Peterson a true risk/reward pick
After tearing his ACL last Christmas Eve, Peterson's health a serious concern
When does the upside of Adrian Peterson outweigh the risk of picking him?
You don't have to be one of those really amazing NASA scientists who aided in the historic landing on Mars to know that drafting Adrian Peterson this season comes with risk. However, it's not necessary to actually calculate just what level of risk Peterson presents, it's more important to understand how that risk can be parlayed into a championship season.
Let's start with this simple fact: Nobody knows what Peterson will deliver this season. Even if we read all the medical reports in the presence of the most trained medical professionals, Peterson's physical readiness won't be known until after your draft takes place. With this in mind, we should instead try to quantify what level of production should be reasonably expected from Peterson.
Our team of experts is projecting a season of 1,321 total yards and eight scores from Peterson. When broken down into individual game scores, this would amount to 177 fantasy points for the season. That total would have placed him as the seventh-highest-scoring running back for the entire 2011 season (Peterson actually finished seventh last season with 181 points in just 11 games). When you factor in the five additional games that are projected for Peterson this season, you should realize that we are actually projecting a 32 percent drop in per-game performance. That's a serious difference.
As I analyze that, I wonder if we are too low on Peterson's ranking. Yes, there is risk involved in selecting Peterson. He could wind up on the physically unable to perform list to begin the season, resulting in a waste of an early-round selection for the first six weeks. That being said, if you're going to draft AP early, you clearly have to think the probability of that happening is slim, so it likely doesn't factor into your personal rankings.
There's also the matter of the legal proceedings that are pending regarding a misdemeanor resisting arrest charge. There are two hearings now scheduled regarding that matter, the first on Sept. 27 and the second on Nov. 15. As Peterson does not have a history of legal issues and the potential for further continuances in these proceedings exist, I am not at all concerned about this issue affecting Peterson's fantasy value at all.
Based on those two assessments, there's a good probability Peterson will be available to score the 177 fantasy points that we have projected for him. Some of you will look at those numbers and find that very un-Peterson like and want to downgrade him. Don't.
First, look at the amount of risk like this: How many of the early-round running backs were busts last season? By my count, Chris Johnson, Rashard Mendenhall and Peyton Hillis were all selected in the first three rounds and were clear busts. Considering only 14 backs went in the first 30 picks, you had better than a 20 percent chance of busting on your running back selection early on anyway. Is Peterson's chance at not being available to put up those 177 projected points really that bad? I would say no.
Fantasy Football 2014
It's not too late; leagues are still forming right now. Don't miss out on your chance to join a league or start your own, all for free.
Sign up today
This leaves us with the projection of the 177 points and where it should be selected. Currently, we have Peterson ranked as our 11th best running back entering the season. This ranking takes into account both his projection and the risk that our panel associated with taking Peterson. I believe we are overstating his risk and understating the risk of Marshawn Lynch, Matt Forte, DeMarco Murray and Jamaal Charles.
Think about these items for a moment:
• Marshawn Lynch is facing legal issues and while he dominated in 2011, he posted a very disappointing 3.5 yards per carry in 2010. Which Lynch are you going to get?
• Matt Forte's backup went from Marion Barber to Michael Bush. Bush has shown the skills to be used as an every-down back and will get all the goal-line work. Forte doesn't have upside beyond what he did last season.
• DeMarco Murray has two career rushing touchdowns and a history of injuries dating back to college.
• Jamaal Charles is also coming back from a torn ACL. While he was out, the Kansas City Chiefs went out and secured Peyton Hillis to be the banger in their ground attack, much like Thomas Jones used to be.
When I view those pieces of information, I can't see why Peterson would have any more risk than those four candidates. Further, I think it's absolutely clear that his upside is fantasy MVP, since he's accomplished that before. With all of that in mind, I'm recommending that Peterson's value be slotted up to the seventh overall running back and that he be drafted accordingly.
2012 Fantasy Football Draft Kit
ESPN.com's fantasy analysts offer all the information you'll need to succeed in your draft and all season long.
