Home > NFL > Sept. 2 – Fantasy Debate – Peterson or Johnson?, NFL Re-Previews (Part 8 of 8)

Sept. 2 – Fantasy Debate – Peterson or Johnson?, NFL Re-Previews (Part 8 of 8)

In the last installment of fantasy debate, we’ll look at the top two running backs. The number one pick overall by almost all accounts is Chris Johnson of Tennessee. In his 2nd NFL season, he broke the 2000 yard barrier. Ranked second is Adrian Peterson of the Vikings. Peterson is starting his 4th year playing for Minnesota.

Let’s compare the two:

Rushing Yards: Johnson led all rushers with 2006 yards last year, and the year before he ran for 1228 yards in 15 games as a rookie. Last year he had 12 100-yard rushing days. He averaged almost 6 yards a carry, and only fumbled the ball away 3 times. All of these are incredible numbers, and there’s no reason to think he can’t do it again. Peterson saw his rushing yards go down in 2009, primarily do to the fact that the Vikings found a passing attack with Brett Favre in the fold. He rushed for 1389 yards, down from 1760 the year before. He managed only 3 100-yard rushing games, and lost the ball 6 times (no, I’m NOT counting the Championship game thank you.) Fairly obvious here – big advantage to Johnson.  

Receptions, Passing Yards: This category will probably be a draw in 2010. Although Johnson had about 70 more yards and 7 more catches in 2009, the Vikings are counting on Peterson to handle more 3rd down duty in the upcoming year with the departure of Chester Taylor. That should kick his reception numbers up a bit, and I think their numbers will end up being comparable.

Touchdowns:  Peterson probably has the slight edge here. Despite the huge advantage that Johnson had in yards overall, AP still scored more TDs, scoring 18 to Johnson’s 16. Peterson has an edge in build, which usually nets more goal-line success. Tennessee will have the option of Vince Young in goal-line situations. It’s close, but give Peterson a small victory here.

Team: Both guys have solid O-lines to block for them. Peterson gets to work behind the likes of Steve Hutchinson and big Phil Loadholt.  Johnson’s O-Line was one of the best led by Jake Scott and Michael Roos. Both guys have QB’s that don’t allow defenses to load up the box. Both play in good climates. I would say that this is a draw.

Opponents: A small advantage for Johnson here. Peterson matches up against a lot of staunch defenses this year: Green Bay (x2), Dallas and the NY Jets to name a few. The defenses in the AFC South are somewhat suspect, and the Titans also play the weak AFC West.   

Overall: I think this comes down to how much you believe in Peterson and the Vikings. If you believe Peterson will be more of a workhorse with Taylor gone, and that Favre will be as much of a threat as he was last year, then you can at least make the argument to draft AP first. However, I think there are too many factors that favor Johnson. If it were my pick, I’d take that safer bet (and I also wouldn’t suffer double the pain when Peterson puts the ball on the ground.)

Last, but not least, the AFC West:

Denver Broncos:

If you could combine the 1st half Broncos with the 2nd half titans, you would have a Super Bowl contender. Denver provided my model with a lot of its success, primarily because bettors who made the line didn’t believe in the numbers – but my model did. The defense did play very well at the outset, allowing 43 points in their first 5 games (including games against DAL and NE). The model won 9 out of the first 10 weeks with the Broncos, and went 11-4 overall and in over/unders. 2010 Outlook :  The 2nd year of Josh McDaniels’ tenure will be challenging – he will have to find a way to get points on the board. Kyle Orton’s play has been a pleasant surprise, but there’s always the thought he may return to his Chicago form. Moreno is a nice RB, but with Brandon Marshall gone, who is Orton getting the ball to? On defense the team has a nice secondary with Dawkins and Bailey, but only one real star in the front 7 in Dumervil. I’m still not sure what kind of role Tim Tebow will play. I’m predicting a rough 5 win season.

Kansas City Chiefs:

Jamaal Charles - courtesy NFL.Com

The 2009 Chiefs were a team that was supposed to start to succeed with a new coach, new GM, and new QB. Well it didn’t really happen that way, and the Chiefs finished with 4 wins. However, some good did come out of the 2009 campaign. Jamaal Charles became many fantasy owners’ best friend, with an excellent season rushing and catching the ball. The Chiefs secondary showed improvement – and now will only get better with first rounder Eric Berry. Still, Matt Cassel did not live up to expectations, and the D gave up 30+ points 5 times. I went 9-6 with KC, and 4-9-2 on over/unders. 2010 Outlook :  The Chiefs will need to show some improvement in the passing game this year – Matt Cassel needs to step up and show his run with the Pats wasn’t a fluke. They added Thomas Jones, who, along with Charles, gives them an A+ running game. Dwayne Bowe and new addition Jehreme Urban are hardly elite receivers. The D didn’t change much, which doesn’t bode well. I’ll give them 5 wins as well.

Oakland Raiders:

The Raiders proved a fundamental theory of all sports – if you don’t score, you don’t win. (genius!) The Raiders managed 10  or fewer points 7 times in 15 games. That’s almost half the time scoring 10 or less points. They did score some nice surprise victories over the Steelers and Eagles, but it was obvious this team needed a change at the QB position. The ugly offense overshadowed a decent defense that only allowed 30+ points 3 times. The model went 8-7 with the Raiders, and 10-5 on over/unders. 2010 Outlook :  The Raiders made a nice move in picking up Jason Campbell from Washington. If that change alone can net the Raiders some more scoring, and open up the field a little for Darren McFadden, this team should improve. They also bolstered the D with John Henderson on the line and 1st round draft pick Rolando McClain. I’ll give them 6 or 7 wins, and a good chance to outpace the Broncos and Chiefs.

San Diego Chargers:

It’s amazing how, year in and year out, such a talented team cannot win the big game. I’m not sure how many more heartbreaking playoff losses the charger fan can take. San Diego got off to a 2-3 start, but then ran through a tough schedule (wins at the Giants and Cowboys were impressive) on their way to a playoff bye. Offensively, the team excelled, never scoring under 20 the whole season. Defensively they were “bend-but-don’t-break”, which was fine for the offensive firepower they had. The model didn’t do great here, going 7-8, and 5-9-1 on over/unders. 2010 Outlook :  I see the chargers, Colts, and Ravens as the top three teams in the AFC – I still have to figure out the order. If San Diego doesn’t play down to the competition they should end up with the best record. Losing Tomlinson and Cromartie won’t hurt the team immensely, and I have them going 13-3.

Please feel free to post your thoughts on the fantasy debate or the AFC West. Stay tuned next week as I’ll start to post the model’s predicted scores for Week 1.

Categories: NFL
  1. Josh Wasserman
    September 3, 2010 at 8:12 AM

    I’m one of Michael’s friends, he told me about this site. I really liked your analysis of AP vs CJ. I managed to get Chris Johnson with the THIRD PICK in my draft ( don’t ask) and once I recovered from the shock I was ecstatic to say the least. Many people insist he won’t come close to last year’s totals, but even if you cut his yards by 25% and his TDs by 20%, those are still numbers worthy of a 1st pick! I didn’t even realize his schedule was more favorable then AP’s, not that I had a choice in the manner.


  2. September 3, 2010 at 10:08 AM

    Hey Josh – Thanks for the post and the kind words. CJ at #3 – nice! That’s a great pick-up. Good luck with your fantasy season – and keep reading!


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