Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 7/18/13

NEW ORLEANS - JANUARY 24: Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings runs the ball against the New Orleans Saints during the NFC Championship Game at the Louisana Superdome on January 24, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
The debate of who to draft with the No. 1 pick in a fantasy football draft has not been much of a debate at all this year.  Everywhere I read rankings or mock drafts; Adrian Peterson is the clear No. 1 pick.Usually when someone is a clear first pick, something goes wrong and that player does not live up to the expectations that all fantasy football owners have set for him.    Although on paper it really is a no-brainer to snag Peterson; not so fast!  What we need to do is get real with research and look at the top 2 running backs going into the 2013 NFL season; that would be Vikings running back Adrian Peterson and the Texans' running back, Arian Foster.First of all, let’s go back to Fantasy Football 101; the past is the past. This is a new season, another season that Adrian Peterson needs to survive with the knees that could have ended his career, the knees that miraculously held up in 2012 and made even the most knowledgeable experts jaws drop. It was amazing, it was a miracle, it was historical for all who watched; Adrian Peterson beat all odds and made the naysayers have to admit how wrong they were, BUT – this was last year.   Peterson is all the Vikings had last year offensively and that is a huge task for Peterson in 2013. Peterson has rarely had any injury problems until the knee injury; he is older but still has a good chunk of career left in him.  Asking Peterson to carry the load again will blow up in the Vikings' face. Historically speaking, the odds are stacked against Peterson to do the same thing again this year.   Foster has been consistent and quietly puts up very impressive numbers year after year, but again, this is a new year. Preseason workouts have not been good to Foster who has been dealing with a pretty severe calf strain.  Every interview I have seen, Foster is downplaying the injury, stating he has spent a lot of time in the hyperbaric chamber to help in the healing process. Ok, we believe you Arian, but is this a sign of an injury plagued season?   Maybe not; but with any type of muscular injury, it can take some serious time to heal.The point I’m trying to make is this; Never bank on last year’s performance and be sure to look at the entire picture including the schedule, new players on the team that could take carries away and new coaches with new philosophies. In this case, it is fair to say both of these guys will still be the feature back and will still handle the ball about the same amount of time as last year.  If I had first pick, I would go running back no matter what this year as my research has indicated that if you can’t get a decent running back in the first 2 rounds, it is Russian roulette after that, hit or miss and a shot in the dark.  So, this being said, yes, one of these two guys could easily be the first pick in your Fantasy Football Draft, but which one would you take?Breaking down each player and each team is key here. My gut tells me Peterson will not be the same player he was last year and might be dealing with injuries. My gut also tells me that Foster is the safer pick but nothing flashy. Based on what team the player is on, Foster gets the nod. Based on efficiency, Peterson gets the nod.     Based on health and age, it’s a push. If I had to choose from one of these guys, the deciding factor comes down to the fact that Foster regressed from 2011 to 2012 and Peterson improved and made the most of each carry, even with the injury, therefore, in my opinion, Adrian Peterson is the clear No. 1 choice based on all of the information I have provided here and in my opinion, Foster is top a top 5 running back, but certainly, not top 2. 
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