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Fantasy Football 2012 Rankings: Running Back Part II

Justin Blackmon needed some handcuffs on Sunday. Your fantasy teams will need them, too. Let's hope they don't have a 0.24% BAC.
Justin Blackmon needed some handcuffs on Sunday. Your fantasy teams will need them, too. Let's hope they don't have a 0.24% BAC.

We're back with part deux of fantasy football's most important position: RB. A lot of teams still have some position battles going on at running back and you can rest assured that we'll be seeing plenty of backs rising and falling over the next couple months.

Generally speaking, when it comes to drafting backs in the second half of your draft, upside players should grab your attention more than a safe player. Of course, you know about handcuffing, too.

Check out Part I right here and follow me on Twitter.

Rank Running Back Comment
26 Darren Sproles Sproles is a top-20 back in PPR with his 86 receptions(!) in 2011, but there should be some level of concern about him being a true RB2 in standards. Last year was a bit of a perfect storm with Mark Ingram unable to stay healthy. Ingram should have a larger impact than the 133 touches he had last year. Plus the hot-read offense for the Saints might not be as prevalent without Payton calling the plays. Also Ingram had more touches than Sproles in each of Ingram's last five games. Sproles did average 7.6 yards per touch last year, though.
27 Ben Tate Handcuffing the best player in fantasy football is a good idea. If you draft Arian, I'd consider Tate at the 23 spot. Ben Tate Office Running Back was an absolute workhorse in the first three games of the year with 113.7 yards per game on 23.7 touches. Not to mention he had five other games with 11 or more carries and also a monstrous 5.4 YPC. Tate is a decent flex on the weeks Houston gets a weak opponent and if Arian does go down, Tate would become a true RB1 in fantasy.
28 Donald Brown Brown is the heavy favorite to be the RB1. That's all you need to know. Well, that and Brown had 14.4 touches per game over his last eight contests. Delone Carter failed to top five carries in any of the Colts' last six games and had just a 3.7 YPC on the season. Brown owners might be more worried about Darren Evans as a threat to usurp carries from the Husky.
29 DeAngelo Williams The Panthers paid D-Will D-ollars last year and one would think it wasn't for naught. He signed a five-year, $43 million deal last year. Crazy talk. He only saw 155 carries and the Panthers almost have to give him more carries to make the most on their investment. D-Will has a career 5.1 YPC and put up 5.4 last year.
30 Jonathan Stewart The Panthers are going to pass quite a bit and despite the Panthers being the best in the league for YPC, J-Stew isn't likely going to be much of an option week to week. Like D-Will, his YPC numbers were soaring with 5.4. He'll need a D-Will injury.
31 Mark Ingram The Saints had an insane 2.5:1 pass-to-rush yards ratio last year. There's almost no chance that will continue with Williams gone and Payton not calling the plays. Ingram has some breakout potential. He did have 15.5 touches in his last two games against Detroit; Sproles had just 9.5.
32 Michael Bush Forte's contract woes will come to an end at some point, but his chances at goal-line carries should seize to exist. Bush was a warrior when it came to scoring TDs with six and he carried the ball 256 times. There's a chance this can become a full-blown split.
33 David Wilson Ahmad Bradshaw dealt with his broken foot last year and had a career-low 3.9 YPC. In conjunction with the Giants having needs greater than RB, Wilson looks like he could be useful in the fantasy world and is one of the best handcuffs out there.
34 BenJarvus Green-Ellis The Bengals haven't exactly equivocated on their attempts to flip from a run-heavy O to a more balanced attack. Besides saying it, they did draft two receivers in the first five rounds of the draft in Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones. Dalton has some legit weapons. To be perfectly frank, BJGE isn't talented and it's unlikely he'll be able to get 200 carries. He can't hit holes hard. He doesn't have much burst and this has time-share written all over it.
35 Stevan Ridley There is quite a bit of a battle in the New England backfield with Ridley and Shane Vereen. The Pats have been non-committal on their lead dog, but conventional wisdom suggests Ridley should at least lock down the goal-line duties even though Vereen ran with the first team at OTAs.
36 Isaac Redman Redman could emerge as a decent RB2.However, there's a lot in his way. He clearly isn't the long-term answer for the Steelers and with Todd Haley at the helm, it's likely going to be a pass-heavy attack. Draft him late, but keep your expectations low. Rashard Mendenhall still hasn't been ruled out to start the season. In short, if Redman starts hot, get your offers ready.
37 C.J. Spiller Quite frankly, CJS is just too good to go by the wayside. The former ninth pick put up 112 yards per game with an average of a score in each for his last five games. He's in his prime at 25.
