By Eric Mack
December 09, 2011

Even in the year of record-setting passing numbers, we continue to learn just how important the running back position is in fantasy. It isn't the enjoying the production of what you have, as much as missing what you had, that has reaffirmed it to us this season -- the year of the injury and the quarterback.

The losses of Jamaal Charles, Darren McFadden, Fred Jackson, Matt Forte and Adrian Peterson have crippled teams and the early disappointments of Chris Johnson, Rashard Mendenhall and Shonn Greene led to even the balding types to pull out their remaining hair.

But when you have an Arian Foster, LeSean McCoy, Ray Rice and/or a Marshawn Lynch, you stand a fighting chance in fantasy. Running back is the toughest position to project and the one most certain to shuffle with injury and offseason movement. It is also the first position fantasy owners look to when considering their keepers for the next season.

With the top seeds on bye and the non-contenders just watching the fortunate few compete this week, we might as well give the masses someone to chew on with this week's Weekend Watch List, continuing our looks at the early 2012 rankings. Here we preview fantasy's most pivotal position: running back. We leave out next year's draftees for argument's sake, because they won't affect keeper decisions, but someone like Trent Richardson can be a candidate to rank in the top 15 here.

Early 2012 running back rankings

Eric Mack writes fantasy for, including the Start 'Em, Sit 'Em, the Weekend Fantasy Watch List and his Sunday night staple: Fantasy Football Fast Forward. If you need a further clarification on lineups this week hit him up on Twitter. You can mock him, rip him and (doubtful) praise him before asking him for fantasy advice @EricMackFantasy.

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