Dynasty Debate: Time to trade Adrian Peterson?

What I’m about to type may be as appealing to you as a 99-cent reheated taco at breakfast time.

But the best debates of our time started with an unconventional person trying to defend an unpopular claim.

So here it goes … In your fantasy football dynasty leagues, it is time to consider dealing Adrian Peterson.

No, not the backup halfback for the Bears.

THE Adrian Peterson. The guy wearing the purple No. 28 jersey scoring TDs in bunches and found atop most every person’s draft boards for 2010 and beyond in redraft and dynasty leagues alike.

Go ahead and call me crazy. This is the first of many followups to my lengthy talk on dynasty offseason trading.

Why in the world would you want to deal a guy who notched a career-high 28 rushing TDs in 2009? Or nabbed a career-high 43 passes and nearly doubled his best receiving yardage output?

Peterson is just 25 … a half-decade short of the vaunted 30 — an age associated with typical running back decline. Why should you deal someone who, according to popular belief, has five more years of peak production ahead of him?

There are several reasons.

For one, everyone still looks at Peterson as a top-two fantasy talent. His value is still high despite the excessive fumbles in 2009 and his decline in several statistical categories.

The most discussed trouble with Peterson in 2009 was his career-high six fumbles lost, easily trumping the three and four he had in 2007 and 2008, respectively. Sure, fumbling problems can be worked out … Tiki Barber overcame a serious case of the dropsies with the Giants several seasons ago … but it isn’t an overnight fix. Steve Slaton and his fantasy owners could tell you a lot about that.

It alos concerns me that while Peterson was able to play his second consecutive 16-game campaign, he dropped nearly 400 rushing yards and notched his lowest yards per game (86.4).

More telling was his 4.4 yards per carry. While not a bad number among RBs in general, his 4.4 was a significant drop from the 4.8 in 2008 and especially from the 5.6 in 2007.

While his receptions and receiving yards both increased, Peterson went the whole season without a receiving touchdown. Meanwhile, tight end Visanthe Shiancoe had 10.

Many blame Brett Favre’s presence as the cause of Peterson’s statistical slide, but how exactly did Favre cause Peterson’s yards per carry to drop? What influence did No. 4 have on Peterson’s increasing fumble problem?

In fact, the veteran QB did much to improve Peterson’s fantasy value in 2009 … especially in PPR leagues. Without Favre, Peterson notched 21 receptions in 2008. With No. 4 at the helm, Peterson logged 43 catches out of the backfield and logged more than 400 receiving yards.

And none of us know what Favre will do in 2010. There is little doubt in my mind that even if he does come back for one more year with Minnesota, he won’t be around for 2011.

There are rumors circulating that Donovan McNabb could wind up in Minnesota. There are rumors that the Vikings will draft a QB of the future this spring.

The only thing for certain with Peterson’s situation is uncertainty … especially for his long-term prospects.
Many reading this may argue that a top-flight fantasy RB doesn’t just drop out of the statistical limelight overnight. Those who owned Shaun Alexander three years ago would disagree.

Alexander was still in his 20s when he logged a massive 1,880 yards and 27 TDs in a career year for Seattle. He had been a top-five fantasy RB for several years, and coming off that campaign, it was hard to expect anything less than another season of elite numbers.

He instead suffered through injuries and saw his rushing totals fall by 1,000 yards and 20 TDs. He was never the same and out of the NFL in what seemed like the blink of an eye.

LaDanian Tomlinson had his best NFL season when he was 26 … a 1,815-yard, 28-TD rushing performance. He was the epitome of fantasy consistency atop first-round fantasy draft players for years. The following season, Tomlinson’s rushing totals dropped by 400 yards and his rushing TDs were cut in half. His value took a tremendous hit in less than a season.

Peterson isn’t a stranger to injuries due especially to his downhill, bruising running style. Minnesota was able to spell Peterson and help him survive a 16-game season thanks in large part to relying on backup RB Chester Taylor.

However, while Taylor is 31 years old, he’s also an unrestricted free agent who’s garnering a lot of attention from a number of different teams. While the Vikings want to bring Taylor back in 2010, there is a good chance that Chester will bolt town for a more prominent role elsewhere.

This potential lack of protection for Peterson, coupled with the uncertainty at quarterback, increasing fumble woes and declining yards per carry and overall rushing totals all signal the potential that Peterson could struggle in 2010 and beyond.

Even if he produces well in 2010, the end is closer than you may think.

So while it may seem ludicrous to consider, it may be time to swing a deal that nets you a younger RB with big upside potential along with improvements at other positions.

Soon, I’ll share some potential players you should be targeting in a trade of this magnitude, along with other candidates who should be dealt while their value is high.

