Fantasy Football Sleepers – Running Backs
I’m going to preface this by stating that in this day and age there really are no “sleepers” since there is so much coverage that a fourth string RB can’t make a DB miss in practice without the world knowing about it. That said, here is a list of RBs that I feel will exceed expectations this season.
Justin Fargas – A lot of people assume that the addition of Darren McFadden means the end for Justin Fargas. I couldn’t disagree more. He was an 1000 yard back last year on a rotten team. He’ll likely be penciled in as the starter while Run DMC gets accustomed to the NFL, it’s speed, blocking assignments, etc. Plus, McFadden has had a great deal of success sharing the backfield. Why change that up? I don’t see another 1000 yard year from Fargas, but 800-1000 total yards isn’t without question. Neither will likely get the red zone carries as Michael Bush looks ready to contribute.
Steve Slaton – Right now he’s #3 in the depth chart behind Ahman Green and Chris Brown. Durability has been an issue for both of those RBs though, which could bode well for the rookie out of West Virginia. Even if just one of them go down, Slaton could stand to receive a fair amount of work. He has a lot to overcome, but Slaton is a decent risk to contribute down the stretch.
LaMont Jordan – Getting cut by the Raiders of all teams has to sting. However, LaMont couldn’t have landed in a better situation. New England almost always takes teams’ castoffs and turns them into serviceable players. He’ll be buried initially in the depth chart behind Maroney, Sammy Morris, and Kevin Faulk, but his versatility could earn him some touches. He is a big, strong back (5’10, 230 lbs) who has exceptional hands out of the backfield. If Maroney and Morris struggle at the line, he could get a shot at that. If Faulk struggles or misses time, Jordan can fill that void. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Faulk and Jordan used together in third-down packages.
Darren Sproles – With Michael Turner moving on to greener pastures (at least according to his bank account), Sproles gets the envious task of backing up the best RB in the game. The recipe could be similar for Sproles. The Chargers light teams up early, and then run them into submission. Sproles is quick and could hit some Home Runs. He averaged 10.9 yards per carry last year, which is an indication of his big play ability. If something terrible were to happen to LT, he would be one of the most sought after pickups in the league.
Pierre Thomas – If Deuce McAllister’s health is an issue this year, Pierre Thomas suddenly has some fantasy merit again. He didn’t do much last year, but he finished the 2007 with a bang running for 105 yards on 20 carries and 12 receptions for 121 yards against the Chicago Bears. That could have been a fluke, especially when you consider it was the season’s final game, but it’s worth taking notice.
Jacob Hester – If Sproles gets hurt or is unable to handle to workload as LT’s backup, rookie Jacob Hester could be given a shot.
Jamaal Charles – If LJ struggles, the rookie out of Texas could be given a shot.
Brandon Jackson – He was supposed to win the job last year. If Grant continues to holdout or gets hurt, Jackson can get another chance.
DeAngelo Williams – Jonathan Stewart will be drafted ahead of him, but if he struggles to catch on, DeAngelo could surprise a lot of people.