NFL fantasy: Running backs preview

Arian Foster ability to do everything required of a premier NFL running back is what should make...

Arian Foster ability to do everything required of a premier NFL running back is what should make him the No. 1 overall pick in most fantasy drafts. (Reuters)

DAN BILICKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:12 AM ET

This year more than ever, there are a lot of question marks once you get past the top three guys. Be it health concerns or holdouts, it might be safer to wait on a couple of guys who are going late in the first round.

Arian Foster, HOU

1,224 yards, 12 TDs, 250.1

Does it all. Posts a solid per carry average, makes catches out of the backfield and scores in close.

 

LeSean McCoy, PHI

1,309 yards, 20 TDs, 280.4.

Led the league in touchdowns last season and had five more rushing TDs than the next highest back.

 

Ray Rice, BAL

1,364 yards, 15 TDs, 296.8

He was the top fantasy back last season. Even threw for a touchdown.

 

Chris Johnson, TEN

1,047 yards, 4 TDs, 168.5

Of the second tier of backs, the former CJ2K has the least amount of question marks.

 

Darren McFadden, OAK

614 yards, 5 TDs, 104.8

Has yet to play a full season in the NFL, but when he plays he’s spectacular.

 

Matt Forte, CHI

997 yards, 4 TDs, 168.7

Don’t worry too much about Michael Bush stealing goal line carries, Marion Barber did the same in 2011.

Adrian Peterson, MIN

970 yards, 13 TDs, 188.9

Coming back from a torn ACL in January. 2011 was the first season in which he didn’t rush for 1,000 yards.

 

Ryan Mathews, SD

1,091 yards, 6 TDs, 186.6

Broke his clavicle on his first pre-season carry, but says he’ll

be back for the opener.

Trent Richardson, CLE

2012 rookie.

Had minor knee surgery but should be ready for opener. Durability was already a concern.

 

Marshawn Lynch, SEA

1,204 yards, 13 TDs, 215.6

Faces a possible suspension, but will be carrying the load on the ground with a tricky QB situation in Seattle.

 

Jamaal Charles, KC

83 yards, 1 TD, 13.2

Has showed in pre-season that ACL surgery from 2011 is long behind him.

Maurice Jones-Drew, JAC

1,606 yards, 11 TDs, 262

The ultimate risk/reward pick: Could lead NFL in rushing again or sit out most of the season.

DeMarco Murray, DAL

897 yards, 2 TDs, 120

Was having a break-out season before breaking his ankle against the Giants.

Michael Turner, ATL

1,340 yards, 11 TDs, 212.8

He’s no longer the focus of Atlanta’s offence and his biggest game of the season came in Week 17, which doesn’t count for fantasy.

Fred Jackson, BUF

934 yards, 6 TDs, 169.6

Was the third best rusher in the NFL before breaking his leg in Week 11 last year.

 

Steven Jackson, STL

1,145 yards, 6 TDs, 181.8

Seven straight 1,000 yards seasons despite often being the only weapon in St. Louis’ offence.

 

Doug Martin, TB

2012 rookie

Poised to get the lion’s share of carries, but will still be splitting with incumbent starter Blount.

Darren Sproles, NO

603 yards, 9 TDs, 191.3

His real value comes in the aerial game, having racked up 710 receiving yards.

 

Frank Gore, SF

1,211 yards, 8 TDs, 176.5

Usually gets his yards through volume of carries, but that could decrease as he nears 30.

 

BenJarvus Green-Ellis, CIN

667 yards, 11 TDs, 115.9

Cincinnati needs a law firm as much as Green-Ellis needed to escape New England to have fantasy value.

 

Ahmad Bradshaw, NYG

659 yards, 11 TDs, 158.6

Injured his hand in pre-season, but it’s nothing serious. It does bring up durability issues though.

 

Reggie Bush, MIA

1,086 yards, 7 TDs, 176.2

In his six season, finally had a breakout campaign. Will face a lot stacked boxes thanks to Dolphins’ poor passing game.

 

Beanie Wells, ARIZ

1,047 yards, 10 TDs, 165.9

He was one of only eight backs with 10 or more rushing touchdowns.

 

Shonn Greene, NYJ

1,054 yards, 6 TDs, 162.5

He’s the No. 1 back on a team that likes to run, but the Jets will be using Tebow to carry the ball too.

 

Willis McGahee, DEN

1,199 yards, 5 TDs, 151

He’s not exactly the pass catcher out of the backfield that Manning likes to have with him.

 

Donald Brown, IND

645 yards, 5 TDs, 103.1

He’s the clear No. 1 back in Indy according to coach Chuck Pagano.

Jonathan Stewart, CAR

761 yards, 5 TDs, 147.4

Has seen his carries decline in each of past two seasons and the RB rotation only got more crowded in Carolina.

