Who to Draft: Adrian Peterson vs. Jamaal Charles
In the second or third rounds of many drafts around the country, many fantasy footballers will be plagued with the same question. Who has more fantasy value in 2012, Jamaal Charles or Adrian Peterson? These two players are linked together with huge question marks coming into the 2012 season due to the ACL injuries both superstars suffered last season. Both of these players have fallen into the larger RB2 category in this year’s draft, but when you’re on the clock this year, who will you choose? Charles and Peterson are very unique selections in this year’s draft because both have a fantastic upside to be elite once again, but such a gamble comes with a large risk. I’m here to help you make your decision and support my case as to why one choice is a bit safer than the other.
Charles and Peterson in any case will highlight both of their respective offenses when healthy. I don’t believe you can go wrong with choosing either of them at the correct value, but I do believe that one of these players will be more productive than the other during this season. With all that in mind, let’s take an in depth look at what Charles and Peterson can offer a fantasy owner like yourself.
Jamaal Charles (Kansas City Chiefs)
The electrifying Kansas City running back had just twelve carries last season before ending his 2011 campaign with an ACL tear. However, in 2010, he played in all 16 regular season games and was highly regarded as one of the most, if not the most dangerous back in the league. He carried the ball 230 times for 1467 yards, and racked up 45 receptions for 468 yards. Charles posted an impressive average of 6.4 yards per carry and 10.4 yards per catch. He also visited the end zone 5 times on the ground as well as 3 times through the air. He only had 3 games with over 20 carries in 2010, yet still managed to finish second in the rushing race behind Arian Foster, despite almost 100 less carries. Jamaal Charles had his best statistical season in 2010, and earned himself a spot as a sure first round selection.
As fantasy owners, let’s look into some aspects of his game that make him special. Jamaal Charles is a hybrid back who can score from anywhere on the field. We should also take into consideration that Jamaal Charles was injured way back in Week 2 in 2011, and should most definitely be ready for Week 1 this season. In Friday night’s preseason opener in Kansas City, Jamaal Charles had 3 carries for 12 yards and 1 catch for 11 yards. After the game, Charles said, “I feel fresh, I feel like I got my mojo back”. The addition of Peyton Hillis will easily hurt Charles’ numbers in the red zone, but Charles’ managed a good scoring total when running alongside Thomas Jones. The departure of offensive coordinator Todd Haley could be another small factor to keep an eye on. He used Jamaal Charles’ talents perfectly. With all that being said, I expect Charles to put up high level RB2 production despite returning from health and losing red zone carries.
Adrian Peterson (Minnesota Vikings)
Since 2007, Adrian Peterson has been heavily regarded as the NFL’s best all around runner. The durable Minnesota running back accumulated 6,752 rushing yards in his first 5 years in the NFL. Designed as a power runner, Peterson has done a great job staying healthy, missing only seven starts over his five year tenure. All- Day is also used to a heavy workload in this Minnesota offense, which doesn’t offer too many household names. Fantasy owners have fallen in love with Peterson’s weekly consistency. On the final week of the season, Peterson tore his ACL. The Minnesota Vikings finished their season miserably at 3-13, but luckily AP didn’t have to miss any time. Unlike Charles’ injury, Peterson tore his ACL during the last game of the season, just under eight months ago. Does Adrian Peterson deserve to be dropped as far as he has been on the draft board, and should you step up and gamble on No. 28? Let’s look into thoughts that might factor in to Peterson’s fantasy output in 2012.
Let’s be honest, if there is one player in the NFL who can probably return perfectly from this particular injury, it is Adrian Peterson. His devoted work ethic and chiseled physique has often led to teammates to refer to him as “superhuman”. After the Vikings’ preseason loss last night in San Francisco, Head Coach Leslie Frazier quoted, “Everything he’s done, he’s right on point, but I say that without him ever participating in a drill with his teammates.” Peterson hopes to return to the practice field Sunday, and being removed from the PUP list.
There are two more factors to be taken into consideration with Peterson. AP’s fantasy production, while still impressive, has been declining in the last few years. The Vikings have also plugged in Toby Gerhart as their goal line back. I do think Adrian Peterson will be a productive lower level RB2 back however, I do believe he will receive a lesser workload especially earlier in the season. The amazing upside with Peterson is that he has the ability to quiet critics quickly and magically return to his elite form.
I have provided cases for both of these bounce back runners to be productive in the RB2 category of the 2012 fantasy draft. However, I am giving the edge to Jamaal Charles to finish in the upper level of the RB2’s out there, possibly even finishing as a lower level RB1. There are two major reasons for my conclusion.
My first reason is the simple fact that Jamaal Charles’ injury occurred a full season before that of AP. He has had much more time to recover, while returning to the practice field and looking pretty good in his preseason debut last night. I don’t expect Charles’ weekly carry rate to lessen. He has performed well in a crowded Kansas City backfield in the past.
My second reason is that Jamaal Charles is a more productive player in the receiving game. Before missing pretty much all of 2011, Charles had 45 receptions for 468 yards in 2010. Peterson finished with 18 receptions for 139 yards last season. I trust that Jamaal has more options in his game at this point to produce more fantasy value than Peterson in 2012. It will be hard for either of these running backs to return to the form they possessed a couple of years back, but I believe Jamaal Charles is the safer head to head pick entering 2012.