The Vikings re-structured Adrian Peterson‘s deal, and disciples of Purple Jesus are eager for him to wreak havoc in the league similar to years past. Peterson’s athletic profile and fantasy resume project him to be amongst the league’s best backs once again, but history suggests Peterson is a major red flag. It’s time to let someone else invest high draft capital on him, and instead opt for the younger, cheaper, Jerick McKinnon.
In October, Peterson will turn 30 and join an exclusive club only 30 RBs have been admitted into. The qualifications? Play in at least one NFL season at 30+ years of age with over 2,000 carries. We have compiled a database of RBs who meet this criteria and constructed a chart to illustrate their shelf-life and fantasy production.
1. Document every RB to play a season at age 30 or older who had also accumulated 2,000+ career carries, and record the total number.
2. Calculate the fantasy points for each RB in that given season.
-a. 1 point per 10 yds. (Rushing/Receiving)
-b. 6 points per touchdown (Rushing/Receiving)
3. Compare the RB’s fantasy points for that season to his fantasy points the following season (represented by N+1).
4.) Repeat the process until there are no RB’s remaining.
*Note Players who retired received a “worse” score for season N+1 if they did not play the following season. Also, Frank Gore was omitted from the N+1 Better/Worse total for season one because it will be played this upcoming season.
Overall, it’s a tough road for running backs in this group to improve their numbers going into the next season. Aside from Season 2 where only 8.7 percent improved, other years saw approximately a quarter of total participants elevate their scores. This number is skewed high; players like Thurman Thomas saw an “improvement” from 24.9 to 31.3 points during Seasons 4-5, but neither of those seasonal totals would have made him fantasy-relevant.
Even more apparent, few running backs can continue their careers once eclipsing two notorious benchmarks: 30-plus years old and 2,000-plus career carries. By Season 3 less than half of the original RB’s remained, and only four RBs in the history of the league have made it to Season 5.
Lurking in the depth chart behind Peterson is Jerick McKinnon. Drafted in the 3rd round, McKinnon has off-the-charts athletic ability that led to him playing QB, RB, DB, and kick returner during his college career at Georgia Southern. After a quick glance at McKinnon’s profile, it’s clear this man is in a league of his own.
– 40-yard dash (95th percentile)
– Burst Score (96th percentile)
– Agility Score (90th percentile)
– Bench Press (100th percentile)
These measurables place McKinnon in the 100th percentile in SPARQx score. At worst, McKinnon projects to be the Vikings primary back on 3rd downs. At best, he will become the featured ball carrier when Peterson either gets injured, is released or ages out of the league. McKinnon is quite possibly the most athletic running back the NFL has ever seen.
Jerick McKinnon has always been a strong buy in dynasty leagues, but with 151.3 redraft ADP, he is actually a value in all formats. Given Adrian Peterson’s historically lackluster production in the passing game, McKinnon will likely kick off 2015 in a Danny Woodhead passing down specialist role and then evolve into something closer to LeSean McCoy as he becomes more familiar with the running back position (McKinnon played quarterback at Georgia Southern).
Though Jerick McKinnon‘s complete fantasy breakout is tied to Adrian Peterson, Peterson’s age and touch odometer (2262) indicates McKinnon’s role will likely expand before the conclusion of the 2015 season. Heading into 2016, McKinnon will possess one of the highest fantasy ceilings of any running back in recent memory as he pairs top-tier athleticism with high-touch volume in a burgeoning offensive system lead by Teddy Bridgewater.
You would think more fantasy gamers would be excited about Jerick McKinnon, but it is hard to get noticed it the shadow of a mythological figure.