Adrian Peterson is averaging 1,550 yards on the ground and 11 touchdowns.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Admittedly, it's early, very early, but I'm looking at who I would take if I had one of the top-five picks in this year's fantasy football draft.
I think the No.1 overall pick is pretty easy, and obvious, Adrian Peterson. Starting his third season, the Vikings' star running back is averaging 1,550 yards on the ground and 11 touchdowns. And that's without a reliable threat at quarterback. They picked up Houston backup quarterback Sage Rosenfels as an improvement to Tarvaris Jackson or Gus Frerotte and of course as anyone who has watched ESPN, even for a minute knows, are pursuing Brett Favre.
With either Rosenfels or Favre behind center, there would be enough of a passing threat to make Peterson even more dangerous.
So much for the easy picks, after Peterson, the draft could go in almost any direction.
Most early mock drafts have Matt Forte, Michael Turner and Maurice Jones-Drew in the next grouping, but I have concerns with two of them.
Forte was the rookie sensation who carried the Chicago Bears offense in 2008. Actually, he was pretty much the only offense the Bears had last season. They worked him hard, having him carry the ball 316 times for 1,238 yards and also catching 63 passes for 477 yards. That's 379 touches if my abacus is correct and that's an awful lot of work and pounding on a running back.
We have all seen the stories of running backs who have been worked too hard who falter the next year. In one study I read it showed that a running back with 300-369 carries will see their rushing yardage decline by 15% the following year and yards-per-carry decline by 2%. By the way, after all those carries, Forte failed to crack the 100-yard mark for combined rushing and receiving yards in Weeks 15-17...a.k.a. playoff time.
Turner falls into the 370+ carries umbrella in which the same study showed a 35% decline in rushing yardage and 8% in yards-per-carry. Add to that, the fact that second-year quarterback Matt Ryan will be a year older and wiser and will be allowed to throw more often (particularly to new acquisition Tony Gonzalez) and Turner's numbers are sure to fall.
Finally there is Jones-Drew, who should be a stud in 2009 given that he will no longer have to share the backfield with Fred Taylor. They instead added a receiving threat, Tory Holt, something they haven't had in a while. It might be just the thing to keep defenses from playing an eight-man front against Jones- Drew. Therefore, I can easily see picking Jones-Drew at No.2 ahead of either Forte or Turner.
And what would you do if all four of the above were picked and you were sitting with the No.5 pick?
It looks to be an impossible situation to get correct. No one stands out at this point. Steven Jackson who can't seem to stay on the field? LaDainian Tomlinson who is certainly on the downhill side of his great career? Chris Johnson or last year's fantasy MVP DeAngelo Williams?
Or perhaps you would like to be the first owner to select a quarterback. Again you have a problem. If Tom Brady is completely healthy, how do you not pick the man who in his last full season threw for 4,807 yards and 50 touchdowns. Unfortunately, if you read my last column, you know you won't likely know whether Brady is 100% at draft time. So do you take the safer pick in Drew Brees?
Finally if you don't want to draft a quarterback that early, you could pick a wide receiver. Again there are question marks. Will Randy Moss return to 2007 form now that his favorite quarterback is back behind center? Or do you pick Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald?
Good thing it's still June and my draft is more than two months away, because I have more questions than answers.
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