Fantasy Football Rankings 2012: Evaluating the Top Under-the-Radar RBs

Alex HallCorrespondent IIIAugust 22, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 27:  Michael Turner #33 of the Atlanta Falcons rushes upfield against the Minnesota Vikings at Georgia Dome on November 27, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Fantasy football drafts are in full swing with the NFL season just two weeks away, and managers realize it's the middle-to-late round selections that are the most crucial. We all know who the stud running backs are, but here are some names that shouldn't be overlooked on draft day.


1. Michael Turner, Atlanta Falcons

Turner has been nothing short of a workhorse for Atlanta since joining the team, but that excessive use by the Falcons over the years seems to have fantasy owners especially scared of him this season.

As the old saying goes, beggars can't be choosers, and when you look at the running backs around the league, there are only so many names out there as reliable as Turner.

Over his four years in Atlanta, the former Chargers RB has posted three seasons with over 1,300 yards on the ground and double-digit touchdowns every year. That's a little something we call consistency.

Nobody is going to be jealous or pat you on the back for selecting Turner, considering he's going in the fourth round of Yahoo! leagues and is ranked behind Trent Richardson by ESPN. If I could get a guy who has the track record Turner has in the same round as a slightly injured rookie, I'm taking the proven veteran every time. 


2. Willis McGahee, Denver Broncos

I promise you, I realize it's the year 2012, but you can't ignore the oldies. McGahee had just a yard short of 1,200 on the ground in his first season with Denver, with almost half of that total coming in the six games he posted over 100 yards.

People against McGahee want to say the only reason for his yardage output was thanks to the heavy-run attack by Denver once they realized Tim Tebow throwing the football wasn't a good idea. While those people have a small point, another reason for McGahee's stellar 2011 is John Fox.

Fox loves his running game, as evidence by his work in Carolina that worked Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams into top-20 fantasy backs despite playing for the same team back in the day.

Yes, Peyton Manning is the new quarterback and the Broncos will be throwing a lot more than last year, but if Joseph Addai could post double-digit touchdowns and 1,000-yard seasons with No. 18 at the helm, then so can McGahee.


3. Steven Ridley, New England Patriots

Stevan Ridley is another guy in a pass-happy offense who could turn into a solid late-round investment down the road. Anyone who has ever watched the New England Patriots knows the offense revolves around Tom Brady and the passing game, but the team has had fantasy-relevant backs in the past, regardless.

Corey Dillon had nothing short of 12 touchdowns a season over his three years in New England, and even Laurence Maroney posted a near-800-yard and nine-touchdown season his last year with the team.

No disrespect to BenJarvus Green-Ellis either, but he's just another example of the Pats taking guys out of nowhere and turning them into 1,000-yard rushers and/or double-digit touchdown scorers. Steven Ridley was actually a third-round pick for Bill Belichick's team last year.

Unfortunately, he is nursing a leg injury at the moment, but if healthy, his head coach will be looking to get the most out of his draft-day investment this season. Chasing touchdowns is not something usually worth the time, but the Patriots history over the past several seasons have shown Ridley could be in the market for more than a few in 2012.