The Player Profile series breaks down the 2012 performances of key players at each position in order to project where they should be drafted in 2013. Dig in, read up, and look ahead.

Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings

Peterson finished the 2012 season as the top running back in fantasy scoring. There is no reason to think he’ll finish outside of the top-3 at his position next year, too. Since Peterson joined the league in 2007, he has surpassed 1,000 yards every year but one (2011).

Peterson is the real deal.

His numbers have been fantastic. His lowest YPC average in his career was 4.41, which is completely absurd. Just as a little perspective, Ladainian Tomlinson’s lowest in the category was 3.27. For a running back with such immense talent, you couldn’t ask for a better situation.

Peterson is the clear bell cow back in an offense that has a subpar pass attack. Leslie Frazier has come out and said that Christian Ponder will continue to be the Vikings quarterback through 2013, which means the offense shouldn’t be changing a whole lot. We don’t need a lot of analysis here, because Peterson is going to be incredible next year. He’s the clear number 1 overall pick.

Invest as much as you can.

Arian Foster, RB, Houston Texans

Foster finished the 2012 season 3rd among all running backs in fantasy points. He would have finished 2nd had Doug Martin not posted that killer 51-point game against Oakland in Week 9. Foster is one of the few remaining every down backs in a pass happy league.

He had just 6 games this season in which he received less than 20 carries (tied with Alfred Morris for most games with 20+ carries). On a lot of levels, you can’t argue with his workload.

However, Foster’s production tells a slightly different story. His overall YPC was 4.06 in 2012. Two years ago, he averaged 4.94 and in 2011, he averaged 4.40. This might not seem awful, but looking at the rest of league, that is the 3rd lowest YPC out of the top-15 fantasy running backs (only ahead of Trent Richardson and Shonn Greene).

Foster also was significantly less involved in the pass game this past season. He had 66 receptions in 2010 and 53 in 2011, but this year, Foster’s reception total dropped to 40. His YPR was also down to 5.42 this year, when it was 9.15 in 2010 and 11.64 in 2011.

All in all, Foster’s somewhat uninspiring 2012 production shows how that he is lacking the explosiveness that we are used to. And honestly, Foster’s 2013 numbers are more uncertain than I would like to see from a top-3 fantasy back. What we do know is that the Texans back will continue to see a ton of work, and that’s something you can’t ignore.

I’m not saying Foster will be a bust next year, but I believe he’s going to be overvalued. I like him anytime after the 5th pick in the 1st round, although I’m certain his ADP will be within the top-3. I’m not saying that you should completely avoid Foster in 2013, but I’m looking elsewhere if I have a top-5 overall pick.

Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Before Week 5, Doug Martin’s fantasy output was nothing better than mediocre. He averaged 61 yards per game and saw the end zone just once over that span. Martin was proving to be more of a flex option than a feature back early on in the season. In fact, through the first 4 weeks, he was the 24th best back behind Jackie Battle, Andre Brown, and Michael Bush. Yikes.

After his Week 5 bye, Martin came into form and began to produce the numbers owners had been hoping for. His season will be remembered by his otherworldly performance in Week 9 against the Raiders, posting 251 yards on 25 carries with 4 touchdowns. Tampa Bay committed to Martin, giving him no less than 18 carries in all but three games after his bye. The Muscle Hamster showed consistency and strength while handling the increased workload.

He finished the season as the 2nd best fantasy back, just ahead of Arian Foster. His season total was inflated by his Week 9 breakout, and had he posted more pedestrian numbers in that game, he would have finished the season as the 5th or 6th best runner. Martin showed that he can be a reliable RB1 in 2013, and he’ll be a great pick towards the top of your draft.

The only thing that could hold Martin back is Josh Freeman. While he shows flashes of consistency, Freeman has trouble recovering when the Bucs fall behind early. Unfortunately, in these circumstances, Martin becomes severely less involved. While this might make you weary of Martin, take solace in the fact that Tampa Bay will surely use the offseason to build complimentary pieces around both Freeman and Martin. I’d love to have Martin in 2013.