Fantasy football is so addictive. It takes over most fanatic football fans lives. It makes the most mundane match-up instantly into a classic if you've got something at stake. Garbage time takes on a whole new meaning with fantasy football. Every minute and every yard counts.
Games such as Atlanta Falcons destruction of Tampa Bay Buccaneers means something right down to the wire. The reason why the Madden videogames are so successful is because fans love to pretend to play the game. And NFL fantasy is equally successful because fans love to play coach and general manager and run their own team.
The idea of battling with your mates also lures fans in, as does the sense of owning a particular player or defense.
But as in real life, coaches and general managers are often dealt huge blows. For fantasy owners of Adrian Peterson, the blow was a brutal one after he was suspended for the rest of the season after he was charged with child abuse.
Of course it was the correct decision by the Minnesota Vikings in the end, leaving Peterson owners missing a premier NFL running back on their roster. I'm one of those unfortunate fantasy owners and I feel your pain. I picked Peterson third overall in my league, but there are some out there that might have picked him first or second overall as well.
But another man's mistakes provide others with opportunities. The NFL is a next man up league, so who should we replace him with?
The size of your league will dictate who is left on the undrafted board, but it's highly likely that the fantastic four below are just hanging their waiting for a chance.
Not all of these players are going to replace Peterson, but they all have tremendous upside. If you don't believe me, people thought I was crazy when I picked up Mark Ingram after our work draft. Not so crazy now, albeit he is out for four weeks so we will see what he's like when he returns. So let’s take a look at the fantastic four.
I have picked him up as one of my waiver selections this week. When you’ve got Adrian Peterson, Mark Ingram and Ryan Mathews on your roster, it’s time to hit the waiver wire.
Now I know what you’re thinking, why Ridley?
It is well documented that he has fumble problems, but didn’t a certain Adrian Peterson have fumble problems back in the day? One of the really big criticisms of Ridley is that he fumbles the ball too much. During his breakout year in 2012, Ridley fumbled the ball four times. And the next season he fumbled four times again. During the 2012 NFL season he managed to pick up 1,263 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns, but his fumble problems left him somewhat deposed last season.
That all sounds pretty bad, but it’s only heightened because he plays for the New England Patriots, who have a massive profile. And head coach Bill Belichick is also a massive critic of those that make basic mistakes.
But it seems out in Minnesota, Adrian Peterson’s fumble mistakes have been overlooked because of his talent. Yes he’s a much better player than Ridley, but he’s put the ball on the ground way more times than Ridley has.
In 2013, Peterson fumbled five times, and during his early years in 2008 and 2009, Peterson fumbled the ball nine times and eight times respectively over the course of the season. Nobody gave up on his talent, and as a fantasy owner in need, you should back Ridley this season.
Through two games he hasn’t fumbled the ball yet, and last week there was one particular statistic that showed how much Ridley is trusted now. He carried the ball 25 times for over 100 yards and a touchdown. Great fantasy numbers, and the 25 carries just shows that the Pats believe he can get the job done. And when Tom Brady also states that the running game will be key to the Pats success the season following the game, last week’s Ridley performance is not going to be just a one week wonder.
These next three players don’t have as much content under their names because I don’t think they will be as good as Ridley will be in place of Peterson. But Ridley might not be available in your league and you also might not have been convinced by my Ridley plea.
Another candidate for replacing Peterson is Bernard Pierce. He has gained his opportunity this season from the consequences of the Ray Rice saga. The former Ravens running back was originally only suspended for two games because of his domestic assault on his partner, but when the video footage came out two weeks ago, Baltimore and the NFL saw fit to punish him finally.
This leaves Pierce with the opportunity to cement himself as the number one running back in Baltimore. He has been groomed to replace Ray Rice now for some time. Rice was no ordinary starter, after a disastrous 2013 NFL season left him under pressure anyway.
And last week’s performance by Pierce against the Pittsburgh Steelers showed what he’s about. Great agility and strength and an eye for the hole, Pierce has a chance to put up some big fantasy numbers in the coming weeks.
He comes up against a poor run defense in the Cleveland Browns this week, and you should expect him to find the endzone and break off some big runs. It’s the same with Ridley, Pierce was handed the ball 22 times against the Steelers despite a good back-up in Justin Forsett. This shows that the Ravens still believe in him, and Forsett’s inability to punch the ball from inside the one last week means that Pierce will likely score a short yardage touchdown during week three.
This is the point that the content for the last two players shrinks massively. If you can’t add either of the two above, these last two players are the gambles you can take in the short-term.
With Jamaal Charles out injured still, Davis is the incumbent at running back. He proved himself to be more than capable with two touchdowns and decent yardage against the Broncos, and expect more of the same this week.
Kansas City Chiefs are so good at run blocking that even an average back would put up good numbers every week. But Davis is better than average. The only reason he remains a gamble is that Charles is likely to make a recovery sooner than expected, and you don’t want to be caught playing Davis in the week that Charles makes his comeback. But you should be fine for week three.
It is pretty easy to figure out why Chris Ivory is a gamble. He’s the only running back on this list that won’t be a starter in week three. He plays back-up behind Chris Johnson and the New York Jets.
But the Jets are so good on the ground that even their back-up will put up good numbers. It’s Ivory’s physical nature that makes him a great tailback for fantasy. He has the ability to punch it in from short yardage, and his receiving ability out of the backfield means he can break a big one too.
But again, he’s more of a short-term solution. Long-term starters Pierce and particularly Ridley are the best Peterson replacements that are likely to be available in your league right now.