Stats Speak: Foster over Peterson
Who nearly set the single season rushing record last season? Adrian Peterson. Who has scored 10+ rushing touchdowns every season in which he has been in the league? Adrian Peterson. Who has a greater yard per carry average through the age of 27than Barry Sanders did? Adrian Peterson. Who should be the first running back selected in your fantasy draft this summer? Arian Foster.
Wait … what?
That’s right. The Texans running back should be the first RB off the board in fantasy drafts this season, even after Peterson topped 2,000 yards and scored 12+ touchdowns for the fourth straight season (and fifth time in his six NFL seasons). Before you appeal my status as a fantasy football writer, allow me to present the data and explain my train of thought.
For those of you who follow baseball, you’re familiar with the term “quality start.” It basically provides parameters for which a starting pitcher is believed to give his team a chance to win. A quality start in baseball is defined as at least six innings pitched and three or fewer earned runs allowed. The pitcher isn’t going to win every one of these games, but he did his job and put his team in a position to succeed. I decided to convert that idea to the gridiron, creating parameters that would most often place a player in the top 10 in a given week at his position (tightened the threshold to a top 5 player for QB’s and TE’s due to requiring fewer of them on the standard fantasy roster). For running backs, I determined that there were three ways to put your fantasy team in a good position to win: total 150+ yards, total 100+ yards and score a touchdown, or score multiple touchdowns. According to my research, reaching any of these plateaus would usually place the RB in the top 10 for that week, thus giving you a good chance to win your fantasy matchup.
While Peterson (nine quality starts) threatened the record books, it was Foster (11 quality starts) who won the head to head battle in quality starts for the third consecutive season. In fact, Foster’s total was the highest number of quality starts in all of football, topping the historic Calvin Johnson (six) and the ever consistent Peyton Manning (seven). Over the past two seasons, Foster has rewarded his fantasy owners with a quality start in 69% of games as compared to Peterson’s mark of 46.4%. In other words, while Peterson has racked up the season totals, he was more likely to finish a week on the outside of the top 10 (roughly) than he was inside it.
While Peterson obviously made his quality starts of the herculean variety (77.8% of his 2012 quality starts included at least 150 total yards and a touchdown), he simply hasn’t helped you on a week-to-week basis as Foster. Maybe now you’re at least intrigued by the notion of taking the Texans RB with the first overall selection, and if you take the emotion out of the pick, you’ll only be further convinced. Not one of AP’s 2,314 yards last season is going to help you this year: that’s a fact. Another fact worth noting is the history of 2,000 yard rushers. Of the other six RB’s backs to top two grand, only three of them played a full slate of games the following season. In those three seasons, the stud running back averaged “only” 86.5 yards per game, which equates to a 1,384 yard 16 game season. That figure would indicate a significant drop-off is likely if Peterson suits up for 16 games, and he is statistically less likely to do that than Foster given his past.
Who is the older of the two backs and has one more reconstructive knee surgery? Adrian Peterson. Who has 744 more regular season carries of this duo? Adrian Peterson. Who plays in a division where the other three teams ranked in the top 53.1% of the league in stopping the run (while the other RB plays in a division where the other three of the teams ranked in the bottom 28.1%)? Adrian Peterson. Who should be the first running back selected in your fantasy draft this summer?