Can't wait for the 2012 NFL Season to get underway?
Looking to get ahead of the pack in your fantasy league?
Check out the Pyro Pre-Season RB Player Rankings!!!
Dawgmatica’s 2012 Pre-Season Fantasy RB Player Rankings
1. Arian Foster (Hou) – Looks like the undrafted kid out of Tennessee is for real, folks. As he did in 2010, Foster once again led the league in fantasy points per game this past season beating out LeSean McCoy by nearly a point/game. With the Texans not changing much at all on the offensive side of the ball for this season, you’d be hard-pressed to find a running back with more potential to nail down the 2012 crown. So, even though the NFL has suddenly become a more QB/WR-friendly league, you won’t want to let a fantasy talent like Foster pass you by in the first couple of picks in your draft.
2. LeSean McCoy (Phi) – LeSean McCoy wasn’t the first player in NFL history to put up a combined 20 touchdowns in a single season—the milestone had been attained on 17 different occasions before he did it in 2011 (most recently by DeAngelo Williams in 2008). However, at just 23 years of age, Shady was the youngest player to ever accomplish the feat by almost a full two years! It’s strange how one player can have such an incredible season while his team can still underachieve so drastically… Quandary aside, I have a feeling 2012 will be a bit different for the Eagles, but that McCoy’s role will generally stay the same. I can’t see another 20 touchdowns in his future, but 15 is certainly attainable, as is 2,000 total yards. His 48 catches last season should have yielded far more than the measly 315 yards it did (6.6 YPC), and while his 1,624 total yards was indeed respectable, he’ll almost certainly have more this season if he ends up more involved in the offense like he wants. Look for McCoy to be a candidate for the top slot again this season and make sure you draft him accordingly.
3. Ray Rice (Bal) – With the offseason addition of fullback Vonta Leach (awesome move) and the Ravens early committal to Rice as their 2011 goal-line back (ballsy, but also an awesome move), I can’t say I was all that surprised to see the numbers Rice put up last season. Well, maybe a little surprised. The 2,000+ total yards he compiled was a repeat effort from his 2009 sophomore season, so that wasn’t too much of a shock—but 15 combined touchdowns?!?! Seriously? I mean, the kid had just 14 total TDs over his entire three-year career before last year’s blow-up! Now, with a year as the bell-cow under his belt and just Anthony Allen and rookie Bernard Pierce behind him, all signs point to Rice being able to duplicate, if not better his stats in 2012.
4. Ryan Mathews (SD) – It’s easy to see just how much potential Ryan Mathews has as a fantasy player, and now it seems he’ll have every opportunity to take advantage of it. With Mike Tolbert signing out in Carolina and Ronnie Brown/Jackie Battle inked to back him up, Mathews should have full reign of the Chargers backfield for the whole of 2012. If he can stay healthy (which is a decent-sized “if”), there’s no reason to think that the third-year back out of Fresno State won’t get 300+ touches and close to 2,000 total yards. Hell, in just 14 games last season, Mathews put up 1,546 total yards on 272 combined rushes and receptions, so it’s not too far-fetched at all to see a significant rise in both categories with Tolbert gone. Add in an increase in touchdown opportunities and you could be looking at your breakout candidate of the year here.
5. Darren McFadden (Oak) – The only dig on Run DMC is that he’s injury-prone. However, a lot of people ended up letting Matthew Stafford fall out of fantasy-starter status last year for the same reason. Let this comparison be a lesson to you: Don’t let past injuries guide what you do for your fantasy team in the future. Darren McFadden is easily one of the most talented running backs in the league and one of the few able to get his team (and yours) six points from anywhere on the field. He hasn’t been a big touchdown guy up until this point, but a lot of that had to do with the Raiders use of Michael Bush along the goal-line. Bush, however, is Matt Forte’s vulture to deal with now, so McFadden should see that part of his stat-line rise this upcoming season. The injury-factor will undoubtedly scare a bunch of owners away from him in their drafts this year, but wouldn’t it be even more frightening to have to face a healthy Run DMC in the fantasy playoffs knowing you could have had him on your team…yet were too much of a cream puff to pull the trigger? Darren has already come out to say that he’s “determined” to play all 16 games this season, so if he actually does what he says, believe me, you’ll wish you had been the one to take the “Stafford chance”.
