The days of absolutely drafting a running back in the first round of fantasy football are over, for now. The NFL is undoubtedly a passing league. Quarterbacks can almost single-handedly win a week for you. Not to mention a monster game by the likes of Megatron or Andre Johnson.
However, that does not diminish the role of a running back on your roster. Running backs are now more multi-dimensional. They need to be able to receive and find the end zone to be valuable assets. More importantly, they need to be healthy.
Four of the more valuable fantasy running backs all went down with injury in 2011. Adrian Peterson probably hurt the most fantasy owners, going down with a torn ACL, MCL and meniscus last December. However, AD (All-Day) says he will be back for week one. Ask the Vikings medical staff, and you may get an entirely different answer.
Matt Forte was shelved with an MCL sprain last year. He’s still waiting for DeAngelo Williams type money, but it’s highly unlikely the Bears will budge. If Forte stays and plays this year in Chicago, look for his TD production to go way down. Chicago signed short yardage specialist Michael Bush for “only” $14 million over four years.
Jamaal Charles, the Chiefs electrifying running back, should concern fantasy owners as well. He’s also coming off a torn ACL in his right knee. Not only does he need to learn the Chiefs new offensive scheme, he also has short yardage specialist Peyton Hillis on board who will eat up most of KC’s short yardage touchdowns this year.
Finally, at 31 years old, Fred Jackson is ancient for NFL running backs. In 2011, Jackson was having a career year until he went down in week 11 with a fractured fibula. The Bills are showing confidence in Jackson by signing him to a two-year contract extension in May. Do you want to risk an old NFL RB coming off a major injury? C.J. Spiller may finally make a name for himself in 2012.