There are many factors you consider with your fantasy decisions, and your championship decisions, week by week. Talent. System. Role and opportunity. Recent form. Opponent, expected game flow. Sometimes opponent history applies, if it’s recent enough.
Just make sure you don’t overlook health. And make sure you don’t fall for one of the all-time classic fantasy sucker plays, injury optimism.
I’m suspecting the injury-optimism game lost some supporters this year. Waiting for Guffman had a better payoff. Jamaal Charles didn’t do a thing, a waste of a premium pick. Dion Lewis has been a flop thus far. Sammy Watkins is the No. 40 wideout since his return three games ago, and his September games sucked. Tony Romo wasn’t worth an IR stash.
And now here comes Adrian Peterson, back into Minnesota’s hopeful plans. Peterson (knee) returned to practice Wednesday and he might be able to play before the end of the season. I doubt that means Week 15 against Indianapolis, but maybe there’s a slight chance. Minnesota plays at Green Bay next week; that sounds like a more likely time for Peterson to go.
Let me make this as clear as I possibly can. I have zero interest. This has fantasy quicksand written all over it. Without a prove-it game on the resume, there’s no way I’ll risk a Week 16 title on Peterson’s questionable knee — running behind Minnesota’s lousy offensive line, probably the worst in the league.
Even the players who validate patience through an extended layoff usually need adjustment time. Tyler Eifert was worth the wait, sure, but he only had one catch in his first game back. Peterson, of course, hasn’t played since Week 2, and he was bottled up in his only two starts of the year (1.6 YPC).
I try not to box myself in with strict fantasy rules, but I want healthy players deciding my critical games. This is why I told you not to play Sammy Watkins for the first two weeks of his return, or Jordan Reed last week. It’s why I’m ranking A.J. Green with heavy caution this week. I want someone I can count on for a full game, a three-hour tour.
The easiest thing to do in the fantasy racket is hedge, give a wishy-washy answer. And I get it; some pundits desperately don’t want to be wrong (or want something they can promote after the fact), and we do have to consider that most situations are heavily dependent on context. Obviously you have to decide what Peterson’s risk and reward is worth to you.
Those caveats established, I nonetheless invite all of my opponents to start Peterson against me, should we meet in the money weeks. Bet on a brand name all you want; I’ll bet on gravity. And I’ll bet against that Minnesota offense line, every chance I get.
Optimists and pessimists, have your say in the comments. If you want to tackle me behind the line of scrimmage, catch me on Twitter.