6. Chris Johnson (Ten) – Ugh! What an awful, dismal, sickening, suicidal-thought-inducing nosedive into fantasy hell Chris Johnson took last year. The fact that he kept blaming his catastrophic failures on everyone else—most notably his offensive line—was tougher to stomach than that three-week old steak burrito I mistakenly ate after a full day soakin’ ‘em down last weekend. That said, I eventually crapped it all out and moved on, which is exactly what you need to do in order to be a successful fantasy player. What I’m saying here is that you need to forget about the crapstorm this guy rained down last season and realize he still has more talent than almost any other RB in the league. Things will be different in Tennessee this season. First of all, the athletic-as-hell Jake Locker will likely be their starting QB, and we all remember what CJ2K did while Vince Young was running the show. Second, Kenny Britt (when/if he gets on the field), Kendall Wright, Nate Washington and Jared Cook will all be drawing defenses away from the line of scrimmage on a weekly basis. Third, the offensive line is pretty well gelled at this point and ready to open some holes. Basically, don’t let the past dictate the future here as CJ just might add another 2K to his name in 2012.
7. Maurice Jones-Drew (Jax) – Listen, his contract dispute and wish for more money will undoubtedly be settled before the end of training camp, so I wouldn’t worry too much about it affecting his 2012 season. With that said, here’s what I have to say about what MJD did in 2011. Every defense the Jaguars went up against last season 100 percent knew he was getting the ball, yet they still could not stop him. What the Wrecking Ball did in turn was lead the league in both carries (343) and rushing yards (1,606) despite coming off of offseason knee surgery and being game-planned against on a weekly basis. He was 20 yards short of his first 2,000 total yards season, but it wasn’t for lack of trying as he easily surpassed his career-high in touches with 386 on the year. Now, for as amazing as all of these stats were, it’s also easy to see how they could take their toll on Jones-Drew in 2012. The 5’7”, 208-pound RB has had 300-plus rushing attempts in each of the last three seasons (well, 299 in 2010, but what’s one extra carry) adding up to the most of any back in the league by a decent margin. My guess is that the soon-to-be 27-year-old will have another fine year in 2012, but it wouldn’t shock me to see him either get injured and miss a few games or see his numbers go down due to sheer over-usage. Either way, he’s still a top ten back.
8. DeMarco Murray (Dal) – The Cowboys drafted the 227-pound Murray out of Oklahoma last season to take the place of Marion Barber and hopefully compete with Felix Jones to be the team’s starter. In Week 6, Felix proved to be exactly what everyone already suspected he was—an injury-prone, third-down back with game-changing ability, yet no chance to ever become a bell-cow—so Murray got the call. All he did the following weekend was set a Dallas rushing record of 253 yards on 25 carries, including a 91-yard TD run on his first touch of the day. The fantasy world went ballistic, but the hysteria would be short-lived as Murray was lost for the year after breaking his right ankle in Week 14. DeMarco will be the Cowboys early-down back (at least) in 2012, so his potential to end up on the Top-Ten fantasy totem-pole is certainly there. Thinking about what his large build and shocking 4.4-speed could do in this high-powered Cowboys offense, it wouldn’t shock me to see him further up the scale than this in the end.
9. Jamaal Charles (KC) – Plain and simple: Regardless of how healthy he is or how ready he is to take on a full-time role again, Jamaal Charles has every bit of skill to be a Top-Ten fantasy back in 2012. Period. When healthy, he’s one of the most electric backs in the entire NFL and a threat to take it to the house on any given play. Fantasy owners would do themselves a huge favor by pulling up some old clips of his mind-boggling runs while remembering his 2010 season. In case you forgot, Charles outgained Adrian Peterson by almost 200 yards on 53 less carries that year while putting up 103 more yards than Chris Johnson on a whopping 86 less carries. He’s already stated that he’s completely back to normal and has his “mojo” running full stride while his backup, Peyton Hillis, has already seen enough to say that he’s easily one of the best RBs in the league. Basically, if he happens to slip in your draft—which he probably will--then he could end up being the steal you need to win your league.
