Adrian Peterson Holds a Special Place In This Fantasy Football Heart

Adrian Peterson wearing #28 jersey for the Minnesota Vikings

Man, I love Adrian “All Day” Peterson. I distinctly remember my fantasy league’s live snake draft in late August 2012. My league mates gave a cold shoulder to Peyton Manning, coming off neck surgery, and Peterson, attempting to rebound from ACL surgery less than 8 full months later. No one held the highest expectations for either player, but I risked the biscuit and took chances on them. I look back upon that hot August afternoon as one of the most magical moments of my life – other than my wedding day and the births of my 3 kids – but this day is a close third.

Back to that in a minute.

Yesterday, the Tennessee Titans waived Peterson after a 3-game ride. At 36 years and 248 days old, we have to wonder if the sun has set on the illustrious career of Adrian “All Day” Peterson. I’m not convinced that he’s done and I believe he could find a 7th team to call home. Yes, Peterson is ancient for a running back in the NFL, but he’s not a normal human being. And with running backs across the NFL dropping like flies, I think if he still wants to play, he will. If the NFL still has room for Joe Flacco, then Peterson can certainly break a door down to get on a running back needy team.

Peterson is not a newcomer to beating expectations. Coming out of college a few NFL teams worried about Peterson’s durability. At Oklahoma, he missed 9 games out of 31 with injuries and this could be why Peterson fell to the 7th overall pick by the Vikings in the 2007 draft. ESPN NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper, Jr. said of Peterson, “You can make the argument, [Peterson] is the best player in this draft, if not, certainly one of the top three.” Peterson certainly made his case for the best player in the draft as he rushed for 1341 yards, 5.6 yards per carry, and 12 touchdowns in his rookie season. During his first 5 NFL seasons with the Vikings Peterson stormed defenses for 6752 rushing yards and 64 touchdowns.

Then December 24, 2011.

In week 16 against Washington, Peterson tore his ACL and MCL which required season-ending, and possibly career-ending surgery. It’s extremely rare for NFL running backs to bounce back from ACL surgeries and return to their old form. Few people, except maybe the man himself, believed that Peterson could do it, either. Well, if I’m honest, I had faith in the man, too. I watched him from his rookie season run with his aggressive, “get in my way if you dare” style and knew that he was a beast worth betting on. So, on that hot August afternoon, I put my draft chips down on Peterson and Manning when no one else wanted them.

And the rest is history.

Peterson silenced his critics and returned in 2012 for the best year of his entire career. He handled 348 carries for 2097 yards, 6 ypc, and 12 TDs. Peterson fell just 8 yards short of breaking the NFL single-season record for the most rushing yards (2,105), set in 1984 by Eric Dickerson.

On the other hand, Manning, in his first year with the Broncos, staged his own comeback. With a middle finger salute to the Colts for releasing him in 2011, Manning blitzkrieged the league with 400 completions on 583 attempts, a career-high 68.6% completion rate, 4659 passing yards, and 37 TDs.

The unlikely tandem carried my fantasy team, the Hail Marys, to a glorious, perfect 15-0 season and my second UCFL championship.

Maybe it’s just my fandom, but I hope that Peterson lands on another team. If not, “All Day” had a great career defying many odds and lasting a long time in the Not For Long.  Currently, the 5th all-time rushing leader with 14,902 yards, AD sits just 367 yards behind Barry Sanders and 1100 yards from overtaking the 3 spot from Frank Gore. Whenever Peterson does decide to retire, he’s a sure-fire first-ballot Hall of Famer.

All day long.

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