[sc name=”Author Jason Katz”]
It is exceedingly rare that the NFL sees relevant in-season trades, especially from a fantasy standpoint. The last time we saw something like this was when everyone thought the Browns were insane for trading Trent Richardson to the Colts. Turns out that was grand theft of a draft pick by the Browns. On Tuesday, October 10, 2017, we saw one of the greatest RBs of all time, Adrian Peterson, get traded in the middle of the season for a sixth-rounder.
Immediately following the initial report of the trade by Dianna Russini of ESPN, I tweeted this: “I guess when one washed-up 32 year old RB isn’t enough, there’s only one solution!” I think you see where this discussion is heading. As it turns out, I was wrong. One washed-up 32 year old RB is, in fact, enough. The Cardinals cut Chris Johnson shortly after securing the deal for Peterson.
So what does this all mean for our fake teams? We’ll look at both NFL teams impacted by the deal and how it affects us.
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Fantasy Impact – New Orleans Saints
This trade is good news for the Saints. Sean Payton clearly did not want to play Peterson anyway, but he forced Peterson into games seemingly just to get him work. That was an error. Peterson played all of six snaps in the Saints most recent game before their bye. That was six snaps too many if you ask me.
With Peterson gone, this will be a split between Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. Owners of each no longer have to worry about Peterson stealing any of their work, even a little bit. I imagine that one of Ingram or Kamara will be on the field on every snap.
Expect this to be a 60-40 Ingram-Kamara split going forward. The bad news for Ingram owners is that Peterson’s departure doesn’t change the fact that Kamara is sapping much of Ingram’s receiving numbers. Although Ingram and Kamara each have 15 receptions on the season, Kamara’s receptions would belong to Ingram in year’s past (at least the years that didn’t involve Darren Sproles). Losing AP is a boon to the Saints offense as a whole because whenever he was on the field, opposing defenses knew he was either taking a carry or blocking; he was never a threat to catch the ball. Ingram and Kamara are both capable pass catchers and always having one of them on the field will help Drew Brees.
Fantasy Impact – Arizona Cardinals
I’ll get the obvious out of the way. If and when David Johnson returns, he will be a three down back. He is not losing any work to anyone, especially not a 32 year old Adrian Peterson. However, DJ is still weeks away from returning, which means we will have plenty of time to see what AP has left. The answer, as all who are unaware will discover soon, is not much.
Adrian Peterson has not been good at football since 2015, when he was already 30 years old. That was his history defying season. He shouldn’t have been that good at age 30. He was. And that was the last of Adrian Peterson.
In 2017, we have a completely done version of Peterson. He can’t play anymore. In his limited action with the Saints, he has looked like an even worse version of the shell of his former self that was saw with the Vikings in 2016. While he only handled 27 carries in his short stint with the Saints, his efficiency on those carries is downright deplorable. Some may point to the Saints 23rd ranked offensive line per Pro Football Focus. Well, Peterson ranks just 42nd in the league in yards created. That’s on him. And if we want to talk offensive lines, he goes from the 23rd ranked offensive line to the Cardinals’ offensive line, which is ranked…you guessed it…dead last.
The situation for fantasy, though, is actually better for AP. Although the Cardinals are a far inferior offense with a worse offensive line, Peterson is unquestionably going to see a significant uptick in volume. I consider him a lock for 15+ carries a game. Chris Johnson was completely ineffective, hence why the Cardinals cut him…twice. Kerwynn Williams couldn’t get it done. Andre Ellington is more wide receiver than running back. Peterson’s fantasy production will likely be similar to that of Marshawn Lynch or Mike Gillislee, except Peterson is not as good as either of them at this point in his career, and running behind a worse offensive line in a worse offense. Look for AP to take 15-20 carries a game for somewhere in the area of 40-60 yards and you hope he falls into the end zone. That’s the best case scenario. Those hoping for the Peterson of old are going to be sorely disappointed and I would not recommend spending any significant waiver money on Peterson.
Carson Palmer‘s fantasy value remains mostly unchanged. I want to say it may drop a little as the Cardinals will try and run more, but if the running game still is not working, what choice will they have but to throw? And when they throw, it will be Ellington in the backfield. For one week, maybe the Bucs respect Peterson’s name and it opens things up a bit for Palmer. However, I think opponents will quickly realize, if they haven’t already, that Peterson just does not have it anymore. If Peterson is even an upgrade over Chris Johnson, it won’t be by any significant margin.