HOUSTON - SEPTEMBER 12: Running back Arian Foster #23 of the Houston Texans runs for a touchdown in the NFL season opener against the Indianapolis Colts at Reliant Stadium on September 12 2010 in Houston Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
So our thoughts on fantasy football are really starting to heat up, and it's time to begin researching players and figuring out your best draft strategy. My thoughts on players in 2012 continues today with a look at several running backs to keep an eye on for better or for worse....
Adrian Peterson--It wasn't just an injury. It was an INJURY, as Peterson ripped up his knee late last season. He's going to come back and be productive, but maybe not this season. Part of the problem is that Peterson is a hard runner who doesn't shy away from collisions.
Arian Foster--The top dog in 2012 by default, Foster will likely be drafted first or second in almost every fantasy league. And he should be fully recovered from the hamstring injury that made Foster risky on draft day a year ago.
Ryan Mathews--I'm coining a term for the purpose of this column. We'll call it Mikey's Gut Feeling, or MGF. After a strong finish in 2011, this Chargers' RB is ranked very high on almost every cheat sheet, especially with Mike Tolbert gone from San Diego. For me, though, the MGF on Mathews is to stay the hell away from him, unless you can grab him as your second back in the third round or so.
Ray Rice, LeSean McCoy and Matt Forte--Rice and Forte have new deals, and this trio is fantasy potency because they do not share as many carries as other backs, and because they are receiving threats as well. That said, I have a policy that I don't draft Eagles or Cowboys. I just can't, even if that hurts my fantasy teams. I also can't stand typing out the four freaking capital letters in McCoy's name.
Jamaal Charles--The Chiefs lost their speedster early last season to an ACL tear, but he will be back. Just how effective is another question, and also will the addition of Peyton Hillis help or hinder. The MGF says draft him, but not too high.
Michael Turner--He's a workhorse who rarely gets hurt, and while he's now 30, Turner has rushed for 1371 yards and 12 TDs; 1340 yards and 11 TDs, respectively, the last two seasons. It's hard to ignore him, but I like Turner if you have, say, the ninth or tenth pick in the first round.
NY Giants RBs--The trio of Ahmad Bradshaw, David Wilson and Da'Rel Scott is very much undecided, though most pundits like Wilson to emerge as that main guy. What about DJ Ware? Yeah, beside the shotgun draw on 2-point conversions, what has he done? The MGF says Ware may not even make the team. But I also wouldn't count Bradshaw out either.Roy Helu--Young and explosive, but Mike Shanahan is a fantasy player's worst enemy because of his "flavor of the month" rotations.
DeMarco Murray--Risky because he's injury prone, but very explosive. I won't touch him because he's a Cowboy, but maybe you will and I would not fault you for that.
LeGarrette Blount--Man, this guy was a disappointment last season. I picked him high in both leagues and was rewarded with a lump of coal, which sucked because I had Aaron Rodgers in both leagues. And now Doug Martin is projected to start. That means you should avoid Blount unless he gives you reason not to in camp.
Shonn Greene--Ground and pound, eh, Rexie? I had Greene and Blount in one league and thought I would rule the world last season. He did have over 1000 yards rushing, but only 6 TDs. I'm sorry, the MGF is not high on this dude, even with LT gone. And don't think Tebow won't bogart carries or TDs in 2012.
Jonathan Stewart/DeAngelo Williams--Are you kidding me? This duo is still the RBBC in Carolina? I guess when you have Cam Newton, that's okay. But the RBBC is reason to only use these guys as bench players.
Brandon Jacobs--Exactly what did he think he was getting himself into? The Niners have an aging Frank Gore, and Jacobs is also aging. They also have Kendall Hunter and newly drafted LaMichael James. In fantasy terms, Jacobs won't find his way onto many rosters unless he comes out of the gate in the preseason as a monster, and that's just not likely.
James Starks--Starks was a big disappointment in 2011, but keep in mind he's a running back on a team that could be construed as the Greatest Show on Frozen Tundra, meaning the running game in Green Bay is like a garnish on the plate. He's a decent second or third option, however.
Trent Richardson--Big expectations will be on tap for this Alabama product on a team that badly needs offense, the Cleveland Browns. The MGF likes this kid, even if he's on a crappy team. So I'd take a chance if can roll the dice in the fifth round or so on a rookie.