Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch were both first-round picks in the 2007 NFL Draft, and while Peterson was highly productive immediately Lynch needed to find a home with the Seattle Seahawks before becoming one of the league’s best running backs over the last three seasons. Fantasy football owners have reaped the benefits of having Peterson and Lynch, but both are nearing the age when running backs decline.
Is Peterson or Lynch the better fantasy option for this year?
The Case For Adrian Peterson
After his 2,000-yard season in 2012, Peterson’s 1,266 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns in 14 games last year looks disappointing. But he was at less than full strength in multiple games, and he now has double-digit rushing touchdowns in all seven seasons of his career.
Peterson’s career-high for receptions in a season is 43 in 2009, which coincided with Brett Favre’s arrival, and he also had 40 catches in 2012. Vikings’ offensive coordinator Norv Turner plans to get Peterson more involved in the passing game this year, so 50 receptions is not out of the question.
The Case For Marshawn Lynch
Lynch has 35 touchdowns on the ground over the past three seasons, including a tied for league-high 12 last year. He also has at least 285 carries (300 or more twice) and 1,200 rushing yards in each of the last three seasons as the centerpiece of a run-first Seahawks’ offense.
Lynch had more than 30 receptions (36) last year for the first time since 2008 with the Buffalo Bills, and he set a career-high in receiving yards with 316. Despite not being relied on much in the passing game, Lynch has four receiving touchdowns over the last three seasons (two in 2013).
LeSean McCoy and Jamaal Charles should both be drafted ahead of Peterson in my opinion, but some people may still consider him the No. 1 fantasy running back this year. Lynch is a sure-fire first-round pick once again, but with more than 1,000 carries over the last three seasons (including the playoffs) the risk for a rapid decline is present and his desire for a new contract adds some risk. Turner’s arrival as offensive coordinator puts Peterson in a position to be productive as a receiver and part of a better offense as a whole, so that tips the scales in his favor and makes him my choice here.