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Overvalued RBs

Read the introduction to this series if you haven't yet.

Maurice Jones-Drew - JAX ADP: 13 overall, RB 7 5 votes

Heath Cummings - I don't think he's going to miss any actual game time because of his holdout, but I do think he loses plenty of carries to Rashad Jennings. Expecting him to repeat last year's performance would be foolish and the extended holdout certainly increases the possibility of a possible injury.

Ryan Hester - Despite Jones-Drew's amazing ability to prove his doubters wrong, I'm still skeptical that his 5'7" 208-pound frame can have another successful season after logging 386 total touches last season. Also, Dirk Koetter never made any bones about saying his offense was fully built around Jones-Drew. The problem with that, however, is that Koetter is now the offensive coordinator in Atlanta. Injuries are very difficult to predict, but I have put a red flag on Jones-Drew due to his 2011 workload. Speaking of red flags, we all saw what a camp-long holdout did to Chris Johnson in 2011 and has done to every running back except 1993 Emmitt Smith. If Jones-Drew's 2011 workload doesn't scare you, his 2012 hold out sure should.

Andy Hicks - Maurice Jones-Drew has been one of my favorite players of recent seasons, but that doesn't stop me from recognizing that he is too high a price this year. The holdout has dragged on and Rashad Jennings looks too good to be more than just a backup. The anemic Jaguars offense only has 1 spark in recent years and that is Jones-Drew. He somehow managed to scrape over the 10 TD barrier last year, but that will be hard to achieve again when all the opposing defenses have to do is take care of one player. He won't be a failure, he just won't deliver on the high expectations his 1st mid first round pick status implies and assuming he ends up back with Jacksonville is far from a foregone conclusion.

Marc Levin - It pains me to add Jones-Drew to this list. He carried me to two titles and a super bowl appearance last year. Unfortunately, he had to carry the ball 343 times to obtain his top-5 fantasy running back status last year. That is the second most carries for any RB since 2008, and the most Jones-Drew has ever carried the ball. For RBs who are 26 years old, the statistics are not favorable in year N+1 after that many rush attempts. Moreover, this holdout is starting to look ugly. Heading into the third preseason game, he still has not reported. Even if he ultimately shows up, this is starting to scare me like Chris Johnson scared me last year. In a PPR league, at the 11th overall pick, I would look at one of the elite tight ends, quarterbacks or wide receivers.

Chris Smith - It pains me to put this here as Jones-Drew has led me to titles and I love the way he plays football. However with him still not signed, it now appears possible that he may not start the season with the Jaguars and could do what Vincent Jackson did with the Chargers in the past and return part ways through the season. No matter what, he may struggle when he returns, the team has an interesting backup running back in Rashad Jennings and with an ADP of 11, there is no way that I am touching him there. He is a high risk player in the first round in 2012.

DeMarco Murray - DAL ADP: 15 overall, RB 8 4 votes

Jeff Haseley - I am very leery of the Cowboys offense this year. The offensive line has me concerned. Tony Romo has not looked sharp. receivers aren't able to complete their routes, due to the heavy pressure. There is no rhythm. At least not yet. If Dallas can't keep pace with teams, they'll be forced to abandon the running game, leaving Murray with fewer touches and less fantasy value.

Steve Holloway - Murray played well for Dallas a year ago rushing 163 times for 895 yards and 5.5 ypc. However, on closer inspection, he had two games against the Rams and the Bills, which ranked 31st and 32nd in the NFL against the run and racked up 388 yards. The rest of the season, Murray rushed for only 507 yards on 118 carries for a modest 4.3 ypc. Dallas has averaged a 60/40 pass/run split for Romo's last five years and has been an RBBC in the truest sense most of those years. I expect the Cowboys to again focus on the pass and use both Murray and Jones at running back.

Marc Levin - The best fantasy performance by a Cowboy running back in the last 10 years was a 7th place finish by Marion Barber in 2007. No other Cowboys running back season cracked the top-12. Expecting a jump from RB31 to RB8, given the presence of Felix Jones and the team's solid red zone passing game, is a big stretch. At the RB8 spot in a PPR, I like Darren Sproles, Jamaal Charles, and Ryan Mathews (from week 2 forward anyway) better. I might even rate Steven Jackson above him in a PPR leagues.

Jeff Pasquino - The Cowboys think that they have found their top running back going forward in Murray, but Tony Romo loves to throw the ball and he has plenty of options in the passing game. Murray had four strong games in the middle of the year last season (all of them with Felix Jones not playing). When both of them were active Murray was much less productive, and then a broken ankle cost him the last three games. Murray is a good running back but let's wait a bit before we consider him worthy of a Top 15 spot.

Adrian Peterson - MIN ADP: 19 overall, RB 9 4 votes

Mike Brown - How many times do we have to see it, that running backs do not return to their prior form in the first year back from ACL surgery. While understanding that Peterson is not your everyday run-of-the-mill back, it's still too much to ask him to return to being one of the game's best runners after such a late-season injury. Some owners are going to think Peterson is going to be the rare exception who wills himself through rehab and gets back to normal right away. But the same was once said for Edgerrin James, and before him Terrell Davis, and before him...

Marc Levin - It is hard to write about Peterson as an overvalued pick because there are few running backs I would prefer to watch run. Though I expect Peterson to carry the football in the Vikings' first regular season game, full recovery from an ACL injury is, by the best standards, a 12-month proposition. Considering he was injured in December of 2011 and had surgery on December 31, 2011, I would not expect him to start taking a full workload until mid-season. That is simply too long to wait for a late second round RB2 to come around.

Matt Waldman - I feel like I'm telling people that Santa Claus isn't real, Tooth Fairy is only their mother, or that Cecil Lammey is actually a quiet guy. I know, hard to believe. As much as I love Peterson's game, his work ethic, and the fact that Dr. James Andrews motorboats the MRI images and X-rays of Peterson's genetically perfect knee structure, I can't envision the Vikings runner being the 13th best fantasy runner in 2012. Perhaps the best case scenario is Peterson earning enough yards and touchdowns to be a top-24 back, but I'm banking on no better than the low-end of the RB2 spectrum.

Mark Wimer - Adrian Peterson had reconstructive knee surgery in late December, folks. Normal recovery time for this sort of injury is 12 months, not nine. Even if Peterson is able to play at some level come September, he likely won't be back to his top form until the 2013 season. The coaching staff's decision to not play Peterson during preseason at all and the fact that he is still in a no-contact jersey as of late August tells me all I need to know here. He's way too expensive at 13th running back off the board.

Trent Richardson - CLE ADP: 29 overall, RB 14 4 votes

Heath Cummings - Have Ryan Mathews and Mark Ingram taught us nothing over the past two seasons? I don't argue that Richardson is a rare talent, and unlike Mathews and Ingram he should get more of an opportunity to carry the load, but he's also playing for a Cleveland Browns team that may struggle to move the ball mightily. Hyperbole and expectations are not uncommon for rookie running backs, but living up to this ADP would be.

Jeff Haseley - Richardson's knee injury is some cause for concern, but ultimately, I think he'll put that behind him. Early on, it was mentioned that Richardson would be a three-down running back. While he may have that ability, I think we;ll see more from Montario Hardesty than people realize. That and the fact that CLE has a tough schedule vs. the run (BAL, PIT, CIN twice), is enough for me to look elsewhere, especially in re-draft.

Andy Hicks - Trent Richardson has the highest ADP of any rookie since Ryan Mathews. That one didn't work out so well, despite Mathews doing great in year 2. Reggie Bush is the only other back who had such a high ADP in his rookie season. Again, he underperformed significantly. Guys like Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch who did very well in their rookie seasons, were at the bottom of the 4th round. You aren't likely to get anywhere near that value for Richardson. Add in the QB nightmare situation for the Browns and Cleveland likely to be playing from behind and Richardson will struggle to get anywhere near his ADP.

Mark Wimer - Richardson plays for a team that will start a rookie NFL quarterback (Brandon Weeden, who hasn't played under center for years). The Browns' offense will go through the rookie learning curve - times two, as Richardson will also be getting up to pro speed at the same time as Weeden - and Richardson has missed a big chunk of training camp entering regular season.. This doesn't look like the best opportunity for Richardson to thrive as a rookie. I expect mid-range fantasy running back #2 numbers from him this year, with a bump in production possible during the second half of the year (but that's usually far too late for fantasy owners who invest a first-round pick in a player). His average draft position is too rich for my taste, especially now that he's had another arthroscopic surgery on his knee and we're not sure how close he'll be to 100% healthy by the start of regular season.

Matt Forte - CHI ADP: 10 overall, RB 6 3 votes

Mike Brown - Given that the team wasted no time in securing the services of Michael Bush (a player I feel could challenge for a rushing title if he ever saw a 300 carry season), it's not difficult to be down on Forte's prospects for the season. He's still an excellent runner and a dynamic receiver in the open field, but I'm not sure if he's an indispensible total package. Bush is going to get the goal line duties, that much is clear. What's not completely clear is how much of an effect losing Mike Martz will be. Historically, Martz had a reputation as a passing coach. But in reality, his running backs were arguably the biggest beneficiaries of the added passing stats. Forte is being drafted based off of last year's numbers, when he was a focal point of the passing game and didn't have to compete with anyone else in the backfield for touches. Now there is a runner who is arguably just as talented, a passing game that is going to be more vertical, and very little goal line action. He could very easily have a solid season in real life while his fantasy numbers take a large tumble.

Jeff Haseley - I was high on Forte, until I saw how Chicago was using Michael Bush in the preseason. Forte is still a very good running back, but Bush will likely see most of the goal line and short yardage carries. That lowers Forte's value enough for me to not select him at his current ADP of 8th overall.

Mark Wimer - Matt Forte was embroiled in a contract dispute this spring, and ended up skipping organized team activities while free-agent arrival Michael Bush was helping to install the Bear's new offense. Bush is a talented, dual-threat running back who will claim important touches from Forte this year - especially in goal line situations - Marion Barber III had six rushing scores last year to Forte's three, and Bush is a even better short-yardage back than Barber.

Shonn Greene - NYJ ADP: 66 overall, RB 24 3 votes

Sigmund Bloom - How many more chances do we need to give Greene? The Jets offense looks putrid, Greene has looked mostly uninspiring, and the timing of his few good games last year were nearly impossible to predict. There's no reason to even think of Greene in the fifth or sixth round, where the value at wide receiver rules this year.

Matt Waldman - I anticipate he'll be a leading candidate as the back earning the most votes from our staff as overrated. Greene lacks the feet to be Jerome Bettis, but the real problem is that Greene runs like he has the feet of Marshall Faulk. This makes him about as effective as Lendale White. This means he's good enough to get the job done when the offense is clicking, but he needs more help than a good starting running back generally needs. Since the third-down phase of football is a weakness, it's only going to take a few boneheaded plays for Rex Ryan to lose patience with him once again. If Bilal Powell plays like he has in training camp, it could be the last time we see Greene this high on any fantasy football list.

Jason Wood - When I generated my first set of 2012 projections, I expected Shonn Greene to profile as a value pick. After all, he was the only proven runner on a Jets team that wanted to ground-and-pound their way back into the AFC playoff hunt. But the more I analyzed Greene, the less I liked him. Can you name one skill that Greene excels? I can't. He hasn't displayed great vision, patience, a willingness to run through contact, soft hands or breakaway speed. Although I think Greene will get a fair number of carries, I wonder if he'll do enough to keep the younger runners from forcing the Jets into a RB committee approach.

Michael Turner - ATL ADP: 36 overall, RB 17 3 votes

Ryan Hester - Turner is on the decline of his career, and I'd rather be too early off the bandwagon than be stuck with a disappointing former stud taking up space on my roster. New offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter has not hidden his admiration of Jacquizz Rodgers' ability. Rodgers is built similarly to Koetter's former do-it-all back -- Maurice Jones-Drew. And Koetter himself has made such comparisons while calling Rodgers more than just a change-of-pace back; a back capable of playing all three downs. Turner will likely still have the most carries on the team and will be utilized for red zone work, but if I'm taking the 19th running back off the board, I don't want to take a guy whose backup has been earning high praise from the entire coaching staff throughout the offseason.

Jeff Pasquino - Turner is way past his prime and he struggled down the stretch last year, and now he is another year older and at least another step slower. The Falcons are moving towards a fast break passing offense and will use Jacquizz Rodgers much more this year, limiting Turner's upside significantly. Sure he might get goal line work and vulture a few touchdowns, but he is hardly worth a Top 50 pick any longer.

Aaron Rudnicki - The days of Turner being a reliable everyweek starting RB are likely over, especially in PPR leagues. The Falcons are reportedly shifting to more of a pass-heavy offense this year, and that should mean a significant reduction in carries for a player who has gone over 300 in 3 of the past 4 years. Turner just isn't a great fit for a pass-oriented attack and will likely have to share time with the explosive Jacquizz Rodgers, who can fill a Darren Sproles-type role.

