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Fantasy Face-Off: Adrian Peterson Will Outscore Frank Gore

In this series, two writers take sides on a pair of players available at similar ADPs. Fortunately for me, I get one of the best running backs of all time in an elite offense. 

What They Cost

Adrian Peterson and Frank Gore are both the elder statesmen on high-powered offenses. They also have very similar ADPs. Peterson is currently going at RB32 and 81st overall, while Gore is the 36th RB drafted and 90th player overall.

AP v Gore Best Ball ADP

Finally a Good Team for Peterson

After spending his first ten seasons in Minnesota, Peterson signed a two-year, $7 million contract in April to join the Saints. Aside from the beignets and Cajun cooking, Peterson gets to play with his best quarterback since Brett Favre. Under Drew Brees and head coach Sean Payton, the Saints have finished top five in total offense every year but one. The last time Peterson was in a top-five offense was back in 2009 with Favre.

Peterson will also enjoy a massive upgrade along the offensive line and will be running against fewer defenders in the box. New Orleans ranked first in adjusted line yards at 4.59 per Football Outsiders while Minnesota was 30th at 3.37. He faced seven or more defenders in the box 40.5 percent of the time last season in Minnesota. The Saints No. 2 runner last year, Tim Hightower, faced stacked boxes on only six percent of his carries. The loss of left tackle Terron Armstead and center Max Unger’s Lisfranc surgery dampens the outlook, but it should still be a world of difference for Peterson in the backfield.

Peterson’s Role Could Be Fantasy Friendly

Mark Ingram is still expected to be the RB1 in New Orleans and our projections back that up. It’s logical to put Peterson in the Hightower role with rookie Alvin Kamara functioning as the primary pass-catching back. Hightower finished as the RB34 in PPR leagues last year despite only 19 carries and two receptions through the first seven weeks. However, when we look at the last two seasons for Hightower and Peterson using the RotoViz Screener, we see that despite the overall finish for Hightower, he was largely inefficient with his carries.

Peterson v Hightower Screener

On a much smaller sample, Peterson was actually worse in ruFPOE last season but was sixth in 2015 when he played all 16 games. The Screener also shows that Peterson, while not Darren Sproles, might be underrated as a receiver. In fact, Peterson has two 40-catch seasons on his resume, a feat that Ingram did not accomplish until 2015.

Gore Finally at the End?

In the battle against Father Time, Gore is two years older than Peterson and entering his age-34 season. Gore eclipsed 1,000 rushing yards in 2016, but the list of RBs age 34 and older to do that includes John Riggins (twice) and John Henry Johnson.

Age 34 RB Query

The Riggins example is more than 30 seasons ago and he had 100-plus more carries than what Gore has averaged the last two years in Indianapolis. Add to that an increased role for Robert Turbin, which came to fruition down the stretch last season as he had seven touchdowns over the final seven weeks.1

Hightower vs Gore Screener

Despite his age, Peterson represents the stiffest competition Mark Ingram has faced since 2013. Take the discount on the younger veteran RB moving to a superior situation.

  1. As is the case with Kamara in New Orleans, the veteran tandem in Indianapolis faces competition from an underrated rookie in Marlon Mack.  (back)
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