Adrian_Peterson_Vikings
Adrian Peterson might surprise those he think he’s finished. Photo credit: Arvee5.0 at Flickr. Licensed under cc-by-2.0.

Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers out there. I became a father around this time last year, and I couldn’t be a happier Dad. I want to defend my fellow fathers in the NFL who get disrespected in fantasy drafts every year because of their age. Here are some guys who can still get it done, and who you’re probably getting at a discount in drafts.

Frank Gore

Have to start with Frank Gore. He is the model of consistency, and there’s no reason why we should think he will slow down; we’ve made that mistake a few times. He had 263 attempts last year, more than 1000 yards, and 4 TDs on the ground. But that’s not all he did. He caught some balls on the down low as well, with 38 catches for 277 yards for another 4 TDs. Here’s thing, the early down running back in this Colts offense is going to produce in fantasy. As long as Andrew Luck is running this offense, Gore will have easier running lanes since the pass has to be respected, and he’ll simply have more opportunities to score.

The Colts did draft Marlon Mack in the fourth round, but he’s their home run hitter. We could see him in on passing plays, third downs, and on designed plays when the Colts need a spark. They have Robert Turbin as well, who is an excellent pass protector and has done very well on third downs for the Colts last year. That being said, the main guy on early downs is still Frank Gore. He will do the dirty work in this Luck-led offense, and with that comes opportunity. We can’t sleep on him again this year. If you want a guy who doesn’t have a high ceiling but does provide week-to-week consistency, draft Gore. You’ll be getting him in the 7th round, around guys like Rob Kelley, Kenneth Dixon, Jamaal Charles, Samaje Perine, and Jeremy Hill. Gore is the only one out of all those guys with a secure early-down starting job.

Larry Fitzgerald

Fitz is being drafted in the 5th round, and he will likely slide in your draft. If you’re in a PPR league, he better be on your radar. At age 33 last season, Larry Fitzgerald led the league in receptions with 107. The year before that, 109. He finished as a WR1 last year at #12 when you look at PPR points per game. With Michael Floyd out of town, Fitzgerald will remain Carson Palmer’s favorite target. This could be Fitzgerald’s last year in the NFL, and even though he’s one of the most humble guys in the NFL, his teammates and coaches are going to have him go out with a bang. I like that narrative, and to me, that adds targets, and even better, targets in the end zone. Larry had 6 TDs last year, but he actually has at least 8 every other year. With 6 being a down year, I would expect him to get more targets within the 10-yard line and regress positively to at least 8 TDs. He’s still a matchup nightmare because of his route running and size. He’s not exciting to draft, but take advantage of that and expect Fitz to put up very similar numbers to last year, and in PPR, you can’t go wrong.

Marshawn Lynch

Marshawn Lynch is 31, but he took a year off of football, so his football age is 30 🙂 Beast mode is back. Lynch is so excited to be playing for his hometown Oakland Raiders. I’m drafting a guy who’s that excited to play football. The offense did pretty well last year, and provided tons of opportunity to running backs. Latavius Murray was 7th in rushing attempts inside the 10 yard line. We know that Lynch has the nose for the end zone. The last four full seasons he had with Seattle (not counting his last injury plagued season), he averaged 12 touchdowns per year. Murray had opportunity in the passing game as well, and Lynch has the ability to catch out of the backfield. He averaged 31 catches per year in Seattle during those same four years, and Murray had 33 catches last year.

This offense is almost exactly the same as last year, except replace Latavius Murray with Marshawn Lynch. I’ll take that as an upgrade. With the connection between Derek Carr and Michael Crabtree, along with improving chemistry between Carr and Amari Cooper, this offense has the potential to be one of the highest scoring teams in the league this year. There are a complement of backs in DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard who will help spell Lynch and play passing downs, but Lynch will be the workhorse for this team. Expect a ton of carries, and if Lynch can get most of that red zone work that Murray got, I would expect Murray’s TD total last year of at least 12 TDs to be there for Lynch. He’s being drafted at the end of the 2nd round with guys like Jordan Howard, Leonard Fournette, Todd Gurley and Lamar Miller. I’m taking Lynch over all of those guys, even Jordan Howard. We know what Lynch’s role is, and Howard’s ceiling is capped in that offense, unless he plays most third downs, which we’re slightly unsure of at this point.

Julian Edelman

Edelman started off slow at the beginning of the year, and that’s still in the minds of many fantasy players. He’s also getting up there in age, Brandin Cooks is coming to town, so he might be someone who can fall a bit in drafts for a few reasons. Edelman is currently going in the back of the 4th round. He’s going around guys like Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Crabtree, Brandon Marshall, Golden Tate, and Martavis Bryant. In PPR drafts, give me Edelman and Crabtree.  And since Edelman is the older guy, we’re talking about him here. Remember, Edelman was coming off surgery for a broken foot.

He started off with a couple of good games, but had a bad stretch between Weeks 3 and Week 6. However, after that, Edelman averaged 12 targets, 7 catches, and 84 yards per game for the rest of the year. I also welcome Gronk back to the offense, as Edelman is not dependent on Gronk being off the field for him to perform. Edelman actually averages better numbers with Gronk on the field, than with him off, because it opens things up underneath where Edelman does most of his work. The whole Patriots offense is way better with them both on the field. On arguably the league’s best offense, we want Brady’s most targeted guy. And we’re getting him at a discount.

Adrian Peterson

We’re going to find out a lot about Adrian Peterson this year. He’s either washed up, and those 1.9 yards per carry he averaged in 2.5 games last year with the Vikings was a product of him reaching father time, or it was a horrible offensive line that couldn’t run block to match his style, yet anyone’s style. Pro Football Focus ranked the Vikings offensive line at #29 in 2016. Based on what Peterson has done in his career, I’m going to side with Peterson and give him the benefit of doubt. Peterson is a beast and his work ethic is top notch. He knows what to do in order to prepare for a season, and he’s proven us wrong before. We wrote him off right before the 2015 season, and he responded with almost 1500 yards and 11 touchdowns.

That was only two years ago. Now he’s on the Saints, one of the most opportune teams to run for. With Peterson’s nose for the end zone, and the Saints’ being #1 in the league in red zone scoring attempts last year, expect Peterson to bounce back in a big way in this high-powered offense. Let’s touch on the elephant in the room, Mark Ingram. He’s still on the roster, he’s still a pretty good running back, but Sean Payton obviously has something against him. Ingram was playing just fine last year, lost a fumble in the first quarter, and he got benched for Tim Hightower, who’s not the most efficient runner in the world. Not only that, but Hightower fumbled as well, but stayed in the game. They split carries the rest of the way, and then the Saints brought in Peterson this year. I doubt there will be an even split, and I think Peterson takes a hold of this job and gets most of the carries in this offense. Remember, this offense can sustain two running backs. But Peterson is more talented than either of the RBs from last year. Expect him to outperform your expectations.

He’s going in the middle of the 5th round, around guys like CJ Anderson, Doug Martin, Tevin Coleman, Eddie Lacy, and Ameer Abdullah. I can’t pass up on Peterson at that point in the draft. His ceiling is higher than most people think; this is the best offense he’s ever been on.