2012 Fantasy Football Rankings: Running Backs 11-20
These 2012 Fantasy Football Running Backs Rankings will be updated often throughout the summer, so make sure you check back from time to time. Also, be sure to check out my other 2012 Fantasy Football articles, which will include sleepers, busts, tons of 2012 Fantasy Football mock drafts and other material. Follow me @walterfootball for updates.
Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seahawks. Bye: 11. JULY 19 UPDATE: Marshawn Lynch, as expected, is letting this new-found money go to his head. Lynch was arrested for a DUI Tuesday morning. This is not his first off-the-field incident, so he could be suspended. Either way, he should be avoided, as he will undoubtedly be fat and happy because of his new contract.
It's really fun to watch Marshawn Lynch because he runs like he wants to kill someone. The shame of it is, he only does this when he's properly motivated. As any Bill fan will tell you, Lynch slacked off in Buffalo, and while he appears to be happier on the surface in Seattle, I think there's a real chance he could revert from Beast Mode to Sloth Mode this year. Lynch received $17 million in guaranteed money this offseason, so he has no more short-term financial goals. This could cause him to slack off. I'm not saying this is an absolute, but I'm selling high. I'll let someone else have Lynch.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Stats: 1,030 rushing yards. 26 catches. 180 receiving yards. 10 total TDs.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Points: 181. Projected 2012 PPR Fantasy Points: 207.
DeMarco Murray, RB, Cowboys. Bye: 5. AUG. 27 UPDATE: DeMarco Murray looked really good in the third preseason game, albeit against the Rams. He rushed for 26 yards on five carries and also had two catches for 16 receiving yards. Murray would be a first-round pick if he didn't have such an extensive injury history.
AUG. 19 UPDATE: DeMarco Murray looked great at San Diego. He rushed for 12 yards on three carries and also caught two balls for 18 receiving yards. If he weren't so brittle, he'd be a late first-round pick. I'd take him in the third round, but he's too risky to be chosen earlier. Forgive me if I'm scared of injury-prone Cowboy running backs.
AUG. 14 UPDATE: DeMarco Murray had just two carries in the preseason opener. He failed to gain a single yard. Murray is really going to struggle this year behind Dallas' inept interior offensive line. The group, which was downgraded this offseason, as I noted constantly the past couple of months, really struggled at Oakland. Combine that with Murray's durability issues, and I would stay away from him in fantasy drafts because he's going way too early.
DeMarco Murray was a pleasant surprise for the Cowboys when Felix Jones suffered his second injury of the 2011 season. Many will expect Murray to take a leap forward and emerge as a possible RB1, but there are two issues. First, like Jones, Murray is really prone to getting hurt. That's why he fell in the draft. Second, the Cowboys lost fullback Tony Fiammetta and have downgraded their two starting guard positions, so Murray is highly unlikely to match last year's 5.5 YPC figure.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Stats: 1,070 rushing yards. 39 catches. 310 receiving yards. 7 total TDs.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Points: 180. Projected 2012 PPR Fantasy Points: 219.
Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jaguars. Bye: 6. SEPT. 3 UPDATE: Maurice Jones-Drew has concluded his holdout. He needs to learn the playbook, but should be ready to start in Week 3 or so. The problem is that players who hold out have a very dubious history with both performance and durability. People will be drafting Jones-Drew early, so you'll want to avoid him.
AUG. 22 UPDATE: Adam Schefter is reporting that Maurice Jones-Drew will hold out into the regular season if he's not traded to another team. The Jaguars may eventually deal him, but it may not be until sometime in October. Regardless, Jones-Drew is now nothing more than a mid-round desperation option.
AUG. 3 UPDATE: Maurice Jones-Drew's holdout continues. In fact, he and the Jacksonville front office aren't even talking. He hasn't even met new head coach Mike Mularkey yet. General manager Gene Smith is doing a great job of guaranteeing the worst record in the NFL with these tactics. Jones-Drew is the face of the franchise and the best offensive player, by far, so he deserves the money. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like he's getting a new contract anytime soon, which means he could be another contractually related bust.
