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Sleepers and Value Plays: Running Backs
David Dorey
UPDATED: August 28, 2013
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Other Sleepers and Value Plays:  Quarterbacks  |  Running Backs  |  Wide Receivers  |  Tight Ends

A sleeper is a player taken as a backup who ends up worthy of being a starter or at least far outplays the draft slot where you selected him. Below are players ranked by the current Average Draft Position (ADP) as found on MyFantasyLeague.com considering all scoring systems as a general basis. I'm assuming a league of 12 teams where most would take two or three running backs for starting purposes and then up throught the 60th back drafted as a backup.

Green Players are the values/sleepers I like while Red Players are the ones I do not value high enough to ever draft. If not red or green, the player is slotted pretty close to where I see him.

Average Draft positions taken from MyFantasyLeague.com using only real drafts conducted after August 25th

Starters - Value Plays

ADP Team Player Analysis
1 MIN Peterson, Adrian You know he will fall but even then could still be #1
2 TBB Martin, Doug Youth, right offense, good blockers catches ball, easy division. Cha-ching.
3 HOU Foster, Arian Everyone is scared of Foster after 3 big years. He is finally off PUP and he says he "thinks" he will be ready for week one. Why take a risk in the first round if you do not have to... and you do not have to...
4 KCC Charles, Jamaal Charles in an Andy Reid offense. Upside to be huge. Grab Nile Davis just to be sure.
5 BUF Spiller, C.J. Never running more than 207 times worries me a little. But his upside higher than risk.
6 CLE Richardson, Trent Second year and now with Norv Turner back to running an offense. Seems solid with upside.
7 BAL Rice, Ray The Ravens likely for an offensive downturn but Rice should maintain if no one else.
8 PHI McCoy, LeSean Good spot for McCoy who should be big long as he stays healthy.
9 SEA Lynch, Marshawn Seems like he has met his upside and ceiling but has almost no downside. Safe pick
10 CHI Forte, Matt Trestman makes huge difference starting with Forte. Running and receiving - I'd buy.
11 WAS Morris, Alfred Catches even less than Lynch. I'll never own him but understand why this is a decent spot.
12 ATL Jackson, Steven This is still a little higher than I would go on the 30 YO back in a new offense but it is not hard to make the case for him being this good. I just never end up with him but he is probably okay. This would be better than he has been in many years though.
13 TEN Johnson, Chris Johnson is always this good and usually better.
14 DET Bush, Reggie This is fine in a PPR league since he looks like he is going to be a monster if he stays healthy unlike any other DET RB in the last ten or so years.
15 JAC Jones-Drew, Maurice He looks healthy and JAX has nothing else to do but over-use him this year since he'll be somewhere else in 2014. Contract year and MJD is worth the risk to me.
16 NEP Ridley, Stevan I think Ridley is solid for a RB2 and while Vereen may or may not cut into Ridley's workload, Ridley is a scoring machine. And he'll take between most and all rushing attempts.
17 SFO Gore, Frank Don't like him any more than this because I bet they take it easier on the old man so he is fresh for the playoffs. Solid RB2.
18 DAL Murray, DeMarco Last year he only had one 100 yard game. And he was injured as he is every single year including college. Dallas O-line not exactly elite. I live in Dallas and I would not draft Murray.
19 NOS Sproles, Darren Getting old at 31 but in a PPR league makes a perfectly suitable RB2.
20 NYG Wilson, David Was red and now green with the leg fracture of Andre Brown that should make Wilson a true full-timer in an offense that loves to run..
21 OAK McFadden, Darren Understand why you make this pick and with new offense should be back to that form he had in that one decent season he had (2010) of his five years in the league. Has NEVER played more than 13 games in any season. Let someone else wonder where he went when they needed him most.
22 GBP Lacy, Eddie Not convinced he will be much better than this in the pass-happy scheme of the Packers but as a deep RB2, gotta like the primary back of one of the most prolific offenses. Has risen in popularity sharply in recent weeks. DuJuan Harris going on IR seems to remove anything cute from happening.
23 MIA Miller, Lamar This deep great pick. No way Daniel Thomas gets in the way. Maybe not a ton of upside here but should make a serviceable RB2.
24 SDC Mathews, Ryan Sort of like McFadden. Had one decent year, two bad ones and never played more than 14 games in any season. New offense, less powerful means less likely a dominating rushing game is going to spring up.
25 DEN Ball, Montee While I do not think Hillman is going to be a negative factor here, I am hesitant to rule out Knowshon Moreno at least at the start of the year because Manning must be protected. As a RB3 I guess it is still okay but I think he probably starts out sharing and gets up to speed more by mid-season. Way more talented a runner than anyone else in DEN.
26 CIN Bernard, Giovani I want to watch this Spiller-knockoff but I fear his first season will be like Spillers. And that Green-Ellis does factor in enough to really detract from Bernard. This deep I am okay with the pick but I have concerns despite the admitted upside here.
27 STL Richardson, Daryl An appropriate RB3 kind of pick. May not rise to RB2 stature but should hold his own here.
28 IND Bradshaw, Ahmad Higher on Bradshaw than I was at first, but still have never drafted him. His health history scares me away. Heck, it scared the NY Giants away.
29 NEP Vereen, Shane Like Vereen but only in reception point leagues.
30 NYJ Ivory, Chris Decent grab for RB3 despite the woeful Jets offense not looking like much. Starting RB is a starting RB.

