Top Running Backs to Draft Late in Your 2012 NFL Fantasy League

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Lots of NFL fans have fantasy football drafts scheduled this weekend (I know I do) and I wanted to share with readers a couple of the running backs I’m keeping an eye on in my drafts. Grabbing one of the RB’s on this list will provide depth and value.

In this article I’m going to show you two RB’s that will provide fantasy value based on their average draft position (ADP). These RB’s most likely won’t provide fantasy value week in and week out, but you’re picking them late in the draft for your bench.

    1.    Isaac Redman – Pittsburgh Steelers

        •    Yahoo ADP: 28th RB
        •    ESPN ADP: 35th RB
        •    CBS ADP: 31st RB
        •    NFL ADP: 31st RB

Isaac Redman is a RB I’m watching closely, but his preseason hip and ankle injuries worry me. Redman looks like the featured running back in Pittsburgh until Mendenhall is back from injury, which most likely won’t be until October.

This means fantasy owners will get three solid weeks at the very least early in the season if Redman is healthy. Injury reports at the moment (Aug 30th) have Redman listed as probable for week 1 of the regular season.

I’d take a chance on Redman, as worst case you can drop him and add a free agent to your team. The value of Redman in your flex position for the first few weeks of the season is worth the risk of drafting him with one of your last picks of the draft.

In 2011 Redman had some playing time in every game including in the playoffs against Denver. Redman carried the ball 17 times against the Broncos in the playoffs and gained 121 rushing yards (7.1 Avg).

Pittsburgh plays the Broncos, Jets and Raiders in the 1st three weeks of the season. Last season these three teams couldn’t stop the run. The Broncos allowed 129.1 RYPG (23rd), the Jets allowed 111.1 RYPG (11th) and the Raiders allowed 136.1 RYPG (27th).

The Steelers are expected to air the football out more this season, but I think Redman has value. He’s not even being drafted in small leagues and in deep leagues most owners aren’t going after him because Mendenhall will be back.

However, you can drop Redman once Mendenhall is back or you could keep him on the bench. Even once Mendenhall is back he may not be effective and Redman could still pick-up a lot of playing time if he proves himself these first few weeks.

2.    Kevin Smith – Detroit Lions

        •    Yahoo ADP: 41st RB
        •    ESPN ADP: 31st RB
        •    CBS ADP: 28th RB
        •    NFL ADP: 40th RB

Kevin Smith is being drafted extremely late or not at all depending upon how deep your fantasy league is. Kevin Smith shouldn’t be going this late in my opinion and I think he has even more value than Redman.

As long as Smith can remain healthy the starting job at RB in Detroit is his until Jahvid Best is back. Best is on the PUP list at the moment, so his return won’t be anytime soon and even once he’s back Smith may keep the starting role if healthy.

Last season Smith got some work at the end of the season. By the end of the regular season he had 72 rushing attempts for 356 rushing yards (4.9 Avg) and 4 TD’s. He had one breakout game against the Panthers where he ran for 140 yards and 2 TD’s.

Smith injured his ankle on Sunday, but apparently he is fine and there is just some swelling. He’s expected to start week 1 still, but I’d keep an eye on his status before starting him in your flex position.

I think Smith could end up RB2 or even deep RB1 numbers this season if he’s healthy and only misses 1-2 games. Teams are going to be more worried about the Lions passing attack than Smith running the ball and he should have plenty of holes.

This fantasy football analysis was provided by Scott Jack (OddsNerd). He loves analyzing the NFL markets and you can read his latest NFL week 1 predictions on his website.