Brad Pitt is not likely to be playing Leslie Frazier anytime soon. Sorry to have to let you down this way. During weeks one through four, Minnesota averaged 28.8 points per game while Adrian Peterson received 25.8 touches each week. Since then, Peterson has been limited to an average of 14.7 touches, while the team has sunk to a 16.0 scoring mean. Is Frazier studying some new form of sabermetrics? Is it losermetrics? Loseyball?
The Vikings chose not to trade Jared Allen on Tuesday’s NFL trade deadline, and the five-time Pro Bowler may walk in free agency this offseason. What exactly are the Vikings doing? Peterson is arguably the greatest player of his generation, and the team’s success rides directly on those legs. The clock is ticking on Minnesota’s window of hope. Their situation is akin to that of New England and Denver, who realize the time to win is now. With this understanding in recent years, New England has swung away from their philosophy of frequently trading down in the draft. In 2012, the Patriots made two moves to get up into the first round, so they could select starting defenders Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower.
Barry Sanders walked away from the game after only ten seasons of play. He ran for 1,491 yards in his final campaign, and the Lions went 5-11. In his last seven years, Detroit missed the playoffs three times and lost in the wild card round the other four years. This is Peterson’s seventh season, and it’s shaping up to be the fourth time they will miss the playoffs. It would be understandable for Peterson to face the same wall of frustration as Sanders, should the Vikings be incapable of assembling a competitive roster around him. Every team on earth would cherish Minnesota’s prize player. Hopefully they can put something together before it’s too late.
Buy Adrian Peterson
According to average draft position, Peterson has been the number one overall fantasy pick in three of the last six seasons. And he has been one of the top two overall players for five of those six years. The one year he wasn’t honored with a top draft position? He nearly broke the NFL’s all-time rushing mark with 2,097 yards, just nine shy of Eric Dickerson’s record from 1984. Oh, and he was named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player along the way. So other than that, he’s been doing pretty well.
In Josh Freeman’s debut with the Vikings week seven, the quarterback was inexplicably called on to throw 53 passes. When compared with Peterson’s 13 rushes, that number seems even more ludicrous. Freeman completed only 20 of his passes. In that Monday night game, he made more than twice as many incompletions (33) as Peterson had touches (15).
What is Leslie Frazier thinking? Has he forgotten how the team earned a playoff berth solely on Peterson’s legs in 2012? On five occasions last year, the MVP ran for more yards than the team passed. Only once after week two of 2012 was Peterson given the ball fewer than twenty times. And in that week eight match against Tampa Bay, the runner produced 127 yards on the ground from only fifteen rushes (8.2 yards per attempt). Don’t forget he ran for 1,598 yards over the final ten games.
For a player of the absolute highest magnitude, the windows of opportunity are slim and usually close quickly. Look at Calvin Johnson’s season. He started out slowly during the first five weeks, with three games of 44 yards or less. But in the last two games, Megatron has amassed 484 yards. Your chance to get him is long gone. Values change daily in football, and if you don’t act quickly enough, you’ll be left out in the cold.
Sell Knowshon Moreno
Denver is on bye this week. Half the season is in the books, and Knowshon Moreno has only once rushed more than fifteen times. In week five against the Cowboys, he ran 19 times for 93 yards and caught five passes for another 57 yards. It was his best game of the year by far, totaling 150 yards on 24 touches.
Fantasy owners are often blinded by the numbers of fantasy over football. And Denver’s starting back has been the number two running back in Yahoo standard scoring. Owners would surely be excited to add a starter from the highest scoring team in NFL history. Moreno has nine total touchdowns so far, and may continue racking them up.
Before week eight’s game against the Redskins, Mike Klis of the Denver Post reported that the team was planning to spell Moreno more often, in order to preserve him down the stretch. What happened Sunday afternoon proved Klis correct. Moreno ran the ball 14 times for 44 yards (3.1 yards per carry), while backups Montee Ball and C.J. Anderson combined for 15 attempts. Ball ran 11 times for 37 yards (3.4 yards per attempt), and Anderson gained 22 yards on four carries (an average of 5.5 yards).
Should the Broncos stay true to this plan, Moreno could likely tumble from his already-meager average of 13.5 rushes per game. Ball is an exciting prospect, and will now have the opportunity he’s been waiting for. Owners would probably offer quite a lot for Moreno, and his heyday may have come to a close. His last 100 yard rushing game was week 14 of 2012, and he’s surpassed that number only twice since 2010. Especially in a keeper league, it would be difficult to foresee extended value for this fifth-year veteran.
Hold Keenan Allen
Opinions change rapidly among fantasy owners. And Keenan Allen has only three receptions since week six. Those came from six targets against Jacksonville in week seven, allowing Allen to earn 67 yards. San Diego was off last week, so it may seem like an eternity since the rookie was eliciting widespread praise.
Pay attention to the chemistry he formed so quickly with quarterback Philip Rivers. Over a three week span, the 6-foot-2 wideout made 20 catches from 27 targets, for 302 yards and two touchdowns. Rivers is short on weapons, with seasons concluded for Malcom Floyd and Danario Alexander. That leaves Allen, Vincent Brown and Eddie Royal to compete for attention. The Chargers’ website lists Allen as the number one wide receiver, with Brown as the second option.
Since week four, the third round pick from California-Berkeley has led the team’s wide receivers in targets (33), receptions (23), and yards (369). Allen has also been San Diego’s best wideout for converting first downs (18) and touchdowns (2) during that span. The moral of the story? Philip Rivers has a new favorite toy. He may not have written the story this way, but he also may not have much choice. Rivers is the second-highest rated passer this year, behind only Peyton Manning. And he is averaging the sixth most yards per game, and fourth most touchdowns per game. Hang on to Allen; he will definitely come in handy for the rest of your season and beyond.
Stats and data courtesy of pro-football-reference.com, footballguys.com, and myfantasyleague.com.
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