The No. 1 rule of small sample sizes is to remember this: It's usually a small sample size for a reason. So before you argue that a running back should play more because "He averaged 8 yards per carry!" on the 38 carries he got last season, you might want to read up to see whether he knows how to hang on to the ball, how to catch it or what an A-gap blitzer looks like.
But every year, we see a star emerge and then check the tape and the totals on a small sample size year and convince ourselves we could see it coming. And it's about traits. Brian Hartline spiked last year and we realized he was quietly effective as a deep target, and Stevan Ridley piled up carries and we noticed he had made himself extremely reliable in pass protection. Specific skills can create opportunities.
With that in mind, I looked for guys with small sample sizes from 2012 who could be fantasy sleepers in 2013. Two keys:
1. No rookies. The guy had to play last year.
2. I tried to stay away from players with low totals totally due to injury, but health pops up in a few cases.
This isn't just a look at guys who could have a bigger role because of how the depth chart lines up or because of who is or isn't healthy. It's about a trait or two that could give them an edge, resulting in both increased playing time and production.
Parameters: No running back can be included who carried the ball more than 80 times in 2012. Essentially, we're looking at guys who saw less than a quarter of the total you're likely to see from a back labeled a workhorse.