Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 8/30/12

The running back position is in shambles coming into the 2012 football season. Aside from the big three of Foster, Rice and McCoy each of the other backs are jam-packed with questions. Whether it is recovering from an off-season injury, taking on a larger workload or taking part in an ongoing holdout, the position has no certainty at all to this point.

With so many risks and concerns it was tough to find some runners on the rise, but some circumstances have allowed for backs to take advantage of their fortune and rise on boards.

Risers: Players who are moving up on fantasy draft boards.

Rashad Jennings: The highly publicized holdout of Maurice Jones-Drew which reportedly will go into the regular season has Rashad Jennings flying up big boards. Jennings has had a very impressive training camp and stellar preseason where he has rushed 36 times for 175 yards, a very impressive 4.86 yards per carry.

Head Coach Mike Mularkey has already indicated that Jennings will likely be the week one starter, "I expect Rashad will start, we'll just have to see," Mularkey said.

Running back holdouts can be a very tricky thing and if Maurice Jones-Drew doesn't end his soon, Jennings can have great early season value as the Jags ease Maurice back in to playing form.

Chris Johnson: Everyone's heartbreak last season CJ "what happened to you" K, was a complete disappointment after a long holdout which clearly affected his play through the first half of the season, or maybe it was the paycheck. Through his first eight games Johnson only rushed for 100 yards one time and didn't even eclipse the 50-yard mark in four of those games.

Johnson has looked good so far this preseason and has shown some of his patented cuts and speed to get around the corner. With Jake Locker being the starter in Tennessee Johnson should be a crucial part of the offense as they try to limit the pressure on Locker.

Another key point to Johnson rising is due to the fact that he doesn't get hurt which is a huge question mark for the other running backs in his tier this fantasy season.

Doug Martin: The rookie running back out of Boise State has impressed new Tampa Bay Buccaneer Head Coach Greg Schiano while incumbent starter LeGarrette Blount has struggled mightily this off-season. Martin, who has earned the nickname the "muscle hamster" will show why this season, as he is already drawing comparisons to Ray Rice.

He may not be the flashiest player on the field but he has the quickness and the strength to carry defenders for extra yardage on nearly every play. Martin can run between the tackles or break it outside if needed.

He will also be the goal-line back and third-down back with Blount having next to nothing for pass catching ability.

Peyton Hillis: Coming off a very lackluster year to say the least, Hillis looks to bounce back behind a great offensive line. With early reports coming out that Hillis and Jamaal Charles will have 500 carries to split this season both backs will have fantasy value. Hillis also has good hands which makes him a great receiving weapon out of the backfield for quarterback Matt Cassell.

As the Chiefs have done before they will limit the amount of carries for Charles, especially early in the season, which could leave the door open for some good early season production out of Hillis.

A definite late round steal if you want to get a jump on the rest of your league the first half of the season.

 

Fallers:

Maurice Jones-Drew: The Jaguars superstar running back is currently entrenched in a lockout with no end in sight. Jones-Drew has made it clear that this is a performance based business and he has performed so he wants to be compensated financially. On the other hand, the Jaguars have made it clear that they will not cave in to Jones-Drew's demands until he shows up to the Jaguars facilities.

His fines have exceeded one-million dollars for not reporting and his pockets are plenty deep to keep riding this thing out. Not only can he miss the first couple weeks of the season but when he does come back Rashad Jennings will surely have a larger role throughout the season.

Judging from last years Chris Johnson hold out, Jones-Drew will be in for a long season and his current ADP is dropping faster then Rex Ryan's weight. Wow, what a weak attempt at humor.

Ryan Mathews: This guy is a very interesting case when it comes to fantasy football. Before the season started Mathews was hyped up by Norv Turner and the San Diego Chargers claiming him to be a workhorse, every-down back who they believe can stay injury-free this season. Then what happens, preseason comes around and Mathews takes his first carry up the middle and mysteriously does not return to the game. We later find out that Mathews broke his collarbone and will be out six-eight weeks.

The thing that gets me about Mathews is that people still believe in him. The Chargers are still claiming him to be a heavy workload back when he returns, all signs point to a week three return. Mathews has always had injury concerns dating all the way back to his college days at Fresno State where he had only one injury free season.

If you are smart you will steer clear of "Mr. Glass" in your drafts.

Roy Helu Jr.: The "most talented" back in the muddled Redskins backfield situation has struggled to find playing time this preseason being listed behind Tim Hightower and what now looks like Evan Royster as well. Reports first came out about Helu having a sore left Achilles, after a week of limited practice another report came out about both of his Achilles hurting. The Redskins have said that he will not play again this preseason and he has missed the last week and a half of practice.

With Hightower rounding back into form and Evan Royster and Alfred Morris being impressive this preseason, Helu is in danger of having a long comeback trail before being fantasy relevant.

You say Helu and I say goodbye! Leave him undrafted.

 



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