Week Sixteen Analysis:
Adrian Peterson is expected to return this week, and assuming his foot holds up, you can expect him to be busy. Vikings running backs lead the NFL with 157 rushing attempts over the last five weeks, which equates to over 31 per contest. Peterson was on fire prior to the injury, averaging 136 combo yards and .8 touchdowns over his last five full games. While Matt Asiata scored three times in his place last week, Cincinnati has allowed just three rushing scores all season, which trails only Tampa Bay. The Bengals also rank top-10 in terms of yardage. The injury is a concern, but it's pretty close to impossible not to start AP when he's playing.
Week Fourteen Analysis:
Adrian Peterson has set season highs in both carries and yardage in back-to-back overtime games, totaling a gaudy 67 attempts for 357 yards against the porous run defenses of Green Bay and Chicago. While the Ravens present a much stiffer challenge, they've been showing some cracks in recent weeks. In their last three games, they've allowed three touchdowns to the position, with a fourth being wiped off the board on the Thanksgiving Le'Veon Bell helmet technicality. Opposing backfields have also averaged over 120 combo yards during that three-game span, and the Vikings appear inexplicably hell-bent on running Peterson into the ground in a lost season.
Week Thirteen Analysis:
Over Chicago's last eight games, opposing backs are posting these absurd per-game averages: 1.6 touchdowns and 172 combo yards. Now, they get the reigning MVP coming off season-highs of 32 carries and 146 rushing yards. Adrian Peterson has also averaged a touchdown per game over his last five, and while he only totaled 107 scoreless combo yards in the first meeting, that was before injuries turned the Bears into fantasy's friendliest matchup. Rams backup Benny Cunningham just went for 109 yards and a touchdown against Chicago in about one half of action, so consider those numbers Peterson's absolute floor.
Week Twelve Analysis:
Although Adrian Peterson is tied for the league lead with nine rushing touchdowns, he's now topped 75 rushing yards just once in his last six games. He's also operating at less than 100 percent due to groin and hamstring injuries, but the Packers typically bring out the best in him. In their last 12 meetings, Peterson's scored 11 times and averaged 136 combo yards. Without Aaron Rodgers forcing opponents into shootouts, the Packers front seven has been exposed. In the last three games, opposing backs have averaged 32 touches for 165 combo yards, so Peterson should get healthy in this one.
Week Eleven Analysis:
For most backs, an average of 105 combo yards per game would be outstanding. But Adrian Peterson isn't most backs; that clip puts him a full 40 yards off last season's average. Fortunately, he's scoring at a much better rate this season. Peterson now leads all backs with 10 total touchdowns, including four in the last three weeks alone. While Seattle hasn't allowed a touchdown to the position in three straight weeks, they're far from invincible. In the two games prior to last week's layup against Atlanta, Seattle gave up 176 and 248 combo yards to the inferior backfields of St. Louis and Tampa Bay.
Week Ten Analysis:
And just like that, all is right in the world again. After averaging just 12 carries in the previous three games, Adrian Peterson carried the ball—and the Cowboys defense—25 times for 140 yards and a score. Peterson is also now on track for a career-high 44 catches, and that could be a very good angle for him this week. Washington ranks 30th against opposing backs in the passing game, and Peterson notched seven catches for 50 yards in this matchup last year. The Redskins also allow a generous 4.4 yards per carry and over a touchdown per game on the ground as well, so expect more heavy lifting this week.
Week Nine Analysis:
There's a dumpster fire burning in Minnesota, and apparently Adrian Peterson's cape is not flame retardant. He's scored just once in the last three weeks, while averaging a very underwhelming 15 touches for 74 combo yards. In fact, he's totaled just 150 rushing yards in that three-game span, which is a mark he surpassed in seven of his final 10 games last year. This week he gets a subpar Dallas run defense that just gave up 131 yards and a pair of scores to Detroit rushers. The Cowboys are even worse against opposing backs in the passing game, where they trail only the Vikings in receptions and receiving yards.
