Sports Magazine

Football Fantasyland 2012 Sleepers: Peas Under the Mattress (RBs)

By Brettclancy @thebrettclancy

Decided my original sleeper post was too long, so I’m breaking it down by position. Intro paragraph is always the same.

You know the story of the Princess and the Pea, right? Well, the gist is that there’s this princess who can’t sleep if you put a single pea under her mattress because it hurts her back…or something. Look, the point is, in your fantasy draft this year you are the princess (deal with it, it’s a good thing.) If you can find those players (or “peas”) buried deep in the draft (or “mattress”) you will be able to sleep easy knowing your fantasy roster is ready for anything…like say losing 3 of your top four picks in the first two weeks of the season (trust me, it happens.) So, without further confusion, I present, your peapods for the Running Back position:

Ben Tate, HOU: He’s my top back up off the board. Things have changed in Houston, they’re no longer a team that needs to come out gun slinging to Andre Johnson, and playing catch-up. This is a hard nosed running team with a top defense (who just so happen to have a QB who can sling it and one of the best WR’s in football.) Even if Arian Foster does stay healthy all season Tate will get his touches. He’s shown plenty of promise, and he can break big runs to make the most of a limited workload.

Issac Redman, PIT: I mentioned him in my handcuffs article, but it’s worth mentioning again. Redman is almost assured to at least start the season as Pittsburgh’s lead runner, and as long as the job is his he should prove worthy of play as a #2 RB or Flex and I don’t expect him to give back full control of the backfield once Mendenhall has recovered and he’ll maintain some of that flex value. He’s worth a late round pick, even if just for the weeks he’s the starter.

Donald Brown, IND: Joseph Addai is gone and Brown is going to get a shot as a feature back. That said, I mentioned the Colts being likely to pass quite a bit, so Brown will really need the feature role to have much value, but I think the Colts could surprise some people this year and if Andrew Luck lights the spark Brown could start a brushfire. Consider him a low-end flex/#4 RB. UPDATE: Brown was the recipient of Andrew Luck’s first pass and took it for a long TD. Other than that it was a quiet 1st preseason game, but I like rookie Vick Ballard as the guy to get significant carries if Brown gets hurt.

Peyton Hillis, KC: Hillis is a little interesting. With Jamaal Charles still working his was back from a season ending injury Hillis hold particular value for Charles owners should the speedster aggravate the injury or suffer any set backs in his recovery. Without Charles on your team Hillis still has value. He’ll be used in tandem with Charles (who does his best work on limited carries anyway) and he’ll be the goal line back. Hillis should be one of the first back-up runners taken for these reasons. 11th-12th round when the field is thinning Hillis is your guy.

Daniel Thomas, MIA: Like David Wilson, Thomas is a guy you must grab if you take the guy in front of him (in this case it’s Reggie Bush) Bush has had injury issues in the past, and they could resurface, allowing Thomas (who was a first round draft pick) a chance to reclaim the role he started last season with (injury gave way to Bush’s rise.) Even if you don’t have Reggie, he’s about as promising a back-up as you’ll find once the draft starts to dwindle.

David Wilson, NYG: If you have Ahmad Bradshaw you need to draft Wilson. I hate when people say this, but he was taken at #32 overall for a reason. He’ll get some carries as a spell back, but you probably won’t be able to use him unless Bradshaw gets injured. He’ll need to show he’s capable in the preseason, but I think Wilson could put up some numbers (even if it’s just for a few weeks while Bradshaw nurses his ankle)

Jaquizz Rodgers, ATL: Mentioned him in handcuffs, and I still believe he’s the guy to own if you take Michael Turner. After watching Rodgers run against Baltimore in the first week of the preseason (9 carries 33 yards, TD) however I’m recommending him as a late round steal for the rest of you. He’s only 5’6 but he moves well through the tackles, he’s also the best pass catching back on a team that wants to throw.

Ronnie Hillman, DEN: If this past off-season taught us anything, it’s that John Elway always gets his way. Well, Hillman is Elway’s guy. Now, Hillman’s a rookie and this is still McGahee’s backfield, but unfortunately I don’t know how long that will last. McGahee is an ideal John Fox back, he’s older, but still runs hard and will truck right over defenders, but Hillman is a Peyton Manning back, explosive speed, good hands…and at some point the pendulum of power will swing towards Manning and McGahee could end up back in his Goal Line role. Hillman holds a particular value for McGahee owners as an insurance policy, but he should be considered as a decent depth guy once you get into the 11th-13th round range.

DeAngelo Williams, CAR: It’s weird to be putting him on the sleeper list, but after last season when Cam Newton stole the spotlight and John Stewarts pass catching ability made him the favorite people forgot about Williams. It’s understandable, Cam Newton and now Mike Tolbert figure to cut into his carries at the goal line, Stewart’s already the pass catcher, but D-Will is still making an awful lot of money, so expect him to see touches. In fact he should see a sharp increase in his touches next year with the Panthers (hopefully) looking to protect some leads this year. He should still be hanging around in the 9th or 10th round and if you’re looking a little thin at RB he’s worth a flyer a RB 3/4 with upside.

James Starks, GB: Besides giving you the rights to team name’s like “Starks and Stripes,” or “James and the Giant Cheese;” it’s worth noting that James Starks has been promoted to feature back in Green Bay with the departure of Ryan Grant. Yes, the Packers are home to an awesome aerial attack, but they are also home to last years winning-est regular season, with nothing to show for it. I think the back will try for a little more balance this year in hopes of conserving the fireworks for the playoffs. Even if they don’t though, Starks should rack up 1,000 yards easy while adding and other couple hundred through the air making him valuable as a Flex play or 4th runner with upside. UPDATE: According to the Packers have signed Cedric Benson to a one year deal. At the very least I’m guessing he ends up splitting carries with Starks, who is dealing with some turf toe issues. If Starks turf toe lingers and Benson gets a feature role you’ll want to remember that he has 3 consecutive 1,000 yard seasons. Assuming we are back to a committee though, it’s best to stay away from all Packers RB in your drafts.

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