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Having the first overall pick in your fantasy draft is bittersweet.
Sure, it’s absolutely awesome to control how the draft starts, while also grabbing, who you think, is the best player in all of fantasy football. However, you also miss out on a ton of really good players as you wait what seems like forever for your second and third picks. Still, that’s another topic for another day. Say you are either fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to hold the number one overall pick.
Who do you grab?
For most people, a running back is the way to go. There is a tier of four guys who are all worthy of the number one selection, but, unlike in year’s past where LaDainian Tomlinson was the clear-cut top pick, there is plenty of debate surrounding the top spot in fantasy land.
So let’s debate.
The Case for Adrian Peterson
Adrian Peterson is a generational talent.
At 30-years old, while missing essentially all of last season due to suspension, Peterson has rushed for over 10,000 yards, ranking 28th in the history of the NFL. Assuming he stays healthy in 2015, he’ll likely leap into the top-15 range in that category. A guy with a career yards per carry of five, Peterson is still the most violent and dangerous runner when in the open field, and, while it may seem a bit boring, he is my number-one ranked player in fantasy football. Adrian Peterson is a generational talent.
Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon are not.
However, the two Vikings running backs combined for over 70 receptions and a top-10 fantasy season at running back in Norv Turner’s offense that featured a rookie quarterback, an inconsistent offensive line and limited offensive weapons. I think it’s safe to say that Peterson is better than both of these backs… combined.
Other than last season, of course, Peterson has scored double-digit touchdowns in every single season of his career, averaging just over 12 scores per season. Meanwhile, Asiata plodded his way to nine rushing touchdowns a season ago, as the Vikings ranked 7th in the league in rushing touchdown percentage (34.2 percent). This is a unit that has ranked inside the top-10 in that regard in each of the last five seasons, including a number one and number two rank. And it makes sense, considering Peterson scores so many touchdowns, But I don’t see them changing their philosophy. When the Vikings get in close, AD is getting the rock. Honestly, throughout his career, the only thing Peterson hasn’t been elite in is pass-catching, despite always being a very skilled and capable receiver out of the backfield.
However, Norv Turner has had a history of utilizing the running backs in the passing game during his time as both a head coach and offensive coordinator. Last season, without Peterson in the backfield, the Vikings targeted the running back position a healthy 118 times, good for the 10th-most in football. Here are some notable pass-catching seasons from Turner running backs.
With an uptick in receptions, Peterson will pass any other runner’s upside in the league, especially when you consider that he’s already the best pure runner in the game.
The Case for Le’Veon Bell
The two-game suspension makes things a bit trickier, but there is no denying that, despite missing two games, Le’Veon more than warrants a number one overall selection.
From Week 5 on last year, no one in the NFL accumulated more fantasy points than the Pittsburgh running back. He was so, so safe because even in games where he didn’t find the end zone, he still provided excellent value. In fact, there were only three times all season long where he failed to post at least 100 yards from scrimmage. He did everything for the Steelers, averaging over 23 offensive touches per game over the course of the regular season, carrying the ball 290 times, adding another 83 receptions. In PPR leagues, Bell actually outscored a guy like Jamaal Charles by over 100 points. According to Dave Richard of CBS Sports, Bell had at least 10 fantasy points in 14-of-16 games last year (87%). Sure, he’s going to miss the first two games, but too many people, for some reason, think you’re getting a zero in your lineup without Bell, which obviously isn’t the case at all.
The Case for Eddie Lacy
Elite running back in an elite offense behind the best quarterback in football?
Sign me up.
Lacy got off to a very rough start for fantasy owners last year, ranking 43rd in running back fantasy points through the first four games of the season. However, he quickly turned it around, finishing as a top-six fantasy back. With Le’Veon being suspended and many people worried about Peterson’s age, many have argued that Lacy should be the number one pick in fantasy, and I really can’t argue it. He has massive touchdown upside in this Green Bay offense, and if you look back at the most carries inside an opponent’s three-yard line, only Marshawn Lynch and Joique Bell have more attempts than Lacy. However, Lacy has an impressive 62 percent conversion rate. Meanwhile, the Packers offense has ranked inside the top-five in red zone scoring attempts in each of the last two seasons.
I like touchdowns.
Also, don’t underestimate Lacy’s pass-catching ability. He has soft hands out of the backfield, and over his first two seasons in the league, he has accumulated 77 receptions. And with Jordy Nelson out for the season, there’s no reason to believe that his overall usage won’t increase in 2015.
You’re on the clock– what’s it going to be?
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