JUNE 13 UPDATE: Bad news regarding Maurice Jones-Drew - the Florida Times-Union has reported that he will not attend mandatory minicamp and that he may extend his hold out into the regular season. Jones-Drew understandably wants more money given that he was the team's only productive offensive player last year, but inept general manager Gene Smith told the media that he isn't budging. This could get really ugly.
I loved the grit and effort Maurice Jones-Drew showed in 2011 despite the glaring lack of talent he had surrounding him on offense. Unfortunately, it came at a price. Jones-Drew topped the NFL in carries last season. If you didn't know, running backs who lead the league in carries usually struggle the following year.
Making matters worse, Jones-Drew is holding out for a new contract. As you may have seen me write, players who hold out tend to disappoint. Not always, but more often than not.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Stats: 1,080 rushing yards. 34 catches. 290 receiving yards. 7 total TDs.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Points: 179. Projected 2012 PPR Fantasy Points: 213.
Trent Richardson, RB, Browns. Bye: 10. AUG. 9 UPDATE: Trent Richardson will fly to Florida on Thursday to have Dr. James Andrews perform a scope on his knee. Richardson is expected to be ready for Week 1, but his absence in practice and on the field during the preseason will make it difficult for head coach Pat Shurmur to trust him on passing downs in the first half of the season.
Trent Richardson should be a second-round pick in re-draft fantasy leagues. I've learned my lesson with rookie running backs, but Richardson is an exception because he's the top running back prospect since Adrian Peterson. He's a stud, and he's never going to come off the field because of his ability to catch passes out of the backfield.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Stats: 1,100 rushing yards. 32 catches. 250 receiving yards. 7 total TDs.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Points: 177. Projected 2012 PPR Fantasy Points: 209.
Doug Martin, RB, Buccaneers. Bye: 5. AUG. 25 UPDATE: While New England's running back situation is still a bit cloudy, Tampa Bay's has pretty much cleared up. Doug Martin drew the start and received most of the carries against the Patriots, including two inside the New England 5-yard line. Martin converted from the one, which can only help keep LeGarrette Blount on the sideline. The only action Blount saw with the starters occurred on the third drive when he had two carries. He wasn't on the field after that until the backups entered the game. This is obviously huge for Martin, who can now be considered a high-end RB2.
AUG. 18 UPDATE: LeGarrette Blount and Doug Martin rotated series against Tennessee. Blount started, but Martin was the first running back on the field on all of the even drives. He also was in the backfield on third down. Martin (7 carries, 23 yards; another 16 yards wiped out by a hold on Jeremy Zuttah) ran much better than Blount (8 carries, 11 yards), who injured his knee or groin at the end of the first half. Blount limped off the field, but walked around on the sideline afterward, appearing to be OK. Even if Blount is fine, this was still an encouraging evening for Martin because he proved that he was the better talent.
AUG. 11 UPDATE: It was a really disappointing turn of events in the preseason opener for Doug Martin fantasy owners. Martin has had the superior camp, but he watched LeGarrette Blount start and impress with several tough runs. Martin also performed exceptionally well, most notably gaining 10 yards after somehow cartwheeling and staying off the ground after being tackled. He finished with 21 yards on seven carries, as well as a 1-yard touchdown. Yes, Martin was used on the goal line, but only because Blount was already out of the game. Martin will be really useful in PPR leagues because he'll play on third down, but it appears as though his breakout season won't come to fruition, barring a Blount injury.
JULY 19 UPDATE: Doug Martin gets a stock up because he's drawn rave reviews from the coaching staff for his ability to pick up the blitz. This is extremely important, given that LeGarrette Blount struggled in this area. Martin should be on the field more often than Blount.
Doug Martin probably should be the second rookie chosen in re-draft leagues, just slightly ahead of the two quarterbacks. The Buccaneers really don't like LeGarrette Blount because he can't catch balls out of the backfield and struggles in pass protection. Martin can do that. He's drawn comparisons to Ray Rice, so he's worth drafting around Round 4-5.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Stats: 1,020 rushing yards. 45 catches. 380 receiving yards. 6 total TDs.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Points: 176. Projected 2012 PPR Fantasy Points: 221.
Steven Jackson, RB, Rams. Bye: 9. AUG. 20 UPDATE: Steven Jackson does not look like he's wearing down. He ran with burst and power against the Chiefs, totaling 49 yards on just seven carries. If Sam Bradford is back to 2010 form, Jackson could have one final, big season.
