2012 Fantasy Football Rankings: Running Backs 21-40
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.
Michael Turner, RB, Falcons. Bye: 7. AUG. 17 UPDATE: The good news for Michael Turner was that he caught three balls for 14 yards against the Bengals. The bad news is that he looked incredibly slow. He has no more burst left whatsoever. He's still good in short yardage, but it's a waste whenever he touches the ball otherwise. Turner finished with minus-3 yards on three carries. He's still a decent RB2 because of his touchdown opportunities, but he's going way too early in fantasy mock drafts. Go here to see the most recent 2012 Fantasy Football Mock Draft.
Michael Turner really struggled down the stretch. He averaged more than 3.6 yards per carry in only one of his final seven games, and that came against a Buccaneer team that just gave up. Turner will still score touchdowns, and his offensive line has improved via the 2012 NFL Draft, but head coach Mike Smith said that Turner will have a more limited role this season. Jacquizz Rodgers will eat into his touches.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Stats: 950 rushing yards. 10 catches. 40 receiving yards. 10 total TDs.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Points: 159. Projected 2012 PPR Fantasy Points: 169.
Darren Sproles, RB, Saints. Bye: 6.
Darren Sproles is a PPR monster. He amazingly had nearly as many receptions (86) as carries (87) last year. There's no reason to think that will change, especially with Robert Meachem gone. It's also worth noting that Sproles has missed only one game since 2007, so he's durable despite his small frame.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Stats: 530 rushing yards. 85 catches. 690 receiving yards. 6 total TDs.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Points: 158. Projected 2012 PPR Fantasy Points: 243.
Stevan Ridley, RB, Patriots. Bye: 9. AUG. 25 UPDATE: Stevan Ridley drew the start at Tampa Bay and was on the field for the first two possessions before giving way to Shane Vereen on the third drive. Vereen suffered an injury, however, so Ridley received most of the carries after that. Almost on cue, Ridley had a 30-yard burst a couple of plays after Vereen got hurt. It's hard to trust Bill Belichick will running backs, but Ridley deserves a huge stock up because Vereen can now be labeled unreliable because he constantly has health issues. Oh, and it doesn't hurt that Ridley ran really well (16 carries, 87 yards, one touchdown).
AUG. 21 UPDATE: Shane Vereen started alongside Mallett in the backfield against the Eagles. Vereen played the entire first half, gaining just 20 yards on 10 carries. He did, however, catch four balls for 29 more yards, thanks to an effective 20-yard screen. What's really noteworthy is that Vereen was utilized well ahead of Stevan Ridley, who was relegated to reserve duties in the second half. Ridley gained 25 yards on 10 tries.
AUG. 11 UPDATE: Stevan Ridley handled all of the first-team reps in the preseason opener. He ran really well, though it helped that he had terrific blocking in front of him. He rushed for 40 yards on eight carries. He didn't receive any goal-line opportunities, but only because the Patriots weren't in a position to score a close touchdown when he was on the field. He'll likely assume BenJarvus Green-Ellis' role as the goal-line hammer.
JULY 26 UPDATE: It's a great sign for Stevan Ridley that the Patriots decided to cut Joseph Addai. Bill Belichick must have confidence in his young running backs to make that move. Ridley is expected to receive at least half of New England's rushing attempts in 2012.
In a perfect world, Stevan Ridley would get the majority of the carries in New England and would become a solid fantasy RB2. In this world, however, Bill Belichick doesn't trust young players, preferring washed-up athletes like Joseph Addai, Sammy Morris and Fred Taylor instead. Ridley is worth drafting somewhere in the middle rounds, but don't get too frustrated if he doesn't get enough carries.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Stats: 860 rushing yards. 24 catches. 180 receiving yards. 9 total TDs.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Points: 158. Projected 2012 PPR Fantasy Points: 182.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Bengals. Bye: 8. AUG. 11 UPDATE: BenJarvus Green-Ellis rushed for 22 yards on seven carries in the preseason opener. He's getting an up arrow for two reasons. First, he was the only back on the field with the first unit. And second, he was utilized on third down, catching a pass over the middle for a gain of 18 yards.
