The 2012 season saw an impressive rookie class of running backs, with many making a significant fantasy football impact.
Trent Richardson, Doug Martin, and Alfred Morris all made waves for fantasy football rosters, while David Wilson, Vick Ballard and Daryl Richardson were all start-worthy at one point during the season. The sophomore slump is something many young players go through, but this impressive class looks poised to make in impact in 2013. Here are the significant sophomores and where they rank this upcoming season.
1. Doug Martin – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers took Martin and immediately gave him opportunity to start. Not only did he start the entire season but he became a top-three fantasy option at the running back position; fueled by some monster performances in the middle of the season. He had his bad games and seemed to slow down a bit near the end of the year, but he heads into 2013 with the starting gig in a good offense and is a clear first round selection.
2. Trent Richardson – Cleveland Browns
T-Rich was the first running back taken in the 2012 draft and likely the first rookie taken in fantasy drafts as well…and he didn’t disappoint. While he was an injury concern coming out of college and played hurt for much of the year, he still managed to finish just outside of the top ten running backs this season. He wasn’t able to gain many rushing yards, but was a touchdown machine on a bad offense. He was extremely impressive and should be poised to build on his impressive rookie year after a full off-season to regain strength.
3. Alfred Morris – Washington Redskins
Morris was perhaps the biggest surprise of 2013. He was taken in the sixth round by a team that already had three potential running backs. For the first time, head coach Mike Shanahan came up big for fantasy owners and rode Morris through the entire season. While Roy Helu, Tim Hightower and Evan Royster were shunned, Morris finished with an astonishing 1,613 yards and 13 touchdowns. Unlike Martin and Richardson, he is not a receiver and is clearly aided by the team’s system. Nonetheless, as long as Shanahan sticks with him he should be worthy of a late first round pick this season.
4. David Wilson – New York Giants
Wilson had plenty of hype heading into the 2012 season, but immediately fell into the doghouse with a fumble in Week 1. He didn’t get a real chance to shine until Week 14, but did so in a big way and was decent the rest of the season. He didn’t fumble once after Week 1 and will now have a chance to start with Ahmad Bradshaw no longer with the team. He should be considered a high-end RB2.
5. Vick Ballard – Indianapolis Colts
Ballard came into the league with very little fanfare but was seeing consistent carries by Week 7. He had just one 100-yard rushing game and scored just three touchdowns, but with a starting job likely locked up this season he can be considered a low-end RB2. He is, however, a safer pick as a flex option.
6. Daryl Richardson – St. Louis Rams
There was a time this season where Richardson was sharing carries with Steven Jackson, who was clearly less than 100 percent. Jackson eventually recovered and Richardson faded back into obscurity. With Jackson iffy to return and on the down-slope of his career, Richardson has a chance to make a real impact this season. He showed flashes last season as he averaged 4.8 yards per carry in limited work, and if he gets an opportunity he can pay dividends. He is certainly worth a late-round flyer and is loaded with potential.