Will Adrian Peterson Have a Superhuman Ability to Overcome the Effects of Age?
One of the contentions that I find most odd in fantasy football conventional wisdom is the idea that Adrian Peterson is somehow superhuman. I agree that his 2,000 yard season was superhuman. I won’t debate that. But this is also a player that’s appeared in 16 games three times in a seven year career.
Why isn’t his ability to avoid injury also superhuman? That’s a rhetorical question.
Here is Peterson’s injury history from the amazing Sports Injury Predictor.
|2014||NFL||Groin||AP needed a clean up of his hernia surgery that he had in the 2013 offseason.|
|2013||NFL||Foot||Peterson suffered a right mid-foot sprain at the Baltimore Ravens in week 14. He missed the following game and the week 17 game as a result|
|2012||NFL||Groin||Peterson needed surgery to repair a sports hernia that occurred during his record breaking 2012 comeback season|
|2011||NFL||Ankle||Suffered from a high ankle sprain and missed 3 games|
|2011||NFL||Knee||The ACL that was heard around the world. Took an awkward hit and tore his ACL on left leg. Placed on IR and required surgery|
|2010||NFL||Leg||Strained a hamstring and missed 1 game|
|2010||NFL||Ankle||Sprained a right ankle ligament and missed a game|
|2010||NFL||Leg||Left a game due to a hard hit to his thigh|
|2007||NFL||Knee||Sprained his LCL and had to leave the game and miss the next game of the season|
|2006||College||Upper arm||Fractured his collarbone and missed 6 games|
|2005||College||Ankle||Suffered a high ankle sprain at college and missed 4 games|
|2004||College||Shoulder||Dislocated his shoulder and required surgery|
I was thinking about all of this after I got done writing my piece yesterday on projecting Peterson. I went to the Sim Score App to see what Peterson’s Games Played forecast would be and I was pretty disappointed.
First, so you can get a sense as to how closely the comparables from the App approximate Peterson, here’s the Season N summary.
|Comparables Season N Average||———–||26.9||220.2||15.4||19.66||84.72||4.31||0.66||2.04||14.34||0.05|
The comparables are younger than AP and appeared in more games on average. The other stat lines are all really close.
So how did they do in the season after they were similar to AP?
They appeared in about 12.3 games on average and also experienced a decent drop in production.
Remember that these players were are actually younger on average than Peterson.
If you wanted to think about how the Games Played number is distributed, about half of the comps played in 15 or 16 games. But 10 of the comps also appeared in fewer than 12 games. Note that if you wanted to compare AP to the younger Jamaal Charles, all but five of Charles’ comps appeared in at least 14 games in Season N+1.
It’s true that the Sim Scores are only giving us rough approximations of what might be the risk to miss games, and I wouldn’t assign exact percentages to AP’s potential to play in 16 games. But I do think it’s worth thinking about injury risks related to a player that has his injury history, has a running style that most people would assign to injury proneness if they were talking about another player, and that player will also be 29 this year.
Yesterday I said that where AP finishes is entirely up to how many games he appears in. I still think that’s correct but I also think that if you don’t downgrade AP for injury potential, then you probably can’t ever downgrade any player for injury potential.
Lightning can strike your team anywhere in the first round, so I promise I won’t be saying “I told you so” if AP goes down to injury this year. But I do think he’s an example of where logic and superstition go their separate ways when it comes to fantasy football injury proneness. Because of his age, Peterson meets all of the criteria of a player you should be wary of, but likely won’t be.