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2012 fantasy football profiles and projections (RBs 31-45)

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Statistical projections are provided by EA Sports

  • Player
  • Analysis

Williams was unbelievably inconsistent last season, averaging a dreadful 5.7 fantasy points in his first nine games before averaging 12.4 over the final seven contests. Overall, the veteran runner posted just 836 yards on the ground and continued to share the workload with Jonathan Stewart. What's worse, Williams also lost touches and goal-line looks to Cam Newton. With Mike Tolbert also now in the mix, Williams, 29, won't reclaim his status as one of the elite runners in fantasy football. In fact, it's Stewart, not Williams, who will have slightly more value in drafts. Consider the Memphis product as a potential flex starter in leagues with 10-12 teams.

Brown, considered a huge bust in his first two NFL seasons, actually showed some flashes of potential in 2011. The Connecticut product put up career bests in carries, rushing yards, yards per carry and touchdowns, which should put him in a position to compete for a starting role this season after the release of Joseph Addai. While that best-case scenario would make Brown well worth a late-round look in all fantasy leagues, he's not about to break out and become a true superstar, especially while potentially sharing carries with Delone Carter. Instead, he'll be a viable flex starter in leagues with 12 or more teams.

The Madden curse strikes again! Hillis, the cover athlete of the 2012 version of the video game, saw his numbers fall across the board last season compared to his breakout 2010 campaign. He missed six games due to injuries, averaged a career-worst 3.6 yards per carry and ended up on the waiver wire in countless leagues. Now in Kansas City, Hillis figures to share carries with Jamaal Charles while also seeing plenty of short-yardage and goal-line opportunities. That could mean a season with eight to 10 touchdowns, but Hillis has little chance to duplicate his 2010 totals. Consider him a potential flex option in most leagues, and a great handcuff for Charles.

Redman could emerge as one of the better early-season sleepers in fantasy football this season. With Rashard Mendenhall's status in question as he recovers from major knee reconstruction, it looks like the Bowie State product is in line to see plenty of work out of the Steelers backfield. He has shown flashes of potential in three NFL seasons, but Redman has never been allowed a chance at a prominent role, at least, not until now. If there are no lingering issues from his preseason groin injury, Redman will have middle- to late-round value as a borderline flex starter.

Gerhart was non-existent in fantasy leagues during the first half of last season, but injuries to Adrian Peterson allowed him a chance to shine down the stretch. In his final six games, he averaged a very solid 13 fantasy points and helped countless owners earn a league title. Looking ahead to 2012, Gerhart's value will be completely dependent on Peterson's status. If A.D. returns from reconstructive knee surgery in time for Week 1, Gerhart will be seen as a late-round handcuff. But if Peterson's recovery is slow or he lands on the PUP list, the bruising runner could come off the board in the middle rounds as a potential early-season sleeper.

Leshoure didn't play a single snap last season after suffering a torn left Achilles in August that required a surgical procedure. Barring a setback, he is expected to be back in action in time for training camp and could end up being a decent sleeper based on the status of his backfield mate, Jahvid Best (concussion). From a fantasy perspective, Leshoure will be well worth a roll of the dice in the middle to late rounds despite a two-game suspension to start the year. Just keep in mind that if Best is able to remain healthy, Leshoure is likely to be part of a committee situation in the Motor City. In that scenario, his fantasy totals could be very inconsistent.

Spiller was considered a bust in his first season and a half at the NFL level, but he proved all his naysayers wrong in the final six games of 2011. With Fred Jackson out of action, the Clemson product averaged 105.5 scrimmage yards and a very solid 15.55 fantasy points - that projects to almost 1,700 scrimmage yards and 248 fantasy points over a full season. Unfortunately, the chances of Spiller retaining a featured role are slim with Jackson back at 100 percent. So while he has earned a greater role in the offensive backfield moving forward, Spiller projects to be a committee runner in most fantasy leagues. Consider him in the middle to late rounds.

