A no-doubt Hall of Famer, Adrian Peterson has been the poster child of a workhorse running back since entering the league in 2007. His 11,747 yards and 97 touchdowns show how incredible his career has been. Not only has he been a stud in real football but he has been a fantasy football hero for a decade. He has been consistently great in a position filled with more question marks than the Riddler. In his career, he has played seven seasons with at least 14 games played, in those seven years he has had at least 1,250 yards and 10 touchdowns. But he just turned 32 so age and injury concerns are starting to be an issue for Peterson. Since the NFL began, there have been 47 players who were 30+ to rush for 1,000 yards. Only five times has it happened for anyone 32 years old or older.
So the question is: “Is Adrian Peterson Done?” The last three years he has averaged 4.2 yards per carry compared to his career average of 4.9. Also in 2015, he averaged 2.3 yards after contact; it was the first time he was under 3.0 yards after contact in his career.
Last season he averaged 1.9 yards per carry, so I wanted to get a feel of what people were thinking regarding Peterson.
— Mitchell Renz (@MitchellRenz365) April 7, 2017
Thanks to everyone who voted, but it’s time to look at the tape to see if he can be fantasy relevant in 2017.
What’s On Tape
A good title for the tape would be The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. This tape didn’t come out in 1966 and was not staring Clint Eastwood. If you understand that reference I am guessing you shouldn’t be calling the 32 year old Adrian Peterson “old”. Enough VHS talk, let’s dive into the 2016 tape The Good, the Bad and the Ugly starring Adrian Peterson.
The first thing I noticed when watching the tape was the guy handing the ball to Peterson, Shaun Hill. We shouldn’t forget all the chaos the Vikings were facing after starter Teddy Bridgewater suffered a horrific leg injury in the preseason. In a matter of two weeks, the Vikings went from Bridgewater to Hill to Sam Bradford. That isn’t easy for any offense to deal with. So the first two weeks of the season the teams playing the Vikings had one goal, stop Adrian Peterson. In the first two games of the season, the Vikings averaged 292 yards per game. If they would have averaged that amount for the whole season, that would have made them the second worst offense in the NFL.
The second thing I noticed is how ugly the offensive line play was for the Vikings. Honestly, I think the Fantasy Footballers Team could have done a better job. I am sure with two verified fantasy experts and Mike Wright, the team would be coached well. There was a reason the Vikings ranked dead last in rushing yards in 2016 and the culprit was none other than the terrible offensive line. Minnesota ranked 30th in the league in yards before contact with 0.98 while the league average was 1.63. So if you want to blame someone for Peterson’s 1.9 yards per carry you’re going to need all your fingers to point at the Vikings offensive line. (Side note: Is that even considered a point anymore with all five fingers? Refocus Mitch.)
After watching all of Peterson’s runs from 2016, he was hit at the line of scrimmage or worse 51 percent of the time. I’m not proud of my SAT score but I know enough that 51% is higher than half. And the thought that basically half of Peterson’s runs started with a defender making contact with him at the line of scrimmage or worse is eye opening. Now when Peterson wasn’t contacted at the line of scrimmage he averaged 3.9 yards per carry. Still not a great number but it’s better than 1.9. When the Vikings were able to provide at least two yards before he was contacted, he averaged 5.7 yards per carry which is impressive.
History isn’t on his side as he now stands less than 100 carries away from the dreaded 2,500 attempt marker. He has lost a step and isn’t in his prime anymore. That being said he is still an above average running back who deserves some respect. If he can find himself in a lead running back role with an offensive scheme that fits his playing style, he will have high upside. With that though comes draft hype and the chance of over drafting with a big name like Adrian Peterson.
I am a firm believer that we need to learn from history. Whether that’s real life or fantasy football, it’s important to remember the past. So I will leave you with these stats. Peterson tore his ACL at the end of 2011, he came back the next season to rush for 2,097 yards and 12 touchdowns. Peterson played only one game in 2014 and the next season led the league in rush attempts (327), rushing yards (1,485), and tied for the league lead in rushing touchdowns (11). He played in only three games in 2016. Will history repeat itself? The tape says it’s possible.