Who Is Number One?

Contributed by: Bill Enright
Last Updated: Jul 26, 2010 7:48 PM

The NFL draft is just a few weeks away, unfortunately your fantasy draft isn't happening for a few more months. But just because the Rams don't know who they are taking with the 1st overall selection, doesn't mean Fantasy GMs can't start planning now.

It really comes down to two players: Adrian Peterson and Chris Johnson. Sure some fantasy GMs may say Maurice Jones Drew should be included in the conversation, but  AP and Chris Johnson are THE best and Mo-Jo is the runner up  (if you have the 3rd pick, you should be perfectly content while claiming Jones Drew as your selection). 

The Breakdown:
Adrian Peterson: The hands down lock for the Number 1 pick in 2009 fantasy drafts, AP rewarded fantasy GMs with a monster season. At 6'1 and 215 pounds, AP is a physical specimen who is hard to tackle, has both explosive and breakaway speed, great vision, and cutting ability. He rushed for 1,383 yards, scored 18 TDs , and caught 43 passes for 436 yards. Peterson contributed 291 fantasy points, averaged 18 fantasy points per week and had just one single digit performance (Week 13). His touchdown total, receptions, and receiving yards were all career highs. The team has one of the best offensive lines in the league, Guard Steve Hutchinson and Tackle Bryant McKinnie were Pro Bowlers in 2009.
      Minny parted ways with 3rd down back Chester Taylor this off-season, which should result in a much bigger workload for AP. Though Brett Favre's return is still unknown, Peterson will excel no matter who is handing him the ball. Despite being one of (if not the best) Running Backs in the league, AP  has some flaws: He fumbled 7 times in '09 and occasionally suffers from a minor injury that leaves fantasy owners in panic mode until game day. But don't worry to much, Peterson hasn't missed a game since 2007.
2010 Projected Stats: 1,600 rushing yards, 20 total TDs, 55 receptions, and 600 receiving yards.

Chris Johnson: 2009 was a record-breaking year for the Tennessee Running Back. The ultra speedy Johnson became just the 6th back to rush for 2,000 yards in NFL history. Plus he broke Marshall Faulk's yards from scrimmage record with 2,509 all-purpose yards. Johnson finished the season on top of the RB fantasy standings with 347 fantasy points, 56 more points than the 2nd  best back (Adrian Peterson). En route to his rushing title, Johnson rushed for 2,006 yards and 14 TDs, caught 50 passes for 503 yards and 2 TDs.  CJ had 6 multi TD performances and rushed for 100 yards or more in 12 out of 16 games. He flat out-out runs everyone and has an uncanny ability to make defenders miss in the open field.
      Those who believe history repeats itself should be cautious. All of the five previous Running Backs in the 2,000 yard club had a big drop off in stats the following year. In fact, when comparing their 2,000 yard season, nearly all RBs had about a 50% cut in total yards. Check out the breakdown for 2,000 yard rushers and how they performed the following season:

OJ Simpson: 1973: 2,003 yards  12 TDs.  1974: 1,125 yards 4 TDs

Eric Dickerson: 1984: 2,105 yards 14 TDs.  1985: 1,234 yards 12 TDs

Barry Sanders: 1997: 2,053 yards  11 TDs. 1998: 1,491 yards 12 TDs

Terrell Davis 1998: 2,008 yards 21 TDs. 1999: 211 yards 2 TDs (Season ending injury Week 4)

Jamal Lewis: 2003: 2,066 yards 14 TDs. 2004 1,006 yards 7 TDs

Chris Johnson 2009: 2,006 yards 14 TDs. 2010: ??? 
2010 Projected Stats: 1,550 rushing yards, 21 Total TDs, 65 receptions, and 700 receiving yards 

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