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Adrian Peterson is Out; But Don't Start Toby Gerhart

Toby Gerhart won’t come to the rescue for Adrian Peterson owners this week.

Peterson suffered an ankle sprain in the Minnesota Vikings’ Week 11 game against Oakland and will miss at least this week against Atlanta and perhaps more.

That leaves Gerhart, a second-year player, who has 24 carries for 118 yards and five catches for 61 yards — one a 42-yard reception — with no touchdowns in 10 games played this season. Gerhart has just one TD in two seasons on 105 carries and 26 receptions. When Peterson went down in the first quarter against the Raiders last week, Gerhart came in and carried seven times for 18 yards in a 27-21 loss.

Now the Vikings travel to face an Atlanta Falcons defense that is No. 2 in the league against the run at 85.4 yards per game on 22.5 attempts per game. The Falcons are third in the league in runs of 20-plus yards allowed (3), have given up no runs over 40 yards and have forced five fumbles.

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Gerhart is in line to get plenty of touches. The Vikings gave Peterson 20-plus carries in just half of their games this season. They are ranked 11th in attempts (27.6) and fifth in yards (143.1) per game, are ranked third with 13 20-plus yard carries and fourth with three 40-plus yard carries.

Atlanta has seen three 12-carry games from lead backs and a 16-carry game over the last six games. After two 20-point games from RBs in Weeks 1 and 2, no fantasy back has scored over 14.7 points and only two have scored double digits against the Falcons.

Gerhart is certainly the kind of back that needs volume to be relevant, and the numbers say that the Falcons just don’t let opposing runners get that chance. Only once this season has a back carried 20-plus times and that was Tampa Bay’s LeGarrette Blount needing 24 carries to get to 81 yards with no TD. That sounds a lot like a Gerhart line you would most likely see.

Then add in the fact that WR Percy Harvin is actually the team’s second leading rusher with 28 carries this season, and the recipe for a successful day from Gerhart against Atlanta is just highly unlikely.

By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter