In more than a decade of work in this business, I can't tell you how many times I've written that sentence. Well, times have now changed. In today's fantasy football, quarterbacks rule the roost. How's this for a stat: In 2011, Ben Roethlisberger (13th in fantasy points at his position) scored more points than Marshawn Lynch, who was fifth among runners. So despite being a disappointment, Big Ben still put up more points than a fantasy "stud."
To further de-value the running back position, there are a ton of players who will enter next season with major question marks, including superstar Adrian Peterson. Whether it's due to age or injury, it's tough to find guaranteed production from a position that has lost a lot of its luster. In turn, that makes it difficult to pass on a top-notch quarterback in favor of a runner in the first round.
Here's an early look at how the top of the position will look in 2012.
5. Ryan Mathews, Chargers (2011 - 186.60 points): Mathews has all the talent in the world, has a favorable schedule and is in a position to break out in 2012. With that said, he comes with some risk due to his proneness to injuries. I'd consider Mathews a viable late first-round pick in most drafts.
6. Matt Forte, Bears (2011 - 168.70 points): One of the more talented backs in the league, Forte was having a solid season before suffering a knee ailment in Week 13. Depending on his contract situation, he could end up either moving past Mathews into the top five at running back -- or dropping out of the top 10.
7. Chris Johnson, Titans (2011 - 168.50 points): Johnson would be ranked in the top five among backs if he hadn't posted such a miserable 2011 campaign, but he's still just 26 and remains one of the most talented backs in the league. There might not be a bigger risk-reward selection in 2012 fantasy drafts.