With most fantasy football leagues completing their respective drafts in the coming days, it’s time to answer a question that I often hear as the start of another National Football League season gets underway: “Who would you take at number one?” Well, as luck would have it, I’m only participating in one league this year, and I just happen to have the number one selection in my league.
I’ve participated in my fair share of mock drafts, done my research, followed the daily injury and transaction reports, and unlike past years, I’m shifting my focus from the guy who has always produced for me (Calvin Johnson), to more of a known commodity: that being Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.
From what I’ve gathered in my research, it appears many are on the same page with me. Using ESPN.com, Yahoo! Fantasy Football, and NFL.com’s fantasy football tools, I was able to ascertain that Peterson holds the majority of the highest average draft position or AVP. One other back holds the high-water mark on NFL.com, the Pittsburgh Steelers Le’Veon Bell. But, to be fair, in auction leagues, Bell and Peterson are going for the same $55 amount.
While AVP can change from day-to-day, just prior to writing this piece, on Yahoo!, Peterson was joined not by Bell, but by Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles. So who do you take? Peterson, Bell, or Charles? Way too many owners got burned by Peterson last season, when he was the consensus number one in most leagues, only to play in a single game, before being suspended due to his off the field issues.
Another issue facing Peterson heading into the 2015 season, is his age (30) and his career amount of carries (2054). He could literally go over the cliff after missing 99 percent of last year, and the tread on the tires isn’t what it once was. But at the same time, he could become MORE valuable if that is possible, because 1. his body has had a chance to fully heal from a career filled with injuries 2. he’s the man in Minnesota, not part of any running back by committee, and 3. his offensive coordinator is Norv Turner. What does Turner coming aboard mean for Peterson? Well, if you’re in a PPR (points per reception) format, it means additional touches by way of catches. Not only will Peterson be carrying the rock for the Vikes, but Turner loves to use his running backs in passing situations as well.
The downside with drafting Bell rather than Peterson, is that he’s suspended for the first two games of the season, and it forces his owners to also grab his handcuff, DeAngelo Williams. Not quite what I want when I’m building my team for a new season. Suspensions cause problems, and there’s no guarantee that Bell returns to elite status after missing two weeks, not to mention if Williams has a solid start to the season, it could cause a share of the workload. For a number one overall pick, you better be right.
As much as I love Jamaal Charles, he is trending the wrong way. He was the best player in fantasy football a couple seasons ago, but last year, he carried the ball 15 times or fewer in ten of the Chiefs’ sixteen games. Charles will now share touches with De’Anthony Thomas and Knile Davis. That certainly is not number one overall status for a running back. And for those of you asking about Eddie Lacy? With a pair of receivers injured in Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, Lacy will be facing far too many eight-men in the box situations to think he’ll post great numbers early in the season.
When it’s all said and done, I’m putting my money…AND my draft pick on Adrian Peterson. Wish me luck!