I’ve given Adrian Peterson plenty of praise in this column, but there really isn’t enough praise in the world to heap onto Peterson for what he has done this season. His latest accomplishment came early and often against the Bears on Sunday. On his first carry of the game he bounced to the outside and sped down the sideline for a 51-yard gain. He finished the first half with 103 yards and two touchdowns and the game with 170 total yards.
This game happened with the whole world acutely aware that Christian Ponder had regressed to a 5.975 yard per attempt quarterback, and that Percy Harvin wasn’t going to play. Naturally, when a team only has one offensive threat, a defense can put the bulk of their resources against that one threat, but that doesn’t matter with Peterson. He will run over you, around you, make you miss, shove you out of the way, give you a really hard handshake, that and more, no matter how many people stand in his way.
Barry Sanders is the most recent running back that had to overcome being the only offensive threat on his team and still put up huge numbers on a regular basis and he is arguably in the top three running backs of all-time (and I’d argue that he’s the best of all-time). He had a longer string of poor teams than Peterson has thus far in his career, but he also didn’t blow out his knee the 15th game of his fifth season and then start Week one eight months later. And not only start, but also score two touchdowns and pace himself for the most rushing yards in his career. How is this possible? No really, how?
After that first two-touchdown game, Peterson got into a touchdown slump and was an average back statistically for the first six games. His 83 rushing yards a game for 4.4 yards per carry was not up to his normal standards, but after that six game stretch, Peterson turned it up to historical proportions. In the last seven games Peterson has rushed 152 times for 1,101 yards and eight touchdowns. That’s an amazing 157.3 rushing yards per game at an even more amazing 7.2 yards per carry. And all these games come with teams stacking the box because they do not respect Ponder’s arm. Oh, and did I mention he tore his ACL and MCL less than a year ago? Yeah, he did that.
So if you take his average over the last seven games and give those numbers to him over the final three games, he finishes with 2,072 yards and a 6+ yards per carry average. Eric Dickerson’s record is 2,105 yards. But whatever happens, there is no doubt that this season, with him miraculously returning so quickly from his knee surgery, will be nearly impossible to repeat by someone else under similar circumstances. We are witnessing something special here.
Cam Newton – This Cam Newton fella went from superstar to Vince Young NFL style bust to superstar again, pretty darn quickly. Over the last three games he's averaging 275 yards passing, 82 yards rushing and has 10 total touchdowns with no interceptions. That puts him squarely in the top three fantasy quarterbacks for the season (depending on your scoring format). Oh, and his team won the game!
Nick Foles – Do we have a new rookie quarterback phenom on our hands? Well, that’s yet to be seen, but the numbers are historical. He became only the third rookie quarterback to pass for 350+ yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Yes, the Tampa Bay pass defense is putrid, but I don’t think putting those numbers up against an NFL team can be discredited out of hand. He has ability.
Marshawn Lynch – The Seahawks lapped the Cardinals about fifty times and Marshawn Lynch only needed 11 carries to put up the most fantasy running back points on the day. On those 11 carries he gained 128 yards and scored three touchdowns. The game was a laugher from the word Skelton.
Jamaal Charles – On the first play of the game Charles took the ball 80 yards for a touchdown. It was all downhill after that for the Chiefs, but Charles, after being knocked out of the game with a rib injury, came back and finished the day with 165 yards rushing on 18 carries. The Chiefs and Charles have had a tough season, but Charles continues to play at a very high level. He’s on pace for 1,501 yards this season; the highest of his career.
Danario Alexander – Over the last five weeks Alexander has scored more fantasy points than everyone except Calvin Johnson and Dez Bryant. Against the Steelers he had 7 receptions for 88 yards and two touchdowns, giving him 30 receptions for 497 yards and 5 touchdowns over his last five games. If you happen to be a St. Louis Rams fan, forget you just read that.
Brandon Marshall – Jerry Rice, Wes Welker, and Marvin Harrison were the only guys with four 100+ catch seasons, and now you can add Brandon Marshall’s name to that list. His 10 receptions for 160 yards and a touchdown against the Vikings put him at 101 receptions, 1,342 yards and 9 touchdowns on the year.
David Wilson – According to ESPN Stats and Info, David Wilson is the 1st player in NFL history with 200+ kickoff return yards and 100+ rush yards in a single game. How is that for a coming out party? Ahmad Bradshaw left the game with a knee injury, but came back, so Wilson still only had 13 carries, but made the most of them, gaining 100 yards and scoring 2 rushing touchdowns. He’s explosive and has earned himself a real chance going forward.
Anquan Boldin – Way back in week one Anquan Boldin scored a touchdown and then 11 games later he went on a touchdown spree, catching three in the last two games. He had three receptions for 78 yards and two touchdowns against the Redskins.
Vincent Jackson – Jackson continues to put up big numbers. This week he caught six balls for 131 yards and a touchdown against the Eagles. That puts him at 56 receptions for 1,145 yards and 8 touchdowns and a whopping 20.4 yards per reception on the season.
Calvin Johnson – His game wasn’t earth shattering, but his 10 receptions for 113 yards keeps him on pace to break Jerry Rice’s single season receiving record of 1,848 yards by 55, and that gets a game ball from me.
Seattle Seahawks – The Seahawks won many a fantasy playoff game this week. They led all scorers in standard ESPN leagues with 39 points. Cam Newton was second with 36. I’m not really sure how I feel about a league being won and lost on a huge D/ST score, but them’s the rules! If I had my druthers I’d eliminate D/ST’s and Kickers and add another flex or two. And no, I didn’t lose to a team with Seattle’s D/ST, but I would be sad if I had.
Greg Olsen/Clay Harbor – These are your two fantasy tight end leaders for week 14. They both finished with 11 points in ESPN standard scoring, which is fine, but holy Kellen Winslow, this was a bad week for tight ends. Let’s see if Aaron Hernandez and Owen Daniels can set things right tonight.