Fantasy Football Sleepers 2012: Underrated Running Backs You Must Draft
Every guy or gal in your 2012 fantasy football league is going to have an elite running back. They'll all have a solid RB No. 2 as well.
But what separates the good fantasy owners from the great ones, the playoff contenders from the league champions is the ability to uncover the truly underrated contributors and be courageous enough to draft them when everyone else thinks they're crazy.
There are plenty of running backs flying under the radar heading into the 2012 season, so in order to contend or potentially win your league, make sure you consider these three runners.
Roy Helu Jr., Washington Redskins
Robert Griffin III dominates all headlines and story angles from our nation's capital, and football fans across the country can't wait to see what the reigning Heisman Trophy winner will do in his rookie season with the Redskins.
Head coach Mike Shanahan has used a running-back-by-committee approach for much of his career, but Helu Jr. was unequivocally the team's most productive and versatile runner in 2011.
He recorded three straight 100-yard rushing games down the stretch last season and caught 49 passes for 379 yards.
Tim Hightower and Evan Royster are Helu Jr.'s competition, but he's the incumbent starter who demonstrated keen awareness, power and shiftiness in the team's zone blocking scheme last year.
While RG3 may explode onto the scene as a rookie, he'll likely lean on his steady running back, Helu Jr. to control the clock on the ground and pick up yardage on checkdowns and screen plays.
In a points per reception league, Helu Jr. represents fantastic value.
Ronnie Hillman, Denver Broncos
Hillman had over 1,700 rushing yards at 5.5 yards per carry in 2011 after posting 1,532 yards at 5.85 yards per attempt the year before.
Hillman possesses a rare blend of violent lateral agility and power, and he has the speed to beat defenders to the edge.
The Broncos have a stable of running backs vying for the backup role, but after using a 2012 third-round pick on Hillman, expect John Fox to utilize him as the primary third down runner.
Yes, we equate Manning to downfield passing, but remember how instrumental Joseph Addai, Dominic Rhodes and Edgerrin James were to the passing game in Indianapolis with Peyton under center.
C.J. Spiller, Buffalo Bills
Spiller, much to the delight of Bills fans, began to shake the bust label with a tremendous end to the 2011 season filling in for an injured Fred Jackson.
However, there's no doubting it—Jackson's the starter and will garner the majority of the carries within Chan Gailey's offense.
After a disastrous second half of the season from quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, it'd make sense for Buffalo to utilize an offense that relies more on the running game. Also, a bolstered defense will likely keep the Bills out of being forced to throw the ball frequently in the third and fourth quarters.
Moreover, Spiller has displayed the ability as a capable receiver out of the backfield and from the slot, so he'll be a great value pick in the mid to late rounds in 2012.
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