Adrian Peterson

Fantasy Football Files: A Case Against Adrian Peterson

AP

Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson is coming off the second-greatest rushing total for a running back in NFL history.

Peterson, the 2012 NFL MVP, recovered from a torn ACL injury in under a year to rush for 2,097 yards last season. He finished just nine yards short of breaking Eric Dickerson’s all-time single-season record of 2,105 yards, set back in 1984.

So, Peterson is a slam dunk to repeat or come close to those numbers again, right? After all, AP told NFL Network he plans on rushing for 2,500 yards in 2013…with ease.

Unfortunately for Peterson, history says he will fail and fail decisively.

Prior to Peterson’s blockbuster 2012 season, only six running backs in NFL history reached the 2,000-yard mark. All six saw a dramatic decline in their production in the following season.

PLAYER

2,000 YARD SEASON NEXT SEASON

+/- DIFF.

ERIC DICKERSON

2,105 (1984)

1,234

-871

JAMAL LEWIS

2,066 (2003)

1,006

-1,060

BARRY SANDERS

2,053 (1997)

1,491

-562

TERRELL DAVIS

2,008 (1998)

211

-1,797

CHRIS JOHNSON

2,006 (2009)

1,364

-642

OJ SIMPSON

2,003 (1974)

1,125

-878

Only Sanders, Johnson, and Simpson managed to play an entire slate during the following season.

Meanwhile, Davis suffered a severe knee injury in 1999 that lit the fuse on the end of his football career.

Not only did the yards fall off dramatically but so did yards per carry:

PLAYER

YDS PER CARRY

YPC NEXT SEASON

ERIC DICKERSON

5.6 (1984)

4.2

JAMAL LEWIS

5.3 (2003)

4.3

BARRY SANDERS

6.1 (1997)

4.3

TERRELL DAVIS

5,1 (1998)

3.1

CHRIS JOHNSON

5.6 (2009)

4,3

OJ SIMPSON

6.0 (1974)

4.2

Each player’s yard per carry dropped by at least a full yard but what does that mean?

Fewer big plays equal diminished fantasy value. The next table displays how each running back’s decline impacted their fantasy value over the following season:

PLAYER

PFR DURING 2K SEASON

NEXT YR

ERIC DICKERSON

2

11

JAMAL LEWIS

4

25

BARRY SANDERS

1

10

TERRELL DAVIS

1

72

CHRIS JOHNSON

1

5

OJ SIMPSON

1

10

The chart shows each running back’s PFR (positional fantasy ranking) during their 2000-yard campaign followed by the next season.

All of these historical trends suggest a decline for Peterson in 2013. Oh, and I didn’t even mention Peterson’s 410 touches including the postseason from a year ago. He’ll be hard-pressed to duplicate his 2012 season after such a heavy workload last year.

While Peterson is fantasy’s consensus top overall pick, the red flags are there.

Adrian Peterson proved he may be an alien with last year’s uplifting performance but he’ll have to pull another rabbit out of his hat to be an MVP candidate again in 2013.

So, there is one obvious question here.

If Peterson isn’t the top fantasy pick, then who is?

Ummm…let me get back to you on that one.

1 reply »

  1. I am going for it. I think he is that one in ten thousand player. I am putting all my eggs in the AP basket.

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