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Adrian Peterson and Arian Foster Must Be the First Fantasy Football Players Drafted, Right?

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Adrian Peterson and Arian Foster

 

Today I went Easter ADP hunting.  If you’re not familiar with the term but are reading along at this point in the offseason, congratulations!  You are officially on your way to becoming a fantasy football addict.  Fellow addict C.D. Carter has the details on what you can expect the rest of your life from this newfound obsession.  If you’re a seasoned addict though, you’re well aware that this term stands for “Average Draft Position.”

ADP is something I constantly monitor throughout the offseason.  If I could offer a single piece of advice to people seeking to step their fantasy game up, it would be to study up on where people are getting drafted.  Being in tune with this is going to prevent you from reaching for a player you could have gotten 3 rounds later.  It will also help you to identify value as you seek out your favorite players in the later rounds.  You could even build entire draft strategies around ADP.  MyFantasyLeague tracks ADPs all year long, and you can search after a certain date to get ADP data if you want to weed out mock drafts that took place before training camp, or any other date.  One draft strategy that I’ll probably seek to employ is to load up on running backs early this year (not exactly groundbreaking, I know).  Looking at the 5th-7th rounds though, there are tons of very solid wide receivers on the board, while the running back selection is shoddy.

I’ll save the ADP 101 class for another day though.  There are two players that I need to throw a caution flag on this year, and they'll surprise you.  They’re going very high in early mock drafts.  How high?  Well, higher than every other player in the league.  Yes, I’m talking about Adrian Peterson and Arian Foster.

I need you to have a little bit of an open mind, because I’ll be the first one to admit that at first glance, Peterson and Foster make total sense at #1 and #2, respectively.  After doing some digging for us though, I found there are two major red flags for both of these players:

1.)     They’re both 26 years of age or older.  Foster will be 27 this season and Peterson just turned 28.

2.)     They both had over 350 carries last year.  Technically, Peterson only had 348, but he also had a playoff game in which he had 22 carries.  Foster had 351 carries and tacked on another 54 carries in the playoffs.

Since 1970, there have been 27 players age 26 or older to have 350 carry seasons.  I’m going to throw out Ricky Williams from the results, because he “retired” the year after he met the two qualifications.  Just taking the averages of the other 26 for their 350 carry season and the following season, we see that the results are not good.  I'm talking Shonn Greene not good, bub.

 

 

G

Att

Yds

TD

Y/A

Y/G

A/G

PPR

350 Carry Season

15.9

375

1616

14

4.3

102.0

24

315.2

Following Season

12.7

249

973.2

6.4

3.9

78.1

20

190.7

+/-

-3.2

-126

-642.8

-7.3

-0.4

-23.9

-4

-124

 

Numbers across the board are down for these players, with the biggest red flag being that these players have averaged 124 less PPR points following their 350 carry season, while only averaging 3.2 fewer games!  Most alarming is that only 2/26 finished with more fantasy points following their 350 carry season: Walter Payton in 1985 and Curtis Martin in 2000. 

It’s clear that this group plays fewer games due to injury, but even then, rushing yards were still down by 23.9 yards on a per game basis.  18/26 (69.2%) players missed at least 1 game, while 14/26 (53.8%) missed 2 or more games.  But let’s give Foster and AP the benefit of the doubt and assume they play 16 games.  Below you see the numbers for only the players that played all 16 games in the year following their 350 carry season. 

 

 

G

Att

Yds

TD

Y/A

Y/G

A/G

PPR

350 Carry Season

15.9

377

1583

10

4.2

100

24

323

Following Season

16

319

1247

7.3

3.9

78

20

262

+/-

0.1

-57

-336

-2.7

-0.3

-22

-3.8

-61.2

 

 

This group of backs still managed 22 fewer yards per game and 61.2 fewer points for the whole season.  Peterson finished 1st among running backs for fantasy points scored last year, while Foster finished 3rd.  With 61 fewer points, Peterson would have finished 3rd overall and Foster 8th.  This isn’t necessarily bad news for them to come off the board first and second overall, but again, we’re assuming they beat the odds and play a full 16 games in this scenario. 

I don’t think this analysis should eliminate you from considering Peterson/Foster at #1 and #2, but you have to realize that history tells us that the odds of them living up to these draft positions are very unfavorable.  Foster especially worries me.  His yards per carry has gone down in 3 straight seasons: 4.9 in 2010, 4.4 in 2011, and a fairly unimpressive 4.1 in 2012.  I do think that it is time to start considering some other names at the top of the draft.  Doug Martin, Trent Richardson, C.J. Spiller, Ray Rice, Jamaal Charles, and LeSean McCoy are all younger and definitely worthy because A.) They're going to get fed the rock (hopefully in the case of Spiller/Charles), and B.) They're studs, duh.  I would even give thought to Calvin Johnson.  Don’t lock yourself in to Foster/AP just because everyone else is doing it, especially knowing that they probably won't live up to these draft spots.  There's plenty of time to change this before the season, but If I'm picking first today, I'm taking Doug Martin.

 

I'm on Twitter, if you want to bug me.

 

Comments

I'm sure many of you have that one star for you that brought home the bacon for you on Sunday afternoon, well the way http://www.draftstreet.com points system works I can't stress enough how valuable it is to grab AP when he is available, your wallet will thank you!

So, RBs that are 26 years or older and have 350 carries historically have bad season the following year. Don't RBs who tear their ACL historically have a bad season the following year? Peterson is a man who wrecks historical precedent. I would be less surprised if he ran for 2,500 yards than if he runs like Shonn Greene.

Shame on you.

I'm not sure about the running backs who tear their ACL question. I haven't done the research there. Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts though.

What? you didn't play fantasy last year? He's talking about conventional wisdom and how people who have some balls are rewarded.

Ryan,
Enjoyed your analysis. I am in a keeper league and the defending champion (standard format, 10-team league). I would love your advice on who I should keep going into the 2013 season. Pick 2 of the following: Adrian Peterson, Arian Foster and Calvin Johnson. I am leaning towards keeping Peterson & Foster simply b/c there are more WRs to pick from than top-tier RBs. I can trade one of these for an extra draft pick. The more research I do the more I get concerned about Foster.

Thoughts?

Scott - I didn't hesitate at all to say AP/Calvin. I understand the worries about top-tier RBs, but Calvin is just a much safer keeper IMO.

AP has got to be your #1 overall draft pick, given what he's done in his career and how incredible his year was coming off his ACL. After watching Foster's runs in 2012, he back to "normal" as far as NFL backs are concerned. If he did't get the rock as much as he dd around the goal line, he'd actually be a late 1st round pick, after Spiller/Charles, etc.

If you were drafting a FFl today, Who would be your first pick? More specifically, if you were drafting second, (as I am soon), and assuming that AP went #1, who would you take second?

I think AP seems like the consensus at this point, but I think McCoy, Martin, and Charles all offer similar upside. I haven't finalized my rankings, but AP will inevitably be at the top. If anyone can buck the trends I highlight in this article, it's him.

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