Patrick Peterson is the electrifying return man and cornerback of the Arizona Cardinals. He was the fifth overall draft pick in the 2011 NFL Draft out of LSU, and he is coming into his own under head coach Bruce Arians, who has plans to use Peterson on offense this year.
According to ESPN, Arians has installed a set of 15 plays to feature the athletic Peterson, who had been mentioned along the lines of Deion Sanders and Bo Jackson. An athletic freak to some, he threw the football 70 yards, showing off his arm strength, then ran routes that made Arians say, “He could be a top-five wide receiver.”
As a defensive player in IDP leagues, you get points for total tackles, sacks, forced fumbles, fumble recoveries and touchdowns. Peterson has only averaged 55 tackles per year in his first two years in the league, a far cry from the leaders like Luke Kuechly of the Carolina Panthers and his 150-plus tackles last year.
But what Peterson does that few others can do on defense is score touchdowns. He had zero touchdowns last year, but four as a rookie returning punts and kickoffs. Add the fact that Arians won’t be shy using his superstar on offense gets me to thinking that you can pencil in Peterson for 3-4 touchdowns returning, and another 2-3 on offense.
If he gets yet another 1-3 touchdowns on defensive interceptions and fumble returns, well, you could look for a year of 10 touchdowns by Peterson, a mark that defensive players just don’t make.
But Peterson is ranked the no. 25 defensive back in IDP by ESPN fantasy football rankings, below such players as Eric Berry of the Kansas City Chiefs and Cortland Finnegan of the St. Louis Rams. Why is he so low, you ask?
Remember when I mentioned that Peterson has been compared to Sanders in terms of athletic ability. Well, that’s not the only comparison to “Primetime” people have been making. If he shuts down Cardinals’ no. 1 wide receiver, teams may simply start ignoring his side of the field, much like they did when Sanders played. That is a cause for concern among fantasy owners who want to draft Peterson, as he will get little to no tackles.
Don’t be alarmed though. Peterson is getting better at coverage every day, but he is still a year or two away from Sanders territory. So when it comes to drafting a defensive player for your IDP leagues this year, don’t hesitate when you see Peterson’s name creeping up the rankings because he might just shock you when it comes to putting up points for a defensive player — both on the field and as a fantasy player.