Don't have an account?
Join the Best Live Fantasy Chat Community!

Lost password? [X]

Receive free daily analysis:


Already have an account? Log in here.


Forgot Password


2013 Fantasy Football Sleepers: Later Round Running Backs (RB)

If you like this article, check out the rest of our fantasy football analysis: rankingssleepersrunning backswide receivers,  quarterbacks and of course our live fantasy football chat, the best football chatroom on the internwebs.  RotoBaller will be releasing more fantasy football content daily to help you prepare for the 2013 NFL Fantasy Football season so stay tuned!

Drafting Impact Running Backs Late

This article focuses on NFL running backs who are not presently being drafted as fantasy football starters in 2013, i.e. whose average draft position puts them lower than 24th at the position.  But that doesn't mean they can't provide value for you on draft day, and for your fantasy football team in 2013.  Here are some of my favorites to consider on draft day:


Running Backs #25 - #36





Christopher Ivory



Ryan Mathews



Eddie Lacy



Ahmad Bradshaw



Giovani Bernard



Rashard Mendenhall



Shane Vereen



Daryl Richardson



Andre Brown



BenJarvus Green-Ellis



DeAngelo Williams



Ronnie Hillman



Two that stand out from this list are Shane Vereen and Andre Brown. Reports out of Patriots training camp are that Vereen is lining up all over the field, a la Darren Sproles, at RB, slot WR and outside WR. With the losses of Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd and Aaron Hernandez, combined with the perennially dinged-up status of incumbent pass-catchers Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski, Vereen has a big opportunity to become a trusted option for Tom Brady, just like Danny Woodhead and Kevin Faulk were in past seasons. Unlike rookie Giovani Bernard from this same tier, Vereen has proven against NFL competition that he can put up big numbers on few opportunities. Caution flags include the fact that Vereen hasn’t been able to play the full 16 games in either of his two seasons thus far, and also Bill Belichick’s game management, which can be known to freeze out players not part of the plan.

David Wilson is being drafted four rounds earlier than Brown, but the Giants plan to split carries between the two backs, and for good reason. Wilson is considered the more explosive of the two runners, but Brown actually averaged 5.3 YPC to Wilson’s 5.0 last year. The fact that Brown has two inches and 18 pounds on Wilson means he’ll be the back to have his number called in goal-to-go situations. The Giants were fifth in rushing touchdowns and sixth in total points last year, so with Brown getting a bigger share of the TD pie, it’s he-- and not Wilson-- who represents the more cost-effective option.


Running Backs #37 - #48





Ben Tate



Mark Ingram



Bryce Brown



Fred Jackson



Vick Ballard



Johnathan Franklin



Bernard Pierce



Danny Woodhead



Jonathan Stewart



Isaiah Pead



Pierre Thomas



Mikel Leshoure



From this group, look for Vick Ballard and Danny Woodhead to emerge as fantasy factors ranging from reliable surprise starter to in-a-pinch plug-in. The biggest factor in favor of Ballard is the fact that he’ll be sharing backfield duties with Ahmad Bradshaw, who has battled injuries his entire career and is already sidelined. Even if Bradshaw takes the lead role, Ballard should still see plenty of work. New Colts Offensive Coordinator Pep Hamilton called plays at Stanford during Andrew Luck’s tenure, and ran a decisively run-heavy offense, not once passing more often than running in the three seasons Luck started. Even if Hamilton throws more by virtue of the NFL being a passing league, the Colts should still be more run-oriented than they were last year, when they ran 440 times. Since Bradshaw was only able to tote the rock for an average of 215 carries over the last four seasons, Ballard still has 200+ carry upside, putting him in position to match, if not exceed, his RB25 ranking from last season.

Woodhead should warrant consideration not only because Ryan Mathews has done little to inspire owners in his three NFL seasons, but also because he’s taken the reigns of the pass-catching duties after impressing San Diego’s new coaching staff. Woodhead has finished in the top 25 at his position two out of the last three years, by posting 700-900 yards from scrimmage and about a half-dozen total touchdowns. While those numbers were posted as a member of the prolific New England offense, his move to San Diego shouldn't cause too much concern. The last time Philip Rivers had a back with Woodhead’s skillset, Darren Sproles put up numbers in San Diego that matched what Woodhead did in his time with the Patriots. In other words, a Philip Rivers-led offense (and frankly, most offenses in today’s NFL) can support a fantasy-reliable third-down and pass-catching back.


