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Five Fantasy Football Running Back Deep Sleepers for 2024

Rico Dowdle - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, Waiver Wire Pickups

One of the best parts of playing fantasy football is finding potential sleepers in your draft. The second you hear a league mate exclaim “Who?!” immediately after your pick, you know you’ve done something right.

Due to the natural fragility of the position, it's even more important if you can find sleepers at running back. Today, we are going to discuss several deep sleepers at the running back position to consider taking in drafts. Players we discuss here all have a National Fantasy Football Championship (NFFC) average draft position (ADP) outside of the top 160 picks. You should be able to land any of the players discussed here in the last few rounds of your draft.

Make sure you keep up to date with all your fantasy football needs by following RotoBaller on X and checking out RotoBaller.com. Here are several running back deep sleepers to target in your 2024 fantasy football draft.

Be sure to check all of our fantasy football rankings for 2024 fantasy football drafts:

Antonio Gibson - New England Patriots - NFFC ADP: 164.19

2023 was not Gibson’s year. He had a career-low 265 rushing yards and scored just one rushing touchdown. Gibson fell out of favor with the Washington Commanders and signed a three-year, $11.25 million deal with the New England Patriots this offseason. While last year was not his best, there’s still reason for optimism. Among running backs with at least 65 carries, Gibson ranked first in Fantasy Points Data Suite’s Missed Tackles Forced Per Attempt (MTF/ATT). This suggests that Gibson still has the same playmaking ability that led to RB12 and RB13 finishes in PPR formats from 2020-2021.

Rhamondre Stevenson was not effective last year. If he continues to struggle, Gibson could seize the lead role. He is a solid late-round selection for fantasy drafters, particularly for those who choose to go with a zero RB strategy.

Khalil Herbert - Chicago Bears - NFFC ADP: 165.57

Herbert was hoping to become the Bears’ lead rusher for the 2024 season. Instead, the team signed D'Andre Swift to a three-year, $24 million contract in free agency. It’s understandable as Swift is coming off a career year and Herbert has never totaled more than 731 rushing yards in a season. However, Herbert’s underlying data paints a different picture.

Among running backs with 65 carries, Herbert finished 11th in MTF/ATT last year. In fact, Herbert finished higher than Swift in MTF/ATT, Next Gen Stats Rush Yards Over Expectation (RYOE), Pro Football Focus’s (PFF) Elusive Rating, and PFF’s Rushing Grade.

There is precedent for a team turning away from a back after signing him to a big contract. Just last year, we saw the Carolina Panthers bench starter Miles Sanders in favor of Chuba Hubbard after they inked Sanders to a four-year, $25.4 million deal. If Swift struggles or injuries plague him, don’t be surprised if Herbert wrestles the starting job away. Consider him one of the top handcuffs available in drafts. There have been some rumors Herbert is on Chicago's roster bubble entering training camp. Should he be released, he is talented enough to carve out a role on any roster. He might even wind up in a better situation. Either way, Herbert can be a major asset to fantasy managers in all leagues if the opportunity presents itself.

Rico Dowdle - Dallas Cowboys - NFFC ADP: 183.36

To the surprise of many, the Dallas Cowboys did not add a running back during April’s draft. It was an unexpected move after the team let Tony Pollard walk in free agency. This leaves Dowdle in a position to potentially capitalize.

Dallas did bring back former starter Ezekiel Elliott, but he is nearing the end of his career. Elliott’s yards per carry (YPC) have declined each of the last three seasons, culminating with a career-low 3.5 YPC last year. He also finished just 41st in RYOE. Dowdle only carried the ball 89 times last season, but he flashed good vision and explosiveness. He should command a healthy amount of touches.

Given Elliott’s age and declining play, we are likely looking at a timeshare in Dallas. Dowdle should be the more effective player. If he plays well enough, he might be able to take over lead-back duties in this high-powered offense.

Jaleel McLaughlin - Denver Broncos - NFFC ADP: 197.88

McLaughlin displayed impressive burst and quickness whenever he touched the football as a rookie.

He graded out very well across several metrics. PFF graded McLaughlin as its 16th-highest rusher in 2023, and he also finished seventh in Elusive Rating. Among rushers with 65 attempts, McLaughlin also finished fifth in MTF/ATT. There is serious upside here if he is given more opportunities. Running backs have always been heavily involved in Sean Payton’s offense. After a disappointing season from Javonte Williams, McLaughlin may command more touches in 2024.

Listed at 5-foot-7 and 180 pounds, it’s unlikely McLaughlin ever becomes a featured back. However, he can still be a useful asset in PPR leagues if he can carve out a Reggie Bush-type role. At his current cost, he is the exact type of player who can help win your league if he hits. If he doesn’t, just kick him to the curb.

Kimani Vidal - Los Angeles Chargers - NFFC ADP: 242.49

Vidal finished second in the nation in rushing last year while playing for the Troy Trojans. He totaled 1,661 rushing yards. The competition in the Sun Belt Conference is lacking, which is part of the reason why he fell to the sixth round of April’s draft. However, the Chargers are a fine landing spot for the rookie.

The competition standing in Vidal’s way is currently Gus Edwards, J.K. Dobbins, and Isaiah Spiller. Dobbins is coming off another devastating injury after tearing his Achilles tendon. Spiller has been a massive disappointment and may not even make the final roster. Edwards is coming off a career year with the Baltimore Ravens and finished a respectable 18th in RYOE.

Edwards does enter his age-29 season and has never handled more than 198 carries in a year. There is plenty of room for another back to emerge in this offense. Vidal has enough talent to be a fantasy difference-maker if he carves out a role. If injuries strike the depth chart, Vidal could be a league-winner. He makes for a good late-round dart throw in all formats.

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