10. Matt Forte (Chi) – Check this out: Even though Forte missed the final four and three-quarter games of the 2011 season, he still had more total yards, the same amount of total touchdowns and most importantly—more fantasy points than Chris Johnson did in a full 16-game season. Now we all know CJ28 had an off-year, but the comparison still shows just how dominant Forte was up until his injury (sprained MCL). As for the 2012 season, you gotta love the potential Matty has in this offense. With former offensive line coach and run-friendly Mike Tice taking over as the offensive coordinator for the departed Mike Martz, Forte is sure to see 300+ touches and likely more TDs in the stat column as well (regardless of Michael Bush). Also, with Brandon Marshall on board, defenses will no longer be able to key in on him week after week. The closest comparison I can come up with for Forte right now is Arian Foster (without the goal-line prowess), as both their overall game and frame/build are almost identical. If the Bears offensive line continues to improve (which it should), then watch out for this kid.
11. Trent Richardson (Cle) – Trent Richardson is one of the most complete backs we’ve seen come out of the college ranks in awhile and will be an every-down starter for the Browns in Week 1. In fact, there’s no one else on the Browns roster better than him in any situation, so he might even approach 350 touches in 2012 if his body can withstand NFL punishment for 16 games (which it looks like it can). Remember, he played behind Mark Ingram (Saints) a couple of years ago back at Alabama, so he has very little mileage on his treads. He also proved in college to have an incredible nose for the endzone, so he’ll also lead off as the Browns goal-line back as well. Simply put, the kid is going to be a lot of fun to watch this season whether he’s on your fantasy team or not, but as one of the few every-down backs in the league, you might want to pick this kid up.
12. Adrian Peterson (Min) – I hate having to put AP down this far in the rankings, but until some definitive news comes out on exactly when he’ll be able to play at full strength, I have to keep him out of the Top-Ten. If it turns out he really IS on track to take on 15-20 touches in Week 1 (as AP28 says he is/wants to be and HC Leslie Frazier hopes), then change these rankings accordingly and get the Purple Jesus back up close to the Top-Five where he belongs. However, it will always be a risk taking a running back coming off of ACL/MCL/Meniscus surgery, so you’re probably better off waiting around until he’s the eighth or ninth RB in line. Still, adversity has ALWAYS brought the best out in Peterson, so I’m betting on him coming through this situation better than people think and proving his doubters wrong.
13. Steven Jackson (StL) – Despite receiving more than 275 touches for the seventh year in a row, Steven Jackson could (again) do no better than just so-so in the stat column. You can’t really fault him too much as it’s tough for a player to reach his fantasy potential while playing for a team that’s put up the worst record in the league (37-91) since he joined them in 2004. However, his touchdown rate has the potential to increase with the expected improvement across the rest of the offensive unit while his streak of seven-straight seasons of 1,000+ yards (in two of those seasons he only played 12 games) will no doubt stay intact. Whatever the case, as far as having him on your fantasy team, S-Jax is a lot like playing Blackjack in the casinos—sometimes you’re up a little, sometimes you’re down a little, but you’re always better off playing roulette if you want a real chance at the big bucks. Basically, don’t make the mistake of over-drafting him, but he’s certainly a solid RB2.
14. Fred Jackson (Buf) – If C.J. Spiller had done poorly with the opportunity he was given when Jackson went down last season, I would have Freddy ranked up in the Top-Ten for sure. However, he didn’t, so I don’t. F-Jax may have proven he can be a full-time RB in this league as he averaged the second-most yards from scrimmage per game in 2011, but the fact is; Spiller did the same thing during the last five weeks of season while he was a starter. You also have to remember that Spiller was a Top-Ten overall draft pick for the Bills in 2010, so he’ll undoubtedly be in the mix as long as he’s healthy. Add in that Jackson just turned 31 and you’re looking at a pretty risky fantasy pick here. On the other hand, the rewards could be well worth it.
15. Doug Martin (TB) – I’m betting on the 5’9”, 223-pound Doug Martin getting the starting nod in Week 1 and never looking back. The word out of the Bucs training camp thus far is that he’s taking the bulk of first-team snaps and kicking some serious ass with his chance so far, so it looks like my bet will be a good one. The thing about Martin compared to LeGarrette Blount is that he’s an every-down player who not only packs a huge punch, but also happens to do well in Blount’s two biggest problem areas—blocking and receiving. The comparison I’m hearing for Martin right now is that he has Ray Rice-like capabilities which are mighty strong words indeed, but if true, then he could be a fantasy gem as early as this season.
