A common question among fantasy football owners right now is where to draft Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who suffered a significant injury near the end of last season.It is a difficult question to answer because Peterson has been a fantasy stud for such a long time that it seems crazy not to take him in the first round but thanks to his knee injury and the urgency of fantasy football, Peterson’s current average draft position in PPR leagues is 20th.
Now we all know that Peterson is capable of incredible things, during his first five NFL seasons, Peterson averaged 1,611 total yards as well as 13.4 touchdowns per season. Those are outstanding numbers and even though 2011 was not his best season as he was limited to just 208 carries and 970 yards (4.7 yards per carry) he still reached pay dirt an impressive 13 times.
Yet, as we all know fantasy football is about predicting what will happen in the future, not what has happened in the past. Therefore, we need to be realistic with our expectations for Peterson this season. More than likely he will never be 100 percent in 2011, but an Adrian Peterson at 80 or 90 percent is better than most running backs out there, so its not all bad.
The key for fantasy owners that decide to take the plunge on Peterson is to also draft his backup Toby Gerhart.
Gerhart filled in down the stretch last season when Peterson was struggling with injuries and performed very well in his stead. The second-year player from Stanford was not spectacular but he was solid and over the last six games of the season, he averaged over 15 fantasy points per game.
For the season, Gerhart gained 531 rushing yards on 109 carries (4.9 yards per carry) and also caught 23 passes for 190 yards, while also reaching the end zone a total of four times.
Gerhart is far from a superstar but averaging 4.9 yards per carry and 8.2 yards per target is nothing to scoff at and with the health of Peterson going into the start of the 2012 NFL season still in doubt, if fantasy owners are going to take a chance on Peterson at any point in the draft, picking up Gerhart as a handcuff is a must.
You can rest assured that the Vikings, who are probably a year or two away from contending, are not going to run Peterson into the ground just to post another losing season. Certainly, they want him back as soon as possible but one would think they would be very cautious with the franchise’s most valuable commodity.
There have been rumors circulating that Peterson could even start the season on the PUP (Physically Unable to Perform), which means he would be out until at least week six, maybe longer. and would be disaster for fantasy owners, who would get a little over half a season from a guy, who currently costs a second-round pick.
With that in mind, it is easy to see why when drafting Peterson, it is essential to also acquire Gerhart. By himself, Peterson is a huge risk and unless its a dynasty format, I would stay away from him until about the fourth round of the draft unless of course I planned to do everything possible to acquire Gerhart because together, two form a formidable fantasy duo and will give you a reliable starting option each week.
Right now Gerhart’s average draft position for PPR scoring formats is 95.6, so he is coming off the boards in rounds seven through nine, which is not bad value for a guy that can fill in as a low-end RB2 or a solid flex player if and when Peterson misses game-time this season.
Gerhart may not be well-known across the fantasy football universe but if you are planning on drafting Peterson in your league, you better be darn sure you can get Gerhart as well, otherwise you may find yourself using a second-round pick on a guy, who plays only half the season.