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Fantasy Instant Debate: Start Adrian Peterson?

Should you start Adrian Peterson in your Week 16 fantasy championship?

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  • Michael Fabiano NFL Media Senior Fantasy Analyst
  • Maybe ... maybe not

The decision to start or sit Peterson is all about who you have on your roster. If you field LeSean McCoy, Jordan Howard and LeGarrette Blount, for example, AD needs to be on your bench. If you're one of the fantasy owners who lost Melvin Gordon or Matt Forte and/or you're in need of an RB/flex, then I think Peterson starts. Just keep in mind that the Vikings have a bad run-blocking offensive line, and Peterson averaged 1.6 yards per attempt in the one-plus games he did play this season. He's no lock to succeed.

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  • Matt Franciscovich NFL Media Writer/Editor
  • Start Peterson at your own peril

Obviously, the Vikings have struggled on offense this season, and a big part of those struggles have been due to the team's inability to run the ball (with or without Peterson). As a team, Minnesota is averaging 73.4 rushing yards per game and 3.0 yards per carry heading into Week 15. They're the only team in the NFL with fewer than 1,000 total rushing yards. In fact, 10 individual running backs have more rushing yards than the Vikings. According to Football Outsiders DVOA metric, the team owns one of the worst run-blocking offensive lines in the league. That's a major reason why running backs Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata remain on the waiver wire even with a dire need for value at the running back position in the playoffs.

If the 31-year-old Peterson does suit up in Week 16, fantasy owners should not expect him to have an immediate impact as a fantasy asset. He'll be rusty, old, and playing behind a line that can't run block to begin with. If you're willing to take that risk, be my guest.

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  • Alex Gelhar NFL Media Writer/Editor
  • Run from the risk

I'm typically a risk-averse fantasy player when it comes to starting players in their first game back from major injury. So when I'm posed with the question of whether or not I'd start a 31-year-old running back in his first game back from a major injury who will not have played a meaningful snap of football in 97 days set to run behind one of the league's worst offensive lines on the road against an ascending defense in the cold ... the answer is a resounding hell nah.

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  • Marcas Grant NFL Media Fantasy Editor
  • Father Time comes for us all

The short answer is no. The longer answer is noooooooooooo. The longer answer still is "No. Not if you have any real interest in winning a fantasy championship and want to be smart about putting together the starting lineup that can offer you a stable enough floor to bring home a title." I'm sure someone in the next couple of weeks will remind you that he damn near set a single-season rushing record after returning from a major knee injury the season before. But that was 2012. As time's inevitable march has continued toward its only and ultimate conclusion, it has taken all of us -- Peterson included -- along for the ride.

Also ... he was only averaging 1.6 yards per carry in the two games he played this season and returns to run behind an offensive line that is notably worse than when he left it back in September. So that.

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  • Matt Harmon NFL Fantasy Writer
  • Don't fall for nostalgia

Hard pass. There are plenty of nostalgic memories to cloud your mind and convince you to play Adrian Peterson should he return for Week 16 against the Packers. However, there's little logical reason to make such a move. First, let's address one of the prevailing lessons 2016 has tried to teach us: beware overconfident injury optimism. Consider the cases of Jamaal Charles, Dion Lewis and Thomas Rawls. Much like anyone who chased the delayed injury gratification with these three backs, those expecting instant returns from a 31-year old Adrian Peterson -- whom we have not seen since Week 2 -- will be surely be disappointed. If your case for playing Peterson includes any "he's a cyborg" analysis, please reconsider. Peterson already showed he was not immune to the horrific conditions of the Vikings rushing attack brought on by the depleted offensive line when he took his 31 carries in Weeks 1 and 2 for a whopping 50 yards. Be rational about this. He's an aging back who has averaged 3.24 yards per carry going back to Week 10 of last year in an all-time bad rushing offense. But hey, at least he's coming off a long injury absence.

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  • Adam Rank NFL Media Writer
  • No room for AP here

Adrian Peterson is like that co-worker of yours who is kind of fishing around for an invite to your holiday party. I mean, the place is kind of small and nobody really wants him there, because he no longer contributes anything to the party. I mean like, he's the guy who shows up with a two-liter Diet Pepsi and then the next thing you know, he's pulled out one of the grapefruit IPAs you have hidden in the lettuce crisper right behind the package of shredded cheese. And you know damn well he was just looking for stuff, because there is no way you could have just stumbled on to those beers. Damn it, why did I purchase that four-pack anyway? You know he was just going to find it.

You know what. No, Adrian! No, no, NO! You are not going to get an invite. I'm tired of having to make excuses for you. I won't do it. You can just stay at home this holiday season, or find some other party where they are starting Kenneth Farrow, because you're not welcome here!

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