16. Marshawn Lynch (Sea) – Color me crazy, but I just don’t see that uber-potential as a fantasy back that some of the other “experts” out there see. Does that mean I believe he’s a candidate for Dud-of-the-Year? Not quite, but it seems to me there are more roads leading toward the abyss (especially considering his recent DUI) than to the ever-desired pot of fantasy gold. The ferociousness with which he runs made him the Surprise-of-the-Year in 2011, but can anybody really keep up that style of play? Even so, he still only averaged 4.2 yards per carry and now that he has his big contract, will he really be grinding for that extra yard every play like he did in 2011? I highly doubt it. The good thing here is that Seattle seems fully committed to riding “Beast Mode” for as long as he lasts and if he can garner over 20 touches/game like he did in 2011, it’s possible he could rub noses with the Top-Five again this season…but don’t count on it.
17. Michael Turner (Atl) – Does anybody else hear the hiss of a slow leak any time the name ‘Michael Turner’ is mentioned? Yeah, me too. Strangely enough, though he’s three years older and has been in the league three years longer than both Adrian Peterson and Maurice Jones-Drew, Turner actually has 46 less touches in his career than AP and a staggering 340 fewer touches than MJD. What I think I’m trying to say here is that Turner may have more left in the tank than you might think, but caution would still be the advised approach here. His final 2011 statistics stand up pretty well against the top RBs in the league, but it was obvious he was tiring down the stretch. Besides, Atlanta is trending towards a pass-heavy offense this season, so not only am I expecting a sizable decrease in overall touches, but likely a drop in touchdowns as well. He’s still an RB2, but has a very limited upside at this point.
18. Darren Sproles (NO) – How do I even begin to describe Darren Sproles. He’s pretty much a jitterbug without the Barry Sanders crazy-legs, yet produces fantasy-wise at almost the same rate. He absolutely exploded in the “Reggie Bush” role last season and should have a stranglehold on that role for years to come, but as for 2012, he might actually be Brees’ second favorite target as he is a matchup nightmare (like Jimmy Graham) whenever he’s on the field. In 2011, he averaged nearly seven yards per carry which was the most of any regular RB in the league, but his biggest asset is his pass-catching ability as he was targeted an incredible 111 times and hauled in a career high 86 passes last season. With Robert Meachem gone and the Saints head coach sipping margaritas on the couch all season, look for Brees to depend on one of the most dependable midget-RB in the league this year and expect similar numbers to last season.
19. Stevan Ridley (NE) – BenJarvus Green-Ellis hit free agency and cruised town to Cincinnati where the bucks were found, so there will be a lot of potential in this New England offense for young Mr. Ridley. The Law Firm supposedly had an off-year last season, yet he still managed to garner 11 rushing touchdowns, most of which will likely go to the powerful Ridley in 2012. Believe it or not, the Patriots have been in the Top-Six in rushing touchdowns each of the last six seasons, a trend likely to continue in 2012 with the 220-pound Ridley at the helm. Stevan may have a couple of guys like Danny Woodhead and Shane Vereen to contend with for overall touches, but he’s obviously the guy to have a bead on this season as he’s already won the starting job with an awesome offseason. BIG-TIME sleeper alert here.
20. Ahmad Bradshaw (NYG) – Ahmad has both the talent and the heart to be a great NFL running back, but the obstacle he can’t seem to get past is the injury bug. He’s only 26-years-old at this point, so by no means should he be disregarded, but being only 5’9”, 198-pounds, I have a tough time believing he can take on a full load for the entire season. The Giants may have released Brandon Jacobs, but they also grabbed David Wilson in the first round of this past draft to compete with Bradshaw for the starting gig. Bradshaw will win, but don’t be surprised to see Wilson interrupt his fantasy season on more than one occasion this year.
