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Five Sleepers at Running Back for Fantasy Football


As fantasy football draft season heats up and enters full stride, RotoBaller will be bringing all sorts of high quality analysis and sleepers to target in your drafts.  These are five solid running back sleepers for your 2014 fantasy football drafts.

 

Christine Michael, Seattle Seahawks

I don’t even know if we can call Michael a sleeper anymore to be honest. The whispering coming from the football world has been getting louder and louder about Michael’s potential. The crazy thing about it? He was a 3rd string running back for Seattle just this past season. Marshawn Lynch currently holds a strong grip on the starting job, but there is no secret that Lynch has been carrying a heavy load over the past few seasons for Seattle. Lynch is also 28 years old now, and there has been a plethora of running backs that seem to lose a step once they reach 28-30 years of age (MJD, Michael Turner, Frank Gore). Lynch is a superior runner to those listed above, and he should still have a solid season. However, if an unforeseen injury was to plague Lynch at any point this season, Michael will be unleashed and ready to kick a** and take names. His ADP is around 150 which means he is going toward the back of drafts, but if you snatch him a bit earlier than that, you'll have yourself some huge value if Lynch goes down and at worst he'll be a small trade chip.

 

Tre Mason, St Louis Rams

NFL-Fantasy-Football-Advice-Analysis-Draft-Rookie-Sleeper-Tre-MasonThe Rams 3rd round pick in the 2014 draft was Tre Mason, the dominant Auburn back who put up 1816 rushing yards with a 5.7 YPC and 23 TD, along with 163 receiving yards on 12 catches with another TD. While Zac Stacy is currently slated atop the Rams’ depth chart, Mason has the ability to not only catch Stacy, but possibly take over the job outright. The Rams spent most of 2013 juggling running backs until they were satisfied with what Stacy was giving them. That being said, there is a reason why they chose to draft Mason-- they clearly like his potential.

One key part of Mason’s game that is superior to Stacy’s is his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. On top of that, Mason is a far more elusive than Stacy, who only managed to force a missed tackle on 10.8% of his touches this past season. Mason is currently going 143rd in drafts - this is an interesting battle to watch throughout preseason, and he is definitely a player to target at the back end of your draft.

 

C.J. Anderson, Denver Broncos

Anderson is considered to be the front-runner to capture the backup running back role for Denver. The prospect of such a prominent role in possibly the league’s top offense is always a positive thing. Now some may ask how prominent of a role is being a backup? Why don’t you go ask Montee Ball (who is now the starter) how that went last year? Anderson will have the chance to gain Manning’s trust, and if he does that, all it takes is an injury or a lack of performance from the still-somewhat-unproven Montee Ball to really make things interesting. He’s worth a stash as a high upside handcuff and judging by his current ADP of 180, he can be drafted in the very last round of your draft

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Lance Dunbar, Dallas Cowboys

Yes, Demarco Murray had a good season last year. Yes, Lance Dunbar spent most of 2013 riddled with nagging injuries. All that being true, Dunbar’s window of opportunity just grew with the addition of Scott Linehan as the Cowboys’ Offensive Coordinator. For those of you who don’t really know Linehan’s past history, all one has to do is take a look at how he managed Detroit’s offense last season. Pass happy? You bet. But take a look at how he used his running backs. Both Reggie Bush and Joique Bell were heavily involved in the passing game. To help matters even more, Dunbar is known for his ability to catch out of the backfield. Keep in mind Murray has yet to play a full 16 game season, any injury could open the floodgates for a Dunbar takeover which means he has a ton of sneaky sleeper value. Look for a Murray-Dunbar 1-2 punch this upcoming season with Dunbar to get more carries than expected. Dunbar is a must own handcuff for any Murray owners and like Anderson can be had in the very tail end of your draft.

  

Trent Richardson, Indianapolis Colts

This time a year ago it would have been blasphemous to look at Richardson as a possible sleeper. He was a legit 1st round pick. A disappointing 2013 season turned a first round fantasy pick to a “Ah no thanks, I’ll pass” fantasy player. While I wouldn’t suggest drafting Richardson in the first round, or even as a RB1, if his stock keeps falling look for him to be a prime buy-low candidate. He scored 11 TDs for the Browns just two seasons ago proving that even if he doesn’t maintain a good YPC average, he should still be a solid source of touchdowns. Hopefully the benefit of having a full offseason to learn the Colts’ playbook will be enough to turn Richardson’s performance around.  Add that to the fact that he showed good pass catching prowess and yards after the catch ability, and Richardson has the upside to surpass his current RB27 69th overall ADP.