Fantasy NFL

Patterson worth the risk

By Thomas J. Harrigan, Fantasy Sports Writer

Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - I was all set to write a piece explaining why Minnesota Vikings receiver Cordarrelle Patterson is not worth his lofty average draft position (ADP), but I've seen the light and it's as purple as Prince's wardrobe.

Patterson's ADP from fantasyfootballcalculator.com is now 47.3, 19th among receivers, and still rising. He's worth it.

The 23-year-old's upside is immense, and his floor isn't as low as it seems. Even though he only touched the football 57 touches from scrimmage (45 receptions) as a rookie, he still produced 107 fantasy points, 32nd among receivers, in standard leagues.

Patterson recorded 69 of those fantasy points in his final five games, when he had 219 receiving yards, 156 rushing yards and six touchdowns on 26 touches.

On the season, he scored nine touchdowns -- four receiving, three rushing, two returning and had 627 yards from scrimmage.

New Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner plans to unleash Patterson's talent on the NFL in 2014, so he should see his touches increase by 30 at the very least.

Worst-case scenario, Patterson has 950 yards from scrimmage and scores around six touchdowns. That's still good for roughly 130 fantasy points, a mark only 21 receivers hit in 2014.

In the best-case scenario, Patterson will have a season like Percy Harvin's 2011 -- 139 touches, 1,312 yards from scrimmage, nine touchdowns -- and fantasy owners will go bonkers with joy.

Getting to the best-case scenario will be up to Patterson and whether or not he makes strides as a receiver.

Last year, the Vikings really couldn't use him as a standard receiver very often because he was raw in his route-running.

Nearly two-thirds of his targets came within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage, and 22 came behind the line, according to the Star Tribune.

Quarterback Matt Cassel praised Patterson's progress during minicamp, according to foxsports.com.

"I just think his route-running and his ability to recognize defenses," Cassel said when asked where Patterson has shown the most progress. "I think that's huge for him, and any receiver, as you move forward. The key component, I think, is understanding defenses and how they're trying to attack you and how you work your different releases."

At 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, Patterson certainly has the size to excel in Turner's vertical system. Josh Gordon isn't much bigger and he had 1,646 yards and nine touchdowns in just 14 games last year with Turner as his offensive coordinator.

It's just a matter of Patterson advancing his abilities as a receiver to the point where Turner can use him as a true "X" receiver. Whether he does that or whether he remains a player who only gets touches on plays specifically designed for him is not something I can predict in July.

But because Patterson's floor appears to be inside the top-25 receivers due to Turner's creativity and track record as an offensive coordinator, he's worth the risk of a late fourth-round pick. The reward is a top-10 fantasy WR season.

07/11 21:58:15 ET