Even though quarterbacks and wide receivers have finally broken into the first round in most-to-all fantasy football drafts over the course of the last several years, running backs are still key in building a strong fantasy squad. Guys like Adrian Peterson and Arian Foster will continue to be drafted within the first 3-5 picks, but what about those running backs who could be overvalued this year? Here is a look at five players who I think all owners should try to AVOID in upcoming drafts.
1. Jamaal Charles (Kansas City Chiefs) - Even though Charles tore his ACL early in the 2011 season, I still don't trust him enough to be my No. 1 running back. The Chiefs are going to be in a bit of a transition period with former Browns and Dolphins offensive coordinator Brian Daboll running the offense under Romeo Crennel. Couple that with the signing of Peyton Hillis, who had success under Daboll in Cleveland, I truly believe Charles should be passed on this year. I know I will get some flack from owners and experts alike, but I simply don't see Charles being the player he once was.
2. Darren McFadden (Oakland Raiders) - Staying in the AFC West, I would be weary of taking McFadden in the hopes that he will take advantage of Michael Bush signing in Chicago. A PPR goldmine when healthy, McFadden has been anything but, having yet to play an entire 16-game schedule. Owners will draft McFadden high with only Mike Goodson around to steal carries, but I don't see him lasting a full season. His injury history is too relevant. You should let someone else deal with the headaches.
3. Reggie Bush (Miami Dolphins) - After never being able to live up to expectations in New Orleans, Bush had himself a surprisingly productive year in 2011, racking up his first 1000-yard season and averaging 92.1 total yards a game. This year is going to be a much different story. Not only did the Dolphins undergo a drastic change in the coaching staff, with Joe Philbin in and Tony Sparano out, but the offense got punched in the gut after Miami traded Brandon Marshall to the Bears for draft picks. Unless the Dolphins make a huge move between now and Week One of the regular season, that leaves Bush as the only legit playmaker left. Expect defenses to key in on stopping Bush this year.
4. Frank Gore (San Francisco 49ers) - The 49ers have made a lot of offensive noise this offseason by signing guys like Randy Moss and Mario Manningham, but the signing of Brandon Jacobs was the biggest surprise. After finally playing a full season for the first time since 2006, Gore petered out in the second half of the 2011 regular season and the playoffs. He also dealt with various nagging injuries, but was finally able to play through them. While I don't see Jacobs being the brand new lead back in San Fran's backfield, he and Kendall Hunter could do just enough to make Gore's 1211 rushing yards in 2011 a distant memory.
5. BenJarvus Green-Ellis (Cincinnati Bengals) - I'm actually pulling for Law Firm to hit it big as a Bengal since I have him in my dynasty league, but I fear owners might put too much stock in his fantasy value come the Summertime. Yes he is finally out of the mess that New England likes to roll with in their backfield, but is he good enough to be a true workhorse? Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden admitted that the Bengals will use a "hot hand" approach in his backfield in 2012 between BGE and Bernard Scott. That sort of talk could spell disaster for those owners who envision Green-Ellis as a possible RB2.