Week Eight Analysis:
Off-field factors aside, subpar line play and repulsive quarterbacking have simply been too much for Adrian Peterson to overcome the last two weeks. He's totaled 30 touches for 139 scoreless combo yards, signifying his worst two-game standard scoring output since the end of his 2007 rookie season. Peterson amassed a gaudy 528 combo yards and three scores against the Packers in three meetings last year, but none of that even matters at this point. Green Bay is giving up just 3.7 yards per carry, and a half-touchdown per game to opposing runners. The Vikings ship is sinking, and it's dragging Peterson down with it.
Week Seven Analysis:
Thanks to a huge early deficit, Adrian Peterson carried just 10 times for 62 yards last week against Carolina. It was his lowest yardage output in his last 20 games, and his smallest workload in his last 23. Still, he's now cracked 6.0 yards per carry in back-to-back games, and he should get right back to his high-scoring ways Monday night. Although the Giants allow just 3.5 yards per carry, they've given up five touchdowns to opposing backs in their last five games. Moreover, three straight feature backs have posted at least five catches and 40 receiving yards against New York. If his head is in the game, he's capable of a nice showing on national television.
Week Six Analysis:
Sure, Eric Dickerson's record is probably safe, but Adrian Peterson is still on pace for a career fantasy season with nearly 1,700 rushing yards and 24 total touchdowns. He's coming off his best rushing performance of the year—140 yards and a pair of scores—and it's no surprise that it coincided with Jerome Felton's return and a quarterback upgrade. Carolina is a top-10 run defense that's allowing just 3.8 yards per carry and a half-touchdown per game to opposing backs. Still, there are only 11 Panthers, and that's not nearly enough to slow Peterson down.
Week Four Analysis:
In Adrian Peterson's 68 carries since his season-opening 78-yard touchdown run, he's averaged less than 3.0 yards per attempt. That's half of last year's 6.0-yard average. Fortunately, his 80 touches lead all backs, and he gets Pro Bowl fullback Jerome Felton back this week. The Steelers have been a rare break-but-don't-bend run defense to this point. They've given up less than 3.5 yards per carry, but they're on pace to surrender 21 rushing scores to opposing backs, after allowing just 19 over the last three seasons combined. Peterson will need to work for his yards in London, but he should reach foreign pay dirt, so keep calm and carry on.
Week Three Analysis:
Adrian Peterson went for 78 yards on his first carry of the season, but he's totaled just 115 yards on his 43 carries since. That's less than 2.7 yards per attempt, thanks in large part to subpar offensive line play, inconsistent quarterbacking and the absence of fullback Jerome Felton. Things won't get any easier against a very underrated Cleveland run defense. Through two weeks, the Browns have held opposing backs to a league-low 2.2 yards per carry. Still, they've allowed a short rushing score in each game, and the matchup-proof Peterson has averaged nearly 27 touches per game in his last 10 contests.
Week Two Analysis:
You couldn't script it any better. Coming off an impossibly epic season, Adrian Peterson exploded for a 78-yard touchdown on the very first play of 2013. He finished with a touchdown trifecta, which was basically the only feat he didn't accomplish last season. This week he'll get a tough Chicago run defense that held BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Gio Bernard to a combined 59 total yards in the opener. And his offensive line looked horrible last week. However, the last time he faced Chicago, Peterson totaled 170 yards and two touchdowns, and in 10 career meetings, he's scored 14 times and averaged 125 combo yards.
Week One Analysis:
In his final 10 games of last season, Adrian Peterson scored 11 times, while averaging 159.5 rushing yards on 6.8 yards per carry. That's stuff of legends. One of those monster games was a 171-yard, one-touchdown outburst against Detroit's middling run defense. However, the Lions' young, supremely talented defensive line really gelled this preseason. They allowed just 2.7 yards per carry, including a complete domination of New England's high-powered running game. The loss of Pro Bowl fullback Jerome Felton also hurts, but with Peterson, you know to just "set it and forget it."
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Adrian Peterson represents the most clear-cut No. 1 overall pick in recent memory. Seriously, there's no other option here. Coming off reconstructive knee surgery last season, Peterson hit his stride in Week 7 and ran away from the competition with ease. He scored 11 times in his final 10 games, while averaging 159.8 rushing yards per game and 6.8 yards per carry. If you were to extrapolate that dominant stretch out over 16 games, you'd be looking at a record-shattering 2,557 yards. With his upper echelon offensive line returning intact, as well as an upgraded receiving corps to keep defenses honest, he's as close to a lock as it comes.
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