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Fantasy Football Sleepers RB position

Looking for those mid-late round RB selections that can help you win your fantasy league? Take a look at those who are recommended as potential sleepers this season.

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Last week we covered the sleepers and busts at the QB position, and now we turn our focus to the RB position.  Tomorrow the bust portion of this article will be posting, so for today, this will be all about the mid-late round RB’s you can grab to help make a championship team.  Quite possibly the most important part to a draft is to make sure you don’t mess up in the first couple of rounds.  Nothing is worse than losing one of your first three picks to inefficient play, or having a season ending injury.  It is difficult for fantasy owners to overcome this, but one way to make sure the blow is lessened is to nail one or two of your mid-late round picks.  This article is designed to help you find the guys who could potentially help out your team and a breakout season, or a season that far exceeds expectations.  Without further ado, here is the list of Fantasy Football sleepers at the Running Back position.


Pierre Thomas


Thomas finished as the #23 RB lasts season in standard scoring, and now does not have to deal with Darren Sproles stealing targets from him.  Even with Darren Sproles on the roster last season, Thomas was targeted 84 times, and had 77 receptions.  That number is destined to rise now that he is the main pass catching back in New Orleans.  It is within the realm of possibilities, that Pierre Thomas catches 90 or more passes out of the backfield.  Darren Sproles had 71 receptions last year, and those will be distributed out to other guys, so expecting Thomas to have somewhere around 20 more receptions is realistic.


Although Sean Payton has mentioned wanting to run a more balanced offense, and more of a power run game, I am not worried about the production Pierre Thomas will be able to bring to your fantasy team.  Every year it seems as though Sean Payton, or another Saints coach, is saying something to that extent.  The problem with Payton continually saying this is that he has said it so often that it doesn’t hold any weight anymore.  Another reason I’m not worried about Thomas is that he is the most complete, and most talented back on the Saints roster, so why would they not try and get him the ball?  Currently being drafted outside of starter range, Pierre Thomas should be able to provide RB2 statistics, while also being a consistent option each week.


Carlos Hyde


Hyde will be receiving more and more hype as the preseason continues, and rightfully so.  After watching the film of him in that first preseason game against Baltimore, it’s hard to not come away impressed by his abilities.  He had 8 carries for 39 yards, and showed a number of skills that I look for in a back.  When Hyde was hit, he showed that he was unwilling to give up on the play, and fought for that extra yard or two, even if it meant all he could do was fall forward.  The next skill that I like to see out a RB is the ability to change speeds.  Carlos Hyde showed that he can let his blockers get out in front, and when he saw the hole being built, he would explode through it.  When Hyde ran, he wouldn’t jump cut in the hole thinking that it would help freeze the defense, but did what the best backs do and took what was given for him.


One of the concerns with Hyde at the start of training camp was the depth of talent San Francisco had in its backfield.  Some of those concerns have taken care of themselves with the injuries to Kendall Hunter, as he is out for the season, and to LaMichael James who will be out at least a month.  Now the only two guys that stand in his way of meaningful playing time from the before training camp roster are Frank Gore and Marcus Lattimore.  One of these guys is still being brought along slowly in Lattimore, as the 49ers want to be extra cautious with the knee injuries that have plagued him in the past.  Now the only guy standing in Hyde’s way is Frank Gore.  Gore is now 31 years old, and has a lot of mileage on his legs.  San Francisco is a smart organization and has aspirations on the Super Bowl again, so they want to make sure that Gore can be healthy for the postseason.  The way that the 49ers can keep Gore healthy, is to give Hyde a good amount of carries in the offense.  If an injury were to happen to Gore, I would see Hyde immediately vaulting himself into the top 15 RB territory, as his natural abilities partnered with that offensive line is fantasy gold.


Latavius Murray


Darren McFadden, Maurice Jones-Drew, and Latavius Murray are the three main backs on the Oakland Raiders, and I am suggesting that all of them will be sleepers this year.  Not really, but I do believe one of these guys is a sleeper, and it is not the guy I have picked in one of my leagues the past four seasons in Darren McFadden.  While I do believe that he is undervalued, the injury risk runs too high for me.  Same can be said about Maurice Jones-Drew, as he has missed 13 games over the last four seasons.  Now enter in a true Al Davis type player in Latavius Murray.  This guy oozes potential, and that is evident just by looking at his 4.38 40 time.  He did not play last season due to an ankle injury, but he was looking prime to take a share of carries with Rashad Jennings when Darren McFadden gets hurt.  In the first preseason game this year, Murray carried the ball 7 times for a total of 28 yards.  Once again this pick is purely because I have no faith that Jones-Drew and McFadden can stay healthy for a full season, let alone 13 games of the season.  Expect Murray to get close to 20 touches in 6-8 games at least this season, and those games could net you something spectacular.


