Ten days ago I submitted an article about RGIII’s latest injury. In the time since, Danny Woodhead, Arian Foster, Doug Martin, Ameer Abdullah, Donte Moncrief, Jonathan Stewart, Jim McMahon, Josh McCown, Doink the Clown, Ryan Leaf, the entire Chicago Bears defense, my level 39 bulbasaur named Ricky, and Cindy Crawford’s mole have also been hurt. The Civil War was less injurious.
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On top of all that, Adrian Peterson tore his meniscus, necessitating surgery and as many as six months on the shelf. Aside from crying in the shower, cold and alone, what are his owners to do in this time of crisis? I’d recommend turning the shower handle from cold to hot. I’d also recommend reading the rest of this article.
The good news is Peterson wasn’t playing well anyway. Despite ranking 13th in carries, he checks in as the RB63 thanks almost entirely to a staggeringly poor 1.6 yards per carry. Of course, Matt Asiata and Jerrick McKinnon have combined for 35 yards on 13 carries, which is .6 yards per carry fewer than Trent Richardson averaged for his career. Basically, despite facing the totally non-threatening Green Bay and Titans’ defenses, the Vikings run game has been a pile of poo.
Even if the poo-ness remains, there is a gob of touches up for grabs in the greater Minneapolis/St. Paul area. The general feeling is third-year pro McKinnon will be the early down volume runner type. McKinnon has proven in limited action over the last two seasons he is an explosive and highly capable back, even if he does sport some flaws. As ever, pass blocking is an issue. General inconsistency and unproven short yardage ability are also issues hanging around his neck in a decidedly albatross-like fashion.
Despite some improvement from McKinnon in the aforementioned areas, Asiata already excels in each, making for a bit of a muddied situation. As much as we think the young speedster will get the early down work, we know with utter confidence Asiata will get the vast majority of touches inside the five yard line. We can also be quite confident he will net most all of the third down snaps, leading to higher reception totals, or at least the depression of McKinnon’s.
When looking at cost of acquisition, McKinnon is going to be an expensive little morsel. He was already knocking at the door of the top-100 in ADP, making him worth a high second or so. Now that he is going to get touches for the rest of the season, and perhaps all of next year (more on this shortly), I would imagine a 2017 first would be the asking price. As much as I like the kid, that is far too rich for my blood, especially when we have no real read on his 2017 role.
Speaking of next year, there is a very real chance Peterson won’t be back in Minnesota. He carries an $18 million cap hit with zero dead money, meaning the Vikings could cut the 32-by-next-season future hall of famer without any penalty. If he is back, it will be for far less than half of what he is scheduled to make. This leaves us with a bit of a dilemma in trying to forecast the backfield for 2017 and beyond. As I said above, I can’t see paying up for McKinnon with no real idea what next year will bring.
Peterson’s value is obviously going to take a huge dive. His ADP in September mocks was 27th overall, one of the most absurd things I’ve seen in my time with DLF. How a 31 year old running back was being taken ahead of Cam Newton, Devante Parker, and every rookie wide receiver is beyond me. Hopefully this is a lesson well learned so when Todd Gurley is 31 he isn’t still an early third round pick.
If I had to predict things going forward, I’d expect better than 60% of the touches and fantasy points going to McKinnon. Unless he is able to score touchdowns from outside the ten, catch more passes than I think he will, or stage a long awaited breakout, the scoring split with Asiata could edge closer to 50/50, making the latter a worthy investment at his low asking price.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to call the other Adrian Peterson and see if he can redesign my business cards.
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