Sleeper Running Backs

By Zack Cimini

There’s nothing like nabbing a late round pick or middle round pick that turns out to be a true gem. Last year Arian Foster and Brandon Lloyd were the top of the pack in their positions for overturned value. Lloyd, had faded into a special teams athlete for a few years, and was sort of written off. No one really knew how Houston’s backfield would shape up. Most thought it would be running back by committee. When Ben Tate went down though, it really opened up things for Foster as the lone back. The rest is 2010 fantasy history.

Of course the number one reason for opportunity is typically injury. Watchout for Beanie Wells having a significant year compared to projections. No longer is he in the shadow or worrisome of Tim Hightower. Ryan Williams was supposed to be that threat, but went down to a season ending injury in week two of the preseason. LaRod Stephens-Howling is a scatback type, but won’t get more than five carries a game.

We have a few guys listed below that will likely get drafted in deeper leagues. Keep them stashed on your bench, as opportunity could come your way for these young athletes.

Delone Carter:

He was never exceptionally flashy at Syracuse, but he piled up a solid career. His nature of running the football isn’t going to benefit him for a long career, but his first five should be decent. He is an in between tackles runner, that is going to carry defenders and fall forward for extra yards. With Indianapolis getting impatient with former first round pick Donald Brown, and Addai’s injury struggles, Carter could be the main back by mid-season.

CJ Spiller:

After an extremely disappointing rookie year, Spiller has a lot to prove. He wasn’t supposed to just be a special teams force. The Bills spent a first round pick on him, and were willing to part with Marshawn Lynch. The backfield remains the same, meaning the Bills haven’t given up on Spiller yet. Look for Spiller to make more of his carries this year as he tries to gain back coaches trust. The Bills have likely got the cheapest backfield in the NFL.

Rashard Jennings:

When will the bowling ball, fade into the gutter lane? Maurice Jones-Drew has been able to sustain the hits even at his small stature. The reason is because of his tremendous sized thighs and quads. Yet, it hasn’t staved off soreness and minor injuries for Drew. He has fought through them somehow, but the message in Jacksonville seems to be a new change coming. Jennings has slowly gained carries from Drew. If the opportunity presents itself, Jennings has shown that he can get the job done.

Roy Helu:

Everyone has been ranting and raving over Tim Hightower. He is the perfect back to run the zone blocking scheme, etc. Hightower has had a dandy preseason, but what will happen when teams actually game plan against the Redskins? They’ll get after their main weakness, which is at quarterback. Once that happens, the holes will clog up. Hightower is a breakaway runner, not a slasher in between the tackles. His main issue will pop up again, as they have year after year. Fumble prone. It just doesn’t alleviate a running back. Shanahan is an impatient coach, and Helu has been just as impressive in the preseason.

Ben Tate:

There really is no reason too elaborate here. Tate has been a monster in the preseason and if it weren’t for Foster, would instantly shoot up to a top ten fantasy running back. Good luck to the rest of the NFL on shutting the two down.

Jacquizz Rodgers:

The mileage on Michael Turner’s legs is in need of a Ricky Williams hiatus to refuel. The pattern of backs being over ran and tanking is predictable. Turner might have a year left in him before he fades like Larry Johnson. Rodgers can fit the old mold the Falcons were accustomed to with Warrick Dunn. A small back, but one that can carry the load twelve to fifteen times a game.


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