Steven Jackson is only 29 years old, but it's time to really start worrying about his durability. He has hit the 2,100-carry mark - the number in which most NFL running backs begin to rapidly decline. Jackson has been given 290-plus touches in six out of the past seven seasons. It's highly probable that he'll show major signs of regression in 2012.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Stats: 1,080 rushing yards. 40 catches. 310 receiving yards. 6 total TDs.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Points: 175. Projected 2012 PPR Fantasy Points: 215.
Willis McGahee, RB, Broncos. Bye: 7. AUG. 27 UPDATE: Willis McGahee reported to training camp in great shape, and that has carried over to the field in the preseason. McGahee ran with great burst and strength, rushing for 27 yards on seven carries and catching a 14-yard pass. Thanks to a very pedestrian fantasy running back corps, McGahee projects as a solid RB2.
AUG. 10 UPDATE: I thought Willis McGahee looked really good in Denver's preseason opener. He had just four carries (16 yards), but he seemed like he was in great shape. He could score a ton of short touchdowns this year if Manning's neck holds up.
The good news for Willis McGahee is that Tim Tebow's absence will allow him to reclaim the role as the goal-line back. The bad news is that McGahee won't have as much running room without Tebow because opponents will no longer have to worry about the quarterback running around. Even worse, McGahee turns 31 in October, so he's not exactly the spry, young runner he once was. He'll probably be overvalued in drafts, so I would avoid him unless he fell to a reasonable round.
Projected 2010 Fantasy Stats: 1,040 rushing yards. 22 catches. 160 receiving yards. 9 total TDs.
Projected 2010 Fantasy Points: 174. Projected 2012 PPR Fantasy Points: 196.
Cedric Benson, RB, Packers. Bye: 10. AUG. 29 UPDATE: Mike McCarthy told the media that James Starks' turf toe isn't healing. At this point, it really doesn't matter. Starks has lost his job to Cedric Benson, whom the coaching staff has raved about. Benson is in terrific shape and wants to prove to everyone that he can still play really well. He's a fantastic RB2 option who should be there in Round 5.
AUG. 24 UPDATE: I can't believe I'm saying this, but Cedric Benson ran really well against the Bengals. No, really. Appearing in terrific shape, Benson rushed with burst and broke plenty of tackles. He collected 38 yards on six carries to go along with a 10-yard catch despite hearing a chorus of boos coming from the Cincinnati crowd. With Alex Green looking sluggish (5 carries for 10 yards) and James Starks nursing yet another injury, Benson is shaping up to be a solid flex/RB3 option.
The Packers signed Cedric Benson. He's not any good, but he's the favorite to handle all of the early-down work. At best, he's an RB3 in non-PPR leagues, but at least he's back in the NFL.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Stats: 970 rushing yards. 18 catches. 130 receiving yards. 8 total TDs.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Points: 163. Projected 2012 PPR Fantasy Points: 181.
Frank Gore, RB, 49ers. Bye: 9.
Frank Gore is very talented, but he's also incredibly unreliable because he just can't stay healthy. This is why the 49ers have acquired Kendall Hunter, Brandon Jacobs and LaMichael James in the past two offseasons. Gore will share carries with them, as Jim Harbaugh will try his hardest to lighten his workload so he doesn't get hurt yet again.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Stats: 1,030 rushing yards. 15 catches. 100 receiving yards. 8 total TDs.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Points: 161. Projected 2012 PPR Fantasy Points: 176.
Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings. Bye: 11.
Some bad news for Adrian Peterson: Vikings' head athletic trainer Eric Sugerman told the media not to expect Peterson to be ready for Week 1. Peterson tore his ACL and MCL in the final game of the 2011 season, so it would be stunning to me if he were ready before October. Even if he does play, there's no guarantee that he'll be anywhere close to 100 percent. He may also try to come back earlier than recommended and re-injure himself. I'd avoid Peterson because he's likely to be overdrafted by an overeager fantasy owner willing to take a chance.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Stats: 740 rushing yards. 13 catches. 90 receiving yards. 6 total TDs.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Points: 119 (159). Projected 2012 PPR Fantasy Points: 132 (172).