This year, I think it’s safe to say we can throw Arian Foster into the running for top fantasy football pick.
Back in 2010, most people took Adrian Peterson, Maurice Jones-Drew or Chris Johnson.
Peterson rushed for 1,298 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. He also caught 36 passes for 341 yards and a score. AP was without a competent offensive line, had a poor offensive attack behind him and the Vikings had an altogether bad season.
2010 was the worst year of Peterson's career, and that’s saying something. One thing we can count on from the Vikings this year is an improved offensive line that should help Peterson tack on another 100 yards to his total.
As his career has progressed, AP has become more involved in the passing attack, making him even more attractive in PPR leagues. He also has squashed any concerns about his collegiate injury history by missing just three games in his first four years in the NFL.
Chris Johnson ran for 2006 yards in 2009 and was widely considered the consensus No. 1 pick before last year. He followed through with a respectable season, running for 1,364 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Johnson was a dual threat, also catching 44 passes for 245 yards and one TD.
However, Johnson was the victim of the Titan's quarterback controversy last year, as teams were able to focus on stopping the speedster as evidenced by his drop in yards per carry from 5.6 (2009) to 4.3 (2010).
Still, he got over 300 carries and found his way into the end zone plenty of times.
The Titans’ quarterback situation is still up in the air this year, and Johnson should have a similar season and is again worthy of a top-five pick.
Maurice Jones-Drew is a short, quick running back who specializes in making people miss in the open field. He does much of his damage catching the ball, but has also developed into an every-down back despite criticism from the “experts.”
Last year, Jones-Drew ran for 1,324 yards and five touchdowns. He also caught 34 passes for 317 yards and two scores.
MJD has seen his receptions total drop each of the last three years (he had 62 receptions in 2008), but he remains a top option in PPR leagues. I expect him to rebound and up his receiving totals this year.
The big problem with MJD, though, is that he does not find his way into the end zone very often due to the fact that he is simply not a goal-line back.
Maurice Jones-Drew is a very good option, but I probably would not take him at No. 1 in either PPR or non-PPR leagues.
I'm proud to say I was able to pick up Arian Foster last year before the season started (our draft was held before Ben Tate got hurt). Foster ended up being my team MVP, and I rode him to the league's best record.
In 2010, Foster racked up 1,616 yards and 16 touchdowns on the way to his first rushing title. Oh, but wait, there’s more! Foster was lethal in the passing game, picking up 66 receptions for 604 yards and two TDs.
There’s only one thing I don’t like about Foster: He just seems primed for a letdown. I still expect him to rack up 1,200-plus yards on the ground, but fail to post top-pick-worthy numbers.
I think it’s safe to say he could hit a sophomore slump, because he only played six games his rookie year.
In the end, I'm going to take Adrian Peterson. He's been the model of consistency for the past four years; you can count on at least 1,300 rushing yards and 30 receptions.
Peterson is also the most dependable touchdown scorer, even though Toby Gerhart may take a couple away this year.
So, I'll take AP, knowing for sure what I'm getting with great potential upside thrown in.
2011 Fantasy Football top five:
1. Adrian Peterson
2. Chris Johnson
3. Arian Foster
4. Maurice Jones-Drew
5. Jamaal Charles
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