21. Frank Gore (SF) – So Frank the Tank finally made it through a full 16-game season again—his first since 2006—though it wasn’t easy as Gore saw his usual share of bumps and bruises along the way. The 49ers, however, made sure not to blow too hard on their house-of-cards-RB by tapering back his touches throughout the season, giving him 20 or more touches in only half the 49ers games. Because of this, Gore’s fantasy numbers suffered as he accumulated just 30 more total yards while catching 29 less passes than he did in 2010…when he played in only 10 games! With capable backups in RB Kendall Hunter, Brandon Jacobs and LaMichael James in tow, I can’t see Gore as much more than a marginal RB2 in 2012, especially since the ‘Niners strategy of taking the load off Gore last season seemed to work well in bringing them to the NFC Championship game. Consider the seven-year pro a high risk/medium reward fantasy option in drafts this upcoming season.
22. Willis McGahee (Den) – I was thoroughly impressed with the grit Old Man McGahee displayed in his first season as a Bronco…even if he did manage to squeak out just five TDs on the year. It seems he more than made up for it with his yardage, though, as McGahee was one of only two running backs in the entire league to have seven 100-yard games last season (Arian Foster). Crazy, right? That being said, you can’t expect a repeat performance from the guy as Willis is not only set to turn 31-years-old in the middle of the 2012 season, but he also has an all-purpose rookie named Ronnie Hillman crawling up his ass right now and we all know how much Peyton Manning loves making his rookie RBs into studs. Chalk him up as a low-end RB2 with not a lot of upside.
23. Shonn Greene (NYJ) – Big-time feast or famine pick here. Shonn Greene has been one of the more polarizing running backs for fantasy owners the past couple of seasons, yet some refuse to let go of the potential he showed as a rookie (especially during the playoffs) in 2009. Others will point to his substandard numbers in 2010-11, of course, which they should. The reality is that Greene’s game is pretty mediocre at this point and will only get better if the Jets re-commit to the running game they exhibited in 2009. Greene could wind up with 300-plus carries if that happens and in position to put up some huge numbers, though STILL might be brought back down to Earth by the anomaly named Tim Tebow (who WILL steal goal-line carries from Greene). The best thing going for Shonn at this point is that the Jets refused to bring in a top-notch receiver to play alongside Santonio Holmes, so they might actually be forced to run the ball. Whatever the case, Greene is one of the more frustrating fantasy RBs in the league.
24. James Starks (GB) – My main reason for putting James Starks up this high is that the Packers have declared to use the running game far more often this season than in years past. Do I believe them? To a point, yes, but the offense still runs through Aaron Rodgers, so you can’t put Starks THAT high on the “breakout-potential” pole. The guy is big, strong and can be shifty when he wants to be, but it would have to take a good half-year to see him produce before I could actually start him as a RB2 on my fantasy team. With Ryan Grant gone, he has more upside than you think, but don’t expect some sort of crazy fantasy jump this season.
25. Beanie Wells (Ari) – Built like a tank with an obvious nose for the end-zone, Wells has the type of big-game potential that fantasy owners (and most other running backs) would normally kill for. On the other hand, with the way he runs the ball, it seems Beanie believes he really IS a tank and gets banged up on a regular basis because of it. We’ll see what happens concerning his (third) knee surgery before the season starts, but I have to say, my confidence in him is pretty low at this point. If he can hold off Ryan Williams and maintain a 16-18 carry/game workload for the entire season, he’ll be well worth taking as your RB2. Otherwise, if the 50/50 chance he gets injured and missed more than four games this season scares you off, then don’t bother.
26. Roy Helu (Was) – I don’t know if Helu can do much better than what we saw towards the end of last season, but he definitely has the upside of a middling RB2. The reason he’s ranked so low at this point is because Coach Mike Shanahan is up to his old tricks in again in that he’s shuffling the backfield on a near weekly basis. First Tim Hightower was going to be starter, now it’s Evan Royster. Next week it will likely be Helu, but fantasy owners can’t sit around and watch this sort of game with Helu expected to be their RB2. Besides, whether Helu ends up starting or not, both Hightower and Royster will undoubtedly eat into Helu’s playing time during the season anyway. That being said, if Roy Jr. can shine at both running hard and catching balls out of the backfield during training camp, it will be tough for Shanahan to take him out of his multi-purpose role. If you decide to take a chance on Helu as your RB2 or otherwise, you might want to back him up with someone a little more stable as Shanahan isn’t about to change his ways at this point.
