2012 fantasy football profiles and projections (RBs 1-15)

RB RANKINGS 16-30![](http://www.nfl.com/goto?id=09000d5d8297b640)

Statistical projections are provided by EA Sports

  • Player
  • Analysis

Foster proved that his breakout 2010 season was no fluke, posting 53 receptions with 1,841 scrimmage yards and 12 total touchdowns last year. What makes those numbers even more impressive is that he missed three-plus games with a bad hamstring. If you project what he did in 12 games over a full slate, Foster would have led all running backs in fantasy points for the second straight year. Compared to the great Marshall Faulk based on his skill set, Foster is in the prime of his career and the best of a small class of elite fantasy backs left in the NFL. He's well worth the top overall selection in all drafts and won't fall past the top three in 2012.

One of the top three running backs in fantasy football, Rice is coming off a tremendous season with 76 catches, more than 2,000 scrimmage yards and 15 total touchdowns. The centerpiece of the Ravens' offense, he's a versatile, durable runner with the sort of skill set that keeps him on the field often. Rice is also consistent, as he scored 15 or more fantasy points 11 times in 2011. At the age of 25, the Rutgers product is clearly in the prime of his career and should continue to find statistical success across the board. With truly elite runners now few and far between, Rice is a virtual lock to be taken with one of the first four picks in most drafts.

McCoy is coming off a career season, posting more than 1,600 scrimmage yards and an incredible 20 total touchdowns. Had he not missed the Eagles' regular-season finale, he might have ended up as the top-scoring fantasy player at his position. While his reception totals were down compared to 2010, McCoy is still one of the few elite runners in fantasy land. His versatile skill set makes him a nice fit for coach Andy Reid's offensive attack, and his prominent role as a true featured back makes McCoy that much more attractive across the board. A surefire top-three selection in drafts, the Pittsburgh product will certainly warrant consideration for the No. 1 overall pick for fantasy owners in PPR formats.

It can be argued that Johnson was the biggest bust in fantasy football last season. Taken in the first round in most drafts, he finished 16th in points among running backs while rushing for career lows in yards and touchdowns. With that said, he's a good candidate to rebound in 2012. There won't be any lockout or a holdout, and the Titans will be committed to improving a shaky offensive line. At 26, Johnson is still in the prime of his career and remains a true No. 1 fantasy back. He's also predicted that he'll lead the NFL in rushing yards, so his motivation is evident. Look for CJ2K to come off the board late in Round 1 or no later than Round 2.

If fantasy value were based on talent alone, McFadden would be a first-round pick. Based on the numbers from his first seven games of last season, he would have finished fifth in fantasy points among running backs. Unfortunately, he suffered an injured foot and missed the final nine contests. That marked the fourth consecutive season McFadden has been unable to play in 16 games. In fact, he's never played more than 13 since being drafted in 2008. It is that lack of durability that makes McFadden a serious risk-reward selection in 2012. He'll be taken as a surefire No. 1 fantasy back in drafts, but be sure to grab Mike Goodson as insurance.

Over the past three years, Forte has emerged as one of the better fantasy running backs. While he doesn't score a ton of touchdowns, he has proven to be a yardage machine - based on his 11 full games in 2011, he was on pace to finish with 2,145 scrimmage yards and over 240 fantasy points. Unfortunately, Forte's value took a hit when the Bears added Michael Bush this offseason. He did re-sign with the Bears and will avoid a holdout, however, which is good news for his appeal. In a best-case scenario, Forte will be worth a second-round pick as a No. 1 fantasy runner. However, his statistical ceiling is lowered with Bush on the roster.

Murray is a major breakout candidate heading into the 2012 fantasy season. He showed some real flashes of brilliance as a rookie, averaging more than 12 fantasy points in the eight games where he led the Cowboys in carries. Projecting that total over a full season, he would have finished seventh in points among running backs. The one downfall for Murray is his proneness to injuries - he struggled with his durability at the collegiate level, and was then forced to miss the end of his rookie campaign with a broken ankle. He will be back at 100 percent and is worth a second- or third-round pick in all fantasy drafts, but Murray will be a risk-reward selection.

One of the elite running backs selected in 2011 fantasy drafts, Charles suffered a torn ACL in Week 2 and was lost for the season after just 12 carries. While most runners coming off a major knee reconstruction fail to reach their past statistical glory right away, Charles does have two advantages. First, he's still a young player at 25. Second, Charles suffered the injury so early that he has had more time to recover. Those are clear advantages in his return to action. The downside, though, is the addition of Peyton Hillis. The bruising back is certain to see more than his share of work, especially near the goal line, so Charles' upside is capped. He'll be a second-round pick in most drafts.

