There are a few major questions facing fantasy owners regarding running backs as we head into 2012.
How will Adrian Peterson and Jamaal Charles come back from injury? Will Ryan Mathews fully breakout? How do rookies Trent Richardson and Doug Martin fit into the equation?
Let’s look at how these questions and all the rest help formulate our initial rankings:
- Arian Foster – Houston Texans
- Ray Rice – Baltimore Rice
- LeSean McCoy – Philadelphia Phillies
- Chris Johnson – Tennessee Titans
- Maurice Jones-Drew – Jacksonville Jaguars
- Ryan Mathews – San Diego Chargers
- Darren McFadden – Oakland Raiders
- Marshawn Lynch – Seattle Seahawks
- Matt Forte – Chicago Bears
- DeMarco Murray – Dallas Cowboys
- Adrian Peterson – Minnesota Vikings
- Jamaal Charles – Kansas City Chiefs
- Fred Jackson – Buffalo Bills
- Trent Richardson – Cleveland Browns
- Steven Jackson – St. Louis Rams
- Frank Gore – San Francisco 49ers
- Doug Martin – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Ahmad Bradshaw – New York Giants
- Michael Turner – Atlanta Falcons
- Roy Helu – Washington Redskins
- Shonn Greene – New York Jets
- Beanie Wells – Arizona Cardinals
- Jahvid Best – Detroit Lions
- BenJarvus Green-Ellis – Cincinnati Bengals
- Reggie Bush – Miami Dolphins
- There were enough questions about the Panthers running back rotation to begin with, especially with Cam Newton’s potential to steal goal-line carries. So what do they do? Add Mike Tolbert to the mix. There is way too much uncertainty to trust Tolbert, Jonathan Stewart or DeAngelo Williams as more than a RB3 right now.
- Gore was once considered a lock to be a first-round pick. Now, he’s seen the 49ers bring in Brandon Jacobs and LaMichael James (second-round pick). It’s clear that the team is looking to limit Gore’s workload, which obviously is going to keep his potential value lower than in years past.
- Before you slot McCoy ahead of Rice for the season, remember that McCoy definitely benefited from the absence of Michael Vick (who had the ability to take it to the house at any time). It’s hard to imagine McCoy coming close to the 20 total TD he scored in 2011.
- With Tolbert gone, the show belongs to Mathews. If he’s healthy, we should finally witness the full breakout campaign we have long been waiting for.
- A healthy McFadden would be a top-five option. The question is if he ever remains healthy for an entire season? With Michael Bush now in Chicago (zapping a little of Forte’s value), it’s impossible to keep McFadden down too far on the rankings. That doesn’t mean that you don’t need to take extreme caution when drafting him, however. If you pick him make sure you have ample depth.
- There are serious injury concerns with Charles and Peterson as we head into 2012. It will be really interesting to see how the Chiefs and Vikings limit their carries in an effort to keep them on the field. Both have the potential to be top-five options, but the risk is tremendous.
- The Giants brought in a nice complement to the injury-prone Bradshaw when they used their first round pick on David Wilson. Throw in the fact that the Giants are going to bring a pass-heavy attack to the table and Bradshaw’s role could be minimal.
Make sure to check out the rest of our 2012 fantasy football rankings: