2012 Top 5 Fantasy Football Sleeper Picks : Running Back

Fantasy Football Sleeper Article by Kenneth Hicks, BleacherReport

2012 fantasy football leagues everywhere are beginning now.

As a result, it is vital to be aware of the starting running backs that are physically breaking down from injuries and so many touches.

The household names in the 2012 fantasy football season that should be on fantasy bust alert are Stephen Jackson, Michael Turner, Ahmad Bradshaw, Darren McFadden and LeGarrette Blount.

These former fantasy football studs have major durability issues heading into 2012 and in each of their respective teams depth charts there is a running back waiting to emerge into a brand name fantasy football sleeper.

Isaiah Pead, RB, Rams

Stephen Jackson of the St. Louis Rams has been a fantasy football workhorse for eight years, but he turns 29 in July and his 2,500 total touches rushing/receiving may have finally caught up to him in 2012.

Jackson will eventually breakdown like the Shaun Alexanders of the fantasy football world and when he does, the 22-year-old, 50th overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft, Isaiah Pead will be waiting in the wings.

In 2012 fantasy football drafts, Pead will go in the later rounds and be the fantasy football handcuff to Jackson as a change-of-pace back on third downs and in the return game.

Stlouisrams.com reported Rams coach Jeff Fisher on what Pead brings to the table with his versatility:

Isaiah has got great change of direction quickness, vision, a jump cut runner. He’s got acceleration; he’s got hands out of the backfield. He’s just a great change of pace runner that we need here right now for Steven.

Moreover, Pead will get many opportunities to shine and when Jackson breaks down this year, Pead will become a brand name 2012 fantasy football sleeper.

Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Falcons

Michael Turner of the Atlanta Falcons will be among the 2012 fantasy football busts. He just turned 30, and 300 plus carries in three out of four years will break him down.All signs point to 2012 fantasy football sleeper Jacquizz Rodgerswho will go in the later rounds of most 2012 fantasy football drafts.Rodgers played all 16 games for the Falcons in 2011 and had 205 yards rushing with a touchdown, 188 yards receiving with a touchdown.Pat Yasinskas at ESPN.com reported Falcons coach Mike Smith commenting that Rodgers will figure to get a lot more touches in 2012 limiting starter Michael Turner:

“Jacquizz figures into that quite a bit,’’ Smith said. “We drafted him to be a change-of-pace back and we found out very quickly that he’s a guy that is more than a change-of-pace back. He’s a guy we feel like we can integrate more into our offense.’’

Furthermore, with Michael Turner on the verge of breaking down and Rodgers getting more touches in 2012, there is no reason that Rodgers should not double his 2011 totals and become a viable brand name 2012 fantasy football sleeper.

David Wilson, RB, Giants

Fantasy football owners know exactly who Ahmad Bradshaw of the New York Giants is: injury-riddled past and has always split carries.That does not bode well for your 2012 fantasy football owners especially when the Giants selected running David Wilson with the 32nd pick in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft.In addition to splitting time with Bradshaw, Wilson will get even more touches in the running game with Brandon Jacobs gone and in the passing game with Mario Manningham and Jake Ballard gone.Ohm Youngmisuk at ESPNNewYork.com reported Giants coach Tom Coughlin said Giants will use a running back committee and Wilson is the big-play threat:

“We’re looking at the fact that Brandon Jacobs is no longer here and we do have to try to balance that out,” Coughlin said shortly after the team drafted Wilson in April. “We believe that you do have to have multiple runners or at least two that can effectively take the field at any time, and this young man we thought was one of those that can be a big-play threat.”

 Going forward, Wilson will become a brand name 2012 fantasy football sleeper for years to come in the Giants offense and should be a flex play in the 2012 fantasy football season with big upside.

Taiwan Jones, RB, Raiders

Every fantasy football fan knows if you are going to pick Darren McFadden of the Oakland Raiders in your 2012 fantasy football draft don’t expect him to play a full season.In McFadden’s four-year career he has missed 19 games due to injury, including nine games in 2011.With the best backup in fantasy football, Michael Bush, now in Chicago, the explosive Taiwan Jones emerges as the 2012 fantasy football handcuff for injury prone McFadden.Jones has to beat out some competition from Mike Goodson on the depth chart, but Jones should come out on top of that battle in training camp.Matt Williamson of Scouts, Inc. believes Jones will get his chance to become a brand name with McFadden’s injury history:

“I love McFadden, but he is always hurt and I think his running style lends itself to injuries,” Williamson said. “I do expect Jones to be a big-play guy this year that develops in the passing game.”

Furthermore, with McFadden’s injury history, Jones will not only become a big-play threat but Jones will become a brand name 2012 fantasy football with big upside and be taken in the later rounds of your 2012 fantasy football draft.

Doug Martin, RB, Buccaneers

Fantasy football owners love a running back who can play all downs.LeGarrette Blount of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is far from an every-down back in the NFL. He can’t play on third downs, can’t pass block and can’t catch out of the backfield.There must have been a reason why the Buccaneers selected Doug Martin with the 31st pick in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft.New Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano can see Martin’s potential and the next coming of current Baltimore Raven fantasy football stud Ray Rice.Pat Yasinskas at ESPN.com reported:

Schiano used the phrases “all-around back’’ and “the totality of what he can do’’ in describing Martin. Schiano also used the term “three-down back’’ about Martin. Schiano smiled as he was asked if Martin reminded him of Baltimore’s Ray Rice, who he coached at Rutgers. “I do see some of it,’’ Schiano said. “To tell you the truth I do. I see a guy who runs hard and plays hard.’’

Moreover, Martin will definitely be a brand name 2012 fantasy football sleeper and will go as a No. 2 running back in most 2012 fantasy football drafts.

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