Chris Wells - ARI ADP: 74 overall, RB 28 3 votes

Sigmund Bloom - When the guy who ruptured his patellar tendon a year ago is the healthiest one in the backfield, you'll want to avoid the other back. Wells is still sidelined from "minor" knee surgery this offseason, and Ryan Williams is back and impressing. It is impossible to picture Wells getting a feature back workload, and nothing short of that will create a viable weekly running back play in an offense that has turmoil at quarterback and on the offensive line. He's worth a 10th/11th round pick, not a 6th/7th.

Jeff Pasquino - Arizona wants to have a good running game, and they had planned on using a committee approach last year with then rookie Ryan Williams from Virginia Tech. Once they lost Williams in the preseason they had to rely on Wells who had 245 rushes, by far the most for the Cardinals. Now Williams is back in the picture and will steal touches and production from Wells, as they originally had planned. Add to this that Wells is not the picture of health with a knee injury of his own and I think the back to own for Arizona this year is Williams, not Wells.

Mark Wimer - Wells has trouble staying healthy, and he faces a strong challenge for playing time/touches from second-year back Ryan Williams. I think a running-back-by-committee situation is the upside for Wells this year, with the strong possibility that he is pushed into a secondary, short-yardage role by Williams. Williams has looked much better than Wells during training camp, and Williams ran well in the second preseason game while Wells was sidelined. Get used to seeing Wells on the sideline.

Roy Helu - WAS ADP: 93 overall, RB 36 2 votes

Aaron Rudnicki - Obviously, the running back position in Washington is going to be productive but good luck trying to predict who will fill that role on a weekly basis. Mike Shanahan likes to make fantasy owners miserable it seems, and there is just too much competition for any Redskins back to go this early. Evan Royster, Tim Hightower, and even Alfred Morris could all compete for starts and touches, and it wouldn't be a shock if the starter changed several times throughout the year. I'd probably wait and take a flier on whichever Redskins back lasts the longest.

Jason Wood - Not one, but TWO Achilles concerns. When a running back admits to having Achilles problems, and classifies them as the worst of his life, eyebrows should be raised. Add to that a Shanahan tendency to rotate lots of backs into the lead role, and you have a guy I want no part of. If I'm targeting a Redskins back, it's Evan Royster very late.

Isaac Redman - PIT ADP: 84 overall, RB 31 2 votes

Heath Cummings - Even if Rashard Mendenhall isn't going to be back until midseason, Redman's ADP is still way too high. There are all kinds of questions about the Steelers offensive line, and Redman's hip/groin. To take him where he's currently being drafted you'd have to believe that Mendenhall will make no impact in 2012 and the Steelers will find a way to successfully run the ball.

Jason Wood - Redman benefitted from being the last man standing. Pittsburgh is synonymous with a power running game, and Rashard Mendenhall's injuries seemed to make Redman a default workhorse. Yet, Redman have done very little to show us he's worthy of that preseason hype. He's only had 163 carries career-to-date, has only one noteworthy game to his credit (19 carries for 92 yards in the last game of the 2011 season). Now he's dealing with a hip injury that, by his own admission, could be a season-long issue. Thanks but no thanks.

Ahmad Bradshaw - NYG ADP: 38 overall, RB 19 1 vote

Chris Smith - It is always a fine story when a 7th round pick emerges as a legitimate starter in the NFL and Bradshaw has certainly beaten the odds. However there are some legitimate concerns in my opinion for this year and going forward. He has missed games in four of the five seasons, has seen his yards per carry drop in five straight years and has failed to finish with 180 carries in all but one season. Add to that a rookie talent in David Wilson whom has the ability to be a showcase running back in the NFL and I believe as the season wears on, Bradshaw will get less touches and Wilson will earn more. Bradshaw will put up some stats but I see players with greater upside being taken in behind him.

