Trent Richardson 2
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When I looked at the top five 2012 running backs I ranked Trent Richardson, Doug Martin, David Wilson, Isaiah Pead and Bernard Pierce as the top five. I was on the mark with Richardson and Martin. Wilson did not get enough opportunities to do his thing, but I still think good things will come. I totally missed the boat on Pead and Pierce was just decent. The biggest surprise was Alfred Morris. He came out of nowhere to become a top ten running back. Vick Ballard, Daryl Richardson and Bryce Brown also had some moments. All in all, not a bad class. Here is how I rank them for keeper leagues.
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1.  Trent Richardson, Cleveland Browns
Richardson came in with the top slot, but will finish the season third in scoring. His injuries are troublesome and a major source of concern, but the upside is there. He is a gifted runner that is very capable of catching the ball out of the backfield. He has a great mix of power and speed. He will get the short yardage touchdowns and has the ability to break the long one as well. The gap has definitely been narrowed.
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2.  Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Martin is explosive. He reminds me a lot of Maurice Jones-Drew. He’s short (5’9″), but he is stocky, fast and powerful. He’s a load to bring down and when he gets to the second level, he’s gone. Martin will lead all rookies in total yardage. He only had a couple of duds on the year. Unfortunately, one came in Week 15 in a dream matchup with the New Orleans Saints. I think he remains a top five to seven back for years to come. I just see T-Rich as having more upside.
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3.  Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins
Morris was drafted in the sixth round. He is a perfect fit for Washington’s system. He hit a little wall in the middle of the season, but rounded nicely back into form. He’s been the most consistent rookie running back. He’ll likely lead the class in rushing yards. Sustainability is a little more uncertain compared to the top two.
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4.  David Wilson, New York Giants
He could end up leapfrogging all of the backs if he is given the opportunity. His future is more uncertain that the other three. Hence, the fourth ranking. He is electric. However, he plays for a pass-first team. That’s when the offense isn’t a complete mess like it is right now. I still like his prospects. I just don’t want to go “all-in” until I know he’s the lead back.
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5.  Daryl Richardson, St. Louis Rams
I think Ballard has more immediate value, but Richardson has a brighter future. Steven Jackson probably has one more year left in him. Ballard will likely always be part of a committee of sorts. Richardson should get the keys once S-Jax hangs it up.
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How do you rank the rookie running backs?
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Now that the NFL Draft is behind us it is time for fantasy football nuts to start breaking down the rookies. Here’s the LestersLegends’ look at the 2012 NFL rookie running back class.
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1.  Trent Richardson, Cleveland Browns
It is pretty much Richardson and then the rest of the class. He will step in as the feature back right away and run behind a solid offensive line. Be prepared, you will have to pay top dollar to get him, but he has the potential to be a top ten fantasy running back right out of the gate.
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2.  Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
He will split carries with LeGarrette Blount and could lose some touches at the stripe, but Martin is in good position. Blount had a disappointing season and has inadequacies in the blocking and receiving aspect of the position. Martin could see a lot of carries as the more complete back.
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3.  David Wilson, New York Giants
The Giants did not opt to replace Brandon Jacobs with another big back. Instead they went with the shifty, athletic type. He will provide insurance for Ahmad Bradshaw, who has an injury history. He will likely be the eventual successor.
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4.  Isaiah Pead, St. Louis Rams
Steven Jackson isn’t ready to hand over the reigns just yet, but Pead will be waiting in the wings. Jackson will turn 29 later this summer and he has carried a significant load. Look for the Rams to ease it with Pead while groove his eventual replacement.
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5.  Bernard Pierce, Baltimore Ravens 
Pierce will be the primary handcuff for Ray Rice. While he still has a lot of football left, the Ravens tend to utilize their second back better than most. They have gone with veterans Willis McGahee and Ricky Williams in recent years, so Pierce will be a nice change.
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