38 James Starks We all know how this went. One would think that a featured back might be able to crack some RB2-type value with the prolific offense in Green Bay. Welp... Nope. It was a mess. Ryan Grant is all but gone and there isn't much behind Starks either. That said, it's still too tough to predict what might happen here since Starks hasn't done much besides his strong showing in their Super Bowl run. He has a 7.5 YPC in the postseason and a very respectable 4.3 in the regular season. The Buffalo product also had just 29 receptions last year. If he's going to evolve into a consistent player for fantasy, that number will have to increase in that offense.
39 Ronnie Hillman Hill Dawg! Mr. Hillman is the first of the true sleepers on this board. While some of the Broncos beat writers suggest he's was reach in the draft, the Broncos took him for a reason. There's really nobody behind Willis McGahee and Hillman has the speed to be a three-down back in the Manning system. A couple breaks just need to go his way to become the next big thing at back. I wrote more about Hillman here, too.
40 LeGarrette Blount
Blount was in the doghouse big time down the stretch last year. He only had 5.7 carries per game in the final five contests. To make matters worse, he was seeing guys like Kregg Lumpkin and Mossis Madu get carries over him. Not exactly a pair of backs that people will name their kids after. Clearly, Doug Martin is more talented than those two. More importantly, he's more talented than Blount.
41 Toby Gerhart While Adrian Peterson is apparently more like Johnny 5 than a human, there's still an off chance he misses time. The Stanford product's value will likely jump 10 or drop 10 in the next month.
42 Peyton Hillis As much as I love Jamaal Charles, Hillis isn't a bad handcuff. He'll likely see the goal-line carries and should get 10 touches per game.
43 Shane Vereen Vereen had some buzz about him last year with before he injured his hamstring in the preseason. Vereen's season resulted in just 57 yards and a score on 11 carries. He took reps with the first team offense in OTAs and he certainly could see the majority of the work. However, considering how pass-heavy New England will be, it's going to be tough for him to have consistency. Ridley is also likely to get the goal-line work.
44 Bernard Scott Green-Ellis isn't a starting-caliber back. Of course, Scott isn't either. The Bengals should look to pass the rock a little more this year and Scott expects to see most of the looks on third down.
45 Ryan Williams
Beanie isn't exactly cooking with gas. Williams is recovering from the devastating torn patella tendon and it's unclear that he's going to have the burst he had at VA Tech. For what it's worth, I was really high on Williams last year and it wouldn't be surprising to see him leapfrog Weenie Bells. Even though the Hokie isn't yet at full strength, Coach Whiz said Williams is close to the end of his rehab.
46 Mikel LeShoure Smokin' endo sippin' on gin and juice. Laid back. LeShoure was busted for smokin' the devil's lettuce and should see a suspension, but he could emerge as the lead dog with Best getting a lot of carries in his absence. The suspension is reportedly only going to be two games. This is one of the most important situations to monitor in training camp. Detroit led the league in passing attempts and they were 31st in carries. There's no way it'll be that lopsided again in 2012.
47 Felix Jones DeMarco Murray broke his ankle. Felix had his chance. He had one TD in 12 games last year. He's just a handcuff. Short sentences are fun.
48 Daniel Thomas Thomas was probably the first rookie taken in your draft last year and he didn't live up to the billing with only a 3.5 YPC, 581 rushing yards and no rushing scores. He caught a score, though. Thomas also looked much better in passing downs as the season progressed, so there's a chance he can grow in his sophomore campaign. Reggie Bush has the starting job locked up, but everyone knows about Bush having injury concerns. The Heisman-winning back missed eight games in 2010 and an average of 5.0 games from 2007-2010. Thomas would likely be an asset should Bush go down. That could change if Lamar Miller gets it going.
49 Isaiah Pead Pead has already been announced as the third-down back, but it's still unclear if he'd be the true handcuff for S-Jax. The Cincy product ran a 4.47 40 and is a little small at just 197. There was also some buzz about S-Jax holding out which could have helped Pead's value as well. However, there hasn't been any report of displeasure in over a month after the St. Louis Dispatch shot down the rumor. Contract issues aside, Jackson has 2,507 touches in his career and is clearly on the downside. Contrary to popular belief, S-Jax played in 15 or more games in each of the last three seasons. That streak is likely to end in 2012.
50 Rashad Jennings Jennings was one of the top handcuffs last draft season with all the talk of MJD's knee wearing down. As it turned out, MJD led the league in rushing while it was Jennings' knee that cost him his season. Jennings did not require surgery and he's reportedly healthy and is taking some reps with the first team in OTAs. Jones-Drew also looks slow according to reports, so Jennings might even be able to muster up some value even as a backup and not just for his handcuff appeal. Lastly, there is really nobody behind Jennings on the depth chart and he could become a strong RB2 with an injury to MJD.

Thanks for reading! Here are the other rankings I've done so far:

Quarterback Rankings

Running Back Rankings Part I

Wide Receiver Rankings Part I

Wide Receiver Rankings Part II

Tight End Rankings

Top 75 PPR Rankings