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If Adrian Peterson Is Out, Who Will Tote The Rock?

I happen to have Adrian Peterson on my fantasy team. (And I still won this week. I am awesome.) Of course, since we all know by now that AP has a high ankle sprain and is doubtful for Atlanta (quite frankly, I would be shocked if the coaching staff decides to play him... no point risking anything now), it's on me to find a replacement.

As I was scouring the FA/ waiver wire, I settled upon Kevin Smith from Detroit. A gamble? A bit, but the best gamble I felt that was available. It's not like any super star RBs are left. That said, I noticed that one of my other top possibilities was Toby Gerhart.

Why, you ask, did I go with Kevin Smith, rather than at least take the homer gamble? Because I'm not sold Gerhart will get a massive amount of reps in AP's absence.

This season we've seen Percy Harvin transform from KR/PR/WR superstar to a man who has now effectively added ‘RB' to that lengthy resume. (This guy is seriously multi-talented.) Heck, against Carolina, I was honestly thinking at one point that Harvin was going to be the leading rusher and Peterson was going to be the leading receiver. (And hey, we won. Anyone on the coaching staff taking notes here?!)

So there's the question. We are a very run-heavy team. Between Toby Gerhart, Lorenzo Booker, and Percy Harvin (and with our wonderful O-line doing its thing, just go ahead and add ‘Christian Ponder' to that list), we are certainly not low on options without Adrian Peterson around. (Not saying AP's expendable or anything... just not that our run game becomes non-existent without him.) Throw some Joe Webb in there and we've got more run options WITHOUT AP than most teams would have WITH him. So who's going to be our lead rusher in AP's absence?

Join me after the leap of faith for a few brief breakdowns.

Percy Harvin? He’s certainly earned himself a spot of consideration here. Ted has referred to him several times as "the second best runner on the team", and I don’t think he’s off his rocker to do so. (I mean, he’s off his rocker… just not because of that.) However, I’m not sure the team would want to essentially make him a full-time RB… he’s really, really valuable out there as a WR, and too much of a work load for a guy who’s been banged up 90% of the season could be a bad idea.

Toby Gerhart? He’s a great backup for AP. Last season, when Peterson was out, Gerhart held things down quite nicely. I still believe he could be a starter on teams with a lesser starting RB. Granted, he didn’t have the greatest day against Oakland in his relief role, but that was more the exception than the rule. Still, for some reason, and maybe it’s just me, but this coaching staff has seemed shy when it comes to using Toby extensively, even when AP is mysteriously not getting many touches.

Lorenzo Booker? Ok, it’s not too terribly likely he will be the leading rusher, especially with the above two options in mind. Not to mention he still has part-time return duties. (How much after that fumble against Oakland, we’ll see.) But it will still be interesting to see how many carries he gets when the clear #1 is standing on the sidelines.

Joe Webb? The WebbCat has had mixed results… as in, basically one decent play (against the recent… ugh, words don’t describe what happened against them). That said, the sample size is admittedly small. Does that mean it’s a good idea to use it more? No, it doesn’t, and aside from just the fact that AP is out, more WebbCat does equal less Ponder, which is probably not a direction this team will want to go right now. Still, if our run game is down a notch, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the WebbCat used on one or two short-yardage situations. Plus, Webb has lined up twice (it might be more, twice is what I can recall) as a WR… is it insane to think we could see him once or twice in the backfield as a RB? Or lined up as a WR who takes the run, a la Harvin?

Christian Ponder? OK, this is a bit tongue-in-cheek, and it’s not on the poll… but my G-d do I hope he’s not the lead rusher again, because that only means bad things are happening.

What say you, my fellow Viking faithful? We’re not short on run options here. What do you think the Vike’s backfield will look like this week?