Why I Traded For Adrian Peterson

Opinions about Adrian Peterson's fantasy value in 2015 are all over the place. Many doubters cite the fact that he is 30 years old, an unforgiving benchmark in the running back world. Others are wary of the fact that he's played in only one regular season NFL game in the last 22 months. 

Despite these concerns I am fully aboard the Adrian Peterson bandwagon. Jamaal Charles, Eddie Lacy, Le'Veon Bell, Marshawn Lynch, and AP are at the top of most draft boards, and they currently compose my top five. I've had each of them first overall at one point or another, but as of now I have Charles first overall. Arian Foster and Jeremy Hill could make a run at this group when all is said and done. 

AP isn't the safest pick of the group, and for that reason he won't end up in my first overall spot. However, I still believe he is an elite NFL running back and a much safer pick than many perceive him to be. 

As long as Peterson has been on the field he's been productive. He has scored double digit touchdowns in all seven NFL seasons in which he has played in more than one game. In what is essentially a contract year (the next two years of his contract are not guaranteed), I would rather bet on AP than against him.

Opportunity is just as important to high-level fantasy performance as talent, and AP should see plenty of touches in 2015. Minnesota has little incentive to limit his workload next season if he proves to be effective. He will likely move on from Minnesota after the 2015 season given the turmoil between the two parties this offseason. If the Vikings want to let AP walk after he endures a heavy workload (i.e. Demarco Murray this offseason) they can. 

AP could catch more passes in 2015 than he traditionally has in his career. Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner has frequently involved his running backs in the passing game throughout his career. Peterson has never derived much of his fantasy value from the passing game. A bump in receptions would be huge for Peterson's fantasy value. 

The Vikings offense should move the ball consistently in 2015 and put AP in position for goal-line touches. Teddy Bridgewater improved down the stretch in 2014 and should carry that momentum into his sophomore season. 

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image: usatoday.com

He will have more weapons at his disposal in 2014 with the addition of WR Mike Wallace. Wallace is the deep threat the Vikings need to keep defenses from stacking the box. WR Charles Johnson is also another player to watch who could have a nice year and keep teams from focusing too intently on AP. 

The thought of acquiring Adrian Peterson was extremely enticing, and I was lucky enough to trade for him about a month ago. He had not yet reported to Vikings camp, and this led to the price tag being lower than it would likely be today.

To give proper context as to the value of the players involved in the deal, I need to explain the rules of the league. It is a keeper league, which means you can retain players on your team from season to season. The keeper rules are explained below.

  • 10 Team Keeper/Dynasty League

  • Lineup: 2 QB/2 RB/2 WR/1 TE/2 FLEX/1  K/1 D/ST

  • Standard Scoring

  • A player drafted in rounds 1-5 must be kept in rounds 1-5 the following season. If you only keep three players in this range, they would have to be kept with your first, second, and third round pick.

  • A player drafted after rounds 1-5 can be kept in that same round the following season. That player must be kept a round earlier than they were originally drafted in their second keep year. The player must be kept in rounds 1-5 in the third keep year and every following year the player is kept.

  • You must keep a player in your top 5 picks if you were not the first owner to touch that player in the previous season. This includes trades and players who were previously dropped to waivers.

  • Only eight players total can be kept.

  • All draft picks are tradeable.

Below are projections of who I would have kept and who the person I traded with likely would have kept prior to the trade. 

My Keepers:

1st-3rd round: QB Andrew Luck, QB Aaron Rodgers, WR Jordy Nelson 

4th-5th: Two out of WR T.Y. Hilton, RB Alfred Morris and RB Justin Forsett 

8th: TE Greg Olsen 

16th: WR Jordan Matthews         

His Keepers: 

1st-5th: QB Peyton Manning, RB Jamaal Charles, RB Adrian Peterson, RB DeMarco Murray, QB Tom Brady

17th: RB Dan Herron

After some intense negotiations, the deal was done. Here's how it went down:

I receive: RB Adrian Peterson

I trade: WR T.Y. Hilton, RB Alfred Morris, 9th Round Pick

I gave up two consensus top 30-35 players (Hilton and Morris) and a 9th round pick (will be 89 overall) for Adrian Peterson. In a league with two flex spots, depth matters. At first it wasn't an easy decision to part with two of my key players. That hesitation vanished when I realized I had been looking at this trade the wrong way. 

I would have had to use my 4th and 5th round picks to keep Alfred Morris and T.Y. Hilton. To keep Adrian Peterson I will only need to use my 4th round pick. By liberating my 5th round pick, I can keep Justin Forsett instead of releasing him to the draft pool. 

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image: baltimorebeatdown.com

Forsett started 2014 as a relative unknown but finished the season as the eighth overall RB in standard leagues. I wasn't planning on keeping Forsett following the 2014 season. I thought the Ravens would let him walk in free agency.

To my surprise and delight, the Ravens re-signed Forsett to a three year, $9 million dollar deal. Forsett is going to have the pleasure of running behind one of the better offensive lines in the NFL and could have a big year catching passes in new Offensive Coordinator Marc Trestman's system. 

Bears RB Matt Forte caught 102 passes last season with Trestman calling plays. That was good for 4th among all players in the NFL. Forsett is no Forte, but Forsett's ADP will certainly be higher than the 49th pick, the pick I would get if chose not to keep him. If he can produce at an RB2 level I will be happy with the decision to keep him. 

With this in mind, lets re-examine the trade when factoring in that I get to keep Forsett. 

I Get: Adrian Peterson, Justin Forsett

He Gets: Alfred Morris, T.Y. Hilton, 9th round pick

I love my end of this trade. When I started to break down AP's prospects for the upcoming season, I saw a player who is a safe bet to finish as a top 10 running back and who has a very high ceiling if he stays healthy. I don't see the same level of security or upside in Hilton or Morris. 

That's not to say Hilton or Morris couldn't both produce at a high-level. They were both consistent performers last season and are ranked in ESPN's top 30. I just don't see either player being elite next season.

Indianapolis added WR Andre Johnson in free agency and drafted WR Phillip Dorsett in the 1st round. Andrew Luck will now have the deepest group of pass-catchers in the NFL in my opinion: T.Y. Hilton, Andre Johnson, Phillip Dorsett, 2014 3rd round pick WR Donte Moncrief, TE& nbsp;Coby Fleener, and TE Dwayne Allen. For a 5'10 receiver who isn't going to catch a lot of red zone touchdowns, my concerns about Hilton's usage made him expendable to get AP. 

Washington took Matt Jones to serve as their 3rd down back and replace Roy Helu. Morris has been one of the most consistent running backs in the league over the past three years, but he is extremely touchdown dependent and offers next to nothing in the passing game.

I like that the Redskins drafted an offensive lineman in the 1st (Brandon Scherff, Iowa) and 4th Round (Arie Kouandijo, Alabama) and their line should be a bit better than it was last year. The limited upside is the biggest issue for me and allowed for the inclusion of Morris. 

When accounting for the fact that I get to keep Forsett by making this trade, the deal is a no-brainer. Last offseason I traded a 7th round pick for DeMarco Murray (whom I have since traded) in this league. I'm hoping I can hit lightning in a bottle again with this trade. 

The biggest lesson to be learned from this trade is that in keeper leagues, you must factor in the draft pick required to keep an extra keepable player when you acquire more players than you give up in a pre-draft trade. This can drastically change the evaluation of a trade offer, both for better and worse.

Last but not least: 

If your league doesn't trade, you're doing it wrong. 

For updates on all things NFL, follow me @mrosekNFL

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