What is your opinion on Adrian Peterson and his lasting power in the NFL and fantasy football dynasty leagues? Time to trade, or paranoia? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.







11 Responses to “Dynasty Debate: Time to trade Adrian Peterson?”


  1. Cburgess

    Quite honestly, I think if you cut bait on Peterson now, you are F-ing crazy and totally out of your mind. There is not another running back I would rather have in place of AP, with the possible exception of Chris Johnson (and I would probably still choose AP).
    Peterson is only 25 and has a good 2-4yrs left before you consider accepting trade offers.
    Fumbles are not a concern, because as you say, they can be fixed with coaching, film study, and onfield adjustments.
    I don’t see a change in rushing yards – in ’07 he rushed for 1341yds, in ’09 1335yds, and in ’10 1389yds. The only “off” year was ’08 when he popped 1760yds – but that year he towed the rock approx. 50 more times than the other years, explaining the increase in yardage total.
    His receptions and receiving yardage is almost identical this season to last season: 42/435 in ’09 and 43/436 in ’10 – so it proves that he is not Favre-dependent. In close look he didn’t score through the air in either season, so no rececption TD’s in ’10 is not a surprise. In fact, AP only has 1 (yes one) receiving TD in his NFL career, and that came in his rookies season in 2007.
    AP’s total yardage this season was 1825yds, that’s 55yds more than 2009, 60yds less than 2008, and 216yds more than 2007. I see no decline.
    AP scored 13td’s in ’07, 10td’s in ’08, 17td’s in ’09, and 18td’s in ’10. Again, no decline.
    You can point out his yards per carry drop all you want, but overall production has not changed, nor is there any reason to think it will.
    Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but this is one fantasy owner of AP that will gladly keep him rostered for this next season and beyond.

  2. Cburgess

    My apologies for some statistical errors – wipe out my reference to 2010 stats. That’s what happens when you try to type a response while at work and doing your job. I’m not sure where my mind was – I should read things before hitting “submit”.
    ANYWAY – I stand behind my overall sentiment that I would not trade away AP at this point in his career. 2-4 years down the road, maybe we can talk. I may be wrong, but only time will tell.
    Great article John – it makes people think, react, and debate.

  3. jzak

    cburgess,

    Thanks a ton for your responses. I was starting to question my own stats when reading your first comment. Peterson did see an increase in rushing TDs, but a 400-yard drop in rushing yards from the season before. That placed him fifth among RBs in 2009 rushing yardage.

    Peterson did have a considerable jump in receiving stats last year … 43 receptions (14th among RBs in 2009) vs. his previous high of 21 in 2008 and 435 receiving yards vs. the previous career high of 268 in 2007. Those who don’t think these jumps are primarily due to the upgrade from Tavaris Jackson to Brett Favre are fooling themselves.

    I can understand your passion in defending Peterson and your stance on thinking it would be crazy to deal him at this point. I’d imagine Shaun Alexander owners would have said the same things during the 2006 preseason. Same for the Tomlinson owners during the 2007 preseason.

    Sort of a hokie metaphor, but still somewhat relevant to my point on Peterson: Imagine you commute to work and NEED a consistent, reliable, high performance car.

    Over time, would you drive that car until the odometer hit six figures-plus and various mechanical parts needed additional attention, or would you look to trade it in for a better, more fuel-efficent model while it still would provide a solid return?

    You could wait two to four years and still get some value for Peterson, but I’d be willing to gamble a decent sum that you won’t get the return for Peterson at that point that you could if you traded him in now for the next wave of young RB with elite potential and circumstances.

  4. nick

    I think the owners in dynasty leagues that think like this are the ones that stay at the top.

    I have Chris Johnson in my league and you would be crazy to not listen to an offer from someone, a top flight WR, solid RB and a host of rookie draft picks are all well within ones reach when you have a stud RB.

    Your 100% correct when you have a RB there shelf life is short, id much rather deal a guy a year early than a year late.

    Peterson’s value is at an all time high, and if you could get a good compensation of players and picks in return for your feature back, it might be too good to turn down.

    I think though moving players like Peterson and Chris Johnson is relative to how the rest of your team is, if your right there you go for the championship, but if you have Peterson surrounded by some middle of the road guys and you dont think you have a chance to win without a big move then you may have to make a move… not to mention this years draft class is rich with solid RB choices

    While you dont have to trade Peterson, you defiantly need to listen to offers… i dont think he is going to get mad if you put him on the trading block

  5. jzak

    nick,

    Thanks for the response. Good point on evaluating your team outside of Peterson in determining whether or not to deal him … some may think that I’m advocating dealing Peterson no matter what in dynasty leagues. If you are somehow already loaded with young upside RBs and other position players and are an early playoff contender as is, than you can ride Peterson until his transmission explodes. In most cases, though, it is smart to keep rotating your pieces for maximum value.