Bush is coming off the best season of his career, recording 37 receptions with 1,395 scrimmage yards and eight total touchdowns. He made most of his noise in place of Darren McFadden, proving that he has the tools to be a featured back. However, signing with the Bears figures to put a huge dent into his value and production. Matt Forte is locked into the top spot on the team's depth chart, so that leaves Bush to a secondary role as a short-yardage and goal-line runner. Bush is best served as a middle- to late-round choice as a No. 4 fantasy back or handcuff.

Tate opened the 2011 campaign on fire, rushing for a combined 301 yards while averaging 22 carries over the first three weeks. But once Arian Foster returned from a bum hamstring, it was back to a reserve role for the Auburn product. Over his final 12 contests, Tate averaged just 7.2 carries and 53.4 yards on the ground. While he is clearly a talented runner, there's little chance that Tate will put a major dent into Foster's touches this season and beyond. That makes him tough to draft outside of the late rounds as a No. 4 fantasy runner. In fact, most of his value will come as a handcuff for owners lucky enough to land Foster in the first round.

The last pick in the first round of April's draft, Wilson will come right in and see plenty of work in the Giants' backfield now that Brandon Jacobs is out of the mix. A two-sport star in college, he was named the 2011 ACC Player of the Year and developed into a proven playmaker at Virginia Tech. He'll now serve as a change-of-pace runner behind incumbent starter Ahmad Bradshaw, who remains the top option on the team's depth chart but has had some injury issues. While he will be a terrific handcuff for those owners who draft Bradshaw, Wilson could also come off the board in the late rounds as a high-upside selection.

Williams was drawing rave reviews heading into his rookie year, but a torn patellar tendon in his right knee landed him on injured reserve in late August. His recovery from a surgical procedure to repair the damage has gone well by all accounts, so Williams should be back in time for the start of the season. With that said, there are no guarantees that he'll return to his the explosive collegiate form right away, though his youth will certainly play to his advantage. In a best-case scenario, Williams will emerge as a playmaking change-of-pace option behind Beanie Wells. He'll be well worth a late-round look in drafts.

With injuries to Roy Helu, Evan Royster and Tim Hightower still working back from ACL surgery, Morris has taken advantage of the opportunity and made his case for a role in this offense. Morris has carried the ball the most of any back during preseason action, and leads the team in rushing yardage. Though he is the favorite to start the season atop the depth-chart, no back can be relied upon in a Shanahan offense. Consider Morris in the later-rounds as a depth selection in what could become a very crowded backfield.

A former fantasy sleeper, Thomas has been a mediocre option in most leagues since scoring 12 times in 2008. He did help some owners last season, though, posting a career-best 50 catches with 987 scrimmage yards and six total touchdowns. Much of his production came after Mark Ingram went down with a foot injury, though, and the healthy return of the Alabama product means less of a workload for Thomas in 2012. In fact, he'll be the third member of the Saints' backfield to come off the board in most drafts, following Darren Sproles and Ingram. Consider him somewhere in the late rounds as a No. 4 fantasy runner.

Jennings missed the entire 2011 campaign due to a knee sprain suffered during the preseason. Though the injury did not require surgery, the team placed him on the injured reserve list, thus ending his season prematurely. After a full year to heal, the back has been drawing praise from coach Mike Mularkey during workouts. With the Maurice Jones-Drew holdout not showing signs of coming to an end, Jennings becomes a must-handcuff for fantasy owners who are considering MJD in drafts. Consider the Liberty product a late round selection with serious upside should MJD's holdout last into the regular season.

Vereen didn't see much burn as a rookie, carrying the football 15 times for 57 yards with one touchdown in five contests. While the brusing California product isn't going to move into a featured role in 2012, he could push Stevan Ridley for the top spot on the Patriots depth chart during training camp. That makes him worth watching on the field and a viable late-round selection in fantasy land. Sure, New England's rotation is crowded and could be confusing, but it never hurts to take a shot on youth and upside, especially at the running back position.

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