Fantasy Football Dynasty Debate: Time to Deal Adrian Peterson??!!

John ZaktanskyCorrespondent IFebruary 19, 2010

NEW ORLEANS - JANUARY 24:  Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings runs the ball against the New Orleans Saints during the NFC Championship Game at the Louisana Superdome on January 24, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

What I’m about to type may be as appealing to you as a 99¢ 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 who scores TDs in bunches and is 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 also 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 while 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 & overall rushing totals—signals 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.

A heated debate has already started on this post here . What is your opinion on Peterson for 2010 and beyond?

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