It amazes me that the Bengals didn't draft a running back early in the 2012 NFL Draft. BenJarvus Green-Ellis will handle the workload, but he won't be able to do much with it. Two positive notes: Green-Ellis has a nose for the end zone, so he'll at least score close to 10 touchdowns again. Also, Marvin Lewis talked to the media about Law Firm possibly being a three-down back, so he might not be completely inept in PPR leagues.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Stats: 950 rushing yards. 23 catches. 150 receiving yards. 8 total TDs.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Points: 158. Projected 2012 PPR Fantasy Points: 181.
DeAngelo Williams, RB, Panthers. Bye: 6. AUG. 27 UPDATE: DeAngelo Williams struggled against the Jets. He rushed for 28 yards on seven carries, but fumbled twice. He also dropped a pass. Despite this, he's getting a stock up because Jonathan Stewart suffered an ankle injury. Stewart's ankle twisted scarily when he was tackled by LaRon Landry. He then had to be carted into the locker room. X-rays were negative, but I suspect that Stewart will be out for several weeks. Williams has suddenly become an intriguing fantasy RB3 option.
DeAngelo Williams is part of a committee. He's injury-prone. He doesn't catch many passes. Oh, and he had just two carries inside the opponents' 5-yard line last year. There are plenty of reasons to hate him as a fantasy player, but there is upside - if Johnathan Stewart gets hurt, Williams will be a big producer.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Stats: 980 rushing yards. 25 catches. 230 receiving yards. 6 total TDs.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Points: 157. Projected 2012 PPR Fantasy Points: 182.
Mark Ingram, RB, Saints. Bye: 6. AUG. 6 UPDATE: Mark Ingram ran really well in the Hall of Fame Game, gaining 14 yards on four carries. More importantly, he was used twice inside the 5-yard line, scoring from the 1. He's been going way too low in fantasy mock drafts - click the link to see a bunch of them - so try to target him around Round 6. He won't get too many carries because of Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles, but it appears as though he'll be New Orleans' goal-line hammer. He could hit double-digit touchdowns.
AUG. 3 UPDATE: Mark Ingram is finally healthy. He's been practicing fully in training camp. Everyone is down on Ingram because he barely played last year, but he'll get the majority of the carries (especially those near the goal line) as long as he's not on the injury report. He's a nice value pick.
JULY 29 UPDATE: Mark Ingram had major injury problems in 2011, but he's completely healthy and has been a full participant in training camp. He's going really late right now compared to his average draft position last summer, so he provides great value in the middle rounds.
Mark Ingram had a knee scope recently. Knee scopes normally aren't a big deal, but Ingram fell in the 2012 NFL Draft because of knee concerns. He could once again spend most of the season on the injury report, which is a shame because he's really talented. I'd take a chance on Ingram in the middle rounds because of his upside.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Stats: 900 rushing yards. 13 catches. 80 receiving yards. 8 total TDs.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Points: 152 (157). Projected 2012 PPR Fantasy Points: 165 (170).
Rashard Jennings, RB, Jaguars. Bye: 6. SEPT. 3 UPDATE: So much for Adam Schefter's report that Maurice Jones-Drew's holdout will last into the season. Rashad Jennings' ADP will plummet, but that's a good thing because it'll allow you to pick him up in the 10th round or so. Jones-Drew is bound to get hurt because players who hold out usually struggle with performance and/or durability.
AUG. 22 UPDATE: If you drafted Rashad Jennings late in your league, congratulations. You've hit the jackpot. Maurice Jones-Drew will either hold out into the regular season or be traded to another team. Jennings has suddenly become a legitimate RB2.
AUG. 12 UPDATE: Maurice Jones-Drew is still holding out, which allowed Rashad Jennings to start against the Giants. He impressed, rushing for 56 yards on 12 carries. He didn't score, but he received touches inside New York's 5-yard line. Jones-Drew will eventually end his holdout, but Jennings is worth drafting late because he'll produce if given the chance.
Here's how little the Jaguars think of Rashad Jennings: He suffered a minor knee injury prior to the season opener (he was cleared by mid-October) but they placed him on injured reserve right away. Still, he's Maurice Jones-Drew's backup, so he's worth noting just in case there's an injury to the starter.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Stats: 700 rushing yards. 23 catches. 190 receiving yards. 5 total TDs.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Points: 157. Projected 2012 PPR Fantasy Points: 190.
Ben Tate, RB, Texans. Bye: 8.
