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Fantasy football dynasties can still be built on the shoulders of running backs, even though the NFL is a pass-first league built around quarterbacks and receiving corps.

The running back position is not be loaded with as many 1,000-yard workhorses as there was 5-10 years ago, and that makes it even more important to have a solid backfield in fantasy football, especially in dynasty leagues where you can hold onto above-average running backs for several seasons.

Here are my early dynasty sleepers at running back for the 2018 season!

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Early 2018 Running Back Sleepers in Dynasty Leagues

 D’Onta Foreman, Houston Texans

Foreman entered the 2017 campaign with so much promise…and ended with a torn Achilles and a murky fantasy future.

Lamar Miller makes lots of money, but he has not racked up lots of yardage to justify his hefty price tag and steep salary cap hit. Houston could pink slip its top tailback and give Foreman first dibs at the starting spot, provided Foreman is fully recovered from his season-ending injury. While the offseason is still in its early stages, the signs point towards Foreman being ready by Week 1 and being a challenger for the starting spot in Houston’s backfield.

Foreman needs to improve his receiving skills and has to prove he is fully back from his Achilles injury, but considering what he showed during his small sample size last year and that he is only going into his second season, he shapes up to be a low-risk/high-reward dynasty player if you get him for a Target-like price. Just hope that Foreman’s rehab keeps progressing on schedule and that the Texans do not sign Adrian Peterson or another veteran who gives Foreman more competition than he can handle.

Duke Johnson Jr., Cleveland Browns

The Cleveland Browns made more trades in the last two weeks than your average stockbroker, and they coughed up a few million for former San Francisco starting tailback and Ohio darling Carlos Hyde on the free-agent market. Do not get thrown off the scent and not smell Johnson’s future fantasy success, though.

Johnson has shown flashes that he can be more than just a third-down specialist or a change-of-pace back as had a breakout year in 2017, notching career-highs in receptions (74), receiving yards (693), combined yards (1,041) and touchdowns (seven). All signs point towards head coach Hue Jackson utilizing him even more in 2018, which is why the 24-year-old should be a focal point for fantasy owners in dynasty leagues, especially PPR leagues where his six-yard swing passes and seven-yard screens mean a whole lot more.

Cleveland brought Hyde in to run between the tackles and get those tough yards in the red zone, but make no mistake --- Johnson will be the most valuable running back fantasy-wise in the Browns backfield (especially if Hyde gets hurt like he has in the past). Cleveland has nowhere to go but up after winning one game over the past years, and Johnson should be a centerpiece in the Browns revival. Hitch your wagon to him now and you should be very happy over the next few years.

While I wish Hyde signed with the Detroit Lions, Indianapolis Colts or New York Giants, he will also hold decent fantasy value with the Browns as well, even with Johnson getting more snaps and touches.

Jamaal Williams, Green Bay Packers

Green Bay’s fourth-round pick from last year’s draft started last season on the sidelines behind Ty Montgomery and Aaron Jones on the RB depth chart, then sprained his knee once he was given some carries in late September. His fantasy value was nil until the duo ahead of him got injured and opened the door for Williams to be a workhorse. Over the final five games he rushed for 332 yards and two touchdowns and added 12 receptions for 110 yards and another score.

Great news! Aaron Rodgers is back! That can only mean good things for Packers running attack since last season defenses crowded the line and forced/begged backup Brett Hundley to throw over the top of them. Having Rodgers and a revamped Packers receiving group (plus Jimmy Graham, minus Jordy Nelson) should keep defenses back and allow Packers runners like Williams more chances to find holes to scamper through.

Williams only averaged 3.6 yards per carry during his rookie campaign, but that was due as much to Green Bay’s banged-up offensive line and defenses loading up against the run as much as it was to Williams’ average-looking explosiveness. If Williams can win the training camp competition with Jones and become Green Bay’s best tailback, he will quickly go from sleeper to stalwart.


More 2018 Dynasty League Strategy