• Draft Kit Home
• Join/Reactivate a league
• Follow ESPN Fantasy on Facebook
• The NFL on ESPN.com
Profiles and Projections for 2012
• Top 300 | Cheat Sheets
• Analysts: Berry | Harris | Karabell
• Quarterback: Rankings | Preview
• Running back: Rankings | Preview
• Wide receiver: Rankings | Preview
• Tight end: Rankings | Preview
• Def./Special teams: Rankings | Preview
• Kicker: Rankings | Preview
• IDP: Rankings | Preview
• Other formats: PPR | TD-Only | Keepers
• Analysts: Berry | Harris | Karabell
• The Magazine: Position profiles
The Talented Mr. Roto
• Mock 1: 10-team standard (May 7)
• Mock 2: 12-team standard (June 14)
• Mock 3: 12-team PPR (July 17)
• Mock 4: 10-team standard (Aug. 7)
• Mock 5: 10-team, 2 QBs (Aug. 13)
• Mock 6: 10-team auction (Aug. 21)
• Mock 7: 12-team standard (Aug. 29)
• Twitter Mock Draft
Geico Fantasy Draft Special Podcast
• Top 2012 storylines: 20 to 11 (Aug. 3)
• Top 2012 storylines: 10 to 1 (Aug. 7)
• Quarterback preview (Aug. 10)
• Running back preview (Aug. 17)
• Wide receiver preview (Aug. 21)
• TE, D/ST, K preview (Aug. 28)
• Injury updates: QB | RB | WR | TE
• Staff sleepers and busts
• Top faces in new places
• Are TEs worthy of flex consideration?
• Ten hotly debated players for 2012
• Does the two-QB approach work?
• Better predicting kickers' values
• Don't overanalyze strength of schedule
• How to use value-based drafting
• Will Cam Newton repeat his rookie success?
• Metrics to consider in finding IDP breakouts
• Streaming D/ST units
• Finding potential rebound candidates
• Harris' 10 flag-planted players for 2012
• Harris' super-deep sleepers for 2012
• C.J. Spiller's effect on Fred Jackson's value
• Where should Trent Richardson be drafted?
• Will Green-Ellis' TD success continue?
• Ben Tate's impact on Arian Foster's value
• Will Cruz, Nelson fall back to earth?
• Is Jones-Drew poised for drop-off?
• When to draft Darren McFadden
• Demaryius Thomas or Eric Decker?
• Are Panthers RBs unstartable?
• How much will Gore's fantasy value decline?
• How will Charles, Hillis split workload in KC?
• When should you draft Adrian Peterson?
• Rivers' new favorite WR: Meachem or Floyd?
• Vincent Jackson's impact with new team
• Choosing between Bryant and Austin
• The polarizing Michael Turner
• Roddy White or Julio Jones?
• Lloyd effect on Pats' other receivers
• Will any one Patriots RB emerge in 2012?
• Making sense of Saints backfield
• Can you trust DeMarco Murray?
• What is Tim Tebow's value with the Jets?
• Assessing the values of Bucs RBs
• Can Robert Griffin III match Cam Newton?
• Joyner: Underrated PPR WRs for 2012
• Karabell: Top 35 rookies for 2012
• Kiper: Keeper-league targets
• Joyner: Underrated WRs for 2012
• Joyner: Underrated RBs for 2012
• Kiper: Fantasy rookies to target, avoid
• Joyner: Underrated QBs for 2012
• Karabell: Will DeSean Jackson bounce back?
• Joyner: How O-Lines impact QBs in fantasy
• Karabell: Reggie Bush outlook
• Karabell: Early ADP trends
• Karabell: Redskins RB situation
• Joyner: Undervalued, overvalued RBs
• Karabell: Be wary of Steve Smith
• Joyner: Why CJ2K will be top fantasy RB
• Joyner: Five breakout players in 2012
• Karabell: Five keeper-league targets
• Adrian Peterson outlook
• Peyton Manning's health
• Peyton Manning expectations
• Darren McFadden outlook
• Andre Johnson's health
• Projecting Cam Newton
• Second-tier RBs to consider
• Arian Foster versus Ray Rice
• Will DeSean Jackson bounce back?
• Michael Vick expectations
• Mark Sanchez versus Tim Tebow
• Will Rob Gronkowski repeat as top TE?
• Where to draft Gronkowski, Graham
• Aaron Hernandez expectations
• Can RG3 match Newton's rookie season?
• Will Jamaal Charles return to form?
• DeMarco Murray outlook
• Is Beanie Wells being undervalued?
• Rashard Mendenhall versus Isaac Redman
• How will Drew Brees handle turmoil in NO?
• Why has Matt Schaub's ranking fallen?
• Is this the year Matt Ryan breaks out?
• Tight end sleepers for 2012
• Jonathan Stewart versus DeAngelo Williams
• Which rookie RBs could surprise?
• Demaryius Thomas versus Eric Decker
• Better late pick: Rookie WR or Randy Moss?
• Is Jordy Nelson's TD total repeatable?
• Is Eli Manning an elite fantasy QB?
• Will Philip Rivers bounce back in 2012?
• Can Victor Cruz repeat his breakout 2011?
• Andrew Luck's short- and long-term value
• Expectations for Trent Richardson
• Will Julio Jones outperform Roddy White?
• Is it wise to draft a QB early?
• Will Reggie Bush repeat his 2011 numbers?
• Brandon Marshall expectations