Ben Tate is more talented than Arian Foster as a pure runner, so Gary Kubiak won't be able to keep him on the bench for too long. Expect Tate's touches to rise this year. He's definitely worth a mid-round flier, given his immense upside.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Stats: 940 rushing yards. 20 catches. 160 receiving yards. 6 total TDs.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Points: 146 (156). Projected 2012 PPR Fantasy Points: 166 (176).
Peyton Hillis, RB, Chiefs. Bye: 7. AUG. 12 UPDATE: Peyton Hillis played a big part in the Kansas City offense during the first two drives of the preseason opener. He rushed for 41 yards on four attempts and also caught an 11-yard touchdown. Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles split carries evenly two years ago, and it appears as though Hillis and Charles will have a 50-50 share of touches this season. Hillis definitely deserves a stock up.
Peyton Hillis' NFL journey has been quite bizarre. He helped many fantasy players win their league in 2010, won the Madden cover competition in 2011, and now he's just a goal-line back in 2012. Perhaps he'll be able to fulfill his dreams of becoming a CIA agent in 2013.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Stats: 880 rushing yards. 28 catches. 220 receiving yards. 9 total TDs.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Points: 155. Projected 2012 PPR Fantasy Points: 183.
Reggie Bush, RB, Dolphins. Bye: 7.
It's time to sell high on Reggie Bush. The former No. 2 overall pick has had major problems staying healthy throughout his career, but was able to do just that in his first year with the Dolphins last season, in which he rushed for a personal-best 1,086 rushing yards to go along with 296 receiving yards. It's highly unlikely that Bush will be able to stay on the field, so he'll probably be overdrafted.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Stats: 750 rushing yards. 40 catches. 280 receiving yards. 5 total TDs.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Points: 133 (153). Projected 2012 PPR Fantasy Points: 173 (193).
Shonn Greene, RB, Jets. Bye: 9.
Shonn Greene has been given plenty of opportunities, but has never lived up to expectations. He was supposed to emerge as a potential fantasy RB1 last year, but never did. His 253 carries went for just 1,054 yards, and he scored only six touchdowns. He might not even get as many scores this year because Tim Tebow will likely command the goal-line work.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Stats: 1,000 rushing yards. 25 catches. 160 receiving yards. 6 total TDs.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Points: 152. Projected 2012 PPR Fantasy Points: 177.
Chris Wells, RB, Cardinals. Bye: 10. JULY 26 UPDATE: Chris Wells has opened training camp on the active/PUP list because of his knee. Wells has sworn that he'll be ready for Week 1, but his track record makes it difficult to believe him.
I liked Chris Wells as a sleeper last year and he actually exceeded my projected numbers for him. However, there's some concern because he always seems to be banged up. Ryan Williams is coming back from injury, so if Williams is hobbled, Ken Whisenhunt won't hesitate to give his younger running back some of Wells' workload.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Stats: 910 rushing yards. 12 catches. 70 receiving yards. 8 total TDs.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Points: 146. Projected 2012 PPR Fantasy Points: 158.
Donald Brown, RB, Colts. Bye: 4. AUG. 26 UPDATE: Donald Brown rushed for eight yards on seven carries. His offensive line could not open up any holes for him. This is going to be a theme all season. It's also worth noting that tight end Dwayne Allen converted a short-yardage carry when he lined up at fullback.
AUG. 13 UPDATE: Donald Brown was the recipient of Andrew Luck's 63-yard touchdown in the preseason opener. He had just two carries for two yards (one was a 5-yard loss in which the offensive line was blown up), but none of the other running backs stood out, so Brown should be able to keep his job.
Donald Brown is the favorite to lead the Colts in carries, but only because of his seniority. He's not a very good player, and could be easily unseated by Delone Carter or Vick Ballard if either happens to impress.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Stats: 830 rushing yards. 34 catches. 270 receiving yards. 6 total TDs.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Points: 145. Projected 2012 PPR Fantasy Points: 179.
Mikel Leshoure, RB, Lions. Bye: 5. AUG. 31 UPDATE: The big news for Detroit is that Mikel Leshoure started and ran really well in the preseason finale. He gained 43 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries to go along with a 33-yard reception. He made multiple defenders miss throughout the evening. One of the Detroit broadcasters even commented, "I didn't know Leshoure had this type of quickness." Leshoure is suspended for the first two weeks of the season, but he's a mega sleeper - the No. 1 guy on my 20 Fantasy Football Sleepers of 2012 - usually available in Round 10 or later. He's the favorite to start beginning in October.
