As we approach the 2012 NFL season, who are the top fantasy running backs? Some feel Foster is the number 1 running back, while others point to Rice. There will be many impact running backs, some with more risk than others. My perspective on the Top 5 running backs are as follows:
5. Chris Johnson – Chris Johnson is coming off a disappointing year, only amounting to 1,047 rushing yards and 4 rushing touchdowns. After a slow start, he finished strong so I expect he will bounce back and have a strong season. You do not know if you are going to get the 2011 Chris Johnson, or the older Chris Johnson. There is a risk with Johnson, but a huge upside as well.
4. Maurice Jones-Drew – Jones-Drew just ended his holdout, but there is uncertainty how much fantasy will get him for the start of the season. Look at Arian Foster last year. Foster was injured for multiple games and still ended up being a top running back. I expect Jones-Drew to still finish the season solid, and end up being a Top 5 running back. Last year Jones-Drew amassed to 1,606 rushing yards, winning the rushing title. He also added 8 rushing touchdowns The Jaguars don’t really have much of a passing game, so expect Jones-Drew to get a lot of carries once he rounds into football shape. MJD is only 27, so expect good numbers for the next few years.
3. LeSean McCoy – Over the last few seasons, McCoy has established himself as an elite running back this past season. McCoy put together the highest rushing touchdowns among all the NFL with 17, and I expect another 15+ touchdown season. McCoy keeps on getting better and better, so over the next few years, McCoy could be the #1 running back. But as for right now, Arian Foster and Ray Rice have the edge. McCoy also added to his 17 touchdowns with 1,309 rushing yards. McCoy is a dangerous weapon for the versatile Eagle’s offense, and shook his injury label last year by staying healthy for all but one game last year. McCoy could have another explosive season, and if he does, he could end up number one.
2. Arian Foster – Arian Foster could be the best running back in the league but there are two issues I have with him. Foster isn’t the safest bet to draft because he isn’t very durable. Foster was forced to miss 3 games last season due to injury. Another big problem I see in Foster is Ben Tate. The emergence of Ben Tate last year could lower Foster’s carries lowering his fantasy potential. Foster mixes his speed and elusiveness to gain yards and become a top running back. Foster just had 278 carries last year, but amassed 1,224 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns. Foster is also a threat in the receiving game, having 617 receiving yards and 2 receiving touchdowns. In my perspective, Foster will get past the issues in Ben Tate and his durability to prove himself as the second best running back in the NFL.
1. Ray Rice – Ray Rice is my number one running back. He is one of the safest running backs, playing in all his games for the last 3 seasons. Rice had a monstrous season last year and I expect him to continue to put up huge numbers for many years. With the backfield for the Ravens clearing out, it will give Rice more carries and will make fantasy owners very happy. Ray Rice is a very talented and versatile back, being able to run and receive, which helps his chances in being the #1 running back. Rice had 1,364 rushing yards and 12 rushing touchdowns to go with his 704 receiving yards and 3 receiving touchdowns. The Ravens offense revolve around Rice, so expect a boatload of points yet again this year.