The League

Gene Wang
Fantasy Guru

Gene Wang

A sports staff writer at The Washington Post

Burner Is the Fantasy Man

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Michael Turner or Adrian Peterson with the top pick will be the most discussed fantasy issue this offseason. Both are centerpieces of their offenses, and neither has much competition in their respective backfields. Both are young, powerful runners and have low mileage when it comes to carries.

Not that you'd go wrong selecting either, but "Burner" Turner is the better choice by the slimmest of margins. The reason is Atlanta's offensive balance.

Turner benefits by playing in a scheme that has a proficient passing game thanks to the emergence of rookie quarterback Matt Ryan. Even though the Falcons have run 56 percent of the time this season, defenses are keenly aware Ryan has the ability to go down the field with positive results.

That's hardly the case in Minnesota, with Gus Frerotte largely a caretaker and in charge of handing off to Peterson. The Vikings have 461 rushing attempts this season, or 54 percent of offense, but they rank 26th in the league in passing. The Falcons, on the other hand, rank 13th in passing.

Peterson may seem to be the more proven commodity after two seasons of heavy production, but don't forget Turner was spectacular in relief of LaDainian Tomlinson for four seasons in San Diego. His average per carry over his final three seasons with the Chargers was 5.9, 6.3 and 4.5.

Now you may suggest the only reason Turner thrived in San Diego was because he entered games well after Tomlinson had worn down defenses. That may be true, but it doesn't explain why Turner has been just as effective this season in Atlanta as the lead back.

Another tiebreaker may be injury, or lack thereof for Turner. He has been healthy his entire career, while Peterson missed two games last season. That may be splitting hairs, but choosing between the two in fantasy drafts is just that close.

By Gene Wang  |  December 18, 2008; 9:09 AM ET  | Category:  Adrian Peterson , Atlanta Falcons , Gene Wang , Michael Turner , Minnesota Vikings , Running Backs Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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