AUG. 26 UPDATE: Mikel Leshoure actually saw most of the first-half action at Oakland, rushing five times but for only one yard and catching a pass for six receiving yards. The numbers stink, but it's still encouraging that he was actually able to suit up and take some hits. And besides, Leshoure's meager 0.2 YPC still dwarfed the injured Kevin Smith's zero (3 carries, 0 yards).
JULY 31 UPDATE: Mikel Leshoure injured his hamstring Saturday. Hamstring problems don't sound serious, but they're the maladies that linger, especially when an overconfident player tries to return to action too early. Leshoure, who is also recovering from a torn Achilles, probably won't be on the field that much in the first half of this year.
Mikel Leshoure is coming back from a torn Achilles, which is usually a 2-year injury. He also didn't help himself by getting arrested for marijuana, meaning he could be suspended. He's clearly not taking his career seriously, so I wouldn't touch him in any fantasy draft.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Stats: 760 rushing yards. 17 catches. 120 receiving yards. 6 total TDs.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Points: 124 (144). Projected 2012 PPR Fantasy Points: 141 (161).
David Wilson, RB, Giants. Bye: 11. AUG. 25 UPDATE: Starting for Ahmad Bradshaw, who was out with a hand contusion, David Wilson rushed for 49 yards on five carries, but even those numbers don't do him justice. He showed great quickness and tackle-breaking ability on runs of 20 and 15 on the second drive. He later caught a pass and took it for 29 yards. Wilson is not going to take over Bradshaw's job this year (barring an injury) because Tom Coughlin is not going to trust him to pass protect, but it's looking like Wilson will definitely take a good chunk of Bradshaw's workload.
AUG. 19 UPDATE: D.J. Ware curiously replaced a seemingly injured Ahmad Bradshaw in the first half. David Wilson didn't see any action until the second half. Ware was awful - he had 15 yards on 11 carries - but it's still a bit troubling that Wilson didn't serve as the No. 2 back. Wilson tallied 14 yards on five attempts.
AUG. 12 UPDATE: David Wilson had a good showing in his debut. He rushed for 43 yards on seven carries, headlined by a 26-yard burst up the middle, thanks to outstanding blocking. Wilson broke some tackles on numerous touches, which includes his two catches for 26 receiving yards. Wilson is a good handcuff to own because of Ahmad Bradshaw's durability issues.
It'll take an injury to Ahmad Bradshaw for David Wilson to see much action despite the fact that he was a first-round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. Bradshaw is injury-prone, so Wilson is worth drafting late.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Stats: 760 rushing yards. 21 catches. 170 receiving yards. 5 total TDs.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Points: 123 (143). Projected 2012 PPR Fantasy Points: 153 (173).
C.J. Spiller, RB, Bills. Bye: 8. JUNE 10 UPDATE: Those who believe C.J. Spiller is a legitimate threat to steal half of Fred Jackson's workload got some validation last week, as Chan Gailey raved about Spiller's improved blocking. Jackson will still be the No. 1 back, but it appears as though Spiller will definitely eat into his touches.
General manager Buddy Nix said that C.J. Spiller could become a workhorse back capable of carrying the ball 20-25 times every week if needed to. Unfortunately for Spiller, he'll be playing behind Fred Jackson yet again. He's worth drafting because he'll post RB2 numbers if Jackson gets hurt again.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Stats: 650 rushing yards. 33 catches. 250 receiving yards. 5 total TDs.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Points: 120 (140). Projected 2012 PPR Fantasy Points: 153 (173).
Isaac Redman, RB, Steelers. Bye: 4. AUG. 26 UPDATE: Though he looked slow and sluggish, it was nice to see Isaac Redman on the field. He rushed for 24 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries at Buffalo. He suffered an injury in the first quarter, but came back on the field later. He's still projected to start while Rashard Mendenhall is out, so he's worth drafting around Rounds 8-10.
AUG. 18 UPDATE: And another running back bites the dust. Isaac Redman has suffered multiple injuries, prompting the Steelers to prematurely activate Rashard Mendenhall off the PUP list. This means they could push Mendenhall to return sooner than anticipated. Redman's stock obviously takes a major hit in the wake of this news.
