Fantasy Football RB Preview: Sleeper Running Backs
Justin Vreeland breaks down which running backs could be huge values at their current ADP.
Welcome to the fourth edition of the running back previews! This week we are going to take a look at a few backs who could be sleepers at their current ADP (We will focus on running backs with ADP’s north of 150). These evaluations could change based on what goes down in the upcoming NFL Draft, but we can go ahead and get an idea of where some of these players stand now. Without further adieu, let’s dive in!
Justin Jackson (Chargers – ADP: 170.3) – Not really much of a sleeper, but I do think he is very interesting at this pick. With Gordon out of the picture, Ekeler is set to take over the lead role while Jackson gets bumped into the number two role. However, Ekeler does not really profile as a workhorse back and Jackson should get plenty of touches. He should also get the short yardage and goal line carries making him more interesting in standard than in PPR (with Ekeler dominating the passing game work). With that being said, Jackson has performed well as a receiver (hauling in 80-perent of the passes thrown his way in his career), so he is not completely one-dimensional. Operating in a third-string role last season while also dealing with injuries, Jackson averaged 6.9 yards per carry for 200 yards on 29 rush attempts. He is a talented player and this is a great value.
Ryquell Armstead (Jaguars – ADP: 248.5) – Armstead is not currently slated for much of a role this season, but we can’t ignore the trade rumors swirling around Fournette right now. If Fournette were to be moved, the Jaguars would likely give Armstead a crack at the starting gig, since they have too many other areas of need to focus on right now. He wasn’t all that good as a rookie last season, but the volume would be there and around pick 250 there isn’t much risk involved. Jacksonville also showed that they have no issue using him in the passing game with 24 targets and 14 receptions last season, despite just 35 carries. I think it would be surprising if the Jags do in fact move Fournette, but it is a possibility. There is a pretty good chance that Armstead has zero value this year for fantasy, but the small chance of him being a high-volume back in a post-Fournette offense intrigues me enough to take a chance at this pick.
Benny Snell (Steelers – ADP: 260.5) – A must grab as a handcuff to Conner, but I also think he could be a solid option for people who don’t draft Conner. I am not a Conner believer and he had all kinds of issues last season, which has led to the Steelers questioning if he is ‘the guy.’ Snell is currently listed third on the depth chart, behind Conner and Jaylen Samuels , but he is more the backup to Conner than Samuels is. He is a stronger presence on the ground and is more of a workhorse type than Samuels. He needs to improve as pass-catcher and that should be his biggest focus right now. Conner has shown to be prone to injuries and Snell could easily find himself in a high-volume role this season. Keep in mind, he did have five games with at least 15 carries last season as a rookie, so the Steelers have shown they have faith in him as a runner.
Eno Benjamin (Draftee – ADP: 282.5) – When looking at deeper running backs in the draft I like to look at the ones who have shown versatility. Being versatile makes it easier for a player to get on the field and be involved. Benjamin was fifth among running backs in receptions last season with 42 and he racked up 35 the year before that. He also rushed for over 1,000 yards for the second straight season and compiled 26 rushing touchdowns over his last two years at Arizona State. His ability in the passing game could land him a complimentary role early on, giving him a chance to shine and garner a fantasy-viable spot on your roster.
Lamical Perine (Draftee – ADP: 309.6) – Now we are getting deep! This is more of a gut call, but there’s a lot that I like with Perine and think he could work his way into volume touches. I watch a lot of Florida games and Perine was the most impressive back I have seen since Mike Gillislee back in 2012 (that includes guys like Matt Jones , Mack Brown , Kelvin Taylor , and Jordan Scarlett). He didn’t have any seasons in which he rushed for over 1,000 yards, but that was more due to lack of volume than anything else. He averaged 6.2 and 5.1 yards per carry the last two seasons in the toughest conference in college football. He has a knack for finding the end zone as well, with 27 total touchdowns over the last three seasons, despite never reaching 140 carries in any season. Lack of volume can be a knock on a guy as the draft approaches, but it also means his legs are fresher than most. He’s also a force in the passing game, as right behind Benjamin was Perine, who finished sixth in the country among running backs in receptions with 40. To top things off, he has experience on special teams, which will only further increase his chances of making an NFL roster and garnering more chances. This is someone I would target in dynasty leagues as well as his cheap price could pay off big time.