It’s championship week in fantasy football and we apparently have trust issues with the best back in the NFL. Well, it’s not so much trusting him as much as it is how the team uses him and what is actual health is.
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson came back for the first time in three games when the Vikings played host to the New Orleans Saints in Week 15. He had been sidelined due to a high ankle sprain, and was limited to just 10 carries for 60 yards and a six-point fantasy day.
This week, Peterson travels to play a Washington team that has held the last two teams it has played in check rushing wise — New York Giants (91 yards) and New England (71) — but allowed 88 yards and three scores to Shonn Greene three weeks ago, 111 yards rushing and a receiving TD to Marshawn Lynch in Week 12, 47 yards and two scores to Reggie Bush in Week 10 and 107 yards to Frank Gore in Week 9 and 120 yards by Fred Jackson in Week 8.
So the question is two fold: What kind of run defense will the Skins provide and what kind of Peterson will we see?
There were mixed signals about how Peterson would be used heading into the Week 15 game. Coach Leslie Frazier said “we’ll have to kind of work him in there,” and “we’ll have to monitor how he’s doing.” Peterson acknowledged that he wanted to make good for fantasy players that had lost out on the game’s best back during a crucial stretch of the season, and sounded on his end like he was ready to go.
But 10 carries and six points are not going to get it done, particularly when it’s the semifinals of most fantasy football leagues. I guess it was better than the zero he gave us in Week 15 of last season when he was unexpectedly a scratch 45 minutes before kickoff of a Monday night game, leaving owners with a baron RB spot on the roster.
Last week turned out to lean more toward Frazier’s prophecy than Peterson’s assurance that he was ready for a full load. Yes, the Vikings got down early to the Saints and the team wanted to protect Peterson’s ankle, but who’s to say that won’t happen again today in Washington.
Minnesota has the third-highest scoring offense in the first quarter this season with 91 points, but it also allows the second-most first quarter points (92). And 63 of those 92 points allowed have come in the last six games, while the Vikings have mustered just 18 of their 92 first quarter points in the last six games.
That’s a troubling trend to get your running game going.
Peterson has 30 touches for 137 yards in the Vikings’ last six games. So he’s fresh, but is it healthy fresh? He reportedly didn’t look to have the same speed when he broke off a 39-yard run against New Orleans last week. He’s not on the injury report but he also hasn’t said he’s at 100 percent yet — of course no player really is after Week 1.
So last week was the “work him in there” quote about Peterson and this week came another Frazier gem that should scare fantasy owners: “We'd like to give him a few more carries for sure," Frazier said of Peterson. "But we do also want to mix Toby (Gerhart) in there. He did a good job for us. But we do want to get Adrian more carries."
We’d like to? We want to mix in Gerhart? You’re the coach. Just give Peterson the ball, please.
With the lack of conviction I’m hearing from Frazier in getting Peterson the full workload, admittedly wanting Gerhart to get more work than he had when the two backs were healthy, Minnesota possibly getting behind early again like it has in a big way the last six weeks and the Washington defense being relatively solid against fantasy RBs, particularly shared backfields. Peterson is quite a risk this week.
Like I said last week, if he’s out there and going to finish the game you can’t sit the NFL’s best at the position. But if he’s getting 10 carries and not getting into the end zone, under 10 points in the championship game from my No. 1 RB is not what I’m looking for.
By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter