Another week has passed and we’re almost to midseason. I contemplated several players to use as the subject of my article this week but when it came down to it I had to do the unthinkable. As blasphemous as it may sound, you are reading that title correctly. Adrian Peterson is one of those players you start 99% of the time unless he’s on a bye. I believe this week might fall into the other 1%.
Week 7 Weakling
Adrian Peterson is arguably the best running back in the NFL. He currently ranks sixth in rushing yards with 537 and first in TDs scored with seven while averaging 4.4 yards/carry. You can’t argue with any of these statistics. The problem, sadly, is the rest of the Vikings offense, in particular the passing game.
In Week 5, Arizona showed the rest of the NFL the formula for stopping Adrian Peterson. Put nine guys in the box and dare them to pass. Unfortunately for them it was too late in the game when they came up with this strategy. They had already dug themselves into a hole out of which they could not climb. Some may point out that Peterson finished the Arizona game with 122 yards on 29 carries with three TDs to boot. This is true, but he had 86 of those yards in the first half. He gained only 36 yards in the second half on 16 carries. That’s only 2.25 yards per attempt, and in the second half Arizona had nine guys in the box on almost every defensive play.
The Bears watched that game film and took note. The strategy worked. Peterson finished the game in Chicago with 39 yards on 12 carries, averaging only 3.3 yards per attempt. He did get a gift touchdown thanks to Jared Allen’s strip/sack at the start of the third quarter. If not for that it would have been an absolute dismal night for the face of the Vikings franchise. What struck me most about this strategy is that it exposed the Vikings’ passing game for what it really is, which is basically non-existent. When the opposing defense puts nine guys in the box and you can’t find an open receiver, you’ve got issues.
This week, the Vikings face the undefeated Green Bay Packers. The Packers are currently ranked fifth in the NFL against the run, but it’s not necessarily because they’re good at stopping opposing running backs. When it comes to yards allowed per rushing attempt, they rank 15th. The reason they don’t give up many rushing yards is because their opponents have had that option taken away from them. When you’re behind by multiple scores against a team with an offense as potent as Green Bay’s, you have almost no choice but to try and score quickly through the air. The running game gets abandoned and the rest is history. This happened to the Vikings last week as they found themselves in an early hole. Once they were behind, the running game was eschewed, hence only 12 carries for AP.
To add injury to insult, and yes I phrased that the way I intended, the Vikings also have issues on their offensive line. Their right tackle, Phil Loadholt, left the game early against the Bears with a knee injury on Sunday night. His status is questionable for this week. In all likelihood he will play, but he will not be 100%. John Sullivan, the starting center, suffered a concussion against Chicago and as of now is listed as doubtful for this week’s game. Doubtful doesn’t mean he won’t play, it means just what the dictionary says it means. It is doubtful he will play. We’ll know more on his status later this week.
Adrian Peterson’s success this week will really be placed on the shoulders of new starting quarterback Christian Ponder. The quarterback play for the Vikings will need to be much better this week than it has been all season, and we are in uncharted territory. It could get better and, contrary to popular belief, it could actually get worse. We won’t know until we witness it firsthand. Ponder needs to be able to establish a valid passing attack. Doing so will force GB to drop two men out of the box, which will give AP a chance to do his thing.
For the first time this season, I hope I’m wrong. I’ve mentioned before that the Vikings happen to be the team I cheer for. I would love nothing more than to log on to the Café website next Monday and read all the comments on this article telling me what an idiot I was for picking Adrian Peterson. If that happens, I will gladly eat my crow and like it. My heart wants Peterson to rush for 200-plus yards and three or more TDs. My head is telling me something else. He may get you points this week but they won’t be RB1 kind of points. It will be more like borderline RB2/RB3 points. I’m adding a “gift” TD to my projections because of Jared Allen and the insane season he’s having while considering his past history against Aaron Rodgers (8.5 sacks, 1 FF, 1 Int, 1 Safety in last four contests vs GB).
Projection: 16 carries, 48 yards, 1 TD; 2 rec, 7 yards, 0 TDs.
Eli Ricke knows absolutely nothing about Fantasy Football that everyone else doesn’t already know. All of his success in Fantasy Football can be attributed entirely to dumb luck. He has been playing Fantasy Football since 1999 and is a habitual liar. You will occasionally run across him in the café forums under the name 204BC, a name that has no particular meaning whatsoever. He just made it up, the same thing he does with most of the advice he gives.
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