Fantasy Football: 7 Best Late-Round Options at RB
Recent years have made the position of running back a coveted one and one that it’s important to move for in the early rounds of any fantasy draft.
Ray Rice, Arian Foster and LeSean McCoy are three of the league’s greatest talents at RB, and each has a great chance of a championship run with his respective side.
However, where do you turn if you aren’t in that upper echelon of picks and are feeling stranded as your draft comes to a close and your thirst for a star running back remains unquenched?
Fear not, for there are sleepers out there that have the potential to do great things in the coming season and could still be available for selection in Round 13 onwards.
Rashad Jennings: Jacksonville Jaguars
With Maurice Jones-Drew’s position within the franchise looking uncertain (via NFL.com), this could be the year that Rashad Jennings takes full advantage of even the slightest gap in the side.
Jennings is a fourth-year back who missed all of 2011 thanks to a pretty serious knee injury, but the indications from training camp and preseason fixtures are that the 27-year-old will be the Jaguars’ starter.
Jones-Drew’s feud with Jacksonville owner Shad Khan has already gotten fairly public, and even if the issue was to be resolved and the player was to commit his loyalty to the team, Jennings could still get the nod.
Donald Brown: Indianapolis Colts
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Very likely to be frequently available past Round 6, this could well be the year that Donald Brown breaks the mold and surges through the RB ranks.
Brown is already the most plausible choice to start for the Colts in the coming season, and his UConn statistics would seem to back that up.
Although Andrew Luck has looked steady in preseason, the rookie QB will need all the help he can get from his rush offense, and Brown will be the man the youngster can turn to in many a clinch scenario.
Brown won’t be available as late as others, but expect to see his name pop up around the seventh or eighth round.
Kevin Smith: Detroit Lions
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In what is technically his second tenure in Lions colors, Kevin Smith will be eager to improve upon what was an impressive couple of months’ competition in 2011.
Mikel Leshoure—who had such massive expectations around him after being drafted last spring—will provide competition, but Smith should ultimately win out.
Leshoure could yet struggle with the hangovers of a serious ACL injury, and after violating the substance-abuse policy, he will miss the first two games of the campaign.
If Smith can get the job done in early season, he could give his peers the ammunition needed to assure himself of a starting spot for the remainder of the season, making him a very promising late-round choice.
Ryan Williams: Arizona Cardinals
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Ryan Williams appears to be making his way to Round 7 before being picked up, according to FantasyFootballCalculator.com.
At that stage of the game, the 22-year-old looks to be a great value as he strives to overcome the torn patellar tendon injury that brought an end to his 2011 season.
Beanie Wells isn’t exactly a stranger to injury, meaning that if the Arizona veteran was to sit out some time in the coming campaign, Williams would be more than ready to step in.
Kendall Hunter: San Francisco 49ers
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Having already shown his potential as a backup to Frank Gore in 2011, Hunter will be hoping that 2012 provides him with the opportunity he’s been craving.
Gore is quite prone to injury, and should he find himself sidelined for any substantial period of time, Hunter would more than happily step in for his mentor.
The 23-year-old posted numbers of 473 yards and two TDs in the 2011 regular season and looks to be a good bet for a future star.
Jacquizz Rodgers: Atlanta Falcons
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Likely to be available around the Round 9 mark, Jacquizz Rodgers is being tipped by many as a likely successor/replacement for Michael Turner this season.
Turner is 30 years old now, and preseason would appear to suggest that the sluggish nature that blights any back over that age is beginning to show.
Rodgers is an explosive and altogether more rapid component, meaning he’s more than capable of getting his shot this season and could be a very efficient late-round pick.
Isaac Redman: Pittsburgh Steelers
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With Rashard Mendenhall out of commission for an uncertain amount of time, Isaac Redman is looking likely to pick up the rushing duties for Pittsburgh when the season kicks off.
Although Ben Roethlisberger is a supreme talent in the game, the Steelers have always managed to inject a healthy dose of the running game, and the 27-year-old Redman may get a chance to shine in the absence of Mendenhall.
Redman saw his playing time fluctuate in 2011, but he was ultimately given a poor shot at the big time.
Should his opportunities for starting football improve in the coming months, Redman could be a "steel" in or around the seventh round.