Peterson speculation varies widely

Adrian Peterson (Bruce Kluckhohn/US Presswire)

The fantasy football magazines are out and no one seems to agree where Adrian Peterson should belong in the rankings for this year. Just how much has he fallen due to the knee?

It seems like every time you go to the store or the gas station there is another NFL magazine filling up the shelves typically reserved for bridal magazines and celebrity gossip rag-sheets. So much for the death of the print media. If they're going down, they're swinging on their way to the floor.

The magazines are great fodder for those who are poolside or on the beach with their kids wanting to see how the local media types are weighing in on Adrian Peterson.

With varying degrees of insight or expertise, they are trying to project how teams will perform and what individual players can expect their role to be. There are varied opinions on a lot of players. Read three different accounts of Ray Edwards' role with the Falcons and you will get three divergently different opinions.

But all of these preview/fantasy magazines make their projections on how offensive players will perform in 2011. It seems to be the opinion of those who speculate in June about Sept. 9 that Adrian Peterson is going to miss plenty of time.

For the past three years, anyone who is anyone in the fantasy football world (or those blessed with sight, regardless of their NFL acumen), rated Peterson as the top running back in the league. This year, however, that has all changed.

The Sporting News, a tabloid print giant from back in the days when old, blinding guys had to line up the type on every sports box score from the previous week, has bailed on A.P. The once-official news source of the NFL has Peterson ranked as the eighth-best running back in the league. If you're drafting fantasy players, he's behind Darren McFadden of the Raiders and, if you're in a 12-player fantasy league, he's out of the first round completely.

Even worse is the projection of Pro Football Weekly. Not only is Peterson not a first-round fantasy pick, Peterson would still be available when the draft hits the fourth or fifth round.

In the same season preview issue, PFW ranks Peterson as the second-best running back in the league and 17th overall in the league, behind only Arian Foster among running backs and teammate Jared Allen. But 17 pages later, after admitting Peterson is, the fantasy draft board has Peterson rated No. 20. Not among all players. Not among all fantasy players. A.P. is rated No. 20 among running backs.

So who is rated ahead of him at this point? Rookies Trent Richardson and Doug Martin. Frank Gore, the Joe Frazier of running backs. One-trick pony Michael Turner checks in. Peterson understudy Darren McFadden, who history will recall as the first player identified as the "next Adrian Peterson" (to date, nobody wants to be called the next Darren McFadden). Fred Jackson, whose biggest claim to fame is running Marshawn Lynch out of Buffalo and made the organization look like village idiots for using the ninth pick in the 2010 draft on C.J. Spiller.

It gets worse. How about Isaac Redman of the Steelers? Who? Apparently Rashard Mendenhall's rehab from a knee injury has required an amputation. Steven Jackson, the Cal Ripken of running backs following in the proud tradition of Curtis Martin and Shaun Alexander, both of whom hit the running back wall at about 70 mph. Willis McGahee is only mentioned to get a cheap reference to Peterson responding, "What you talking, about? Willis?" But McGahee of the bad knee is rated higher.

They are far from alone. Most on-line sports sites that pimp fantasy football are in the same anti-Love Boat. Nobody is buying into Peterson being able to come back.

There is one precinct yet to be heard from – the players of the NFL –the guys who actually have to face the top talent in the league. NFL Network continues to count down the top 100 players expected to have the biggest impact on the 2012 season. Only one running back that matters hasn't been mentioned by his peers – Peterson.

The only question now is whether he makes the list or not. There are only 10 players left to be named and there are going to be a couple of people who are really ticked off. They've waited to see their names and are going to find out the hard way that they aren't showing up.

Half of the top five can be summed up without question – quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Tom Brady and wide receivers Calvin Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald. There's no way those five aren't on the list of those viewed by fellow NFL players as impact guys. It would be hard to imagine a top 10 without them given the other players that have been included – Tim Tebow and Jordy Nelson.

Assuming Peterson is on the list, that leaves only four other spots. Mario Williams is almost surely on the list. D'Marcus Ware is clearly making a spot as well. Darrelle Revis is acknowledged as the best corner in the game and his name hasn't showed up. Patrick Willis is either on the list or their will be some form of revolt.

Which begs the question, "Who's off the list?" Antonio Gates has set the standard for tight ends and five TEs have already been listed. D'Brickashaw Ferguson was the Pro Bowl left tackle for the AFC last year and AFC left tackles Joe Thomas and Jake Long have already been named. Either Ferguson is considered the best in the game or unworthy of the Pro Bowl nod. Only two defensive tackles have been named – Ndamukong Suh and Vince Wilfork. Does Haloti Ngata make the top 10 or get left off completely?

As it stands the media's take on the availability of Adrian Peterson to make a difference in 2012 is iffy at best. Will his peers agree? Nine spots in the NFL's top 10 players for 2012 are locks. Who gets the final spot? It would appear to be down to Peterson, Gates, Ferguson and Ngata. Only one of them will be happy when the final list comes down.

John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here. Recommended Stories