2011 was a rough year for fantasy running backs. Several key starters were lost around the midway point with season ending injuries. The severity of the injuries is one thing. The timing also leaves questions as to whether they'll return this fall.
News on several of these backs has started to filter in. Here is a recap of where they stand and with my odds of their return for the season and season opener.
Knile Davis, Arkansas (ankle) - Davis is the only back on the list that was not an in-season casualty. Coming off a broken ankle last August, Davis tops the Razorbacks Spring Depth Chart and was deemed 100 percent by coach Bobby Petrino at the start of spring practice; though he'll be held out of contact drills. The odds of Knile Davis suiting up for the season opener against Jacksonville State are higher than Petrino's at this point.. Odds for 2012 Season: 100% Odds for Season Opener: 95%
Zach Line, SMU (foot) - A foot injury derailed the 230-pounder and forced him to miss the last three games of the season, including the bowl game. In addition, Line had surgery on his shoulder in February. The Bionic Man won't get much work this spring, but he'll be ready to roll come August. Odds for 2012 Season: 100% Odds for Season Opener: 95%
Ray Graham, Pitt (knee) - Of all the backs coming back from ACL surgery, Graham appears to be the most likely to return in 2012. Odds for 2012 Season: 95% Odds for Season Opener: 75%
Christine Michael, Texas A&M (knee) - The news that Michael was rip roaring and ready to go for the start of spring ball caught me by surprise. After all it has been less than five months since he tore his ACL. But Michael is no stranger to knowing what it takes to come back from a season-ending injury, having returned from a broken leg to play in 2011. The coaching staff will try to corral Michael this spring to keep him from pushing too hard, but this is a positive sign that he'll be ready to go this fall. Odds for 2012 Season: 90% Odds for Season Opener: 70%
Dominique Whaley, Oklahoma (ankle) - The fact that Whaley is not participating in spring practice is a bit of a concern, so is news of the Sooners bringing in a JUCO back on signing day. The good news is he is jogging and expected to be ready for Fall camp. Odds for 2012 Season: 80% Odds for Season Opener: 70%
Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina (knee) - Lattimore has begun running earlier this year, but at last account he has yet to start cutting. The company line has been he'll be ready for fall camp. Odds for 2012 Season: 80% Odds for Season Opener: 70%
Montel Harris, Boston College (knee) - Harris was granted a medical hardship waiver, but lingering knee issues kept him out of spring ball. A.J. Black of BCinterruption.com has his doubts on whether Harris will suit up for the Eagles ever again. Odds for 2012 Season: 50% Odds for Season Opener: 50%
Eric Stephens, Texas Tech (knee) - Tech offensive coordinator Neal Brown is cautiously optimistic that Stephens will be ready this summer, but talk of a redshirt still lingers. Given the timing of the injury (late November), I wouldn't count on Stephens' return. It looks like Sadale Foster will be the starter on opening day against Northwestern State. Odds for 2012 Season: 40% Odds for Season Opener: 20%
Henry Josey, Missouri (knee) - Josey still needs to go under the knife to repair his torn ACL. It seems highly unlikely Josey will play this fall. Odds for 2012 Season: 20% Odds for Season Opener: 10%
Check out our 2012 Draft Kit for the pre-spring rankings for each of these backs and more injury risks to watch.