Sep 1, 2011
As we continue our series of analyzing poll results, we asked our subscribers perhaps the most pertinent question left for the fantasy football season: who is the #1 pick? We have exactly one week until the season kicks off, and there is still no clear-cut answer:
Among the five options, we had a convincing winner, but not a majority winner (think the United States Presidential Election of 1992!). It appears that Guru subscribers just feel best about Adrian Peterson at this point, and it’s hard to argue with them. Peterson had a thigh injury that limited him to 15 games last year, but he was still incredibly productive. Peterson had over 1600 yards from scrimmage and 13 total TDs, even behind an atrocious Minnesota offensive line with an ineffective and injured Brett Favre playing QB (later Tarvaris Jackson and Joe Webb). At the very least, the addition of QB Donovan McNabb will provide a stabilizing element to the Viking backfield. Peterson has asked Viking coaches for even more touches – it’s the last year of his contract, and perhaps he wants to prove his importance to the franchise, if they don’t know already. But he won this poll because he might be the most physically gifted NFL back since Bo Jackson, and in an uncertain year at the top of drafts, owners just want to go with safety. After watching Peterson in the preseason, I’m convinced he could run for 1300 yards with the Guru staff blocking for him. Let’s just hope McNabb does enough to take some pressure off him.
As for #2, Arian Foster winds up behind Peterson with 28% of the vote to AP’s 40%, but I would think if this poll had started yesterday he might finish as low as 5th. Foster tweeted a picture of his hamstring MRI yesterday, calling white areas of inflammation “anti-awesomeness.” Although some doctors who advise major sports networks suggested Foster could miss up to a month of action, it’s become evident that we can’t draw any conclusions from it (check out the image @ArianFoster if you’re genuinely curious). While we aren’t overreacting to the injury, the fact is hamstrings do tend to linger, and in Peterson and Ray Rice, there could be safer options at the top of draft boards.
Speaking of Rice, he’s just quietly gone about his business during the preseason, and he’s looked great doing it. He’s done enough for 26% of our respondents to the poll to feel good about him as the #1 overall pick in 2011. There are a lot of things working in Rice’s favor. First, he’s the key cog in the Baltimore offense, without any doubt, and now Willis McGahee is gone (I’m unsure how much of a role Ricky Williams will take on). Rice has played in 16 games in each of the last two seasons, and he’s accumulated over 300 touches in each. In 2008, his rookie year, Rice caught 33 balls in a part-time role. In 2009, he caught 78, and last year he reeled in 63. He touches the ball a ton, and he gives you the chance for a big play every time he does. Plus, of the five choices on this poll, Rice is almost certainly on the best team, with Foster a possible exception. Rice didn’t make nearly as many big plays in 2010 as he did in 2009, and he’s never scored more than 8 TDs in a season. But for volume, it’s hard to argue against him.
After Rice, we don’t have many confident owners. Jamaal Charles received just 4% of the vote in this poll. It’s easy to see why. Although we think he’s a stud, we wonder if he’s just a big piece of the Chief offense as opposed to the piece. Charles’ 230 carries in 2010 were 53 fewer than Peterson, and every other option in this poll had at least 300. Plus, to match his success in 2011 with fewer than 250 carries again, Charles would have to do something no player in NFL history has ever done – run for 6.0 YPC or more in back-to-back seasons. While we think Charles will get more carries than Thomas Jones this year, the Chiefs do have some weapons, and coach Todd Haley does seem to enjoy keeping Charles fresh and picking his spots with him. The Chiefs also need to find a way to get Dexter McCluster about 5 touches per game, and that could dip into Charles’ role as well. Charles is a stud, as both a rusher and receiver, but what would it take to select him over anyone else in this poll?
Finally… is it obvious we closed this poll early Thursday yet? Chris Johnson received just 2% of this vote, but hours after we closed the poll, he signed a four-year extension worth $30 million guaranteed that will keep him in Tennessee through the 2016 season. With so many questions about Charles and Foster, in particular, we’d have to think CJ would finish third in this poll, at the lowest, were we to retake it starting today. We still have our reservations about CJ, who scored fewer than 7.0 FP in six games last season. But there’s no doubt the presence of a stabilizing QB like Matt Hasselbeck should help matters, and we think owners will jump at the chance to select him now if he falls down draft boards.
With the new contract for CJ, where do you feel comfortable taking him?