Is Adrian Peterson's chase toward 2,500 yards just a fantasy?

Posted: September 06, 2013

THERE IS no question Adrian Peterson opened himself up to some snickering by suggesting his goal for the season was to rush for 2,500 yards.

Peterson missed breaking Eric Dickerson's hallowed record by 9 yards last season - that's 27 feet folks. Now that Peterson has peaked in the window of history, he wants to knock down the door with a battering ram.

Of course, fantasy fans would love 2,500 yards. Heck, 1,500 yards and maybe a few more than the 13 touchdowns he scored in 2012 is why Peterson was the consensus No. 1 pick in fantasy leagues everywhere.

Is 2,500 likely? Maybe not. Is it possible?

"If Adrian says 2,500, we have to do it," right guard Brandon Fusco told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. "Whatever the guy says, we think it's a challenge we can accomplish."

None of the previous six running backs who've banged their way to 2,000-yard seasons came close to 2K the following year.

After rolling for 2,053 in 1997, Barry Sanders had the most rushing yards, with 1,491, but he had 10 fewer touchdowns. From purely fantasy standpoint, Chris Johnson followed his 2,006-yard season 4 years ago with 1,364 and 12 touchdowns. Johnson fans will remember him stumbling badly at the end of the season with four games under 60 rushing yards and only two touchdowns in the Titans' final six games.

"People hear that 2,500 and it's 'Oh, wow. That's not possible. What was he thinking?,' " Peterson said. "They kind of focus on [the number] too much. In my mind, I'm not looking at it like that at all."

Just playing devil's advocate, how about the number 13?

When O.J. Simpson ran for 2,003 yards in 1973, he was playing in a 14-game schedule and averaged 143 yards per game. To get to 2,500, Peterson will need to average 156 - 13 more per. Over the final eight games last year, AP averaged 165.

His first hurdle will be overcoming the absence of Pro Bowl fullback Jerome Felton, who is suspended for the first three games for violating the league's drug policy.

"I think most people think that, oh, [2012] was just a freak season. He's not going to do that again," Felton said. "And I get that. But if you break down the entire season, those first eight games he wasn't the full Adrian Peterson. Each week, you could feel him getting closer and closer to top form . . . I honestly feel like he can get 2,000-plus."

Name drop of the week

Cardinals rookie running back Stepfan Taylor should be stashed on fantasy rosters. He's the handcuff to have if untrustworthy starter Rashard Mendenhall goes down. Taylor ran for 1,500 yards last year at Stanford, including 161 in the upset win over top-ranked Oregon.

Trivia question

A.J. Green's 162 receptions are the second-most ever for a player in the first two seasons of his career. Who holds the record? Hint: He's active, plays in the NFC and played for a Super Bowl winner.

Position watch * 

Quarterback: Buffalo was looking at the real possibility of making Jeff Tuel the first undrafted free agent to start on Opening Day for an NFL team. But EJ Manuel has bounced back and will get the call. Either way, play the Patriots defense this week . . . The four quarterbacks starting for the AFC East this week are Manuel (Bills), Geno Smith (Jets), Ryan Tannehill (Dolphins) and Tom Brady (Patriots). Which QB does not deserve to be in that sentence? Brady, by the way, is 20-2 in his career against Buffalo.

* Running back: Consider selling high on the Colts' Vick Ballard after this week. Ballard is only keeping the starting job warm for Ahmad Bradshaw . . . Chris Ivory is not a recommended starter this week. The Jets are talking about a timeshare with Bilal Powell and even have Powell listed as the starter. Ivory could be a bye-week sub or flex player at some point . . . Le'Veon Bell (foot) could get onto the practice field soon for the Steelers. He'd be worthy of a pickup if he went undrafted. Isaac Redman is the Pittsburgh back to have in Week 1.

* Wide receiver: Washington's Pierre Garcon has had a touchdown and at least 100 receiving yards in his last two appearances on "Monday Night Football." Pierre could put up WR1 numbers going against a questionable Eagles defense on Monday . . . Houston's DeAndre Hopkins was an intriguing sleeper before suffering a concussion in mid-August. He's finally been cleared medically and is expected in the lineup Monday night at San Diego.

Huh?

"With another year under his belt, I think he's definitely gotten, I wouldn't say smarter as a quarterback, but his decision making is definitely getting better," Vikings wide receiver Jarius Wright said of quarterback Christian Ponder, "and he's growing as a player just like the rest of us are trying to grow as players."

In other words, he's smarter.

Trivia answer

Marques Colston, of the Saints had 168 catches in 2006-07 to set the record for most receptions in the first 2 years of a career. Jerry Rice, just for reference, had 135 in 1985-86.


Email: barkowe@phillynews.com

On Twitter: @EdBarkowitz

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