2012 fantasy football profiles and projections (RBs 16-30)

RB RANKINGS 31-45![](http://www.nfl.com/goto?id=09000d5d8297b660)

Statistical projections are provided by EA Sports

  • Player
  • Analysis

The Buccaneers took Martin with the No. 31 overall pick in April's draft, so he's going to be a big part of their offensive plans. In fact, there's a good chance he'll unseat LeGarrette Blount and take on the early-down role for coach Greg Schiano. A potential three-down back at the NFL level, Martin is someone for fantasy owners to watch during training camp. The versatile runner, who is an above-average pass catcher and blocker, has middle-round appeal in most seasonal formats. While the threat of Blount taking short-yardage and goal-line work looms, it's going to be tough to pass on Martin's upside in a year where so many running backs are either coming off injuries or mired in backfield committees.

Once considered to be a brittle runner, Jackson has missed just two games over the last three years and has averaged 305 carries per year in that time. Though he is getting up there in age for a back, the Oregon State product is one of the few featured runners left in the league - and he's a nice fit for the coach Jeff Fisher's new regime. On the downside, Jackson has averaged a very mediocre 5.3 total touchdowns per season since 2009. He also plays behind a questionable offensive line, so the chances that Jackson will ever duplicate his career season of 2006 are pretty slim. All told, consider him in the third-to-fifth-round range as a No. 2 fantasy back in most drafts.

Turner was inconsistent at times, but he still scored 11 touchdowns and finished sixth in fantasy points among running backs last season. With that said, the statistical cliff is coming for the big runner, and it could come in 2012. Turner is now 30, which is the dreaded age when countless other backs have seen their numbers decline. He has also carried the football a tonin his last three full seasons, averaging 337 rushing attempts. That makes him a candidate to break down - or lose part of his workload to Jason Snelling and scatback Jacquizz Rodgers. So while he'll be seen as an early-round selection, be aware that Turner could be a fantasy bust.

It's not often that a running back who rushes for 603 yards and two touchdowns finishes in the top 10 in fantasy points at the position. Sproles was the exception to the rule in 2011. The versatile back was far more impressive as a receiver from a statistical perspective, recording career bests in receptions, receiving yards and touchdown catches in his first season with the Saints. Sproles, who also averaged a ridiculous 6.9 yards per carry, is a tremendous fit for the offense of coach Sean Payton and can thrive in the stat sheets despite the fact that he's part of a committee. Sproles is more of a No. 2 option in standard leagues, and a No. 1 in PPR formats.

For the first time since 2006, Gore avoided major injuries last season and was able to play in all 16 games. Despite the fact that he went through some inconsistent stretches, he still finished 12th in fantasy points among backs. That's the good news - the bad news is that Gore had a combined 311 carries between the regular season and playoffs in 2011, which was his biggest workload since 2006. He also saw a huge decrease in catches and will now have to contend with Kendall Hunter, Brandon Jacobs and LaMichael James for carries and touches in certain sets. Consider Gore a No. 2 fantasy back in the fourth or fifth round, but draft him with some real caution.

Bush broke the brittle tag in his first season with the Dolphins, playing in all but one game while setting new career highs in carries and rushing yards. He also finished a very respectable 13th in fantasy points among running backs, based on a nine-game stretch that saw him average a very solid 15.5 fantasy points. The question now: What can Bush do for an encore? He will need to hold off Daniel Thomas for the top spot on the depth chart, and one healthy year doesn't guarantee another, especially if he remains in a featured role. A viable No. 2 or 3 back, Bush will come off the board in the middle rounds on draft day.

Green-Ellis was unable to duplicate his career best numbers of 2011 last season, finishing just 23rd in fantasy points among running backs. While he did score a solid 11 touchdowns, the Law Firm was inconsistent overall. If he didn't find the end zone his fantasy totals usually left much to be desired. Now in Cincinnati, Green-Ellis will be the projected starter in the offense for coach Marvin Lewis. If he also earns goal-line work, which is likely considering his prowess for touchdowns, Green-Ellis should emerge into a legitimate flex option in the majority of fantasy leagues. He'll lose carries to Bernard Scott, but he's still worth a look in the middle rounds in 2012 drafts.

