A coaching change in D.C. mixed with a change in offensive philosophy has rejuvenated running back Adrian Peterson’s fantasy outlook, taking the future Hall of Famer from a bottom dweller of fantasy mediocrity to a viable starting option.
However, the Washington Redskins running back has been limited in practice all week while dealing with a high-ankle sprain. Though he is currently listed as questionable, AP has proclaimed he will indeed suit up against his former team.
Will a stingy Vikings defense send the hobbled Peterson back into fantasy irrelevance on Thursday night? Or will the running back once again turn back the clock in primetime? Let’s take a look.
Follow the Heavy on Fantasy & Betting for all the latest betting news, odds, and picks
Adrian Peterson’s Fantasy Outlook vs. Minnesota Vikings
When current interim head coach Bill Callahan took over for Jay Gruden following Week 5, he made it known that the team must show an improved commitment to the run game. Callahan has since delivered on his word. Washington has gone from 15.4 rushing attempts per game under Gruden to 26 per game under Callahan’s reign.
The main beneficiary of the new-found commitment to the ground game has been none other than 34-year old Adrian Peterson. Peterson has carried the ball on 43 of the team’s 52 running back rushing attempts over the previous two weeks, averaging 21.5 touts per game. With the extra looks in the run game, Peterson has seen his efficiency skyrocket from a putrid 2.7 yards per carry over his first four games of the season to an impressive 4.6 yards per carry over the past two.
Peterson’s most recent performance was arguably his best of the season. While facing off against the vaunted San Francisco 49ers defense, he would rush for 81 yards. While that may not sound like a monumental stat line on the surface, those numbers suddenly seem a lot more appealing when you take into consideration that four of the other five starting running backs to face off with the ‘9ers this season averaged a whopping 33.25 yards per game.
While it’s become evidently clear over the past few weeks that Peterson still has some gas left in the tank, he may find it difficult to find running lanes on Thursday night vs. a talented Minnesota Vikings defense. Since Week 2 of the season, an argument could be made that no team has been better against the run than the Vikings have. Over that time frame they have not allowed a single rushing touchdown, have held all opposing running backs to 53 yards rushing or less, and limited team’s leading rushers to an average of just 3.16 yards per carry.
Minnesota is currently ranked as the fifth-best defensive unit in fantasy in terms of defending the running back position. Starting running backs have mustered up an abysmal 5.8 fantasy points per game when facing off against the new-age Purple People Eaters.
Should You Start or Sit Adrian Peterson in Week 8?
While I’ll admit the prospect of Peterson staring against the team where he built his Hall of Fame resume is certainly tantalizing, I’ll have to stick with my better judgment on this one, as should you.
While it may not be a recipe for disaster, a 34-year old running back playing on a high-ankle sprain on a short week against one of the league’s best run defenses is certainly less than appealing.
Peterson is no more than a low-end RB3 to mid-range RB4 on Thursday night. He’s capable of serving as a flex-starter due simply to his likely abundance of volume. However, his ceiling against the Vikings likely makes it a better choice to look elsewhere when filling out your starting lineup this week.