Undervalued RBsRead the introduction to this series if you haven't yet.
|Doug Martin - TB ADP: 69 overall, RB 25||11 votes|
Jeff Haseley - Greg Schiano handpicked Martin to be the team's RB of the future. His Ray Rice-like ability could have a Ray Rice-like impact on a Bucs team that is seeking a versatile back. I don't see Martin scoring a lot of touchdowns though, not with LeGarrette Blount receiving most, if not all of the goal line carries. If Martin can eclipse 35-40 receptions, which I think he can, he has a legit chance of finishing in the Top 20.
Ryan Hester - New head coach Greg Schiano has no loyalty to LeGarrette Blount and will treat the two as equals despite Blount's tenure thus far. In fact, if Schiano leans either way, it'll most likely be toward Martin. He was a first-round draft pick -- Schiano's second as an NFL head coach. He'll want to prove himself and his regime right. Schiano also has a past with small, stout backs having been the head coach of Ray Rice at Rutgers. Look for Martin to take the reigns and be involved in the passing game while Blount is used as a change-of-pace and perhaps a goal line TD vulture.
Steve Holloway - Rookie Doug Martin is an all-around solid running back and was drafted into a really nice situation. The Buccaneers have an improved offensive line and added Vincent Jackson to their receiving options. There is no doubt that Martin does several things much better than LeGarrete Blount and should see abundant opportunity in what should be a much improved Buccaneer offense.
Marc Levin - Martin is available outside the top-24 RBs and in the 7th round, and he is likely to be given as much opportunity to take over the feature back role in Tampa Bay as Trent Richardson in Cleveland. Not that Martin is going to match Richardson's numbers, but if he gets 75% of what owners expect from Richardson, he will have been a value draft pick. Given his receiving skills out of college, his value is elevated in PPR leagues.
Bob Magaw - One of the consensus two RBs available in the 2012 draft with a three down skill set (an increasingly vanishing rare breed), unlike the far higher, top three overall selection Trent Richardson, Martin arrives on a team with significantly greater offensive firepower and surrounding talent. Compared by some scouts to Ray Rice, he was hand picked by Rice's former Rutgers HC Greg Schiano. The more favorable intersection of talent AND opportunity makes Martin more likely than higher profile starting rookie RB Richardson to out produce his current fantasy standing.
Jeff Pasquino - Whenever a rookie running back gets taken in the first round, you have to take notice. Martin was regarded as a Top 3 tailback entering the 2012 draft, and now he lands in an ideal spot to come in and hit the ground running. LeGarrette Blount will quickly be passed on the depth chart as Martin becomes the feature 3-down back. Martin represents solid value with Top 15 running back upside considering that he will be on the field so often even in his first year.
Aaron Rudnicki - I'm just not a believer in LeGarrette Blount and I think the new coaching staff in Tampa is going to give Martin a great chance to become the lead back right away. Richardson deservedly gets a lot of attention among the rookie runners this year, but Martin is going to a much better situation. Tampa added Vincent Jackson, has a very good offensive line, and I expect a rebound season from Josh Freeman under center. This is a team that underachieved last year but has the talent to be an effective offense, and Martin has a reasonable chance to put up RB2-type numbers.
Chris Smith - There are always running backs coming out of college that immediately step in and do a good job in the NFL. Of all the NFL positions, it may be the easiest one to start out of the gate as long as the player has some competence in pass protection. Doug Martin has a phenomenal blend of balance, quickness, power and tenacity and he will get plenty of touches and fantasy points even if he is sharing the field with veteran LeGarrette Blount. Martin has future fantasy start written all over him in my opinion and is a steal after the 4th round.
Matt Waldman - While most of the focus will be on Trent Richardson in Cleveland, Tampa Bay's rookie runner Doug Martin has the third down skills to contribute immediately as the Buccaneers feature back. Incumbent starter LaGarrette Blount did not display good pass protection skills despite flashing that potential as a college player. Martin was far more consistent in college and I believe head coach Greg Schiano selected Martin because the former Boise State star runs with a style that is a nice blend of Frank Gore and Ray Rice. Schiano recruited and coached Ray Rice at Rutgers and I think he wants a back he can keep on the field and use in nearly every facet of the game just like he did with Rice. Blount has starter talent, but he hasn't endeared himself to the team with his work ethic and questionable off-field behavior. Schiano is not a "let's party with the players" coach as rumored about Raheem Morris based on a player I spoke with last year. Tampa will evolve into a disciplined, hard-nosed team if Schiano has success and Martin will lead the way. I think it starts this year behind quality guard play along a promising offensive line.
Jason Wood - Greg Schiano is a hard nosed coach that believes you win games the old fashioned way -- play good defense, and control the ball. His Rutgers teams were at their best when Ray Rice and Brian Leonard were dominating the offensive touches. If anyone thinks rookie Doug Martin is going to lack opportunities, they either haven't paid attention to Schiano's preferences or they're giving LeGarrette Bloiunt way too much credit. Martin has no flaws in his game -- he's as fundamentally sound and NFL-ready as any back outside of Trent Richardson. While I'm not sure the Bucs offensive line is stout enough to propel Martin into RB1 territory, I would happily draft him as my RB2 after targeting the WR/TE/QB positions for a round or two.
|Stevan Ridley - NE ADP: 90 overall, RB 36||5 votes|
Marc Levin - In the last five years, "the lead back" for the New England Patriots, from Benjarvus Green-Ellis to Lawrence Maroney to Kevin Faulk, has finished at least in the top-30 for fantasy running backs. Green-Ellis finished as a top-24 running back each of the last two years. Ridley looks like he has the inside track to the Patriots' lead back role this year, but this analysis applies to Shane Vereen if he ends up as the team's lead back. Ridley is the RB35 and Vereen is the RB51. Draft the Patriots' lead back at RB35 or later, and expect at least a top-30, with a reasonable shot at a top-24, fantasy running back finish.
Jeff Pasquino - Now that BenJarvus Green-Ellis is in Cincinnati, the goal line job for the Patriots falls to Stevan Ridley. Anyone who had Green-Ellis last year as a touchdown machine knows how valuable Ridley can be in a similar role. Ridley will be the power back this year and the workhorse in the fourth quarter, running out the clock and racking up touchdowns against tired defenses. Even if New England uses a committee approach to their backfield, Ridley should be the most valuable fantasy Patriots back.
Chris Smith - Ridley is a big, talented 2nd year running back. At 225-pounds, he is a load to bring down in single tackle situations, has a nice burst and averaged 5.1 yards per carry in limited work last year. Somebody is likely to emerge as the top option coming out of the Patriots backfield and I expect at least 170 carries from Ridley in 2012.
Jason Wood - Anyone that claims to know how Bill Belichick plans to divvy the running back carries is lying. I'm not even sure Belichick knows yet. But I also don't think the Patriots are dead set on using a multi-headed committee, either. The Patriots are the most flexible personnel organization in the NFL, and will go with what works. I believe Ridley is what works. Ultimately Ridley and Shane Vereen should deliver a dynamic 1-2 punch for a team that will run for 1,800-2,000 yards in a typical season. Ridley won't cost a lot on draft day, but both he and Vereen stand a good shot at emerging as an every week fantasy contributor. Target both is possible, but Ridley offers the slightly better value.
|Shane Vereen - NE ADP: 145 overall, RB 52||5 votes|
Steve Holloway - Shane Vereen is a value play based on his extremely low ADP. Drafted in the second round a year ago, ahead of 3rd rounder Steven Ridley, he is a gifted all-around back with skills that the Patriots have lacked at the running back position for several years. They again will likely employ a committee approach, but Vereen at RB 52 is the best candidate to play on all downs.
Dave Larkin - The talent of Shane Vereen, with his silky smooth athleticism and freakish cutback ability, will win out in the end in New England. That is my hope, at least. Some positive reports have emerged lately about Vereen, noting that he is taking first team reps at running back in OTAs. Be under no illusions, though; Vereen will likely form part of a committee including Stevan Ridley and Danny Woodhead. Vereen must improve in pass protection to be the main back for the team. If Vereen manages to improve that area of his game and show the coaches what he can do in camp, do not be surprised if he claims the primary job and doesn't look back.
Matt Waldman - Patriots beat writer Mike Reiss predicted Vereen would be an impact player in 2011's training camp, but the Pat's second-round pick got hurt and was buried on the depth chart while rehabbing the leg injury. He did flash his burst on a touchdown run at the end of a Chiefs game during the season, but otherwise he bid his time for 2012. Now's that time, and Vereen is currently working with with the first-team offense. As fellow staffer and Patriots fan David Yudkin points out, the reps could simply be a chance for the team to evaluate Vereen after a year on the bench to see what they have at this stage of his career. Yudkin also likes to remind readers that the Patriots are a committee team at the running back position. These are sensible and logical points. So are these: Vereen is explosive, agile, a strong receiver, and he has enough talent to become the lead back in the Patriots offense. As the 145th player at this current iteration of ADP, I'm buying.
Mark Wimer - Shane Vereen didn't get a lot of work during 2011 due to lingering injuries, but he's seen a lot of work with the first team during 2012 OTAs, and Vereen was more highly regarded than Stevan Ridley coming in to New England from the 2011 draft. I like Vereen to beat out Ridley for top dog in the Patriots' committee - he should smash his current ADP of 52nd running back taken off the board.
|Ahmad Bradshaw - NYG ADP: 37 overall, RB 18||4 votes|
Will Grant - Bradshaw has always been a dual threat -- both running the ball and catching it out of the backfield. Brandon Jacobs has moved on, leaving Bradshaw to be the Thunder AND the Lightning in New York. Rookie David Wilson will certainly take a few carries from Bradshaw, but he has the potential to be a top 15 RB.
Marc Levin - With Brandon Jacobs gone from New York, Bradshaw is primed to take over the feature back role and rush for double digit TDs. With a floor that seems to be in the 1200/10 range, great value exists drafting Bradshaw in the late 3rd as the 17th running back off the board. Owners should expect him to outperform all the RBs drafted ahead of him up until at least RB12 (Jamaal Charles).
Aaron Rudnicki - Bradshaw has been held back at times by the presence of Brandon Jacobs, but he will finally get a real chance this year to take over the Giants backfield. The rookie David Wilson will provide some insurance, but this is Bradshaw's team and I expect him to improve significantly on the 171 carries he put up last year. Most defenses are going to be worried about the passing game so Bradshaw should also find plenty of room to run. This is a talented player with a great opportunity in front of him.
|Michael Bush - CHI ADP: 80 overall, RB 33||4 votes|
Ryan Hester - Can Bush to be selected as a late-round "high-upside backup RB" pick that fulfills that upside two straight years on two different teams? I believe he can. Last season -- much like this season -- Bush is behind a very talented player on the depth chart who is an injury risk. Add in the fact that Matt Forte is unhappy with his contract situation and could miss some or all of camp, and Bush will find himself as a coaching staff favorite. He showed last season that he is a starting-quality RB.
Marc Levin - The Matt Forte contract situation does not look good. If the holdout lasts into the preseason or longer, owners who are able to draft Bush at his current ADP are likely to be rewarded with a running back who will at least split carries, and might be the starting back, when the season opens. Even if Forte returns before the preseason ends, Bush has shown he can produce when given opportunities, and Forte was known to vanish in games last year, even before his season tailed off due to injury. Adding Bush in the 8th round as an RB3/4 is likely to pay off for owners.
Jeff Pasquino - The Bears have been staring at a holdout from starting running back Matt Forte for quite a while, so Bush afforded them both insurance against a holdout and also a backup plan in case Forte gets injured. Bush is a very capable NFL running back who has performed well whenever asked, and he had several chances to show his skills when Darren McFadden was hurt last season. Bush may well be the starter in Chicago in September if the Forte contract situation gets ugly.
|Shonn Greene - NYJ ADP: 63 overall, RB 24||4 votes|
Maurile Tremblay - Green is the lead ball-carrier in a run-heavy offense. He was the No. 18 fantasy running back last season, and with LaDainian Tomlinson out of the picture, he should get a larger workload this season rather than a smaller one. Yet he is being drafted as a low-end RB2.
Mark Wimer - Shonn Greene is the featured runner for the Jets, a team that loves to grind out games with their running backs. Greene should see enough action to outperform his current ADP.
David Yudkin - Greene didn't exactly light the world on fire, but LaDainian Tomlinson is out of the picture and New York didn't make a major move to replace him. Greene ranked 18th last season and Top 10 down the stretch, making him a value pick as the 24th running back off the board in non-PPR leagues.
|Jahvid Best - DET ADP: 76 overall, RB 30||2 votes|
Mark Wimer - Jahvid Best has struggled to stay healthy so far, but when he has been on the field of play he's been a great-looking, dual-threat back. The Lions' offense is powerful and teams have to respect their passing game, leaving plenty of room for a slashing runner like Best to carve up big chunks of the field at a time. He's got a lot of upside at his current ADP.
|Donald Brown - IND ADP: 99 overall, RB 38||2 votes|
Jeff Tefertiller - The Indianapolis Colts let Joseph Addai go this offseason and the veteran back signed in New England. This move left Donald Brown as the starter. The former first round pick was slow to put it all together through most of his first two seasons as a professional but flashed plenty of potential last season. The Colt offense is young and will need to run the ball to keep the pressure off rookie quarterback Andrew Luck. Even though Brown did not play in the first four games last year, he still finished as a RB37. If he can stay healthy, expect a Top 25 season for Brown. He is a steal in the eighth round.
|Reggie Bush - MIA ADP: 47 overall, RB 20||2 votes|
Maurile Tremblay - Last season, Reggie Bush became the running back many expected him to be when he was the second overall pick in the 2006 draft. He finished the year with four straight 100-yard rushing games before missing week 17 due to injury. When his season ended after week 16, he was the No. 9 fantasy running back. I don't worry as much as most do about Daniel Thomas and Lamar Miller cutting into Bush's carries this season.