Isaac Redman, PIT

479 yards, 3 TDs, 69.7

He’s supposed to be the starting back in Pittsburgh, but is currently nursing a groin strain.

Peyton Hillis, KC

587 yards, 3 TDs, 87.7

Will get the goalline carries and had his breakout season under new coordinator Brian Daboll back in Cleveland.

Rashad Jennings, JAC

Missed 2011 due to injury.

Until MJD comes back – which is no certainty, Jennings is the main man for the Jaguars.

David Wilson, NYG

2012 rookie

Even though he’s behind Bradshaw, his performance has earned him a role in the offence.

 

Daniel Thomas, MIA

581 yards, 1 TD, 69.3

If Bush struggles this sophomore will start picking up a lot more carries.

 

Ryan Williams, ARI

Missed 2011 due to injury.

Pre-season knee injury derailed his rookie season. Now he could challenge Wells for carries.

 

Roy Helu, WAS

640 yards, 3 TDs, 115.9

If you are gutsy enough to bet on a Redskins back, Helu is the safest.

 

Toby Gerhart, MIN

531 yards, 4 TDs, 96.1

A great handcuff to have when you consider Peterson’s shockingly quick return from injury.

 

Montario Hardesty, CLE

266 yards, 0 TDs, 38.8

If Richardson’s injuries linger, Hardesty will become the main back for the Browns.

C.J. Spiller, BUF

561 yards, 6 TDs, 119

Showed flashes of brilliance when given the chance to play after Jackson’s injury.

 

 

Michael Bush, CHI

977 yards, 8 TDs, 185.5

Goes from being a TD vulture in Oakland to Chicago, where the offence will give him more goal-line chances.

Mark Ingram, NO

474 yards, 5 TDs, 80

Was only the third-best fantasy RB the Saints had last season, but has the highest ceiling.

Pierre Thomas, NO

562 yards, 6 TDs, 132.7

He’s the most complete back the Saints have, but he’s also the one they trust least to give a lot of carries to.

 

Stevan Ridley, NE

441 yards, 1 TD, 51.4

He’s currently the top running back on the Patriots depth chart, but that doesn’t mean much.

 

 

Shane Vereen, NE

57 yards, 1 TD, 11.7

Will get a chance to work with the first team while Ridley works his way back from a knee injury.

Jacquizz Rodgers, ATL

205 yards, 2 TDs, 49.3

With many people betting the Turner breaks down this season, Rodgers is a solid handcuff pick.

Mikel LeShoure, DET

Missed 2011 season due to injury.

Will sit the first two games due to suspension, but then should be the Lions’ top back.

Ben Tate, HOU

942 yards, 4 TDs, 122

Showed that when he gets the chance to play, he can be a solid fantasy producer.

 

 

Cedric Benson, GB

1,067 yards, 6 TDs, 146.9

Moving from Cinci to Green Bay is actually a downgrade for Benson, who will get fewer carries.

LeGarrette Blount, TB

781 yards, 5 TDs, 116.9

Lost his starting job, then suffered groin injury in pre-season, but will still have some fantasy value.

Mike Tolbert, CAR

490 yards, 10 TDs, 150.3

Most likely to see the goal line carries in the Panthers crowded back field.

 

Felix Jones, DAL

575 yards, 1 TD, 81.6

His durability problems led to him losing the job to Murray. Now he’s fighting for playing time.

 

Jahvid Best, DET

390 yards, 3 TDs, 85.7

Concussion problems will likely keep him out for the first six weeks of the season.

James Starks, GB

578 yards, 1 TD, 83.4

Out for the pre-season with a bad toe. Could ultimately be third RB in GB.

Evan Royster, WAS

328 rushing yards, 0 TDs, 40.4

With Shanahan’s RB roulette, you never know which guy will be starting week to week.

Rashard Mendenhall, PIT

928 yards, 9 TDs, 160.2

Already falling out of favour and now coming back from torn ACL.

Isaiah Pead, STL

2012 rookie.

Speedster an interesting prospect and one of the better handcuffs.

Robert Turbin, SEA

2012 rookie.

If Lynch is suspended or misses any time, Turbin will step in as the main back.

 

Jonathan Dwyer, PIT

123 yards, 0 TDs, 12.9

With Mendenhall and Redman both hobbled, Dwyer could see a lot of snaps early on.

Ronnie Hillman, DEN

2012 rookie.

Hamstring injury could threaten No. 2 role.

Alex Green, GB

11 yards, 0 TDs, 1.7.

Pack has high hopes, but he’s just off a torn ACL.

Joe McKnight, NYJ

134 yards, 0 TDs, 29.3.

Battling for the No. 2 spot behind Shonn Greene.

Dion Lewis, PHI

102 yards, 1 TD, 13.9

Strictly a handcuff pick for McCoy owners.

 


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