2012 Fantasy Football Sleepers: 5 Running Backs Who Will Save Your Season

Dan ChodosContributor IIAugust 28, 2012

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - AUGUST 10: Running back LeGarrette Blount #27 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers runs the ball against the Miami Dolphins during the NFL Preseason Game at Sun Life Stadium on August 10, 2012 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
J. Meric/Getty Images

It seems that every year a running back comes out of nowhere to make or break millions of Fantasy Football seasons. Here are five that could make yours:

LeGarrette Blount, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

He was admittedly a disappointment for Tampa Bay during the 2011 season and he will face stiff competition for the starting job from rookie Doug Martin, but that may be just what he needs to have a productive year in 2012.

ESPN.com’s AJ Mass says, “By sharing the load, Blount's performance may actually improve over the course of the season, and he may well return to the 1,000-yard rusher he was when he split carries and playing time with Cadillac Williams.”

He has yet to prove that he can be an effective short-yardage back, but his ESPN.com player card has him listed at 6’0" and 247 lbs., so that could easily change. All in all, he’s a great value pick this year. 

C.J. Spiller, Buffalo Bills

The Buffalo Bills will give a lot of carries to Fred Jackson, but Spiller is young (24) and hungry and could pick up some serious yards if Jackson goes down to injury or his production starts to suffer.

Spiller started the last six games of the 2011 season and was very effective. According to Overtimefantasyfootball.com, he averaged 105 yards from scrimmage and scored five touchdowns.

Wagering on Spiller to keep that momentum going this season is a solid bet.

Mike Goodson, Oakland Raiders

Goodson spent last season on IR with the Panthers but a change of scenery can often do a player some good. When he’s been healthy in years past, he has shown that he’s capable of producing.

This season, he will be backing up Darren McFadden, who hasn’t exactly proven he can stay on the field. Expect Goodson to get his opportunities. In fact, if you ask ESPN.com’s James Quintong, it’s very likely:

“There should be chances to steal goal-line carries, at the very least, and opportunities to do more if and when McFadden goes down.” 

Rashad Jennings, Jacksonville Jaguars

With star running back Maurice Jones Drew’s contract holdout dragging on, the stage seems to be set for Jennings to steal some carries.  And even if Jones-Drew does eventually return, there is no guarantee he will stay healthy for the entire season.

According to ESPN.com’s Stephania Bell, the knee injury that sidelined Jennings in 2011 appears to be fully recovered so expect some surprisingly potent outings from him this year.

James Starks, Green Bay Packers

He will have some serious competition for carries all year from second-year back Alex Green and free-agent pickup Cedric Benson, but I believe that’s just how James Starks likes it.

He came out of nowhere at the end of the 2010 season to help the Packers on their improbable championship run, so he is certainly capable of producing when no one expects him to. And with multiple options at running back continuing to be a trend throughout the NFL, don’t be surprised if he does it again.