Running Backs #49 - #60





Jacquizz Rodgers



Zachary Stacy



Michael Bush



Joseph Randle



LaMichael James



Marcel Reece



Jonathan Dwyer



Kendall Hunter



Ryan Williams



Knowshon Moreno



Shonn Greene



Denard Robinson



At this stage of the draft, the best strategy is usually to bet on talent and hope that the opportunity lottery ticket will pay off for the player in question. Unfortunately this season, the talent among the pool of backs listed above leaves a lot to be desired. Alternatively, the backs whose talent is not in question are instead trying to bounce back from devastating injuries. Surprisingly, that leaves two bruisers as backs that jump out as having a chance to contribute to fantasy rosters this season.

Jonathan Dwyer hasn't exactly been explosive in his time in the NFL, but last year, despite leading the Steelers in attempts, he outperformed all other Pittsburgh running backs in yards per carry as the only one to top 4.0. The Steelers drafted Le’Veon Bell in the second round this Spring, and hope he earns the starting gig, but Dwyer isn’t going out without a fight. He shed 30 lbs. this offseason in an attempt to compete for his job, showing that he believes in his talent and is willing to do what it takes to keep the rookie at bay. Bell has some question marks surrounding him too, touching the ball over 400 times in his junior season at Michigan State. That kind of wear and tear usually portends an underwhelming season in the following year. Furthermore, Big Ten running backs have a reputation for disappointing upon graduating to the NFL, from Laurence Maroney to Beanie Wells.

Update:  Bell unfortunately came down with a  right foot injury, and is expected to miss up to six weeks with a small ligament tear.  He should be downgraded in fantasy football drafts to a mid-to-late round pick, but still has the upside to contribute when healthy this year.

The last name in this article is truly stunning, as he’s deservedly been ripped over the years as an underwhelming plodder on a bad offense. However, Shonn Greene, believe it or not, has an actual chance to make an impact on fantasy teams this season. Given about 250 carries in each of the last two seasons, Greene finished in the top 20 at his position. He likely won't get that many this year, but should Tennessee go back to the thunder-and-lighting approach it once had with LenDale White spelling Chris Johnson, Greene could approach the 200+ carries that White accrued under that framework, when he finished in the top 20 himself. Even performing half that well would mean Greene outperforms his ADP by about eight rounds.



By popular demand, has now launched the fantasy football chatroom! Get involved with some real-time NFL talk, ask your fantasy football questions, read other discussions, or feel free to chime in and reply back with your own 2 cents. Remember you can ask the RotoBaller staff any questions, and we’ll reply back to you as quickly as possible.  Make a call to the RotoBaller chatroom and get some live advice.

More Recent Articles


Wide Receiver Matchups To Target In Week 15

In Week 14, DeAndre Hopkins and Michael Thomas were the high-end options that came through with solid performances, both finishing in the top-five even though they had fairly tough matchups. A.J. Brown finished as the No. 1 receiver on the week, scoring two touchdowns off of just seven targets, while Darius Slayton and Emmanuel Sanders... Read More

Fantasy Football Starts and Sits: Matchups Analysis for Week 15

Welcome to our Week 15 matchup analysis and start/sit column for fantasy football. We'll be covering every single contest from the Sunday slate in one convenient location, helping you make the best decisions for your fantasy lineups. Be sure to check back regularly because this article will be updated as news comes in regarding injuries and other... Read More

Woos and Boos - Starts and Sits for Week 15 Lineups

The trend of fresh faces being among the tops of the fantasy scoring leaderboard continued in Week 14. Across the skill positions, we saw players that took advantage of plus matchups and excelled for fantasy owners during the first week of the playoffs. Mitchell Trubisky and Drew Lock came out of nowhere to finish inside... Read More

