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Fantasy football: Vikings’ Adrian Peterson belongs No. 1 on 2013 draft board

The Vikings’ Adrian Peters(running through tackle attempt by Bears’ Chris Conte) leads NFL rushing by more than 400 yards. |

The Vikings’ Adrian Peterson (running through a tackle attempt by the Bears’ Chris Conte) leads the NFL in rushing by more than 400 yards. | AP

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Updated: January 20, 2013 6:19AM



We don’t know everything about players’ fantasy prospects for next season, but it’s a good bet there will be a new No. 1 player on draft boards across the country: Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.

What he has done is nothing short of remarkable. Monday will mark the one-year anniversary of the day Peterson suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, but you’d never know it by looking at his numbers.

He leads the league with 1,812 rushing yards, 433 more than second-ranked Marshawn Lynch. He’s 294 yards shy of breaking the NFL’s single-season mark of 2,105 set by Eric Dickerson in 1984. He has broken 100 rushing yards in the last eight games, including 200 yards twice, and has averaged 164 yards during that span. He also has 11 touchdowns for the season.

Arian Foster, the near-consensus No. 1 pick entering the season, is fourth in rushing with 1,313 yards — Peterson’s output during his eight-game run. In a basic-scoring system, Foster is second to Peterson in points among running backs (258-231) because of his league-high 16 touchdowns. The margin would be closer if Foster’s receiving yards hadn’t dropped from more than 600 in the last two seasons to 180 this season.

Both players could put up similar numbers next season, but Peterson has been so consistent that he belongs at No. 1. For every argument against him, there’s an argument for him. If you’re concerned about his injury, he seems to be fine. If you’re concerned about his supporting cast, it hasn’t mattered that quarterback Christian Ponder ranks 25th in the league in passer rating or that the Vikings’ top receiver, Percy Harvin, hasn’t played a full game since Week 8.

Foster backers will point to the wear and tear on Peterson, who has 711 more career carries, even though he’s only about 17 months older. Peterson is in his sixth season; Foster is in his fourth. But running backs generally don’t plummet in production until they turn 30. Peterson is 27 and Foster 26. Peterson’s decline might begin before Foster’s, but it probably isn’t happening next season.

Odds are, you won’t go wrong with either Peterson or Foster. Their owners will appreciate the near-certainty of their production because, after them, opinions will vary widely at running back. Here are mine as part of a ridiculously early top-20 overall ranking for next season.

2013 TOP 20 PLAYERS

1. RB Adrian Peterson, Vikings

2. RB Arian Foster, Texans

3. QB Aaron Rodgers, Packers

4. QB Tom Brady, Patriots

5. RB Jamaal Charles, Chiefs

6. WR Calvin Johnson, Lions

7. QB Drew Brees, Saints

8. RB Ray Rice, Ravens

9. RB LeSean McCoy, Eagles

10. RB Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks

11. RB Doug Martin, Buccaneers

12. WR A.J. Green, Bengals

13. RB Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars

14. QB Robert Griffin III, Redskins

15. RB Trent Richardson, Browns

16. WR Dez Bryant, Cowboys

17. RB C.J. Spiller, Bills

18. RB Chris Johnson, Titans

19. QB Cam Newton, Panthers

20. WR Demaryius Thomas, Broncos

WEEK 16 OUTLOOK

GAME OF THE WEEK

Saints at Cowboys: Coming off a miraculous shutout, the Saints’ defense should look more like itself.

GAME OF THE MEEK

Bears at Cardinals: The Bears rank 29th in offense, the Cardinals 32nd. You’re playing Brandon Marshall. Anyone else?

PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

Falcons QB Matt Ryan: After throwing five touchdown passes in five games, he has five in the last two. Next up are the Lions.

Patriots RB Stevan Ridley: He could break 100 yards for the first time since Week 8 against the Jaguars’ league-worst run defense.

Panthers WR Steve Smith: He has been a bust, but he finally has three consecutive double-digit games. The Raiders’ pass defense ranks 27th.

PLAYERS OF THE MEEK

Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger: The Bengals have allowed one touchdown pass or fewer in the last six games.

Rams RB Steven Jackson: The Buccaneers’ run defense figures to get its mojo back after being torched by the Saints.

Seahawks WR Sidney Rice: The 49ers have allowed a league-low six touchdown passes to wide receivers (tied with the Falcons).

LAST WEEK’S PICKS

PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

QB Andy Dalton: 127 yards,
TD pass/run, 2 fumbles

RB Chris Johnson: 122 yards, TD

WR Josh Gordon: 27 yards

PLAYERS OF THE MEEK

QB Joe Flacco: 254 yards,
2 TD passes, INT

RB DeMarco Murray: 81 yards rushing, 31 yards receiving, TD run

WR Steve Johnson: 115 yards, TD



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