Washed up. Benchwarmer. Should retire. Past his prime. Just a few of the many things that have been said in the past few weeks about Adrian Peterson. After sustaining a torn meniscus in Minnesota and getting traded to New Orleans, the thought was if he’s healthy he’ll play. Those hopes were all but dashed. The perceived fantasy value out of the once top back was being slowly washed away as each running play ran by, with him standing on the sidelines.
In week 1, Peterson was a starter, however, he only played 9 snaps. “They’re easing him into the system,” is what some said, what some of us had hoped. Unfortunately, in weeks 2-4 not only was Peterson any longer a starter but the highest percent of snaps he received never exceeded 24%. Watching Peterson stand there, helmet in hand, waiting for a chance to take the field was dare I say it, heart breaking.
As a rookie Peterson drew early comparisons to Eric Dickerson for his combativeness and ambitiousness as a playmaker. At Oklahoma, he had 4,045 yards and 41 touchdowns in 31 games. At his peak in 2012 with the Vikings, Peterson had 2,097 rushing yards on 348 attempts. This came out to an average of 6.0 yards per carry, 85 first downs, and a clean 12 touchdowns. Leaving him just nine yards shy of the single-season rushing record, held by the man he drew comparisons from early on, Eric Dickerson.
Unfortunately, his career has been injury plagued. He’s only played a full 16 games in 4 of his past 10 seasons in the league. In 2016 he was off to a rough start only averaging 1.9 yards per carry, until his season-ending injury. Before that, from the beginning of his career to now, Peterson has collected: right ACL tear in his knee, pulled hamstrings, glute strain, multiple sprained ankles (3), an ACL Sprain, groin sprain, and foot sprain. To name a few.
On October 10th news broke that Adrian Peterson had been traded to the Arizona Cardinals for a conditional draft pick. With the Cardinals gapping hole in their rushing game, left by the injury to David Johnson, this trade made sense. The 3 feature backs they’d been trying to use in his stead, Kerwynn Williams, Chris Johnson, and Andre Ellington, were simply not cutting it. Now the Cardinals have a 7 time Pro Bowler to run with.
From the little usage he saw in New Orleans, you could say he was coming in fresh and ready to go. You could also say, it’s his first week with the team, surely it’ll be a slow progression for this veteran to see any true fantasy value. AP proved us all wrong on Sunday. He had 26 rushing attempts, for 134 yards and a gorgeous two touchdowns. One of which came off of a 27-yard run. Clearly, there’s some gas left in the tank. His impressive performance also brought an average of 5.2 yards per carry. Not too shabby.
So with a bright an beautiful Tuesday ahead of us, I look at ESPN’s player-owned percentage and think, that 81% is going to change pretty darn quickly. If you’re in one of the 19% of leagues where Peterson is still available, you better shove some people over to get that waiver wire claim in.
David Johnson has been out since week 1 with a broken wrist. Bruce Arians has said the earliest they can expect him back would be Thanksgiving, which translates to week 12. When Johnson returns what will become of Adrian Peterson? Will he fade back onto the bench never to be seen or heard from again? Unlikely.
As David Johnson is the young, bright face and future of the Cardinals, you can bet they’ll take caution easing their star back into his role. It would be in the player’s best interest and the team’s. The Cardinals now have a seasoned veteran at the healthiest he’s been in years. Most importantly he’s performing in a system set up for his success. Why not run the veteran out to drive you to the playoffs where a well rested and by then fully healed wonder kid can take the lead. Analogies aside, I think keeping both Peterson and Johnson on the field is a recipe for success for the Cards. You have backfield weapons every defense will find themselves split to cover. Not to forget one of the best deep threats and overall receivers in the game in Larry Fitzgerald. Each player helps the other in opening up this offense. What more could you ask for?