Rewind back to 2013, Adrian Peterson was the consensus #1 pick in fantasy football leagues, but it was Jamaal Charles who ended the season as the fantasy football MVP. Both players turned in monster 2013 campaigns and solidified themselves as fantasy football royalty. AP wouldn’t be so kind to fantasy owners the following season as he played in only one game after being served a suspension and was forced to sit out the rest of the season. For Jamaal Charles, his downward spiral began in 2015 where he played in only 5 games before tearing his ACL. He went on to appear in only 3 games this season. Fast forward to the offseason of 2017, both players were released by their respective teams on the same day, just a week before the kickoff of free agency.
While these two players are far past their prime, they still draw intrigue from the fantasy football crowd based on their past production. Whether they’re next role is as a backup, or on the off chance that they’re signed by a team to fill a vacated starting job, they still present upside – a change of scenery usually brings upside to a player, in it’s own right.
So what’s next for these established NFL running backs? Of course, rumors began to swirl the instant both of these players hit the open market. Peterson has already been linked to teams such as the New York Giants, Oakland Raiders and Dallas Cowboys, among others. As for Charles, a lot seem to think a reunion with former offensive coordinator Doug Pederson in Philadelphia would make a lot of sense.
Now I’m going to shift my focus and attempt to project ADPs and stat-lines for both of these players in 2017, and prove who presents better fantasy value this season. Both players are past their prime, but still present some upside based on change of scenery, and past production. Someone who was in similar shoes last season, Arian Foster. After getting cut by the Texans, he signed with Miami and appeared in only 4 games where he compiled an abysmal 2.5 yards per carry with a fumble. Will Peterson and Charles be any different?
I’ll start with Adrian Peterson. The former top 10 draft pick out of Oklahoma was considered a generational talent, and lived up to the hype during his stint in Minnesota. He went on to rack off 4-consecutive 1,000 yard seasons. He broke 2,000 yards in a career year back in 2012. Every season he amassed double-digit TDs, excluding 2014 and 2016 when he appeared in only 4 combined games. After tearing his meniscus in week 2 this past season, Peterson finished the year with less than 2 yards per carry on 37 attempts. Some NFL executives has speculated that Peterson has “lost his burst”.
Looking at my RB rankings for this upcoming season, Peterson looks like to be a borderline top 25 guy, which still equates to an RB2. It looks like the New York Giants are the early frontrunner to land his services, while the workload he’d get is appealing, the system isn’t ideal. The Giants like to run the ball out of the shotgun, which isn’t where Peterson excels. He’s better in a system out of the I-formation or in singleback sets. I think his stock would see a rise if he ended up in Oakland. It’s nearly impossible to project stats at this point, but I’ll give it a try. Peterson isn’t going to be the bellcow back he once was, but he’ll still be good for 12-15 carries per game, if his health stays intact. For 2017, I’ll project: 150 carries, 600 rushing yards and 5 TDs – he still poses a solid goalline presence. His current ADP early in the process has Peterson towards the top of the 3rd round – probably not worth it at that spot in the draft. However, he wouldn’t be terrible value in the 4th-5th round range.
As for Charles, I have him slated as a borderline top 30 RB this season. While he’s appeared in only 8 games the past two seasons, Charles still presents fantasy upside. In every other season excluding 2016, Charles averaged an incredible 5 yards per carry – no player has ever seen success like that. He’s proven to be extremely fragile over the years, and drafting him is a risk in itself, but if he does end up in Philadelphia, he won’t see much playing time, but could provide a nice spark off the bench as a runner and especially in the passing game. He’s a scheme fit in Philadelphia – previously playing under Doug Pederson, meaning he should be able to produce right off the bat. Charles is a better PPR option, with 285 career catches. He’ll likely average under 10 carries per game, but that career average of 5.5 yards per attempt shows he can produce regardless of volume. Currently Charles has an ADP at the end of the 4th round, which is far too early for my liking. In PPR leagues, he presents decent value and upside in the late 5th-6th round range.
There are major differences between Adrian Peterson and Jamaal Charles, but there are some similarities as well. As I touched on earlier, both players have seen tremendous success in the past, but now see themselves headed for decline. Still, their name recognition keeps them hovering in fantasy relevance.
Comparing the two, Peterson still looks like the better option for 2017. He’s not going to bust off 100 yard games each week, but he will be a consistent 6-8 point contributor each week and have a more consistent workload than Charles. As for Charles, he’s a better PPR option, but won’t see as many touches. The area in which he has Peterson beat is his ability to break off huge games, but that won’t happen too frequently this year. Peterson has the volume, while Charles brings the spark factor. If you can snag Peterson in the 4th or 5th round, go right ahead – especially if he ends up in Oakland.