27. Jonathan Stewart (Car) – Stewart has been pretty much screwed over by the Panthers throughout his entire career. Just when it looked like he was going to get a chance to be the guy, Carolina turns around and pays DeAngelo Williams CRAZY money to stick around as their RB1. Now Stewart is left fighting for scraps in a contract year where he has no real shot at proving his worth (unless D-Will happens to get injured, which is certainly a possibility). As a player, Stewart is huge at 235-pounds and has the potential to be a touchdown machine with Newton likely to scale back on his Red Zone running tendencies. If he gets the chance, his upside is as a mid/high-end RB2. If not, he’s an RB3/flex player for your team.
28. Donald Brown (Ind) – Brown is a hard guy to like and will undoubtedly be passed up in many fantasy drafts this season, but don’t fall asleep on this guy because with the situation that he’s currently in, he might come back to bite you in the ass. Do I believe that Donald Brown is really all that good? No, not really, but one thing I DO know is that whenever a team starts a rookie quarterback all season (which the Colts will do with Andrew Luck), the position that benefits the most fantasy-wise is running back. Check out what Marshall Faulk did in Peyton Manning’s first year in 1998; or what MJD did last year with Blaine Gabbert; or what Peyton Hillis did with Colt McCoy in 2010; or Thomas Jones with Mark Sanchez in ’09; or Michael Turner with Matt Ryan in ‘08; etc… All I’m saying is to keep an eye on the fourth-year back out of Connecticut this season. You might be surprised.
29. Reggie Bush (Mia) – In a 16-man fantasy league, how many owners do you think believed that Reggie Bush would not only start 15 games, but compile a career-high 260 touches as well? My guess would be one, if that. Either way, I was thoroughly impressed with Reggie and the numbers he was able to put up last season, especially with it being his first year in Miami and all. However, as I’ve said before, you need to have a short memory if you want to succeed in fantasy sports. It’s certainly possible Bush repeats those lofty numbers from a year ago, especially with Daniel Thomas still seeming a little behind in his development and Lamar Miller not ready for major play just yet, but history says otherwise. Consider him one of the more high-risk/medium-reward players in the league right now.
30. BenJarvus Green-Ellis (Cin) – Being as strong as an Ox is obviously a quality you want in the game of football. However, being as slow as one at the same time doesn’t really end up working out too well. This unfortunate conundrum pretty much sums up BenJarvus’ game at this point, even though he did well to hide his deficiencies behind the offensive juggernaut that is the New England Patriots. Yes, he did in fact have double-digit touchdowns in each of the last two seasons, but his yards per carry in 2011 was a paltry 3.7 while his career YPC is only 4.0. Cincinnati will have one of the toughest schedules in the league this season and while Green-Ellis doesn’t have a whole lot behind him threatening his starting role, that doesn’t mean he’ll automatically put up fantasy points either. With not a lot of upside, I’m staying clear of him in my drafts.
31. DeAngelo Williams (Car) – I’m not sure how or why it happened, but the Panthers decided to open their pocketbooks for DeAngelo Williams instead of Jonathan Stewart last offseason only to see D-Will fall flat on his face for most of the 2011 season. Williams pulled it together towards the end rushing for six TDs over the final six games, but not once did he receive more than 15 touches in any single game. How Carolina can guarantee the guy $21 million and let that happen is beyond me. I can’t pretend to know what will happen this season with Stewart now being in a contract year, but I DO know that if both guys stay healthy, both of their upsides are extremely limited—especially with Cam Newton and Mike Tolbert likely to steal away quite a few touchdowns.
32. C.J. Spiller (Buf) – I love that this kid pulled it together after being considered a bust for the first year and a half of his career. When it comes to someone with Spiller’s kind of talent, though, Buffalo did the right thing and was wise in giving him the proper amount of time to grow…and it seems C.J. finally got it. Putting up five touchdowns and 633 total yards starting in place of the injured Fred Jackson for the final six games of the 2011 season was impressive, but it wasn’t quite enough for him to secure the starting position going into 2012. I’m not entirely sure what the Bills plans are for their backfield this season with both Spiller and Jackson healthy, especially with the contract extension they just gave F-Jax, but Freddy certainly did well enough himself last year to earn another look as the lead guy. At this point, don’t expect much better than flex-type numbers out of Spiller until the occasion arises for him to take over the starring role once again.
