Stevan Ridley, RB, Patriots
Fantasy football owners, rejoice. The untalented BenJarvus Green-Ellis is finally gone, so he won't be able to take any carries away from Stevan Ridley (and Shane Vereen) next year. Ridley figures to be the primary ball-carrier in 2012, which could mean that he'll produce big numbers in New England's high-octane offense.
Mike Tolbert, RB, Panthers
Mike Tolbert won't get many carries in Carolina with DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart ahead of him on the depth chart. Tolbert will get work in the passing game though, so he'll have some value in PPR leagues.
Ryan Mathews, RB, Chargers
Two things have helped Ryan Mathews this offseason: First, Mike Tolbert is gone, so he'll receive more carries in 2012. Second, San Diego signed fullback LeRon McClain, who will improve the blocking in front of Mathews.
Willis McGahee, RB, Broncos
I shake my head when people talk about Denver's stout rushing attack as one of the reasons why Peyton Manning signed with the Broncos. Willis McGahee was able to run so effectively because of Tim Tebow. That won't be the case anymore. And if you believe that Manning will open things up for his running backs, I'd like to point out that neither Joseph Addai nor Donald Brown was productive in 2010.
DeMarco Murray, RB, Cowboys
DeMarco Murray was impressive at times as a rookie. He also struggled on occasion, even when he was healthy. His poor games coincided with fullback Tony Fiammetta's concussion. Murray was much more effective when Fiammetta was blocking for him. Unfortunately for the second-year back, Fiammetta signed with the Patriots. The Cowboys brought in Lawrence Vickers as a replacement, but he isn't nearly as good.
Matt Forte, RB, Bears
Matt Forte is threatening to hold out, which is never a good sign. If he does and comes back late, he could have a down year like Chris Johnson. If not, his stats will still be reduced because Michael Bush will get goal-line opportunities.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Bengals
BenJarvus Green-Ellis is currently the No. 1 back on the Bengals' roster. That'll soon change, depending on how quickly their rookie comes along, but Law Firm will shoulder the workload for at least the first half of the season.
Chris Johnson, RB, Titans
The Titans missed out on Peyton Manning, but they were still able to land Steve Hutchinson, who will bolster Tennessee's struggling ground attack. Perhaps this well help CJ1K revert back to CJ2K.
April 2, 2012
There will be many more 2012 Fantasy Football Rankings and features in the late spring and summer, including tons of 2012 Fantasy Football Mock Drafts, Player Rankings, Sleepers and Busts. I'll also have an extensive 2012 NFL Fantasy Football Preseason Stock Report.
2012 Fantasy Football Stock Report: Running Backs
Michael Bush, RB, Bears
I slotted Michael Bush in my 2012 Fantasy Football Top 100 Rankings with the idea that he would sign on with a team that would make him a starting running back. That didn't happen. He'll serve as the second running back in Chicago, provided that Matt Forte doesn't hold out.
Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs
Jamaal Charles received an upgrade at right tackle with Eric Winston, but he'll now have to share carries with Peyton Hillis. Whereas before, when Todd Haley irresponsibly fed the ball to Thomas Jones instead of Charles, the Chiefs now have someone else worthy of those opportunities.