Shonn Greene


This guy has burned many fantasy owners with the promise of a breakout season at some point in his career.  Now that Bishop Sankey is the only guy in his way to getting the bulk of carries, He presents great value to fantasy owners.  Shonn Greene is someone you can draft as your 4th RB or even 5th because everyone is expecting Bishop Sankey to just take a big chunk of the carries.  I do not believe this to be the case, and still believe that this will be at least a 60-40 split with Sankey receiving the 60 percent.  Greene is already better than Sankey at two key aspects in the game.  He is a proven pass blocker, so the chances of Bishop Sankey being a true three down back are not as high as they would be elsewhere.  The last aspect that Greene has the edge is in the redzone, as Greene has shown that he can be the guy getting the carries inside the ten yard line, and he will convert them.  I could see Greene coming close to 8 TD’s, and could get a little over 10 carries per game, and that number is expecting Sankey to be a solid back.  If Sankey proves not up to the task right away, Greene could relive his Jets seasons, where bulk of carries can give you RB2 numbers.


Roy Helu and Charles Sims


Both of these guys can be put into the same paragraph, since they are sleepers for PPR leagues.  Both of these guys have a clear number one RB in front of them in Alfred Morris and Doug Martin, but the offenses that are being run in Washington and Tampa Bay are good spots for backfield targets.  In the case of Roy Helu, he is the only guy who the Redskins trust to catch the ball out of the backfield.  Last year during the preseason, the Redskins kept saying that they wanted to get Morris more targets and catches during the season.  At the end of the year he had 9 total receptions, 2 less than 2012.  Clearly Helu is the only guy they trust to pass the ball to, and if Washington starts to run a more up tempo offense, Helu can show some sneaky value as a FLEX option, and maybe that can creep higher.  For Charles Sims, he is the change of pace guy in Tampa, but he is also a skilled pass catcher.  In College he averaged 50 receptions per year, and that is a number I could see happening this year.  Lovie Smith is the new coach for the Bucs, and when he was with the Chicago Bears Matt Forte was a key part in the passing game.  In today’s NFL, one guy cannot be on the field all the time, so I see Charles Sims as the main beneficiary to this as he could get some PPR value, and if Martin gets hurt, Sims would be vaulted into the top 20 or top 15 PPR RB’s


Lance Dunbar
Dunbar has struggled to stay healthy in recent years but with a much improved offensive line and a new scheme to better fit his skill set, he is a prime candidate for a breakout season.
Scott Linehan, previously with the Detroit Lions, has taken over as the Cowboys' offensive coordinator and will be calling the plays this season. His system in Detroit allowed for both Reggie Bush and Joique Bell to put up huge numbers last year. Dunbar, as the smaller, shiftier back, will play the Reggie Bush role but will not see as many reps as long as DeMarco Murray stays healthy - which has not yet happened throughout his NFL career.
As evident by his benching in the first preseason game with other key players, Dunbar will have a key role in this offense and will vastly out-produce his current 14th round ADP.

Jeremy Hill
Replacing Jay Gruden as the Bengals' offensive coordinator will be Hugh Jackson. Jackson is known for favoring a very run heavy offense with a power run scheme. Jeremy Hill will be a perfect fit to excel in this system. That's why he was specifically targeted by the Bengals in the 2nd round of the draft, before the other heavily touted power back, Carlos Hyde.
Gio Bernard showed off his elusiveness and explosion in the open field last year, but Hill will be the better option when the Bengals want to run the ball between the tackles and in goal line work. Hill has also shown the ability to contribute in the receiving game if needed.
He can be targeted in fantasy drafts as a 4th or 5th running back as he is currently going around the 9th round. He should lead all rookie running backs in touchdowns by a large margin.


That does it for the fantasy sleepers from the RB position.  Stay tuned as the Fake Teams staff releases the consensus RB rankings at the end of the week.  The bust column will be running on Thursday morning, so stick around to see who we believe are the potential busts from the Running Back position.  Any questions regarding keeper decisions, strategy, or anything else football related, leave a comment or send an Email to me at the address given in my profile.