The worst-case scenario for many fantasy owners around the country was realized when Adrian Peterson went down with an ankle injury.
In the second quarter of the Minnesota Vikings' Week 14 game, the reigning NFL MVP was tackled out of bounds and was in immediate pain on the sidelines. ESPN reported that he was carted off the field:
DEVELOPING: Vikings Adrian Peterson was carted to the locker room with an ankle injury and is questionable to return.— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) December 8, 2013
This left Toby Gerhart as the next option in the backfield for the Vikings, and he came through against the Baltimore Ravens. He finished the game with 15 carries for 89 yards, including a 41-yard touchdown.
With the effort, the former second-round pick proved that he could be a valuable fantasy option going forward.
Although Gerhart has not received a lot of touches this season, he has fared well when he has gotten the ball. He entered the week with 194 rushing yards on only 21 carries for an average of 9.2 yards per rush. Additionally, he adds the ability to make plays as a receiver, with 13 catches for 88 yards on the year.
Against the Green Bay Packers in Week 12, the running back had by far his best performance of the year when he rushed for 91 yards on eight carries. This shows that has a great deal of explosiveness and the potential for a big game.
Gerhart has proven the ability to be a tough, downhill runner who can pick up big chunks of yards every time he gets the ball. That has not been often with Peterson on the roster, but he still has a solid average of 4.7 yards per carry in his career.
Although he will not be able to completely replace the league's leading rusher, he should be able to put up solid numbers as a go-to running back.
If Peterson is out for a significant amount of time, it would immediately make Gerhart a must-add in all fantasy leagues.
Next week, the Vikings face the Philadelphia Eagles, which have only a mediocre run defense. The backup running back should get enough carries to remain an effective fantasy starter.
While there is little chance Gerhart will instantly become a star who carries you to a championship, the fact is that pickings are slim among free-agent running backs at this point of the year. If you need someone to replace Peterson or anyone else in your lineup, this might be the best option you get.
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