Yes, the 2012 fantasy football season has been over for most of us for at least two weeks, but that shouldn't stop you from getting back on the horse in preparation for next year. Like football as a whole, fantasy football is a year-round process and one that should be taken very seriously; or at least with a moderate amount of respect depending on how much money you're putting on the table.
On to that serious business as we attempt to tackle one of the hardest positions to draft in recent years; the running back.
With teams opting to utilize a two-back system over the traditional workhorse, the emphasis on finding season-long productive backs has never been greater. With that in mind, here are five names you should jot down for the 2013 fantasy football season. These guys stem from the obvious to the potential sleeper, but they do have one thing in common; they are almost sure to be good choices for your fantasy team next year.
Vick Ballard, Indianapolis Colts
Over the last five games, Ballard has averaged 21 carries per game and has made the most of it. With over 900 yards in his rookie campaign, Ballard has shown that he can be the workhorse that the Colts need to compliment the passing game.
Analysis: While he will receive competition from veteran Donald Brown, the primary back job is basically Ballard's to lose. According to the Indianapolis Star, the Colts believe in him and are ready to give him his shot. With a year under their belt, both Luck and Ballard should be poised to do even greater things in 2013. Consider Ballard a nice sleeper with solid number two back value.
David Wilson, New York Giants
Wilson was inconsistent as a rookie in 2012 but finished the season strong with two games of double digit fantasy points out of his last four contests. This late season surge has prompted Giants general manager Jerry Reese to suggest that perhaps Wilson is 'lead dog' material. With the Giants weighing whether or not to keep Ahmad Bradshaw this offseason, it's possible that Wilson might be taking that 'lead dog' role sooner than expected.
Analysis: Keep an eye out on the Giants running back situation this offseason. Wilson could be a potential mid-round steal for someone looking for a solid second or even third back. Even if Bradshaw returns, his injury record makes Wilson a nice second back or backup option.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Cincinnati Bengals
While not overly impressive, Green-Ellis was solid in his first year with the Cincinnati Bengals. With 1,198 total yards and six touchdowns, Green-Ellis established himself as a solid workhorse back. In 2013 though, he may have some competition as the Bengals plan on bringing in a complimentary back with more speed to change things up, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer
Analysis: While many may see the Bengals interest in another back as bad news for Green-Ellis, it may actually be the opposite. Green-Ellis is still going to be the primary back and get the majority of goal line touches. Also, losing some reps to another back should help keep him fresher and available all season. Consider Green-Ellis a solid number two back in 2013.
C.J. Spiller, Buffalo Bills
Spiller had a break out year with the Buffalo Bills in 2012 as he took full advantage of injuries to starter Fred Jackson, rushing for 1,244 yards, 459 receiving yards and eight total touchdowns. With a new coach in town, the Bills will be looking to utilize every talent they have to try to make it back to the playoffs in 2013 and Spiller should play prominently in those plans.
Analysis: With Fred Jackson's injury problems and advancing football age (he's 30), 2013 should be the year that the offense transitions to Spiller. Spiller's dual threat potential makes him a legit first round back and a potential top 10 in total points at the end of 2013.
Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs
The best thing that Kansas City could have ever done for the fantasy value of Jamaal Charles was get Andy Reid to coach this team. Reid has a very good history of producing top shelf fantasy backs under his system and since Charles was already considered a top back, he vaults into a top three back for 2013.
In 14 seasons with the Eagles Reid had a running back that gained 1,000 rush yards six times, 1,500 total yards seven times, scored 10 or more total touchdowns four times and finished as a Top 12 running back in Fantasy Football (standard leagues) seven times including six times in the last nine years.
Analysis: Even before the Reid hire, Charles would have been a top five back. With over 1,700 total yards and six touchdowns, Charles was a beast in 2012. With Reid, Charles has the potential to be the top fantasy back of 2013. Draft accordingly.
James LeBeau is a sports contributor for CraveOnline Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @JleBeau76 or subscribe on Facebook.com/CraveOnlineSports.
Photo Credit: getty