Choosing between Jamaal Charles and Adrian Peterson in fantasy football this year is a tough call. Last season, Charles finished with just over 100 points more than Peterson. In 2012, Peterson topped Charles by roughly the same amount. The last full season they both played was in 2010 and they finished within a few points of each other.
Neither player finished below eighth among running backs in any of those seasons, so consider it a win-win if you’re in a position to pick between the two. At first glance, going with Peterson feels like the safer play. Despite two seasons with 14 games played and one season with 12 games, he has put up double-digit touchdowns in every season of his career.
But there is another side of that consistency: less upside. While he always hits double-digits, Peterson has only topped 13 total touchdowns once, when he managed 18 for a career high. Charles’ career high of 19 touchdowns in 2013 was the only time he ever hit double-digits, but that fact can be misleading.
Before Andy Reid came to town last season, Charles was the workhorse who constantly had his touchdowns vultured. Now he gets the goal-line carries and he’s a major part of the receiving game, as evidenced by his team-leading 70 receptions and 693 receiving yards.
You could say both players are the centers of their respective offenses, but Peterson is not nearly as involved in the passing game as Charles. Basically you’re picking between two pretty sure-things, but one has more upside.
There is a solid argument for Peterson here. He is the slightly safer option, his offensive line is much stronger, and he faces an easier schedule. Those are all important advantages, but Charles still gets the edge.
He’s younger, consistently explosive, and no other team revolves around their running back like the Kansas City Chiefs. With Reid in town, he is just as much of a safe bet for double-digit touchdowns as Peterson. The main factor that sends Charles over the edge is his involvement in the passing game.
Alex Smith will continue to dump it off to him on a regular basis, and let him make plays in open space. In a crazy season of record-breaking quarterback numbers, Charles finished last season as the third highest scorer in fantasy football among all positions, and that upside is just too big to pass up.