33. Ryan Williams (Ari) – I’ll bet most people already forgot that Ryan Williams was the Cardinals second-round pick in 2011 (38th overall), which shows just how little faith upper-management had in Beanie Wells before last season. In fact, if Williams were to have come out of college this year instead of a year earlier, he would have been the second back taken in the draft behind only Trent Richardson. That’s right – he would have been taken before both Doug Martin and David Wilson and been a first-round pick. Beanie may have done well enough last season to keep his starting job heading into 2012, but his bruising style leaves him more susceptible to injury than most… as evidenced by his constant injury woes. The big kicker for me when it comes to Ryan Williams is that should he get into the Cardinals starting lineup somehow, he would become an immediate starter for most fantasy teams as an RB2. In fact, I wouldn’t put it past Williams’ overall talent beating Wells out for the job by the end of training camp.
34. Michael Bush (Chi) – Once again, Michael Bush showed his utter beastliness when fellow backfield mate, Darren McFadden, went down for the year in Week 7 of last season. Over Oakland’s final ten games, Bush averaged 83.9 rushing yards and 115.8 total yards while scoring five touchdowns. Not too bad, though he did seem to slow down as time wore on. Since then, the Chicago Bears decided to shore up their backfield with the 245-pound monster by giving him a contract worth $14 million over four years ($6.45 million guaranteed). What this means for Bush in fantasy terms is that he will again be considered a “handcuff” yet will still have some decent fantasy value as he’ll undoubtedly take over as the Bears goal-line back. Plus, if Forte happens to get injured, you’ll have a nice guy to plug in as a high-end RB2 should it come down to it.
35. Isaac Redman (Pit) – So it looks like Isaac Redman will be getting the starting job by default to start off the Steelers 2012 campaign, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be a guy you want on your fantasy team. There’s a reason he’s been a backup running back throughout his career and we’ll all see why within the first few weeks of September. He’s not a prolific pass-catcher out of the backfield, he’s not a home-run threat and he’s not a move-the-chains type of runner. Basically, he’s a fill-in until Rashard Mendenhall gets back; who I also happen to be convinced isn’t the end-all be-all of RBs either. Jonathan Dwyer is actually the guy you might want to watch in Pittsburgh this pre-season, but the coaches still seem to think Redman is their guy right now so he’s at least worth considering as a flex player for the first half of the season while Mendenhall recovers from his ACL surgery. Either way, I’d probably stay clear of this situation.
The Next 35...
36. Kevin Smith (Det)
37. Mikel Leshoure (Det)
38. Ronnie Hillman (Den)
39. Mark Ingram (NO)
40. Ben Tate (Hou)
41. David Wilson (NYG)
42. Daniel Thomas (Mia)
43. Jahvid Best (Det)
44. Peyton Hillis (KC)
45. Toby Gerhart (Min)
46. Evan Royster (Was)
47. Shane Vereen (NE)
48. Pierre Thomas (NO)
49. Jacquizz Rodgers (Atl)
50. LeGarrette Blount (TB)
51. Tim Hightower (Was)
52. Rashard Mendenhall (Pit)
53. Mike Goodson (Oak)
54. Rashad Jennings (Jax)
55. Kendall Hunter (SF)
56. Felix Jones (Dal)
57. Alex Green (GB)
58. Isaiah Pead (StL)
59. Bernard Scott (Cin)
60. Robert Turbin (Sea)
61. Dion Lewis (Phi)
62. Jonathan Dwyer (Pit)
63. Taiwan Jones (Oak)
64. Vick Ballard (Ind)
65. Brandon Jacobs (SF)
66. Joe McKnight (NYJ)
67. Mike Tolbert (Car)
68. LaMichael James (SF)
69. Bilal Powell (NYJ)
70. Ronnie Brown (SD)
Listen & subscribe to our Pyro® Weekly Podcasts: http://pyromaniac.buzzsprout.com
Follow Pyro® on Twitter: https://twitter.com/pyroman1ac
Like us on Facebook: http://facebook.com/pyromaniac