The Steelers didn't draft a real running back, which says they're confident in Isaac Redman's ability to handle the bulk of the carries until Rashard Mendenhall returns from injury. Redman showed well in relief of Mendenhall last year, rushing for 121 yards on 17 carries in a playoff loss to Denver.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Stats: 750 rushing yards. 23 catches. 140 receiving yards. 6 total TDs.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Points: 125 (140). Projected 2012 PPR Fantasy Points: 148 (163).
Kevin Smith, RB, Lions. Bye: 5. AUG. 26 UPDATE: Kevin Smith suffered an injury to his right ankle in the third quarter - the same body part that kept him out of several games last year. X-rays were negative, but this is still a huge concern, especially considering that Mikel Leshoure played well ahead of him in this contest.
AUG. 16 UPDATE: Jahvid Best is likely to open the season on the PUP list, per Adam Schefter. Mikel Leshoure, coming off an injury of his own, has been suspended for two games. Kevin Smith, who looked great in the exhibition opener versus Cleveland, will start for Detroit.
AUG. 12 UPDATE: Make sure you get Kevin Smith on your fantasy roster. With Jahvid Best still suffering through concussion symptoms and Mikel Leshoure suspended, Smith will start for the Lions in the early part of the season. He looked great against the Browns, making nice cut-backs and displaying great shiftiness. Of course, it helped that he had outstanding run blocking in front of him, allowing him to rush for 28 yards on five carries.
JULY 31 UPDATE: Jahvid Best has yet to be cleared to practice. Mikel Leshoure, who just injured his hamstring, is suspended for the first two games. Kevin Smith will likely start the opener, so he's a great sleeper in the middle rounds.
Jahvid Best is always hurt, while Mikel Leshoure is coming off an injury and an arrest, so that could once again open the door for Kevin Smith. The problem is that he tends to get banged up as well. Still, Silent Bob is worth a late-round gamble.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Stats: 620 rushing yards. 28 catches. 230 receiving yards. 5 total TDs.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Points: 120 (140). Projected 2012 PPR Fantasy Points: 148 (168).
Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers. Bye: 6. AUG. 27 UPDATE: Jonathan Stewart was carted off with an ankle injury in the first half at New York. He'll probably be out several weeks.
Jonathan Stewart is the more talented running back in Carolina, but he's also being paid a lot less than DeAngelo Williams. I really don't understand why the Panthers re-signed Williams last offseason (or more importantly, why they failed to trade him the prior year), and it's a shame because Stewart has to rot on Carolina's sideline. I'd rather have Stewart than Williams though; at some point, Ron Rivera just has to give the better player the football.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Stats: 730 rushing yards. 25 catches. 220 receiving yards. 5 total TDs.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Points: 125 (140). Projected 2012 PPR Fantasy Points: 150 (165).
Alfred Morris, RB, Redskins. Bye: 10. SEPT. 1 UPDATE: Tim Hightower of Oldtown is gone. I feel like Alfred Morris was already the favorite for early-down work because Mike Shanahan held him out of the preseason finale, but Shanahan is very difficult to predict.
AUG. 30 UPDATE: Mike Shanahan held his starters out against the Buccaneers. No Robert Griffin, no Pierre Garcon, no Fred Davis. And no Tim Hightower or Alfred Morris. This tells me that Shanahan's top two backs, at least in September, figure to be Morris getting the early work and Hightower handling third-down duties. Of course, this is a total guess. No one knows what Shanahan is going to do. I don't even think he knows. But Morris is the one Redskin I would take in Round 11 or later.
AUG. 26 UPDATE: Evan Royster was out of the lineup with a minor knee injury, allowing Alfred Morris to start against the Colts. Morris made the most of his opportunity, rushing for 107 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries. He ran with great power and broke a number of tackles. He was highly impressive, and I'd now recommend drafting him in the later rounds. Of course, no Mike Shanahan running back should be chosen before Round 10; his backs could start during any week without notice.
After declaring his love for Evan Royster for the past couple of weeks, Mike Shanahan decided to start rookie Alfred Morris at running back. Morris had some nice carries, including a 21-yarder in which he broke three tackles. He finished with 34 yards on 10 attempts. This could lead to some drafting Morris around Rounds 10-12 in their fantasy league, but I've had enough of this nonsense. Shanahan is an a**hole.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Stats: 800 rushing yards. 8 catches. 50 receiving yards. 5 total TDs.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Points: 115 (140). Projected 2012 PPR Fantasy Points: 123 (148).