Fantasy Football Sleepers 2012: Underrated RBs No One Is Talking About

George Anderson@BigChow73Analyst IIAugust 21, 2012

SEATTLE - OCTOBER 02:  Running back Jacquizz Rodgers #22 of the Atlanta Falcons rushes against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on October 2, 2011 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

In fantasy football, everyone is looking for the next great sleeper pick to help them win it all, and this year, there are three RBs that every owner should keep an eye on.

The running back position has become a fantasy mess the last couple years, as more teams are using two or even three RBs instead of one feature back. This may help the team, but when players are barely reaching 1,000 yards rushing, and some guy that has 20 carries has 10 touchdowns, it becomes frustrating.

The good news is that running backs Kevin Smith, Toby Gerhart and Jacquizz Rodgers do not belong to these “running back by committee” systems. This is the key to finding a great sleeper RB.

Kevin Smith is a veteran back out of Central Florida. He is third on the Detroit Lions depth chart, and that is why he makes such a great sleeper.

No one thinks to look at the third back on a roster, until that owner realizes who is ahead of that third back.

Smith has the great fortune of having Jahvid Best and Mikel Leshoure ahead of him.

Best is injury-prone, and last season, he only played in six games. He is also currently on the PUP (physically unable to perform) list, and according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, he will start the season on the PUP list. This means he will miss at least the first six games of the 2012 season.

The other back is youngster Mikel Leshoure. Leshoure did not play one snap last season due to a torn achilles tendon. Leshoure is currently recovering from an injured hamstring that occurred the second day of training camp.

This leaves a lot of room for Smith to get carries and to show that he can average his 4.9 yards per carry for an entire season. Smith is also a valuable pass-catcher, which is necessary for the pass-first offense the Lions run.

Kevin Smith is a decent option, but Toby Gerhart is a good sleeper candidate.

Adrian Peterson is coming off a torn ACL and a torn MCL. He was the AP everyone expected him to be last season, as he had 970 yards rushing with 13 total touchdowns in 12 games.

After his injury, Gerhart stepped in and the former first-round pick out of Stanford picked up where AP left off. He gained over 700 yards from scrimmage and did not turn the ball over once.

AP’s injury could hold him back this year, allowing for more carries and consequently, more fantasy points from Gerhart.

Of the three backs, Jacquizz Rodgers is definitely the best sleeper option and it is surprising how little he has been mentioned this offseason.

Atlanta has shown this preseason that it is relying more on its passing game and a quicker tempo. Veteran running back Michael Turner may be at risk of slowing down the pace, so the young Rodgers is just itching to explode onto the NFL scene.

According to Mike Singer of (via Cory Mandina of, “It's clear that new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter will utilize Rodgers in a completely different manner than he was used last season. ... The Falcons plan to use Rodgers rolling out of the backfield on screens as a contrast to pounding RB Michael Turner.”

Rodgers’ increased role in the offense may be only the beginning of what could be a permanent transition from Turner to Rodgers.