Three and out: Will Rice hold out in 2012?

Ray Rice now a fantasy risk? The top-scoring running back in fantasy football last season, Rice is a virtual lock to be a top-five pick in 2012 drafts. Or is he? There are reports that the Rutgers product could hold out over a contractual dispute with the Ravens. Rice reportedly wants a new deal along the same lines as the ones Adrian Peterson and Chris Johnson have landed, and the team might not be willing to offer such a lucrative contract. Rice, who was franchised this offseason, could end up missing OTAs and even worse, all or part of training camp, until a new deal is consummated. Runners like CJ2K, Larry Johnson and Steven Jackson have held out over money in the past, and all of them suffered statistically as a result. Clearly, this Rice situation is something that owners need to keep close tabs on in the weeks to come.

Tolbert working at fullback: When the Panthers signed Mike Tolbert this offseason, it had me shaking my head. Why would a team with DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart and a running quarterback like Cam Newton add to its backfield? The answer is simple — Tolbert is going to see a lot of time at fullback. In fact, he told the team’s official website that he’s expecting to do “a lot of fullback stuff” this season. Part of doing that “fullback stuff” means potentially stealing goal-line work from Newton, who rushed for 14 touchdowns as a rookie. “If [Newton is] willing to give them up, I’m willing to take them,” Tolbert said. “They call me the vulture for a reason.” Unless you’re in a touchdown league, Tolbert isn’t going to have draft value. What worries me is how many scores he’s actually going to “vulture” from Newton. It could be quite a few.

Miller could be versatile: Rookie Lamar Miller isn’t likely to see a lot of backfield work with Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas ahead of him on the Miami depth chart, but coach Joe Philbin still plans to utilize his skills — that could mean some time at wide receiver. In fact, the Miami Herald expects Miller to “be used everywhere the Dolphins can find a place to get him the ball in space, including punt returns.” That’s good news for Miller, but it doesn’t make him draftable in seasonal formats. At least not at this point. With that said, Miller is an interesting dynasty option when you consider his upside and the fact that Bush is entering a contract year.

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