Fantasy Football Sleepers 2012: Running Backs Who Are Grossly Undervalued

Tim KeeneyContributor IAugust 17, 2012

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 24:   DeAngelo Williams #34 of the Carolina Panthers is tackled by Tanard Jackson #36 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during their game at Bank of America Stadium on December 24, 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

As much as the real game of football has changed, running backs are still the most important position in fantasy football simply because there are so few reliable ones.

As we enter the era of "We are going to throw the ball 50 times per game," the ability to find quarterbacks, wide receivers and tight ends has become easier.

That makes the necessity of finding value at the running back position all the more important.

With that being said, here's a look at some ball-carriers who are being drafted, on average (according to, far below where they should be. 


Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers (Average Draft Position: 41.3)

Hold on, let me get this straight.

Year after year, people are scared off by Frank Gore because of his inability to get through an entire season. He's always been consistent with his production, but the injury concern is just too big of a risk.

OK, I get that, but I don't get why his value has dropped so much (he has been a late first-round or early second-round selection the last few years) now that he's coming off a 16-game, 282-carry season.

Are people just expecting the law of averages to play out?

Devaluing Gore after one of his best seasons as a pro doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me, but if I can grab him as the 20th running back off the board, I'm fine with it.

The 29-year-old plays in the perfect ground-and-pound system. His team will constantly have the lead, and Kendall Hunter and Brandon Jacobs are more like capable guys to give Gore rest rather than steal his job.

You always know what you're getting with Gore, and early in the fourth round, you're getting a steal. 


Willis McGahee, Denver Broncos (ADP: 50.0)

Here's a little somethin' somethin' from the "bet you didn't know that" department:

During the 2011-12 season, Willis McGahee was tied for first in the NFL with seven 100-yard games (although we'll just give him second, because Arian Foster did it in two less games).

Sure, the 10-year veteran has a lot of mileage on his legs, but he's coming off of one of the best seasons of his career (4.8 yards per carry is second best ever for him), there's not a ton of competition behind him (Lance Ball, Ronnie Hillman), and you can get him for a huge discount.

The former Hurricane isn't the sexiest of options, but it's hard to find 1,200-yard backs out there, and the four touchdowns will likely increase with Tim Tebow out of the mix. 

For whatever reason, McGahee is being drafted behind guys like BenJarvus Green-Ellis and is barely being drafted ahead of Shonn Greene, Peyton Hillis and Donald Brown.

On average, McGahee is the 24th running back being taken, meaning you can likely get him as your third running back. If that happens, consider it a downright steal. And then laugh at the other people in your draft. 


DeAngelo Williams, Carolina Panthers (ADP: 101.3)

People know DeAngelo Williams is still the starter in Carolina, right?

Yes, he and Jonathan Stewart will continue to split carries, but as they proved last year, they can both be productive at the same time. 

Williams racked up 836 and seven touchdowns, while Stewart totaled 761 and four, and that's even with Cam Newton adding 706 and 14 of his own. 

This is a high-powered offense, and for someone who gets as many touches in it as Williams, he is being drafted awfully low.

Behind Ryan Williams, who has yet to see a snap in the NFL, behind Toby Gerhart, behind David Wilson and behind a lot of other guys he shouldn't be. I understand the concern around the 29-year-old, but this is the portion of the draft where you are already drunk.

Williams is too good for that portion.

If you can get him in the ninth round as the 41st running back off the board, you should pat yourself on the shoulder and give an approving head nod.