DynastyFootball

Why Adrian Peterson Should Not Be a Top 5 Pick

Adrian Peterson II

Adrian Peterson’s 2012 reality season was one of the greatest in NFL history. He finished 9 yards shy of breaking the all-time single-season rushing record despite recovering from multiple torn knee ligaments and playing on a team that couldn’t manage even the semblance of a passing attack. Adrian Peterson may one day be viewed as the best reality running back ever.

The RotoViz Similarity Score App doesn’t particularly care. It just sees the relative sparseness of touchdowns and paucity of catches. It astutely views the 5.9 yards per carry average as patently unsustainable. The Sim Score ranks Peterson 8th among running backs. And since it’s just a computer program, it doesn’t particularly care that you find that ludicrous. (To see which backs rank higher and what comparable seasons those rankings are based on, try the app.)

Many people view Peterson’s projection as an example of the algorithm’s blind spots. There aren’t that many truly comparable seasons, etc., etc. I’d prefer to lend a little credence to what the app is telling us. If we’re just going to let the results get overruled by intuition, then what’s the point?

I’ve previously made the argument that Peterson isn’t actually very good before contact, an issue which also limits him as a receiver. I even used him as an object lesson in explaining why Marshawn Lynch is a strong sell.

So let’s focus on something different here. Let’s place his epic 2012 season within the context of other elite fantasy campaigns. As you look at the leaderboard since 2000, consider that AP barely finishes inside the Top 25. None of his other seasons earn a place.

Year Team Games Rush Yds Rush TD Recs Rec Yds Rec TD Points PPG
1. LaDainian Tomlinson 2006 SD 16 1,815 28 56 508 3 474.3 29.6
2. Marshall Faulk 2000 STL 14 1,359 18 81 830 8 455.9 32.6
3. Priest Holmes 2003 KC 16 1,420 27 74 690 0 447 27.9
4. Priest Holmes 2002 KC 14 1,615 21 70 672 3 442.7 31.6
5. LaDainian Tomlinson 2003 SD 16 1,645 13 100 725 4 439 27.4
6. Marshall Faulk 2001 STL 14 1,382 12 83 765 9 423.7 30.3
7. Steven Jackson 2006 STL 16 1,528 13 90 806 3 419.4 26.2
8. Edgerrin James 2000 IND 16 1,709 13 63 594 5 401.3 25.1
9. Chris Johnson 2009 TEN 16 2,006 14 50 503 2 396.9 24.8
10. Arian Foster 2010 HOU 16 1,614 16 66 604 2 395.8 24.7
11. Ahman Green 2003 GB 16 1,883 15 50 367 5 395 24.7
12. LaDainian Tomlinson 2002 SD 16 1,683 14 79 489 1 386.2 24.1
13. Shaun Alexander 2005 SEA 16 1,880 27 15 78 1 378.8 23.7
14. Larry Johnson 2006 KC 16 1,789 17 41 410 2 374.9 23.4
15. Ray Rice 2011 BAL 16 1,364 12 76 704 3 372.8 23.3
16. Brian Westbrook 2007 PHI 15 1,333 7 90 771 5 372.4 24.8
17. Ricky Williams 2002 MIA 16 1,853 16 47 363 1 370.6 23.2
18. Larry Johnson 2005 KC 16 1,750 20 33 343 1 368.3 23
19. LaDainian Tomlinson 2007 SD 16 1,474 15 60 475 3 362.9 22.7
20. Tiki Barber 2005 NYG 16 1,860 9 54 530 2 359 22.4
21. LaDainian Tomlinson 2005 SD 16 1,464 18 51 370 2 354.4 22.2
22. Tiki Barber 2004 NYG 16 1,518 13 52 578 2 351.6 22
23. Adrian Peterson 2012 MIN 16 2,097 12 40 217 1 349.4 21.8
24. Charlie Garner 2002 OAK 16 962 7 91 941 4 347.3 21.7
25. Eddie George 2000 TEN 16 1,507 14 50 453 2 342 21.4

 

A Few Highlights:

  • In 2006 LaDainian Tomlinson outscored Purple Jesus by 125 points. During this time period he posted 5 seasons better than Peterson’s 2012.
  • In 2000 Marshall Faulk outscored AP by 105 in only 14 games.  The following season he again played in only 14 games and again his total dwarfed AP’s (424-349).
  • In 2003 Priest Holmes outscored Peterson by 98 points. That barely outdid his previous season where he averaged 31.6 ppg in 14 contests. That’s nearly 50% more fantasy points a game than Peterson.

The problem for Peterson is that he doesn’t even compare that favorably to some less talented players. Since 2000 he’s been outscored by relative plodders like Ahman Green, Shaun Alexander, and Ricky Williams. Larry Johnson and Tiki Barber both had two seasons better than AP.

AP Versus His Peers

It might seem unfair to compare Peterson to even recently retired runners because the game has changed. Unfortunately, Peterson’s best season also trails the best seasons posted by a number of his contemporaries.

  • In 2006 Steven Jackson garnered more yards from scrimmage than Peterson last year, and he did it while scoring 16 total touchdowns and catching 90 passes.
  • The much-maligned Chris Johnson set the all-time yards from scrimmage record with 2,509 in 2009. His more recent foibles warn of the potentially devastating effects of regression.
  • Behind a very well-balanced resume that included 2,200-plus yards from scrimmage, 18 total touchdowns, and 66 receptions, Arian Foster averaged 3 more fantasy ppg in 2010 than Peterson did last year.
  • We’re just a year removed from Ray Rice’s 2011 easily besting AP’s 2012. Rice wasn’t the consensus No. 1 pick in 2011, which just gives you a sense of how emotion impacts fantasy rankings.

If you want to be a truly elite fantasy back, you need to have the potential to catch 60-plus passes and score 20-plus touchdowns. Peterson doesn’t have much chance to reach either of those benchmarks. With a handful of young backs ready to take center stage, Peterson might need to reprise his 2012 season and make a run at CJ2K’s yards from scrimmage record just to finish in the Top 10.

For more information on Peterson’s RotoViz projection and an exhaustive look at his advanced splits, check out Weird Science: Examining Adrian Peterson’s Strange Projection.

Shawn Siegele is the creator of the contrarian sports website Money in the Banana Stand and Lead Redraft Writer for Pro Football Focus Fantasy.

Subscribe for a constant stream of league-beating articles available only with a Premium Pass.

By Shawn Siegele | @ff_contrarian | Archive

No Comment

Leave a reply