“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” Wise words indeed from Mark Twain but sometimes it’s just that simple. I had the second overall pick and Jamaal Charles just came off the board. I couldn’t click that draft button faster. No hesitation. Adrian Peterson (RB) – Minnesota Vikings. This year, I’m all in on All Day.
I know it’s been a year but have we forgotten how undeniably talented this guy is? Adrian Peterson is the most gifted football player on any given field. He has all the skills you could ask for in a running back. He has it all: top speed, agility, acceleration, power, vision, strength, and size. A punishing runner who has the ability to take it to the house on any given play. He played one game last year and the players still voted him the 62nd best player in the league. He’s the elite of the elites.
A first round pick is not a pick you want to fool around with. You are married to this pick for the duration of the season. You want someone who is proven and is there for the long haul. When it comes to track record no current running back is close to even touching Adrian Peterson’s resume. From his rookie year to 2013, Peterson has finished 3rd, 3rd, 2nd, 3rd, 8th(ACL year), 1st, and 6th among all running backs. Over his 8 years in the NFL, Peterson has maintained a 5 yards per carry average. While AP has all the upside in the world, his floor may be even more attractive. Minnesota’s Purple Jesus has never not reached double digit touchdowns and 1,200 yards when healthy. Are you smitten yet?
What makes Adrian Peterson more amazing is that he did all of this damage with Tarvaris Jackson, one good year of Brett Favre, and Christian Ponder as his quarterback. Yes, the Raider legend, Christian Ponder. Peterson was getting the ball and everyone and their moms knew it. Still, opposing defenses couldn’t stop him. Flash forward to present day, the Vikings got themselves a quality quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater. He’s accurate, poised, and can throw the deep ball. Defenses will actually have to respect the Viking’s passing game for once. What an incredible notion. They also surrounded Bridgewater with two very capable receivers in Charles Johnson and speedy Mike Wallace. Kyle Rudolph, a competent blocker and pass catcher, is back and healthy. Norv Turner, finally has a real offensive to work with. By the way, running backs under the Turner offensive have consistently posted career year numbers. Emmitt Smith in Dallas. Stephen Davis in Washington. LaDainian Tomlinson in San Diego. Ricky Williams in Miami. Frank Gore in San Francisco. Turner is the Martin Scorsese of running backs. There is no doubt that teams will still game plan for Peterson but now they can’t afford put eight man the box. Peterson will be running wild.
I have always drawn parallels between poker and fantasy football. You can make the “right play” and still get hosed. It’s part of the game. Peterson owners last year were burned by his absence but drafting him was still correct move. Adrian Peterson did not win anyone their league but to write him off would be a huge mistake. He is the football equivalent of pocket aces, meaning you play that hand everyday of the week and twice of Sundays. Furthermore, I love the fact that Peterson was away from football for an entire year. I see it as rejuvenation and not rust. For pete sake, the man makes a living by colliding violently into other grown men. Rest is good for the body.
Enough with the age thing. Adrian Peterson is not exactly getting the discount rate at the movies just yet. Yes, Peterson is now 30 years old but don’t count the birthday candles. They are not a good yardstick. This stats doesn’t apply to superstars. Ask anyone who passed on Marshawn Lynch last year. This data was compiled from hundreds of running backs that played in the NFL. A lot mediocre players, a lot of good players and very little outstanding players. Adrian Peterson will be wearing a gold jacket when it is all said and done. He’s not your run of the mill running back and I refuse lump him in with the rest of the field. We should be comparing his number of carries to the great ones and if we do, you’ll see that AP has at least 600 good carries left in him.
So if you are not picking AP first overall who else would you pick up?
Well there is Le’Veon Bell. He’s coming back from a knee injury that rendered him useless for the 2014 playoffs. Bell is also suspended for the first two games, meaning you would have to use up a bench spot on a temporary RB during the draft. Something to consider in deeper leagues. There is also the Martavis Bryant issue. Bell’s string of ridiculous games came after the injection of Martavis Bryant into the starting lineup. He’s now gone for 4 games. Another thing to consider.
Eddie Lacy is also a popular candidate. While he is on a great offense, his weekly floor should be a concern. The 4 horrific games he produced last year could have doomed owners’ playoff chances. Out of all the top running backs Eddie Lacy has the smallest upside. He doesn’t have the makeup and opportunity to be a 1800 yards from scrimmage/18 touchdowns kind of guy. Lacy’s also been a slow starter in both of his two years and there is also a concussion history that needs to be accounted for.
If you like Jamaal Charles then get use to seeing the word “Questionable” next to his name. He was incredibly frustrating to own last year. While Charles only failed to miss one entire game in 2014 he was taken out of multiple games last year due to injuries. In fact, Kniles Davis had 5 very viable fantasy weeks last year thanks to the absence of Charles. Lingering injuries of the ankle, foot, back, shoulder, knee and hamstrings plagued him all last year. Jamaal Charles is not a big running back that dishes out punishment. His game is all about speed and elusiveness; traits that are not sustainable long term. In such a physically taxing league, perhaps Charles’ slight frame is catching up to him. We saw this with small backs such as Ray Rice, Chris Johnson and Maurice Jones-Drew where their production dramatically dropped off after years of strain on the body. Lastly, with the addition of Jeremy Maclin and emergence of Travis Kelce, it will be very unlikely for Charles to repeat his feat of 19 touchdowns of 2013.
Lastly, we have Marshawn Lynch. What’s not to love about a running back nicknamed Beast Mode? Quite a few things actually. How about another running back with a nickname of FredEx. It’s Super Bowl or bust for the Seahawks. They want to preserve Lynch for the playoffs so they have picked up Fred Jackson for this exact purpose. Beast Mode will be on monitor mode. Expect his touches to take a dip. Lynch also had his best receiving year in 2014 with 367 yards and 4 touchdowns. I definitely see this number drop with the addition of red zone threat Jimmy Graham.