Adrian Peterson is not a man. He’s a man-beast, or a beastly man, or a man-like beast. He can save cats from trees just by speaking cat, and he can carry a piano from a burning building. He is everything to everyone.

But he’s also a little depressing to think about from a fantasy perspective, unless of course you own him, in which case you’re happier than a slinky on an escalator. Why? Well, because of all the draft misses, this one burns the deepest, and the longest.

Last week during our acknowledgement of midseason on the NFL calendar, we strapped on our hindsight glasses (the worst glasses imaginable) to look back on August and the most notable draft misses and sources of disappointment while using the final average draft positions in ESPN leagues. It’s an exercise I do often on a smaller scale nearly every day, because at its core fantasy football is a constant judgement of player value, a process in which evaluation never stops. In doing so we’re constantly looking at current production and expected future returns while gauging players using the price we paid during the draft.

After all, that’s the root of a players’ value. How much did you pay for him? And how much are you getting out of him for that price? Are there other players at his position who were taken considerably later and are out-producing him? Or is the player in question the one with the bargain value?

There’s rarely a definitive answer to any of those questions, but ADPs from August are as close as we get. When we look at Peterson’s ADPs, sorrow in varying degrees immediately follows.

Most of us let Peterson fall, and fall way too far. But we did it with good, noble intentions, and we were following what at the time was the only sensible strategy. He was returning from tearing his ACL and MCL only eight months after surgery, so caution was needed. Clearly we were aware that a healthy Peterson is still a dominant Peterson, but he wasn’t on the field for a single snap during the Vikings’ preseason schedule, and he didn’t even face contact in practice until very late in August.

Uncertainty was high, and uncertainty among fantasy drafters often leads to an exceedingly cautious approach. That’s how Peterson finished with an ADP of 17th overall in ESPN leagues and seventh overall at his position, even though a re-draft right now would almost surely have him at the top of both lists. The six running backs taken ahead of him were Marshawn Lynch, Maurice Jones-Drew, Chris Johnson, LeSean McCoy, Ray Rice, and Arian Foster, and with his 139 fantasy points through 10 games Peterson is ahead of all but one (Foster).

It gets better/worse in NFL.com leagues, where our collective hesitancy drove Peterson’s price down to 28th overall. Seeing him behind Ryan Mathews makes me want to quit everything now. Just everything.

So exactly how much has Peterson out-performed his ADP? Welp, after his 171-yard rushing outing yesterday with a touchdown, Peterson now leads the league in rushing with 1,128 yards, and along with Marshawn Lynch (who isn’t even close to Peterson with 1,005 yards) he’s one of just two running backs this year over 1,000 yards.

Let’s consider some more digits, and while we do that please keep in mind the image of muscle tendons and such in Peterson’s knee tearing apart violently just last January. Hey, remember when a running back was supposed to be a large lump of muscles for at least one full year after tearing his ACL?

Medicine, man, how does it work?

  • Peterson has been particularly hot over his last four games, with 655 yards from scrimmage, 629 of which have come on the ground.
  • That’s an average of 163.7 all-purpose yards per game, and with 91 touches during that stretch, he’s set a pace of 7.8 yards per touch.
  • With a current overall pace of 112.8 yards per game for the season, he’ll finish with 1,804 rushing yards, a career high.
  • If he can hit that projected mark, Peterson’s 2012 season will be among the top 20 single-season rushing efforts of all time, squeaking in at No. 19 and ahead of some dude named Emmitt Smith. You might know him.
  • He has 13 runs of 20 yards or more through 10 games, putting him on pace to tie his career single-season high for such scampers (20). Let’s repeat this for good measure: he’s running for an abundance of lengthy gains less than a year after shredding his knee.
  • Oh, that long running gets longer. He’s logged three straight games with a run of at least 60 yards, highlighted by a season high 74 yarder two weeks ago.
  • Prior to this year throughout his five-year career Peterson only had five +60 yard runs. Yep, now he has three in three weeks.

So enjoy this, Peterson owners, and feel good about your utter disregard of risk during the draft season, especially if you were an early drafter (early August or even July) and you were able to get an even greater discount.