Mathews is one of the most talented young running backs in the league. He showed off some of his statistical potential in 2011, posting 50 catches and more than 1,500 scrimmage yards while sharing a portion of the workload with Mike Tolbert. Now in more of a featured role, Mathews now has two NFL campaigns under his belt and an upcoming schedule that is one of the most favorable at the running back position. With that said, Mathews also comes with his share of risk because of his proneness to injuries, such as the broken clavicle he suffered during preseason action. He's missed a combined six games and has been limited in others. That keeps him from being a surefire first-rounder, but Mathews should be one of the first 15 players drafted.

Jackson was on pace to have the best fantasy season of his pro career in 2011, but a fractured right fibula cost him the final six games. Had he not been hurt, the veteran was a virtual lock to finish among the top five running backs in the NFL based on fantasy points. Instead, C.J. Spiller came in and played extremely well in his absence. That now leaves the specter of a committee situation for 2012. In that scenario, Jackson's statistical potential and overall draft value would be capped. Clearly, this is a backfield to watch during training camp. Jackson could be a nice bargain if he reclaims a prominent role, however, and is still a high-end No. 2 fantasy runner.

What Jones-Drew lacks in height he makes up for in fantasy production. He put up some of the best numbers of his career in 2011, rushing the football 343 times for 1,606 yards while scoring 11 total touchdowns. What makes those numbers even more impressive is that he did it without much help from the Jaguars' pass attack. Opposing teams knew Jones-Drew was getting the football, and they still couldn't stop him. With that said, his enormous workload over the past three seasons is going to catch up with him at some point. Whether or not that happens this season remains to be seen, but he's been too good to pass on in the first round of 2012 fantasy drafts.

Rookie running backs have failed to make a significant fantasy impact over the past three years, but Richardson seems poised to break that trend. Considered the best runner to come out of the college ranks since Adrian Peterson in 2007, Richardson is a three-down back who will come right in and see a prominent role for Browns coach Pat Shurmur. In fact, there's little doubt that the Alabama product will see a pretty intense workload (300 carries is possible) as the centerpiece of the Browns' offense. There is some risk in taking the rookie this high, as he's had a knee scope in the last six months and could miss Week 1 of the regular season. Still, it's going to be tough to pass on Richardson given he is one of the few backs not in a timeshare situation. He has the potential to be a No. 1 option in fantasy land, but the knee issues could see him drop a bit in drafts.

Lynch is coming off the best statistical season of his pro career, putting up personal bests in carries, rushing yards and total touchdowns. That included an historic stretch where he scored at least once (13 total TDs) in 11 consecutive games. Lynch also reached a clause that made 2011 a contract year, so he had added motivation to succeed. While his value has clearly risen, keep in mind that Lynch's chances of duplicating his touchdown totals from a year ago aren't good. He was also being dropped in some leagues early last year, so he is no slam dunk to remain a true fantasy star this season. Look for Lynch to come off the board in Round 2 on draft day.

Peterson has long been one of the elite fantasy running backs in the league, but he'll enter the 2012 campaign with plenty of questions. The veteran tore up his knee in the second-to-last week of last season and required a major reconstructive procedure to repair the damage. Based on the history of running backs coming off such an operation, Peterson could be hard-pressed to recapture his past statistical glory this season, if he's even ready to play football in September. In a best-case scenario, he'll be worth a third- or fourth-round pick as a No. 2 fantasy back. If he's forced to start the year on the PUP list, however, A.D.'s stock will fall even further.

Bradshaw was a fantasy disappointment last season, finishing 20th in points among running backs. That was due in large part to the foot issues that cost him four contests. Bradshaw did record 16 catches and 386 scrimmage yards in the postseason, showing off the skills that still make him an intriguing fantasy option. In fact, he has the tools to be a top-10 fantasy running back. It's his continual foot and ankle problems that make him a bit of a risk-reward option. Overall, Bradshaw should continue to be the lead option out of the Giants backfield - even with David Wilson in the mix - but he's no more than a No. 2 fantasy runner for 2012.

RB RANKINGS 16-30![](http://www.nfl.com/goto?id=09000d5d8297b640)

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