Andre Brown, New York Giants
The hype train has long since departed the station for David Wilson, the presumptive starter in New York after Ahmad Bradshaw's departure. But don't count out the caboose, Andre Brown.
The fourth-year running back actually outperformed Wilson last year by several measures, including a severely overlooked average of 5.3 yards per carry. Brown is also better between the tackles and in pass protection, both of which should help ingratiate him with Tom Coughlin.
It is easy to forget Wilson was in Coughlin's doghouse last year because of fumbling issues. Wilson eventually broke a few nice runs, which has fantasy owners seeing stars. Brown, meanwhile, signed his second-round tender and figures to play a prominent role for the Giants.
Despite all of this, fantasy owners appear none the wiser. With the exception of ESPN leagues, Wilson is being taken well before Brown, who is falling into the seventh round or later. The latter is clearly more valuable.
Lamar Miller, Miami Dolphins
Reggie Bush is gone, opening the door for second-year man Lamar Miller to take over and do his thing in Miami.
Miller will get competition from Daniel Thomas and rookie Mike Gillislee, but the former Hurricane has all of the upside in that backfield. The Dolphins felt good enough about their situation to let Reggie Bush walk for modest money.
Miami's presumptive starter has plenty of upside at a relatively low price. He won't last into the fifth or sixth round in most leagues—depending on league size and format, of course—but he is a great consolation at the position should you choose to address other positions in the first three rounds.
Ahmad Bradshaw, Indianapolis Colts
Vick Ballard was slotted in here right up until Ahmad Bradshaw signed with the Colts. Like his role on the team, Bradshaw usurped his spot. Or at least when he finally signs.
Well, it might not go that far for Ballard—after all, there is a reason Bradshaw languished on the free-agent market for so long—but, thanks to Bradshaw's arrival, the second-year player could be in trouble when it comes to playing time.
Despite chronic foot issues, Bradshaw has been quite productive when on the field. He averaged 4.6 yards per carry and eclipsed 1,000 yards rushing last season, after all.
Assuming he does land with the Colts—a good landing place for the former Giant—Bradshaw is a great value. His average draft position figures to rise through the preseason if he stays healthy. He could be one of the best bargains by the time Week 1 rolls around.
If the deal falls through, Ballard works here. He is being drafted as an RB3 in many leagues, well worth it if he is the man in Indianapolis.
Pierre Thomas, New Orleans Saints
It's tough to buy into the New Orleans backfield. There are three players who will split playing time. None of the three will separate themselves from the others barring a massive improvement.
New Orleans is sticking with Mark Ingram, despite his plodding ways and one-dimensional game, but that might not last long if he does not improve. Darren Sproles is the team's pass-catching specialist out of the backfield, unsuited for traditional and short-yardage work.
Pierre Thomas, meanwhile, embodies the best of both worlds and gets the least amount of publicity for his efforts. Injury issues have been a drag for Thomas, but he has the highest career running average in that backfield at 4.8 yards per carry. He can also catch and run out of the backfield.
The best part of all of this from a fantasy perspective is that he has all but been forgotten. Thomas can be had as your fifth running back in the waning rounds of your draft.
Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers
The term "post-hype sleeper" has been bandied about for Ryan Mathews. Indeed, after two offseasons of hype for Mathews, the oft-injured running back has seen his draft stock crash faster than Enron's after a federal investigation.
Mathews might be made of porcelain, but that risk is now baked into his average draft position. Mathews is barely being drafted as an RB2 right now, quite the drop-off from last year, when he was taken higher despite the broken collarbone in the preseason.
There is no question Mathews possesses the talent to put up good fantasy numbers, particularly in PPR leagues. There are plenty of questions, however, about whether his body can stand up to the rigors of the NFL.