After the Starters are taken, look for sleepers and avoid bad values for your backup

ADP Team Player Analysis
31 ARI Mendenhall, Rashard Already said he had a loose knee. ARI is not where RBs go to die, it is where they go to completely fade away from all memory. No O-line doesn't help. ARI is like DET - they just cannot keep RBs healthy for some reason.
32 CIN Green-Ellis, BenJarvus I like this pick as a bye week filler or a really deep flex play. He won't be as good as last year but he won't lose all fantasy value either.
33 PIT Bell, Le'Veon This pick depends all on how well you can weather not using someone for a month to two months. Small rosters - forget it. Deep rosters, sure - I like taking him and stashing him away with expectations that maybe by mid-season I have a FT runner. But I would not reach for this pick. And I had a man-crush on Bell earlier.
34 CAR Williams, DeAngelo Maybe get Williams if you take Bell.... Hmmmm... nah. Not like any CAR back has really mattered since Newton started stealing all their thunder. This is a decent pick but maybe a throw-away by mid-season or so. He is 30 and not likely to last no matter what.
35 NOS Ingram, Mark I like Ingram as a RB4. Lots of pointing fingers say he is as healthy as he has ever been in the NFL, Payton is back and wants to run, etc, etc. Worth the pick here.
36 HOU Tate, Ben Gotta pay up if you own Foster. Drafters are all over Tate. Probably too much. But worth the gamble this late.
37 NYG Brown, Andre RB4 territory and Brown should be no worse than a great bye week filler and golden if Wilson gets hurt. Fractured leg.
38 IND Ballard, Vick The only upside here is that Bradshaw usually is hurt. Then again, Ballard did not exactly burning up the scoreboard last year.
39 DEN Hillman, Ronnie As messy as DEN may be, I think Hillman is the odd man out regardless of what transpires with Moreno and Ball.
40 PHI Brown, Bryce Still like this pick though Polk looked good lately. PHI wants to run and run and run and McCoy can only do so much.
41 BAL Pierce, Bernard If you own RIce, okay. Otherwise, not that attractive.
42 SDC Woodhead, Danny In a PPR league, this may be a bye week filler
43 BUF Jackson, Fred Fred is so old that his name is Fred. Let the Spiller guy have him.
44 CAR Stewart, Jonathan On PUP but this is cheap. But never cheap enough for me.
45 PIT Dwyer, Jonathan Not convinced all that great play in the preseason does anything to change the RBBC with Isaac Redman. Kinda should take all three PIT backs and then see what happens. And hope that whatever happens has some fantasy value.
46 NOS Thomas, Pierre NO wants to run more and at least Chris Ivory is gone. Okay pick at this point.
47 ATL Rodgers, Jacquizz He just seems so summer of 2012.
48 CHI Bush, Michael Forte owners only.
49 DET Leshoure, Mikel Not sure how he ends up this high. Would not touch him thanks to Bell.
50 SEA Michael, Christine I really like Michael and he is a must own for the Lynch guy. If Lynch gets hurt and Michael is on the waiver wire, someone is blowing their free agent cap to get him and rightfully so.
51 DET Bell, Joique #2 in DET and seriously, when have they not had to resort to their #2 in the last decade?
52 DEN Moreno, Knowshon Take him in a deep league where you own Ball just to sleep better.
53 NYJ Powell, Bilal Not a bad pick. #2 in NYJ and Ivory already got hurt in camp.
54 STL Pead, Isaiah Not as bad as he seems, but still a #2 behind Richardson with not much upside.
55 WAS Helu, Roy Morris owner has a clear #2 to get here.
56 GBP Franklin, Johnathan Not feeling it for Franklin. Not impressed.
57 SFO James, LaMichael Why do people keep drafting him. Nothing is going to happen.
58 TEN Greene, Shonn TD only league maybe. CJ owners could play it safe this deep.
59 PIT Redman, Isaac It is a stupid game to play but you kinda need Dwyer too early and Redman too late to feel like you have the first month of the Steelers backfield. Actually this is really a mess. But what the heck.
60 MIA Thomas, Daniel Would never take him. He proved last year why.

Undrafted - Best Value

Team Player Analysis
OAK Jennings, Rashad I'd draft Waylon Jennings if he was #2 to Darren McFadden.
SF Hunter, Kendall This is the #2 in SF for the Gore owners to take. Leave McMichael alone.
TB James, Mike Looked great in preseason but only for the Martin owner in a deep league.
KC Davis, Knile You know, Charles has been injured before. Not a bad final round steal.
DAL Randle, Joseph One of these guys will start 3 to 5 games. I just cannot definitively say which one.
DAL Dunbar, Lance

Other Sleepers and Value Plays:  Quarterbacks  |  Running Backs  |  Wide Receivers  |  Tight Ends


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