Fantasy Football 2012: RBs Returning from Torn ACLs and Where to Draft Them

Kenneth Hicks@hicks_kennyCorrespondent IIJuly 26, 2012

Fantasy Football 2012: RBs Returning from Torn ACLs and Where to Draft Them

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    Fantasy football can be extremely difficult when it comes to determining just how healthy a running back is coming back from a torn ACL.

    The timeline for recovery from an ACL tear is nine months or longer and for fantasy football it means time for reflection, release and recovery.

    Fantasy football guru Michael Fabiano at NFL.com conducted a 2012 study, wherein the older a running back is at the time of an ACL tear, the worse his chances are to be productive the following season. Additionally, suffering the ailment early in a season can be an advantage, as it allows more time to rehab and recover.

    Furthermore, there are several running backs in the 2012 fantasy football season that will be returning from torn ACLs and it is vital to know where to draft them without reaching.

Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings

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    Fantasy footballers have been following Adrian Peterson's progress closely ever since he tore both his MCL and ACL back on Dec. 24, 2011 against the Washington Redskins.

    Peterson, who is 27 and entering his sixth year, had the surgery to repair the ligaments Dec. 30, and his progress from Vikings camp has been nothing but positive.

    According to USA Today earlier this month, Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said the Vikings will "tread lightly as far as Week 1 and how much he'll contribute on the field."

    Moreover, it's hard to imagine Peterson being at full strength to start the 2012 season, especially with his injury coming so late in the 2011 season.

    Right now Peterson is too risky of a play in the first two rounds, and if you take Peterson make sure you draft his handcuff Toby Gerhart in the middle rounds, as Gerhart has some fantasy football sleeper appeal.

Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs

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    Jamaal Charles was one of the first running backs off the board in most 2011 fantasy football drafts and the hype didn't last long as a torn ACL ended his season in Week 2 against the Detroit Lions.

    The difference between Charles and Peterson is Charles is only 25 and entering his fifth season in 2012 with a lot less wear and tear.

    Charles also has had an extra three months of rehab and recovery, which is vital when returning from a torn ACL.

    As a result, according to KansasCity.com, the Chiefs coaching staff is very high on Charles returning back to full strength right away and said they will split 500 touches among Charles and Peyton Hillis in 2012.

    Moreover, the Hillis addition does give caution for drafting Charles early in the first three rounds of your 2012 fantasy football draft as Hillis will most likely vulture goal-line carries.

    As a result, Charles should be drafted anywhere from the fourth round on and Hillis should be taken in the middle rounds of your fantasy football draft.

Rashard Mendenhall, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Fantasy footballers should stay far away from drafting Rashard Mendenhall in the 2012 season.

    There are two major concerns for Mendenhall, who just turned 25 entering his fifth season, and why he should not be taken in your 2012 fantasy football draft.

    First, according to reporter Scott Brown at the Tribune-Review, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said Mendenhall will likely open the season on PUP (the physically unable to perform list), missing at least the first six weeks of the season.

    The second major concern for Mendenhall is his lack of production in recent years.

    According to Jamison Hensley at ESPN.com,

    Since the start of 2010, Mendenhall averaged 3.9 yards per carry, the fifth worst among the 28 players with at least 300 rushes in the last two seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Mendenhall also had the second fewest yards after contact (1.6 per carry) among running backs with at least 200 carries.

    Moreover, Mendenhall will go undrafted in most 2012 fantasy football drafts, so it will be wise to take Isaac Redman anywhere from the sixth round and beyond as Redman will be the starter for the Steelers to open the 2012 season.

Knowshon Moreno, Denver Broncos

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    Knowshon Moreno was having a horrendous fantasy football season in 2011, with career lows across the board before he tore his ACL in Week 10 against the Chiefs.

    Moreover, Moreno's status to play in 2012 is still in jeopardy, as not only is he recovering from a torn ACL but he is also in a committee backfield: Willis McGahee is the starter, with Ronnie Hillman and Lance Ball are also in the mix.

    To make matters worse for Moreno, according to Stephania Bell at ESPN.com, "Moreno has battled repeated hamstring and groin strains, and even when not missing complete games, he has at times struggled to complete games, which is every fantasy owner's nightmare."

    Furthermore, Moreno, who just turned 25 and will be entering his fourth season, should be avoided in all 2012 fantasy football drafts as the torn ACL, committee backfield, past injuries and a DUI in February all are reasons to make him un-draftable.

Tim Hightower, Washington Redskins

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    Tim Hightower was having a solid 2011 fantasy football season until he tore his ACL Week 7 against the Carolina Panthers.

    As a result, Roy Helu took over and became an instant waiver wire gem for fantasy footballers.

    Now, Hightower is fully healthy and is actually penciled in as the starter for the 2012 season, according to the Washington Post, because of his hard running style, pass-blocking ability and leadership.

    Although Hightower, who is 26 and entering his fifth season in 2012, appears to be the starter, he is nothing more than a late round pick in your 2012 fantasy football draft.

    Redskins coach Mike Shanahan always goes with the hot hand, so Roy Helu and Evan Royster will also get a ton of touches in the backfield in 2012.