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Early 2024 Running Back Sleepers And Draft Targets For Fantasy Football

Tyjae Spears - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, Waiver Wire Pickups

Running backs have always dominated the first round of fantasy drafts, but that has changed in recent years. Taking a wide receiver in the first round has become a more likely strategy by fantasy managers. In 2024 drafts, more wideouts should be going in the first round than running backs.

However, that doesn't mean running backs don't matter in fantasy. You can just find solid ones in the later rounds. Last year, Raheem Mostert, Kyren Williams, Breece Hall, and Rachaad White weren't going near the top of drafts. All four finished top- eight at the position.

So, let's look at which running backs could be sleepers and draft-day targets for fantasy football next year.

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers won two writing awards and received 12 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. A big congrats to our very own Byron Lindeque (Golf) and Jordan McAbee (NASCAR) for both winning Writer Of The Year awards! Be sure to follow RotoBaller's analysis and advice all year long, and win more. Win More With RotoBaller!

 

Honorable Mention: James Conner, Arizona Cardinals 

It's been a recurring theme for running back James Conner with the Arizona Cardinals. He'll miss some games due to injuries, but when healthy, he will put up solid fantasy numbers. That was no different for Conner in 2023, as he missed four games and finished as the RB18 in PPR formats.

Conner will turn 29 before the 2024 season begins, so there is some concern about his age. However, he has been a reliable fantasy RB2 over the years and has shown no signs of slowing down. Over the final five games of 2023, the veteran averaged 23.9 PPR fantasy points per game, including four top-five running back finishes. 

As of now, Conner owns Arizona's backfield, and there isn't any competition for touches. That might change with free agency and the 2024 NFL Draft approaching, but he's still going to be the team's goal-line back. The veteran will likely go somewhere in the middle rounds in fantasy next year, which could be a great value pick. He has 29 rushing touchdowns since joining the Cardinals in 2021.

 

Rhamondre Stevenson, New England Patriots

After breaking onto the scene in 2022, New England Patriots running back Rhamondre Stevenson struggled mightily during the 2023-2024 season. He finished with just 619 rush yards and four touchdowns behind an RB36 PPR fantasy finish. His RB36 finish was 25 spots lower than where he finished in 2022 as the RB11.

As a result, his ADP will likely drop significantly in 2024 fantasy drafts. However, he's a running back who could finish top-12 at the position again. For starters, before suffering a season-ending ankle injury in Week 13, Stevenson averaged 16.2 PPR fantasy points from Week 6 to Week 12. During that span, he had three top-seven fantasy finishes, including an RB2 finish against the Washington Commanders in Week 9.

A new head coach in Jerod Mayo should also help the 26-year-old get more opportunities in 2024. While we don't know who the Patriots plan to bring in at running back, Stevenson should be the featured back regardless next year. He is currently the RB21 in best ball drafts on Underdog Fantasy.

 

Tyjae Spears, Tennessee Titans

I'd expect Tennessee Titans running back Tyjae Spears to continue to fly up draft boards before next season. However, right now, he sits at RB19 in best ball drafts on Underdog Fantasy. That seems like a great price for a back who should see more touches with Derrick Henry now gone.

Despite being stuck behind Henry on the depth chart, Spears still saw plenty of playing time in his rookie season. In the final six weeks of the regular season, he averaged 56% of the Titans' offensive snaps while scoring in double figures in PPR formats in four of those six contests. A Year 2 breakout could certainly happen for the former Tulane product.

It'll be interesting to see who Tennessee plans to bring in to compete with the 22-year-old back for the starting job. This was the same scenario second-year running back Rachaad White found himself in just this past year after the team released Leonard Fournette. The Buccaneers didn't bring anyone else in, and White finished as a top-four fantasy back. I'm not saying Spears will finish that high in 2024, but a top-10 finish is certainly possible for a back who can do it both on the ground and through the air.

 

David Montgomery, Detroit Lions

Everyone will want to draft the electric Jahmyr Gibbs in the first two rounds, but veteran David Montgomery will be just as solid of a pick in the middle rounds. Montgomery is coming off a year where he finished as the RB13 in half-PPR formats and the RB17 in PPR formats. However, he's currently the RB22 in best ball drafts on Underdog Fantasy.

Montgomery might not have the upside of other backs since Gibbs will cut his playing time in half. But if you want consistency, he's your answer. The 26-year-old scored in double figures in 13 of 14 games he played in last year. The only game he didn't, he left early due to an injury.

Playing in an electric offense in Detroit will help Montgomery maintain a high floor in fantasy. Don't forget, he scored 13 touchdowns in 2023, and his high touchdown usage shouldn't stop in 2024. Despite only averaging a 42% snap share in the final nine weeks, he averaged 15 touches and nearly one touchdown per game. Another RB2 finish should be in store for the five-year vet.



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