By Josh Satler www.profootbal101.org
Coming into the season, the expectations for Adrian Peterson were through the roof. After an extremely impressive rookie season, one in which he broke the NFL rushing record for a game with 296 yards vs. the San Diego Chargers, there was a lot of talk about 2,000 yards in 2008. The reasoning behind this train of thought was that last year, at the midway point, he had already eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark and if not for an injury, which threw off his momentum and kept him out for two games, he might have done it then.
Fast forward to the midway point of 2008 and it’s a very different story. He’s still one of the elite backs in the game (823 yards, 6 TDs), but circumstances surrounding him have changed and they haven’t necessarily been for the better.
After a pretty strong end to his ’07 campaign, Tavaris Jackson was supposed to step-up and lead this team at quarterback. Things didn’t work out as planned. After a few lackluster performances, Childress felt his job security slipping away and made the desperate move to Gus Frerotte. The only problem with this was that it didn’t take any pressure away from Peterson; teams still knew that they could focus on A.D. (his nickname – All Day) and commit more guys to the line (of scrimmage) because they didn’t respect Frerotte’s ability to beat them in the passing game.
Another problem for A.D. has been the play at wide receiver. Minnesota went out and spent a lot of money on free agents this off-season; they gave WR Bernard Berrian a $42M contract. Only recently has this acquisition begun to bear fruit. The receiver lining up opposite him, 2nd-year player Sidney Rice, was supposed to take another step forward but he’s missed the better part of ’08 with a knee injury, so this hasn’t helped take pressure off Peterson either.
So as we look at the 2nd-half of the season, just what can we expect from Adrian Peterson? Will he carry your team to a championship? That’s what Peterson’ owners are asking, but if I was a betting man, I wouldn’t bet that we’ll see the eye-popping numbers we became accustomed to last season. Provided that he stays healthy, and this is something he has yet to do since his Freshman year in college, there are two reasons – Frerotte and the passing game – why I see him still being a very strong fantasy option, just not on a level where he will singlehandedly carry your team to a championship much like Tomlinson did from ’04-’06.
The idea Childress had this year when he went out and invested top $$ into grabbing a #1 receiver was to take pressure off of the running game. Something similar to what’s going on in New York Giants’ land where teams must respect its passing game and in turn this allows Jacobs/Ward to run wild. If Minnesota (Frerotte) could consistently strike through the air, teams wouldn’t be able to bring their safety up into the box in order to stop the run; they’d need to keep him about 20-yards deep to make sure Berrian or Rice didn’t get loose in the secondary. This hasn’t happened.
And since we don’t see this this happening from now until the end of the season, don’t expect the monster games of his rookie year: 296 yards and 3TDs vs. San Diego; 224 and 3TDs vs. Chicago. Instead, based on pure talent alone, you can expect to see an average of 80 to 110 yards per game and a score. And while those are definitely solid numbers, they’re just not the numbers the fantasy world was expecting coming into ’08.