Two backs born in 1985 — one early in the year, one late in the year — do battle in the latest installment of Would You Rather. Both reside in the NFC North, and both are once again having stellar seasons.
Historically, this wouldn’t be much of a debate. Former No. 7 overall pick Adrian Peterson has been an All-Pro in all four years he’s been in the league. He was the 2007 rookie of the year and the 2008 rushing champion. Former No. 44 overall pick Matt Forte has never even been to the Pro Bowl. While Peterson is the highest-paid running back in NFL history, Forte is still fighting tooth and nail to land an extension in the final year of his rookie deal.
To boot, Peterson has always been more of a workhorse than Forte, who was under-utilized in what could have been a breakout third season in Chicago.
But this year, Forte has outperformed Peterson by a wide margin.
That leads to the question: Who would you rather have on your team?
Experience: 5th season
Career stats: 69 GMS, 6,577 YDS, 4.7 AVG, 64 TD, 14 FUM, 135 REC, 1,295 REC YDS
This season: 8 GMS, 795 YDS, 4.8 AVG, 10 TD, 1 FUM, 16 REC, 125 REC YDS
Games missed due to injury: 3
Experience: 4th season
Career stats: 56 GMS, 4,041 YDS, 4.2 AVG, 28 TD, 8 FUM, 212 REC, 1,931 REC YDS
This season: 8 GMS, 805 YDS, 5.4 AVG, 3 TD, 2 FUM, 41 REC, 436 REC YDS
Games missed due to injury: 0
The long-term stats favor Peterson, while the current ones clearly lean Forte’s way. But beware of Forte’s inability to find the end zone as often as Peterson. Even this season, Peterson has scored seven more times than Forte has. Considering that he’s lassoed with a rookie quarterback and a worse defense, that’s pretty impressive.
Also, while Peterson’s career fumble numbers are shameful, he has kicked his fumblitis in recent seasons. He’s lost just two fumbles since the start of last season, while Forte has lost five during that same span.
Forte is clearly a more productive receiver than Peterson, but how much of that is a result of the schemes they’ve played in? Tough to tell — especially considering that Peterson’s yards-per-catch average is actually a half-yard higher than Forte’s — but it’s still hard to ignore the considerable edge Forte possesses in that aspect of the game.
But despite his receiving prowess, Forte is no more of a home-run threat. He produces a play of 20-plus yards once every 1.2 games. Peterson does so every 1.1 games. Peterson also has had 20 plays of 40-plus yards, compared to just 11 for Forte.
Sean Tomlinson’s take: I’ll take Peterson, and primarily because of consistency. Even elite running backs will disappear for a game, and rushing yards is a metric that’s sometimes out of their control and is often dictated by the efficiency of an offensive line, or the scoreboard. Still, Forte had eight games just last year in which he had 50 or fewer yards, while Peterson has nine through four-and-a-half seasons.
Gagnon’s take: In a world in which running backs have such perilously short shelf lives, I’m going with the fresher legs and the hotter hand. Plus, Forte has proven to be more versatile. He’s the guy.
So, who would you rather have?
Last week’s Would You Rather: Roddy White or Stevie Johnson?