Week 15 Fantasy Football Staff Rankings

Below you will find all of RotoBaller's fantasy football weekly rankings, tiers, player news and stats for the 2019 NFL season. Our Ranking Wizard displays our staff's rankings for various league formats, all in one easy place. Here's what you'll find: Weekly PPR Rankings Weekly Half-PPR Rankings Weekly Standard Rankings Dynasty League Rankings     Fantasy... Read More

Fantasy Football News and Injuries - Running Updates

Below is a quick-hit list of running notes on relevant injuries and player news, including pre-game reports and live in-game updates. Stay tuned for updates all throughout the week and on Sunday morning game day:   Week 15 James Conner is expected to make his return this week. Devante Parker (concussion) is good to go for... Read More

Week 15-16 Playoff Defense (DEF) Streamers and Starts - 2019 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

Still doing things a little differently this week--for those of you who are still alive. I want to take a look at the playoffs as a whole (and in this case we are considering Weeks 14-16) and determine which DSTs you can ride all the way through and which ones you should stream this week.... Read More

Week 15 Stream Team - Free Agent and Bye-Week Streamers

Now that the playoffs are in full swing in most leagues and the final march for a championship has begun, streaming becomes a  necessary strategy. Knowing who to add and when to start them could be the ultimate difference-maker in a weekly matchup. Making the right streaming decisions could easily be the difference in winning... Read More

Key Starters and Tough Calls - Lineup Spotlights for Week 15

Welcome to Week 15, RotoBallers! Below you will find some of my spotlight plays and tough lineup decisions for the upcoming week of the fantasy football playoffs. These player selections are based on my Premium Weekly Lineup Rankings, available as part of the RotoBaller's NFL Premium Pass. Enter promo code KING at checkout for a... Read More

Week 15 Panic Room: Outlooks for Slumping and Injured Players

As you set your Week 15 fantasy football playoff lineups, there may be some players who make you feel very uncomfortable about starting them. Based on recent lackluster performances, injuries, or just an intangible bad vibe, it's a struggle to insert them into your lineup in a do-or-die week. But you may also nervous be... Read More

Drew Lock: Is He Ready For Fantasy Football Playoff Consideration?

There is much excitement in Denver after Drew Lock put on an air display at Houston last week. In just his second NFL start, the rookie threw for 309 yards and three TD passes, all in the first half, as the Broncos stunned the AFC South leaders, 38-24. The final score doesn’t indicate what type... Read More

Survive and Advance: The King's Guide to Fantasy Football Playoff Sanity and Success

As the playoffs progress in the NFL every season, media coverage ramps up. By the time we get to Super Bowl week, it's become a full-blown circus. There are microphones and recorders being shoved in players' faces at every waking moment, and the questions never stop. As the fantasy football playoffs move ahead, there is... Read More

Red Zone Usage Risers and Fallers - Week 15

We are at a crucial point in the season. Hopefully, your team is still alive, but there is always an opportunity to get your team in shape before that final push! As fantasy owners, we know that not all touches are equal. A touch in the red zone has an increased chance of scoring a... Read More

QB vs Pass Rush Matchups To Watch - Week 15

Week 15 is here, and the fantasy playoffs are rolling. Some head into the fantasy semifinals as big favorites but others are scrapping to keep their season alive. Real teams start at quarterback, and the position is pretty important for fantasy as well. Quarterbacks have changed the game for fantasy football this year with guys... Read More

Inside the Tent - Week 15 NFL Injury Insight

At RotoBaller, we can't stress enough the importance of keeping up with injuries and playing your best lineup week after week. Players are going to get injured, that's an unavoidable fact. What's avoidable though is making the wrong roster decisions based on the injuries surrounding your fantasy squad. If you want to dominate your leagues... Read More

NFL Matchup Ratings Tool - Weekly Player Projections

  If you see the red "Upgrade" button below, then you are not a Premium subscriber, or have not yet logged in. Learn more about our NFL Matchup Ratings and projections system. Editor's Note: Get any full-season NFL Premium Pass for 50% off. Our exclusive In-Season Lineup Tools, Lineup Optimizer and over 150 days of... Read More