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Late-Round Draft Values - Running Backs

Rashaad Penny - Fantasy Football Rankings, NFL Injury News, DFS Lineup Picks

Once you reach the late rounds of drafts, everyone wants to draft high-upside fliers that can provide a great return on value. You can afford to take risks on a variety of different players, including prospects, forgotten veterans, players returning from injuries, or even skilled players with potential playing time concerns.

It's essential to have at least a handful of sleeper targets at each position heading into your fantasy football drafts, no matter the format. Today, we're looking at some late-round running backs for you to consider drafting this season.

Our editors have hand-picked these specific NFL players for your draft prep enjoyment. Normally only available to Premium subscribers, the outlooks below are meant to give you a taste of the in-depth analysis you receive with our industry-leading 2021 Draft Kit. Be sure to subscribe today and start reading all 300+ of our 2021 player outlooks, along with many other premium articles and tools available exclusively in our 2021 Draft Kit.

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers received 13 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association including Baseball Writer of the Year, Football Writers of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year and many more! Be sure to follow their analysis, rankings and advice all year long, and win big with RotoBaller! Read More!


Phillip Lindsay, Houston Texans

The former Denver Broncos breakout rookie has found a new home with the Texans this season, further muddying the already abysmal Texans backfield. Last year, David Johnson was the unquestioned feature running back for the Texans, but he had mediocre rushing production (147 carries for 691 yards and six touchdowns) which was bolstered by 33 receptions for 314 yards and another two touchdowns. I expect the receiving work to go to Lindsay almost exclusively due to his elusiveness and burst in the open field, but he can certainly contribute on the ground as well. He has breakaway speed (4.39 40 yard-dash) and over his first two seasons with the Broncos, Lindsay had over 1,000 yards and 30 receptions each year and he averaged 5.0 yards per carry doing it.

The Texans also signed veteran Mark Ingram II this offseason, but he only carried the ball 72 times last year and is well beyond his best years. If DJ struggles early, which is very possible given his workload and age, I'd expect the Texans to turn to Lindsay to try and generate a spark on offense. Lindsay is currently being drafted as the RB52, the 17th running back after Johnson, and he has the potential to be the most productive player in that backfield. I will probably own a ton of Lindsay shares due to the low risk and potential reward.

-- Frank Dyevoich

UPDATE: Houston Texans running backs Phillip LindsayMark Ingram II, and David Johnson will be utilized in a committee approach. Head coach David Culley essentially confirmed what many thought would be a halfback rotation, which is far from ideal for fantasy purposes. Johnson seems to have settled into more of a pass-catching role at camp, with Lindsay and Ingram splitting the early-down work, though there won't be enough volume or even scoring opportunities for any of these backs to have any upside. The best bet is that Lindsay, who had back-to-back 1200-scrimmage yard seasons in 2018 and 2019, has more left in the tank than the 31-year-old Ingram and soon-to-be 30-year-old Johnson.

-- Tim Capurso


Rashaad Penny, Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks declined to pick up Rashaad Penny's fifth-year option in the offseason, clearly signaling that they need to see significant contributions from him this year if he is to remain with the team. Penny has played in 27 games in his three pro seasons. While Chris Carson is the apparent No. 1 RB for the Seahawks, they have ideally envisioned Penny as a perimeter and open space complement. Penny has flashed some big-play ability at times so far throughout his career, and if he can finally stay healthy this year, he could at least emerge worthy of some flex consideration. In 2019, Penny had touchdown runs of 58 and 37 yards. In his rookie year, he ran for 108 yards on 12 carries vs. the Rams.

There is still some sleeper potential for Penny if he meets the challenge to finally deliver on the first-round investment the Seahawks made in him. As fantasy players well know, Carson is also an injury risk. An opportunity for Penny to become the lead RB for the Seahawks could emerge at any time. Since it appears he has sufficiently recovered from his ACL tear, you have to keep him in mind to possibly start for Seattle at some point in 2021. Penny is certainly worth the flier at his low ADP.

-- Scott Engel


Jamaal Williams, Detroit Lions

It appears as though this is Jamaal Williams' calling in life - to be a thorn in the side of a more talented starter. Williams spent the last four years taking far more work away from the superior Aaron Jones than fantasy managers liked. Now, he takes his talents to Detroit where he will do the exact same thing to the superior D'Andre Swift. You may not like it. You may not agree with it. But you have to accept it. Williams is going to touch the ball eight to 10 times per game and will likely see somewhere in the vicinity of a 40% snap share.

For Swift enthusiasts, this does not preclude the dynamic runner from being worthy of a second-round pick in fantasy drafts, but it does cap his upside. Swift profiles as more of a passing-down back, but Williams excels in pass protection. Williams is also likely viewed as the better between the tackles runner, regardless of whether that is actually true. Williams is going to have standalone RB3 value with high-end RB2 upside should Swift sustain an injury forcing him to miss time. Williams is the ideal type of running back to target in the later rounds, especially for those employing Zero RB or Single RB strategies.

-- Jason Katz


Kenneth Gainwell, Philadelphia Eagles

The former Memphis Tiger will have his work cut out for him in Philadelphia, with an explosive incumbent starter (Miles Sanders) and plenty of NFL veterans with playing experience ahead of him (Boston Scott). A mobile quarterback (Jalen Hurts) and questionable offensive line further complicate the first-year outlook for the Day 3 selection. Carries will be difficult to come by for Gainwell his rookie season with so much experience ahead of him on the depth chart.

Thankfully for Gainwell, he likely has the best receiving ability of any of the running backs in Philadelphia, especially with camp reports stating that Miles Sanders has struggled catching the ball during team situations. If Gainwell is going to have an impact, it will likely come through the air assuming there are no injuries ahead of him on the depth chart.

Gainwell is currently coming off the board in the 12th round of fantasy drafts as RB51, according to ADP. In PPR leagues, that represents fine value as a late-round dart throw who could see an early-season third-down role. His role could grow after a strong preseason and training camp or if Sanders suffers an injury throughout the 2021 NFL season. Gainwell is especially enticing for fantasy players who opt to attack the wide receiver position early in drafts and hope to get late value at the running back position. At such a low ADP, taking him as a later-round flier could potentially return a nice value on the investment.

-- Dan Fornek


Giovani Bernard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

For years, Giovani Bernard was a thorn in Joe Mixon's side. Despite being a valuable running back, Bernard was out there in passing situations and the two-minute offense. At age 29, Bernard is now in Tampa Bay, and reports out of camp have him pegged with a similar role to James White in New England during the Brady era.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians said running back Giovani Bernard "has been pretty good" and is "going to be a major part of this offense." He has been a standout in training camp and is expected to have a vital role in the offense in 2021. Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones figure to see most of the early-down work while Bernard handles third-down snaps. Based on Arians' recent comments, the 29-year-old could see some early-down work as well.

Bernard has more fantasy value in PPR formats, especially with Tom Brady frequently targeting running backs in the passing game. The veteran RB's ADP is 175, and that's a cheap draft-day price to pay for a potential PPR contributor within the RB3/FLEX range. It's a nice flier to take in the later-rounds of PPR drafts.

UPDATE: Bernard missed practice on Thursday with what is being described as a "mild high-ankle sprain." Head coach Bruce Arians doesn't seem overly concerned with the injury and expects the veteran to be back for their Week 1 matchup against the Dallas Cowboys.

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