Adrian Peterson is free! On Tuesday, AP was traded from the New Orleans Saints (who seemingly never wanted him?) to the running back-desperate Arizona Cardinals. He is here to save the day for all fantasy owners who stashed him through the first few weeks or were able to submit a successful waiver claim for him after the trade. Our prayers are answered. All is right in the world. Rejoice! Rejoice! Rejoice!
Well, kind of. There is no doubt that getting traded from the pass-happy Saints, where Peterson was an odd fit from the second they signed him, to the Cardinal who lost David Johnson in Week 1 and have gotten zilch from the running back position in the weeks since, significantly improves Peterson’s fantasy value. The questions we have to answer now are: just how much has it improved? And what exactly can we expect going forward?
In the last few weeks, AP was not seeing regular touches, and his value was pretty much nonexistent. When he signed with the Saints in the offseason, you could hear a collective “huh?” from football fans and writers everywhere. We gave the Saints the benefit of the doubt and figured they knew what they were doing, but it turned out exactly how we all thought it would. Peterson was an odd fit for a Saints team that likes to pass the ball and likes to operate out of the shotgun, two things that don’t mess with Peterson’s style. Add to that the presence of Mark Ingram and youngster Alvin Kamara, and it is no surprise the team moved on from AP.
With the Cardinals, Peterson should get plenty of opportunities. Chris Johnson has not looked good in a couple years now, and he was a free agent until David Johnson got hurt. With Peterson entering the fold, the Cardinals did not even wait a week or two before cutting CJ. He got cut to make room for AP.
There are, however, a few reasons to roll our Peterson optimism back to “cautious optimism.” For starters, he is moving to a new team with a new playbook in the middle of a season. The complexity of NFL playbooks and schemes is why we don’t see a ton of in-season trading in the NFL. It is very difficult to fully learn everything while also preparing to play every week. To start out, they are going to have to feed him plays in bunches and get him acclimated a little bit more every week. Early playing time/snaps are question marks for Peterson right now.
Next, there is the issue of the Arizona offensive line. They’re bad. They’re really bad. They are particularly bad at run blocking, which is the primary reason the Cardinals have struggled so much on the ground this season. If they can’t open up some room for Peterson, he might have a fairly low ceiling in Arizona.
Lastly, the Cardinals are another team that likes to throw the ball. Carson Palmer currently leads the NFL in passing attempts. Part of that is likely because they have struggled to run the ball so much that they have been forced to pass, but they are not going to flip the script and decide to run the ball 60% of the time just because Adrian Peterson has arrived. Peterson is not much of a pass-catching back, so will he get enough touches to be valuable on a weekly basis for fantasy owners?
These are all valid questions that cause concern. Of course, the upside with Peterson is definitely worth taking the chance on him, even if just to stash him for a couple weeks while you see how he looks in that offense. Just don’t get your hopes up too high until we actually see him getting the ball with some space to work with.
Now, to the charts!
Mike Maher’s Week Six NFL Handcuff Report
NOTE: In the tables below, I’ve removed running backs who have been placed on Injured Reserve. If the running back is injured but is not on IR, then he has a + next to his name.
- Just when we thought we were going to get a healthy dose of Bilal Powell, he goes down with an injury and sits out the second half. Now, both Powell and Matt Forte are questionable heading into Week 6, and Elijah McGuire has entered the mix. It is pretty hard to rely on anyone in this backfield heading into this week. Ugh.
- It is becoming clearer each week that Joe Mixon is the guy for the Bengals going forward. Jeremy Hill played just 11 snaps, and Mixon scored his first touchdown. He is not necessarily an RB1 just yet, but he is trending in the right direction for fantasy owners.
- Isaiah Crowell bounced back (kind of), but Duke Johnson continues to produce on limited touches. The Browns have announced that they are going to start Kevin Hogan now, and the offense has seemed to be better with Hogan at the helm. So, we’ll see if that changes things. For now, Crowell is still technically the guy while the Duke continues to outplay him.
- Return of the Mack! Marlon Mack returned from injury this past week and rushed for 91 yards and a touchdown on nine carries. My quick math tells me that average is good. Frank Gore hasn’t lost the job yet, but Mack has been one of my favorite stashes since the preseason. Now that he is healthy and playing, I like him to continue to produce and eat into that timeshare.
- Aaron Jones looked pretty dang good on Sunday, eh? He probably looked a little too good, if you ask Ty Montgomery owners who are patiently awaiting his return. Jones was explosive and hit holes hard en route to 125 yards on 19 carries. Jones is definitely the guy to own with Montgomery out, and things might get interesting once Montgomery returns. TM’s versatility, experience, and past production will probably keep his job safe, but it would not be surprising at all to see Jones rotated in a bit more often going forward.
- Doug Martin returned and looked like the Doug Martin of old. He put up 74 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries, and his touches should only increase as he gets acclimated. After missing the first quarter of the season, the Bucs probably wanted to ease him back. Well, he’s back. Let’s go.
- Stay away from Seahawks running backs. They are on a bye for Week 6, so you will have to. After that, I would still stay away. Rawls played the most after it was floated that Lacy was the starter, while last week’s hot flavor, J.D. McKissic ran for diddly and caught three passes for 36 yards. Gross all around.
- Does anyone else find it to be a bit of a coincidence that just as the rumors of a Carlos Hyde contract extension were floated his touches decreased? The cynic in me would point out that a team negotiating a contract might want to keep his production low while they talk numbers. Or maybe they just like Matt Breida that much and wanted to give him a shot. Kyle Shanahan said he was rolling with the “hot hand,” which is never what fantasy owners want to hear. Something to watch moving forward.
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