One of the toughest calls to make in all of fantasy football ahead of the 2017 season is going to be when to draft New Orleans Saints running back Adrian Peterson. This is a player who’s made seven Pro Bowls, been named First-Team All-Pro four times, won the NFL’s MVP award in 2012 and has scored double-digit touchdowns eight times in his 10-year career.
That’s a ridiculous resume, and it all came with the Minnesota Vikings. Now, Peterson, who’s 32 years old, is on a new team and realistic expectations for him are pretty tough to gauge. While he could dominate in the Saints offense potentially, the fact that the team still has Mark Ingram and also drafted Alvin Kamara in the third round makes this a head-scratching spot.
*Before we jump into what round to draft Peterson, it’s worth noting that this is based on a 12-team league, with standard rosters and point-per-reception (PPR) scoring.
When to Draft Adrian Peterson
Consensus: Round Eight
You’re going to be hard-pressed to find a running back even close to as talented, or with as much upside as Peterson at this point in your fantasy football draft. Other names that could be coming off the board around this same point may include the likes of Carolina Panthers RB Jonathan Stewart or New York Jets RB Matt Forte. While there’s an argument for someone like Forte over Peterson, I’d much prefer to have a guy like Peterson in a high-octane offense than someone like Forte in a very concerning offensive situation who’ll also be splitting time.
The eighth round of a fantasy football draft is a prime spot for someone who’s already added two or three running backs, two or three wide receivers, a quarterback and possibly a tight end. In that spot, you’re essentially looking at having Peterson as a borderline flex player or a top player coming off the bench, which is a solid expectation to have for him entering the season.
Even with that said, Peterson is a boom-or-bust type of player in 2017 fantasy football, so let’s look at the realistic expectations for him this coming year.
Statistical Expectations for Peterson in 2017
It’s hard to pinpoint what type of year Peterson could have. He’s entering the season seemingly healthy after his 2016 season was cut short due to a torn meniscus. The obvious positives about Peterson include the fact that he’s a physical runner, who’s had no trouble finding the end zone in his career, scoring 97 total rushing touchdowns.
The negatives? The injury history, to start, plus the fact that in the three games he played in 2016, he had 37 carries for just 72 yards (1.9 yards per carry). There is a very good reason to have some faith in Peterson on the Saints, though, as Drew Brees should help to open up the field and in turn create opportunities for Peterson to do damage. After all, Brees certainly hasn’t slowed down at age 38, as he’s fresh off a 37-touchdown season.
Prediction for Peterson: 140 carries, 585 rushing yards, 25 catches, 210 receiving yards, 8 total touchdowns
There’s going to be some type of split between Ingram and Peterson in terms of rushing the ball, and the 25 receptions could actually wind up being a bit low if he winds up getting as many snaps as I expect. Predicting snap counts before the season is tough, but if you hold off until round eight to draft Peterson, there will still be plenty of time to add other weapons as possible flex options in the next few rounds just in case he doesn’t pan out.