Frank Gore - SF ADP: 37 overall, RB 18 1 vote

Ryan Hester - Gore's team feels so good about him being the workhorse back that they signed another back in free agency and spent a second-round pick on another. The two acquisitions -- Brandon Jacobs and LaMichael James -- are very different players and will obviously play very different roles. The role of a "big back" who can take a four-quarter-long pounding will be supported by Jacobs while the role of a playmaker on passing downs will be supported by James (keep in mind that Gore only had 17 catches last year after averaging 51 in the previous five season). Add in the fact that this roster still contains a talented young all-around back in Kendall Hunter (who is similar in skills to a younger, in-his-prime Gore), and it's clear that they don't plan to use Gore as the "bell cow" anymore.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis - CIN ADP: 53 overall, RB 22 1 vote

Steve Holloway - Green-Ellis has a career average of 4.0 ypc and has only caught 26 passes in his four years in the NFL. He finished as only RB29 last year despite scoring 11 TDs in the Patriots high powered offense. The Bengals meanwhile scored only 34 and 30 TDs respectively as a team the last two seasons with a two year total of 17 TDs on the ground. I believe that the Bengals will increase their passing production and somewhat reduce the number of rushing attempts. I will be very surprised if Green-Ellis can replicate Cedric Benson's production from last year.

Chris Gronkowski - DEN ADP: overall, RB 1 vote

Chris Smith - He had ankle surgery this off season coming off of a monster 2011 campaign. He also was involved with tons of off-season activities this season resulting in the team requesting he tone down his act. He has had some dropped balls in practice and his focus was not terrific. Add to that the addition of Brandon Lloyd who will take some targets away and perhaps a more balanced offensive attack in 2012 and I cannot see using an early 2nd round pick on him in 2012.

Chris Johnson - TEN ADP: 7 overall, RB 4 1 vote

Mike Brown - It's almost as if fantasy owners are acting like 2011 never happened. With the disappointment he turned in during 2011, owners may have been expecting to land him at a discount. Instead, they find that they'll still need to spend a relatively high pick to secure the services of a guy who had exactly two big games a year ago. I'm not risking my top pick based on that.

Marshawn Lynch - SEA ADP: 22 overall, RB 11 1 vote

Andy Hicks - Marshawn Lynch had his best year to date in trailblazing to a top 5 fantasy finish last year. He therefore on paper seems incredible value. There are those of us however who are sceptical of his ability to deliver consistently and would seek a little more value before hitching our drafts to him. If you have doubts about drafting ANY player, always put a price on what you think acceptable value is and do not have them in your squads unless that risk is worth it.

Ryan Mathews - SD ADP: 26 overall, RB 13 1 vote

Aaron Rudnicki - There is a lot to like about Mathews this year considering how great he looked at times last year and the fact that Mike Tolbert is no longer around to vulture touchdowns from him. But, it's hard to get excited about a player who broke his collar bone on his first carry of the preseason. For a player who already had the injury-prone label, that's enough for me to wait maybe a round or so later than where he's currently going. It also hurts that there isn't a clear handcuff for him like there is for another risky option like Maurice Jones-Drew.

Stevan Ridley - NE ADP: 76 overall, RB 29 1 vote

Steve Holloway - The Patriots have been a passing team that employs an RBBC approach for several years. This off-season has seen them sign several free agent wide receivers and most expect them to be even more focused on the passing game. Combine that with Steven Ridley's limited skill set at the running back position and you can easily forecast another RBBC with limited opportunities. Ridley had only 3 receptions last year as a rookie and was not used much in the passing game at LSU either. He can be a capable runner, but will be sharing carries with both Shane Vereen and Danny Woodhead.

Darren Sproles - NO ADP: 35 overall, RB 16 1 vote

Chris Smith - I love what Sproles did for the Saints last year. That was a remarkable season from the small but talented veteran running back. However to have an ADP of 18 when the Saints have second-year talented running back Mark Ingram and veteran Pierre Thomas also on board is too much to commit to a part time running back. A lot of things would have to fall into place for Sproles to put up similar numbers to last year and I simply do not think it will happen. Somebody else can take him in round two or three. The earliest I will look for him is round five.

James Starks - GB ADP: 145 overall, RB 49 1 vote

Sigmund Bloom - Not only is Starks a sucker's bet at his latest recorded 8th/9th round ADP, I would say any Packers running back is before the last round that you take a position player. Starks is battling turf toe and he was disappointing in camp before his injury. If he was going to seize this job, he could have done it at any point last year. Calvin Johnson - Johnson isn't overvalued as the top wide receiver, but starting off your draft with a wide receiver when there are so many quality options at the position still available in the 4th, 5th, and 6th rounds is a difficult sell. The gap a quarterback, tight end, or running back taken in the first will likely create between them and those mid-round options is so much larger than the one between Johnson and say WR15-WR25. He's everything a first-round pick should be, but Johnson plays at the easiest position to fill later in your draft.

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