Greene is coming off a 2011 campaign that saw him record career bests in carries, receptions, scrimmage yards and touchdowns. Still, he finished a mediocre 18th in fantasy points at the running back position. While he figures to be the lead back in an offense that will lean more heavily on the run under new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano. Greene will no doubt have some competition for carries from Joe McKnight, and even Tim Tebow, and isn't going to have a true breakout season in 2012. Instead, the Iowa product should be a low-end No. 2 fantasy back or flex starter. Look for Greene to come off the board in the middle rounds.

A fourth-year runner from Ohio State, Wells is coming off his best pro season with highs in carries, yards, touchdowns and fantasy points. While that would seem to indicate an uptick in value for 2012, the return of youngster Ryan Williams is expected to put a dent in his touches. Still, Wells figures to remain atop the Cardinals' depth chart and see early-down and goal-line work in the offensive attack. Assuming his nagging knee problems don't continue, he had an arthroscopic procedure in the offseason, Wells should be a respectable No. 2 fantasy back. Just don't look for him to have a major statistical surge with Williams in the backfield mix.

Ridley has a chance to be a sleeper in fantasy land this season. Though he saw a mere 200 snaps as a rookie, Ridley averaged an impressive 5.1 yards per carry and showed off some real upside as an NFL runner. While he needs to improve his ball protection, Ridley is in a good position to succeed with BenJarvus Green-Ellis now out of the mix. Sure, it's tough to trust a runner in the Patriots' backfield due to the committee approach the team uses. But if there is one back to take a chance on, it's Ridley. Fantasy owners should consider him in the middle to late rounds as a flex starter in most leagues.

Talk about dusting off the cobwebs and finding a hidden gem. McGahee, who was left for the fantasy graveyard after four seasons with the Ravens, re-emerged into a viable starting option in 2011 with a solid 1,199 yards on the ground and an impressive 4.8 yards per carry average. While his age and career workload are a cause for some concern, McGahee has earned the top spot on the depth chart in Denver for another season, even with Knowshon Moreno back in the mix. He will lose rushing opportunities in an offense that will be more pass-laden with Peyton Manning at the helm, however, so be sure to temper your statistical expectations.

Stewart has the skills to be a top-10 fantasy running back, but the situation he's mired in with the Panthers does him no favors. Not only does he remain behind veteran DeAngelo Williams on the depth chart, but Stewart has now lost regular goal-line opportunities to Cam Newton. He might also have to contend with Mike Tolbert in short-yardage situations, too. On a positive note, Stewart did average a career-best 5.4 yards per carry and recorded his best reception and receiving totals last season. Unless he can earn a more prominent role in the offense (which is unlikely) Stewart is going to struggle to make a major statistical impact. He's no more than a potential flex starter.

Jahvid Best is still dealing with last year's concussion and is likely to start the season on the PUP list. Mikel Leshoure is suspended for the first two games of 2012, so Smith becomes the favorite to start this season, and has a chance to make his mark for fantasy owners -- at least on a temporary basis. With that said, you shouldn't take Smith with more than a late-round selection in most drafts. With Best and Leshoure guaranteed to be in the mix down the road, Smith could wind up third on the depth chart and with fall less fantasy appeal.

Ingram was one of the most highly touted rookies in fantasy football last season. Unfortunately, he couldn't meet those high expectations. Ingram earned a mere four starts and averaged 3.9 yards per carry before an injured toe landed him on injured reserve. On a positive note, he did show flashes of potential before being injured. He's also expected to be at least close to 100 percent in time for training camp after offseason knee surgery. The downside is that Ingram's statistical upside is capped with both Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas in the backfield mix. So while there is some definite potential from a talent standpoint, it's hard to see a scenario where Ingram breaks out in 2012.

Benson found himself looking for work this season despite posting 1,067 rushing yards and six scores for the Bengals in 2011. The Packers finally came calling in the preseason, adding one of the more proven backs this team has had on the roster in quite some time. Though he will likely be splitting time with James Starks, Benson becomes the likely candidate to carry the load if he can stay healthy. The Packers will continue to be a pass-first offense, but Benson can be effective in the red zone for a team likely to be there often. Fantasy owners should consider the veteran a flex selection at running back with the potential to exceed his current projected touchdown totals.

RB RANKINGS 31-45![](http://www.nfl.com/goto?id=09000d5d8297b660)

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