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Article posted: 12/28/2012 5:30 AM

Vikings' Peterson defied the odds and the skeptics

By John Dietz

Nobody will ever confuse Adrian Peterson with Rodney Dangerfield.

But if the Vikings' running back knew what fantasy footballers thought of him on Draft Day, he would have been bellowing "NO RESPECT, NO RESPECT!"

Peterson went for just 25 units (each team had 200) in my auction draft in September. His peers? Check this out:

LeSean McCoy went for 55, Darren McFadden 53, DeMarco Murray 49, Chris Johnson 42, Matt Forte 40 and Trent Richardson 27.

In my regular, snake-draft league, I took Forte instead of Peterson, who went three picks later and helped propel that team to a second-place finish.

Many of us just didn't believe Peterson could come back from an ACL injury in December and perform anywhere near the level to which we were accustomed.

Instead, he has put together a 1,898-yard, 11-TD season and has the most fantasy points among running backs. Even more amazing, he has averaged 155 rushing yards and has 9 of his 11 TDs over the last nine games. Keep that up for an entire season and that's 2,480 rushing yards!

For all of his amazing accomplishments, Daily Herald readers voted Peterson this year's Fantasy Football MVP. He beat out Tom Brady by a 2-to-1 margin in the final results.

Congratulations to all of you who took a chance on Peterson in August or September. Chances are your team was one all other teams in your league respected and feared on a weekly basis.

Biggest surprise:

This was a three-man race between Peyton Manning, Alfred Morris and Adrian Peterson. In the end, Manning (with 32 percent of the vote) came out ahead.

This is almost embarrassing to admit, but in my preseason rankings, I had Matt Schaub, Philip Rivers and Jay Cutler ranked ahead of Manning, who checked in at No. 14. Well, as we head into the final week of the season, only Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers had more fantasy points than the Broncos' savior.

"No one was willing to back him 100 percent coming off neck surgery and a year off of football," wrote Ryan Heeter of Palatine. "I guess when you've got as much mental stability as Peyton paired with enormous football ability, maybe it shouldn't have been a surprise. Nevertheless, he shocked the world with an exemplary year."

Biggest bust:

Eagles RB LeSean McCoy made a late surge in the voting, but the "winner" of the award no player wants was Arizona WR Larry Fitzgerald.

A top-5 receiver on almost every preseason draft sheet, Fitzgerald sits at an unsightly 41st in fantasy points with 69 catches for 785 yards and a career-low 4 touchdowns.

"He's been healthy all year and done virtually nothing (although his QBs have been awful)," wrote Wayne Simak of Wheaton. "All of the other candidates were hurt at various times, so while disappointing, they were injured."

Comeback player:

This category in my mind was such a slam dunk that I didn't even put it up for a vote. When a future Hall of Fame quarterback like Peyton Manning misses an entire season, then comes back and performs at an all-pro level, you simply hand him the award.

Here's how amazing Manning's numbers are:

ŸHis 34 TD passes are the second-most of his career, behind only the mind-boggling 49 he threw in 2004.

ŸIf he doesn't throw an interception against the Chiefs on Sunday, he will finish with 11, his lowest total since 2006.

ŸPerhaps most amazing, if he throws for 346 yards, he would eclipse his career high for passing yards in a season, which is 4,700 in 2010.

Rookie of the year:

Just like 2011, this award goes to a fleet-footed quarterback with a rocket arm. Daily Herald readers made Redskins rookie Robert Griffin III the runaway winner over Tampa Bay RB Doug Martin with 77 percent of the vote.

Griffin (3,100 passing yards, 763 rushing and 26 total TDs) is the eighth-highest scoring QB in fantasy points. He wasn't terribly consistent, but in Weeks 1, 2, 6, 7, 11 and 12, Griffin was in the top five in fantasy points among quarterbacks.

The question now is, what can we expect next season? Griffin hasn't scored on the ground since Week 6, and after averaging 68 yards on the ground in Weeks 1-7, he's averaged just 41 rushing yards per game since.

Congrats:

I have to throw some kudos out to my 10-year-old son, who teamed up with a buddy this year, and won his second straight fantasy football championship. Drew Brees, Jamaal Charles and the Bears defense paved the way to a 143-95 victory in his title game. With two titles in three seasons, it might be a good time to call it a career!

See ya next year:

I just want to say a sincere thank you to everyone who voted and wrote in during the season. Hopefully I was able to entertain as well as give out some decent advice on a weekly basis.

It was another fun year. I wish you all the best in 2013 and look forward to starting this whole thing up again in August.

jdietz@dailyherald.com

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