  6. Jakyl

    I have to agree with Burgess on this one, trading Peterson would be crazy. Of course you want to keep all trading options open, but unless you are blown away by the offer of MJD, Andre 3000, and Aaron Rodgers for Peterson; it shouldn’t even be considered. Peterson hasn’t even come close to peaking yet. Anyone who has played fantasy football for a period of time knows how to read and react to trends. The argument was made about who would have wanted to stay away from LT and Alexander after the aforementioned years. Personally everyone I talked with those years knew to stay away from both players. Trading Peterson know would be like trading LT after the ’04 season. When he had a career high 17 TDs. His yardage had dropped from the previous year and his YPC were down. You would have only missed out on 3 more productive years and missed maxing out his value. Or you should have traded Alexander after the ’02 season when his yardage and YPC were down and he had his career TDs of 16. That would have lost you 3 productive years as well. The idea to keep rotating pieces to be successful in dynasty leagues is also not advised. The only thing you will accomplish with that strategy is a possibility of hitting a home run one season and having a stellar lineup. In a dynasty league, you want to be successful every season and the key to that is keeping consistent players on your team while balancing that with youth. Upside is the worst word you can possibly use in fantasy sports. Trading a proven consistent player for an “upside” player will more often than not backfire in your face. Also, don’t forget that there will always be at least one person in every league who will be willing to take a shot on a washed up player. Last year, people were still taking LT in the first round of drafts. People were still paying way to much for him in auction drafts, including dynasty auction drafts. I even saw Brian Westbrook go for an absurd amount of money in a dynasty auction draft only a year ago. When you are ready to sell, there will always be someone ready to buy. Don’t ever rule any trade offers out, you will be surprised what some people will give to get someone. Wait on Peterson though, he has not hit peak value yet.

  7. Sockonfl

    Ginny Loveless did a piece in the beginning of the 2009 season on the football diehards site showing where most running backs plataeu at age 26 or 27 then start a decline. There have been a few exceptions to this pattern. Curtis Martin and Thomas Jones come to my mind.

    I would say though without Taylor in tow in 2010, Peterson will see a decent size uptick in touches and production. I would hold onto him for one more season as I think his value will rise even more after the 2010 season. Then according to jzak he will be 26 which is the time to start churning him over for younger talent.

    I suggest waiting one more season to acheive maximum trade value for him.

  8. jzak

    Socko,

    Thanks for the feedback. Logically, the loss of Chester Taylor should lead to more stats for Peterson … however, I personally worry that with extra carries come extra hits, bumps and chances for injury. Perhaps its a personal opinion more than a proven one, but I worry about Peterson’s durability. Of course, if the Vikings lose Chester Taylor, as it seems they may, you better believe they’ll find a replacement somewhere. However, Taylor is a known quantity and who knows what another player will bring to the table.

  9. jzak

    jakyl,

    Great argument and one hard to counter.

    I’m not denying that Peterson has a good chance to persevere with all the uncertainties and questions in Minnesota and produce a career year. Maybe even two solid years.

    The trick with dynasty leagues is judging each players value in perspective to what they’ll give you immediately vs. what they’ll produce for the next three to five years.

    Perhaps Nick said it best in that dealing Peterson may hinge largely on what the rest of your team looks like and its potential for a championship in 2010 vs. a year or two from now.

    If your team is already a contender and you either have some young guys on the bench or just want to put all your resources into winning now and could care less about 2011 or beyond, than perhaps it is best to keep Peterson and hope that he rises above some of the red flags and personnel question marks I mentioned above.

    However, if your team includes Peterson and a bunch of aged, majorly declining or outright bust players and you need to re-center your team, than I think it would be ridiculous to not seriously consider moving Peterson for the right package of players.

    Let’s say, hypothetically, that you deal Peterson for Knowshon Moreno, Roddy White, Matt Ryan and a draft pick or two (not saying you should deal him for this, and it would depend a lot on other pieces involved, your roster, etc.). Sure, there will be a drop from Peterson to Moreno, but if Roddy White and Matt Ryan produce enough stats in upgrading your WR and QB positions to cover the void between Peterson and Moreno … than you’ve made a good trade that will improve you both now and for the future.

  10. Dynasty Debate: Time to trade Reggie Wayne? at Chinstrap Ninjas

    [...] Several weeks ago, I seemed to ruffle some feathers when suggesting that owners of Adrian Peterson in dynasty fantasy football leagues should consider trading him for maximum return value. [...]

  11. Nubia Devick

    I just stumbled on your blog when i was lookng on Yahoo. I have to say that the knowledge here was the most complet that I found anywhere. I am definitly bookmarkin this to come bck and read later