Adrian Peterson thinks he's NFL's best player, ahead of Peyton Manning

Adrian Peterson would like to play into his 40s. (USATSI)
Adrian Peterson would like to play into his 40s. (USATSI)

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It's fair to say that running backs have been marginalized in recent years. That doesn't mean there isn't a place for them in today's NFL -- the Seahawks won a Super Bowl with a great defense and a stout running game -- but there is also no denying that high-profile rushers don't carry the cachet they did a decade ago. (There wasn't a running back taken in the first round of last month's draft; in 2005, three were taken in the first five picks.)

There are exceptions, of course, and Adrian Peterson certainly qualifies. He's the most important person in the Vikings' backfield -- quarterbacks included -- and not only does he consider himself the league's best running back, but also its best player.

"I feel I'm the best," he said, according to the Pioneer Press, adding that he knows others -- namely fans and other players who are voting in NFL Network's Top 100 players -- feel differently.

"Peyton (Manning) will be 1, of course," he said. "The MVP will be 1."

Meanwhile the Eagles' LeSean McCoy claims that he is the league's best runner, a distinction Peterson isn't quite willing to concede.

"He's going to have to work extremely hard to surpass me," Peterson said. "As a young guy, he's making his name and he's trying to stake his claim. But numbers don't lie."

The stats: In five seasons, McCoy has 5,473 yards while Peterson has amassed 10,115 yards in seven seasons. Last season McCoy flourished in Chip Kelly's offense, rushing for 1,607 yards (5.1 YPC), adding 539 receiving yards (10.4 YPR) and 11 touchdowns. Peterson had 1,266 rushing yards (4.5 YPC), 171 receiving yards (5.9 YPR) and 11 touchdowns.

Football Outsiders ranked McCoy No. 1 last season in its RB efficiency metric, while Peterson was 24th. (Of course, McCoy also had other playmakers around him while Peterson had ... Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel. Just something to keep in mind.)

But success is about longevity and Peterson, 29, plans to play a while. He says that turning 30 "doesn't apply to me," adding that he has talked to Brett Favre, who didn't retire until he was 40, about prolonging his career.

"Forty sounds (like) a good number," Peterson said.

CBS Sports Writer

Ryan Wilson has been an NFL writer for CBS Sports since June 2011, and he's covered five Super Bowls in that time. Ryan previously worked at AOL's FanHouse from start to finish, and Football Outsiders... Full Bio

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