Josh Freeman’s impact on….Jerome Simpson?
Sep 29, 2013; London, UNITED KINGDOM; Minnesota Vikings receiver Jerome Simpson (81) is pursued by Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Cortez Allen (28) on a 51-yard reception in the NFL International Series game at Wembley Stadium. The Vikings defeated the Steelers 34-27. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Bengals fans remember this guy all too well. The Minnesota Vikings have had enough of their current quarterback situation and have decided to go ahead and name Josh Freeman the starter for Monday night’s game against the New York Giants.
In 60 career games, Freeman has thrown for 13,534 yards, 80 touchdowns and 66 interceptions, and is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers franchise leader in career TD passes.
Last season, Freeman threw for 4,065 yards and 27 touchdowns. He likes to air-it-out and go for the deep-bomb, and with a receiver like Vincent Jackson in Tampa, you can see why. While most people expect his big arm to eventually stretch out defenses and open up bigger running lanes for All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson, it’s unlikely this will happen in his first game as the starter.
Instead, the Giants will continue to load the box and keep Peterson from beating them, which could lead to big days for some of Freeman’s receivers.
The player who make fit that role in Minnesota is Jerome Simpson, who’s already caught 23 passes for 372 yards on the year. He’s had two big performances thus far with the QB shuffle in Minnesota. The first was in Week 1 (seven catches, 140 yards) with Christian Ponder. He broke-out again in Week 4 (seven catches, 124 yards) with Matt Cassel. His numbers took a hit in Week 6 as the weak arm of Cassel led Simpson to only net a season-low 30 yards on four catches. His 7.5 yards-per-catch was also a season-low.
Simpson relies on his elite athleticism and breakaway speed to create separation and make big plays downfield. That was never on display in Cincinnati with Andy Dalton in 2011, and after signing with the Vikings in 2012, Simpson rarely made it into game because of his inability to grasp the playbook.
In Year 2, he’s got that solved and has shown he’s a capable playmaker with whoever is in at QB, and assuming that Freeman can take over and show he’s a better down-field passer than either Cassel or Ponder, Simpson could become a player you keep in your lineup every week.
Even with a new QB throwing to him, because of the Giants’ 25th-ranked pass defense that has been picked apart all season long, Simpson may be able to find himself wide-open downfield on a couple of plays, and one big throw from Freeman is all it will take to get 7-10 points in the blink of an eye.
The biggest benefit though of having Simpson on your roster is when he and Freeman begin hooking-up consistently, which could ultimately help you surge into the fantasy playoffs.
Still, Simpson will be worth a flier if you’re dealing with a bye week or injury to one of your top options. Since many people are dropping Randall Cobb after his injury, perhaps Simpson could be a suitable replacement for him.