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Take Your Pick: Arian Foster or Adrian Peterson?

Should Adrian Peterson or Arian Foster be the top draft pick this season?

The Case For Peterson

“Purple Jesus” and “All Day” are just a few of Peterson’s nicknames. “Mr. Consistent” should be added to the list. Peterson has finished in the Top 5 of running back scoring in each of the last four seasons. No other running back can lay claim to that honor. Peterson has given his owners at least 1,600 total yards and 10 touchdowns in every season as a professional. Remember those concerned with his fumbling problems? Peterson watched his fumble total fall from seven to one over two seasons. Given his consistency and improvements, there can’t be any drawbacks to selecting Peterson first, can there?

If you are looking for issues, look no further than the offensive line. Minnesota’s offensive line isn’t getting any younger (they have an average age of 29). On the flip side, the quarterbacks are getting much, much younger. Unless the Vikings bring in a veteran quarterback right away, either Joe Webb or Christian Ponder will start Week 1. Growing pains and loaded boxes are expected to go with an inexperienced quarterback under center. Can either of these players keep opposing defenses at bay? Can Peterson still post elite numbers, given these potential pitfalls?

The Case For Foster

Talk about rags to riches. Foster went from an undrafted, practice squad after-thought to one of the league’s most dynamic rushers. When Ben Tate was placed on the Injured Reserve last summer, fantasy owners began to watch Foster’s average draft position slowly begin to climb. Foster rewarded those who invested in him right away with a 233-yard, three touchdown effort against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 1. The ex-Tennessee Vounteer rusher was just getting started as he eventually took home the rushing title (1,616 yards) and Fantasy MVP honors. If you play in a points per reception league, Foster finished first among running backs in receiving yards and second in catches. Foster plays behind one of the top young offensive lines in a one-cut zone blocking system that’s perfect for his running style. Foster also benefits from one of the league’s top quarterback-wide receiver duos in Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson who always keep opposing defenses honest. There can’t be any downside to selecting Foster first overall, right?

There’s always risk whenever a player comes out of nowhere to have a monster fantasy season. Can he do it again? Will there be any durability concerns in his second season? The Texans don’t have a lot invested into Foster, paying him the league minimum of $390,000 last season. Despite the lockout, we didn’t hear any rumblings of the Texans wanting to restructure his contract. After Chris Johnson’s 2,500-yard season in 2009, the Titans gave him a ‘short-term’ deal – five years, $12 million ($7 million guaranteed). Johnson isn’t satisfied with the deal, but the Titans at least attempted to make their star running back happy. The Texans have given us no indication that they’ll restructure Foster’s deal and that’s very telling. Tate is also back to full strength, as well.

The Verdict

The first overall pick should be: Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota

Say what you want about his situation, but Peterson always seems to get it done. Take the 2008 season for example. Peterson posted his best rushing total ever (1,760 yards).

His starting quarterbacks?

Gus Frerotte (11 games) and Tarvaris Jackson (five).

The point: Don’t worry about who is under center. Peterson will get his.

If anything, did you know that the Vikings brought in a new offensive coordinator? Ex-Atlanta Falcons coordinator, Bill Musgrave, who engineers a very heavy run-first attack, said that he will lean very heavily on Peterson, much like he did with Michael Turner. Great news for Peterson owners.

At 26 years old, Peterson is in his prime and will continue to gash opposing defenses. Peterson has only missed three games during his career and is a mortal lock for at least 1,600 total yards while posting double-digit scores. No other running back has been as reliable.

I expect Foster to be as explosive and dynamic as he was last season, but I want the player who possesses the least amount of downside. That player is Peterson.

Don’t think about it “All Day.” Just make Adrian Peterson your No. 1 draft pick.

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