, Joseph finds himself in the top 10 in the league. Categories such as field goals attempted, Joseph was fourth in the league and also fifth in the NFL in field goals made. He was also third in the league in field goals made at 50+ yards. These are all important because every point matters in the NFL and having a kicker who can provide you with those points is key.
— UK and Ireland Minnesota Vikings Fan Club (@UKVikingsFans) December 4, 2021
The biggest struggle and red flag for Joseph is his field goal percentage. Last season he attempted 38 fields goals, converting 33 of those and putting him at 86.8%. He found himself 18th in the league in that category and very low on the totem pole at 22nd in the league in extra point percentage.
There are definitely improvements needed from Joseph this season, but last year was a good indicator of what he can do to help this team improve. This is important in areas they have not been so successful with in years past. I will not remind Vikings fans the pain they have endured with kickers in prior years.
The fullback position has been a lost art in the NFL in recent years. The Vikings are one of few teams who still use the position often. With the way that their offense was designed, Ham found himself in situations where he was needed. The question is, how will he be incorporated into O’Connell’s new offensive scheme?
Ham ranks second on PFF’s position rankings for NFL fullback’s behind Ravens fullback Pat Ricard. The biggest standout point for Ham is his receiving capability. His PFF rating for catching is 81.4, which puts him much higher than other fullback’s on the list.
Last season Ham had 17 receptions for 125 yards. That may not seem like a lot, but for a lost art position those 100+ yards could be essential in a teams process throughout the year.
The downfall to Ham is his size. He stands at 5 feet 11 inches and weighs 236 pounds, which makes him an undersized fullback. Guys like Ricard are over 6 feet tall and weigh over 300 pounds. This knocks down Ham’s blocking ability just a tad, but he still is a phenomenal blocker.
— Last of the Fullbacks (@TheLastFullback) October 1, 2021
His upside outweighs his downside and should be a key for the Vikings this season. It would be a bit of a shock if he doesn’t make the final 53-man roster when the time comes.
Dantzler may come as a surprise on this list because there are plenty of times where he has gotten burned, but don’t most cornerbacks?
Again, this is a player who has shown potential and is someone who could prove the doubters wrong. The best thing to remember is that he is young. Mistakes will happen on his part, but he should be able to put together solid numbers going forward.
Last season, he improved his tackle numbers by going from 36 solo tackles his rookie year, to having 44 last season. He had only one interception and one forced fumble last season as well. That isn’t phenomenal, but please just reference this beautiful forced fumble on Justin Fields.
Cam Dantzler with the forced fumble on Justin Fields 💪 pic.twitter.com/mmbDYcikoY
— Tru Maroon Nation (@TruMaroonNation) December 21, 2021
There are definitely some spaces of his game that still need improvement. This calls for more tackles for losses as well as some of his pass coverage in general. With the experience of Patrick Peterson in the cornerback group for the Vikings, it will only help Dantzler improve and it is very possible year three for him could be a big one.