If you’re reading this article in April, you’re pretty deep into the world of fantasy football. And as the NFL draft and OTAs turn into fantasy football season, you’re going to be reading a lot of strategy articles and player breakdowns. If you remember one piece of advice from the pre-draft portion of the upcoming fantasy football season, it should be the following…avoid landmines at all cost. One potential landmine is age 30+ running backs. We see it time and time again, running backs don’t decline in a linear way, they tend to drop off a cliff. Since 2012, there have only been 24 running backs over 30 to score more than 100 points in a season. Of those 24 running backs, only 6 have been 32 or older.
This leads us perfectly into the recent free agent signing of Adrian Peterson. A month after his 32nd birthday, he has finally found a landing spot for the 2017 season. Peterson will be heading down to New Orleans to join the Saints. There’s always a chance that a change of scenery reinvigorates a player that seemed to be on their last leg, and that’s certainly possible in this case but I’m not sold. Let’s take a look at the cases for and against Peterson in 2017.
In 2015, he put together an incredible season, rushing 327 times for over 1,400 yards and even found the end zone 11 times. Fast forward a year, with a Vikings offensive line that was an unmitigated disaster, and results dropped off. Granted, Peterson played just 2 full games. But he put together a disappointing 31 rushing attempts for 50 yards and added 2 catches for 7 yards in those games. Some will argue that his 2015 campaign is impressive enough to throw out last year’s injury shortened season, but I’m not one of those people. The age cliff for running backs is a well-documented phenomenon that I’m not willing to risk on my fantasy teams.
Adrian Peterson’s age isn’t the only concern driving down his fantasy value. Mark Ingram and Tim Hightower owners will remember how much of a muddled mess the running back situation was in New Orleans last year. If you combine the two, you had an impressive 338 rushes for 1,591 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground alone. The issue was deciding between Ingram and Hightower on a week-to-week basis. Hightower’s new residence in San Francisco made it seem like Ingram’s situation would improve, but Peterson’s fantasy value remains a mystery.
There’s a chance that not drafting Peterson will blow up in my face this year. But, I’m not interested in investing in a 32 year old running back competing for touches. Combine that with the headaches that Sean Payton caused fantasy owners last year, and it’s a no-go. This might have been a good football move for the New Orleans Saints, but it’s not the best situation for your fantasy teams.