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Early 2019 Sleepers - Running Backs

What are sleepers? Besides a solid 90’s movie featuring Brad Pitt and what the rest of the east coast is doing while I type this, sleepers are players found in the late rounds of a draft who could provide a benefit to your fantasy team.

Everyone wants to find a sleeper like James Conner, Nick Chubb or Phillip Lindsay but the truth is, these situations are very rare and not likely to repeat again. It is more likely that you find a solid RB2 sleeper than it is to find an RB1.

Saying this, let’s take a look at some players who could surprise this season and make them worth a draft pick in the late rounds. Of course, not all of these players are going to hit. Just like with any flier for every Phillip Lindsay there will be a Rex Burkhead, and for every Nick Chubb there will be a Dion Lewis. So, make sure to do your homework to see if the situations for these players have changed.

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Carlos Hyde, Kansas City Chiefs

What are we to expect from Damien Williams in his first full season taking over from Kareem Hunt? Who Knows.

Many people like his talent and his fit in an Andy Reid offense known for only using one running back all the way back to his Eagles days. That said Williams could not beat out Kenyon Drake in Miami. Granted Adam Gase was his coach so who really knows. But even last year during the early struggles of Hunt, Williams was unable to find time on the field until Hunt was dismissed from the team.

The Chiefs have said this is Williams job and signed him to a two-year extension, but as we know, in the NFL contracts are ripped up quicker than a traffic ticket given to a politician.

Carlos Hyde was supposed to be the man in Cleveland for the Browns last season. A stint which lasted only half of a season before he was traded to the Jaguars for a fifth-round draft pick. After a less then memorable stay in Jacksonville, Hyde is going to be happy to compete for the starting job with Damien Williams. A battle that is much easier to win than fighting for the job with Leonard Fournette.

Not known as an incredible pass catcher, he has come a long way in this department after only catching 11 passes in 2015, he finished the following two seasons in San Francisco with 27 and 59 catches respectively showing his ability when given the opportunity. This could be key to him getting on the field as Reid does like a pass catcher at the running back position, as shown by Duce Staley, LeSean McCoy, Jamal Charles, and Kareem Hunt. With this being a factor, there is the chance Hyde does beat out Williams for the starter back role and this would be great for fantasy teams who draft him at his current position at the end of the ninth round, the RB43.

As is true with all of the players on this list, running backs get injured at a higher frequency than the wide receiver or tight end positions. Unlike the TE position, you also use multiple running backs in a given week. Both of these mean you should load up your roster with high upside running backs to fill in for the inevitable injury which is coming to your roster. Carlos Hyde is one of these high-risk and high-upside plays which should be filling out your roster in late rounds. Of all the perceived backup running backs going into training camp, Carlos Hyde is the most likely to end up a starter. So, take a shot. I dare you.


Chase Edmonds, Arizona Cardinals

Talk about a deep sleeper. They don’t come any deeper than the second string running back sitting behind, not only one of the best running backs in the league, but also one of the bell cows in the league.

Despite this Chase Edmonds has a good chance to be a valuable player in fantasy leagues if given the opportunity. We saw last season the Cardinals are willing to use him. Granted this was a whole different coaching staff but he showed what he can do in limited work and David Johnson is not getting younger, meaning they may try to lessen his workload.

Playing in all 16 games in 2018, the rookie from Fordham carried the ball 60 times for 203 yards and two touchdowns while adding an additional 199 yards on 20 receptions from the backfield.

Great numbers they are not. But, having these numbers with a fully healthy Johnson still in Arizona allows us to see a scenario in which Edmonds gets more playing time this season. In deep leagues or in 16-team leagues, Edmonds could be a late round back with the potential to bust out on a given week and if David Johnson were to go down, he would have the entire backfield to himself. Is he a draftable asset in 12-team leagues with standard six-man benches? No. But in those deep leagues, when you are looking for anyone who may hit. Edmonds could be that hit. And it could be a home run.

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