Fantasy spin: John Carlson

Posted March 14, 2012 @ 4:31 p.m.
Posted By William Del Pilar

Stunning is all I can say. I have nothing against John Carlson, but for the Vikings to throw down $25 million, with $11 million reportedly guaranteed, is beyond me. I said yesterday second-tier players are racking up huge paydays, but this one takes the cake.

The former Seahawk didn't play in 2011 with a torn labrum and underwent surgery last September after injuring the shoulder in August. He should be 100 percent, and he'll now share time with second-year player Kyle Rudolph. The team will not bring back Visanthe Shiancoe, and Joe Kleinsasser is retiring.

Carlson in three seasons has 137-1,519-13 on 221 targets in 47 games — a per game average of 2.91 catches for 32.3 yards and 0.28 TDs on 4.7 targets. Hardly numbers fantasy owners consider relevant, but Carlson has solid hands, can fight for the ball and beat the jam as well as block. Blocking is his weak point, and I expect the Vikings to bring in an exclusive blocking TE. As a coach's son, he understands the game and the West Coast offense, and he will be expected to contribute immediately.

After having a year to heal up, Carlson should be ready to take his play to the next level. Look for the team to use both Carlson and Rudolph, but look for the starting QB — whether Christian Ponder or Joe Webb — to decide who they like. Quarterbacks always have a favorite check-down player and trusted go-to receiver.

Carlson bears watching as the TE in this offense, especially considering the team's current lack of quality receivers. He has definite upside. Being practical, though, right now he's nothing more than a low-end No. 2 TE until we see how the team uses him and Rudolph. He could be what we call a deep-sleeper in fantasyland.

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