|Jamaal Charles - KC ADP: 25 overall, RB 12||2 votes|
Will Grant - Charles was a top five pick last season before he went down to injury. He's got come competition this year with Peyton Hillis, but he's still one of the best point-per touch back in the game. I'm not sure if it's Hillis or the injury that's driving Charles into the third round but he's well worth that type of pick.
|Frank Gore - SF ADP: 39 overall, RB 19||2 votes|
Maurile Tremblay - Gore was the No. 12 fantasy RB last season. The fantasy community is expecting a significant drop-off, viewing him as a middling RB2 rather than a borderline RB1, but I think the expectation is premature. Gore can't keep putting up big numbers forever, but I'm betting he's got another year in the tank, and the 49ers plans to reduce his workload will be forgotten when they need to put the ball in Gore's hands to win games.
|BenJarvus Green-Ellis - CIN ADP: 62 overall, RB 23||2 votes|
Maurile Tremblay - After being part of a committee in New England for the past several years, Green-Ellis will get a shot as the Bengals' featured back, and he should be more successful than Cedric Benson was in that role last season. If Green-Ellis can be a three-down back for the Bengals, he should be a solid fantasy RB2.
|Fred Jackson - BUF ADP: 34 overall, RB 16||2 votes|
Mark Wimer - Fred Jackson was among the top fantasy running backs during 2012 until he suffered a broken leg. C.J. Spiller showed that he is a legitimate NFL back while Jackson was out, and the team has been open about their intentions to share the work fairly equally this year. However, I think the Bills' offense is on the rise, and there should be plenty of work to go around - and I like Jackson to make a big impact during his time on the field.
|Adrian Peterson - MIN ADP: 26 overall, RB 13||2 votes|
Jeff Tefertiller - This is the first season of his career you can draft Adrian Peterson in the third round. Yes, he is coming off a nasty knee injury, but Peterson is already beating teammates in uphill sprints. Even if he misses a couple of games to begin the season, Peterson is a bargain in the third round of fantasy drafts. The Vikings have a young offense and will rely on the talented running back to carry the offense once again. He has always produced great numbers and the trend should continue.
|Isaac Redman - PIT ADP: 73 overall, RB 28||2 votes|
David Yudkin - Redman filled in admirably for fallen comrade Rashard Mendenhall at the end of the 2011 campaign. Redman scored double digit fantasy points in three games after he took over for Mendenhall, averaging 126 yards from scrimmage in his two starts. Mendenhall's status is still up in the air and Redman could have a stranglehold on the starting tailback spot for all or most of the season.
|Trent Richardson - CLE ADP: 21 overall, RB 11||2 votes|
Jason Wood - Fantasy owners used to avoid rookies at every position EXCEPT for running back. But recent rookie struggles from high profile rookies like Jahvid Best, Mark Ingram and others has scared off the average league manager. Trent Richardson is being drafted 11th among running backs, so it's not as though he's being completely ignored. Yet, I believe he's still not getting the respect he deserves. Richardson will be the focal point of the Browns offense this year, and will not be treated with kid gloves by Pat Shurmur. He could see 300+ carries and another 30-40 receptions. With his vision and power, Richardson will produce as long as he gets the touches. In an era where so few teams feature one runner, Richardson could, and should, finish as a top 10 fantasy star in his first season.
|Jacquizz Rodgers - ATL ADP: 156 overall, RB 56||2 votes|
Aaron Rudnicki - The Falcons are undergoing some changes on offense this year and plan to pass the ball quite a bit more than they have. Michael Turner doesn't appear to be a great fit for this new offensive philosophy, and that should create a great opportunity for Rodgers to emerge. He can fill a Darren Sproles-type role here where he makes the most of the 10+ touches per week he gets. At this point in the draft, I think he represents some extreme value with the chance to dramatically outperform his current ADP.
|Mike Goodson - OAK ADP: 157 overall, RB 57||1 vote|
|Roy Helu - WAS ADP: 54 overall, RB 22||1 vote|
|Tim Hightower - WAS ADP: 184 overall, RB 62||1 vote|
|Ronnie Hillman - DEN ADP: 134 overall, RB 48||1 vote|
|Mark Ingram - NO ADP: 84 overall, RB 34||1 vote|
|Ryan Mathews - SD ADP: 7 overall, RB 5||1 vote|
|Lamar Miller - MIA ADP: 186 overall, RB 63||1 vote|
|Kevin Smith - DET ADP: 142 overall, RB 50||1 vote|
|C.J. Spiller - BUF ADP: 75 overall, RB 29||1 vote|
|Pierre Thomas - NO ADP: 113 overall, RB 44||1 vote|
|Michael Turner - ATL ADP: 35 overall, RB 17||1 vote|
|DeAngelo Williams - CAR ADP: 77 overall, RB 31||1 vote|
|Ryan Williams - ARI ADP: 114 overall, RB 45||1 vote|