An already tumultuous week for the NFL took a turn for the worse when a Montgomery County, Texas grand jury handed down an indictment charging Adrian Peterson with “injury to a child.” The Montgomery County Sheriff’s office issued a warrant for Peterson’s arrest on the charges that he beat his 4-year-old son with a tree branch or “switch” in the town of Spring, Texas while he was visiting him in May. He turned himself in to authorities, was arrested and booked on the charges, then released on $15,000 bond. Peterson has admitted giving the child a “whooping.” The sordid details are available on the internet here.
The Minnesota Vikings have already taken the extraordinary step of deactivating Peterson from the team roster; he will not play in this coming Sunday’s scheduled game against the New England Patriots. Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon are the backup running backs on the Vikings depth chart and both are likely to play on Sunday. Asiata has been with the Vikings since 2012; over the last two seasons he’s carried the ball 49 times for 166 yards (3.8 YPC) and caught seven passes for 13 yards. He was active for 11 games last season but only saw action in two of them, Week 15 against the Eagles (30 carries, 51 yds.) and Week 17 against the Lions (14 carries, 115 yards). McKinnon was on the field for three snaps in Week 1 against the Rams, getting one carry for no gain. Asiata is considered the favorite to carry to ball on Sunday, while McKinnon is considered the more well-rounded back and could be involved in the passing game more.
Fantasy owners of Peterson are advised to add Matt Asiata immediately. However, if other options are available to you, it may be wise to leave him on the bench until a clearer picture emerges of how he’s deployed by the Vikings along with Jerick McKinnon. Asiata will probably be the better short term option but McKinnon could emerge as the better talent of the two. Owners in deeper leagues should consider adding McKinnon.
It’s not clear how long Peterson will be kept out of games, whether the team will release him or if the NFL will suspend him. The recent changes to domestic violence policy would seem to apply here, which could mean a six game suspension. However, the ambiguity of the language in the new rules certainly leaves room for Roger Goodell to apply a harsher penalty if he deems it necessary. It’s also not clear whether the team and/or league will allow the legal process to play out before taking further action. What is clear is that the current environment makes it almost a certainty that Peterson will face some sort of suspension and/or penalty from the NFL. The Ray Rice debacle has left egg all over Goodell’s face and there is almost no chance that he’ll allow Peterson to come away from this unscathed. Fantasy owners should plan on Peterson being gone for at least six games and perhaps more.