Fantasy Football

Fantasy Football 2014: 5 Mid-Round Running Backs to Target

Garrett BakerSenior Analyst IAugust 13, 2014

Fantasy Football 2014: 5 Mid-Round Running Backs to Target

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    Leon Halip/Getty Images

    Every fantasy football owner knows the old RB-RB strategy is a tried and true one for the first two rounds, but some would say it's outdated at this point.

    With most NFL teams regularly using at least two if not more running backs in their offense, there are fewer reliable bell-cow backs who will rack up the touches and yards.

    While some will still reach for overhyped backs in the first few rounds, you can be smarter than the rest and show some patience while targeting a couple mid-round guys to fill out your backfield.

    Here are five running backs who could help you win your league.

     

    ADP courtesy of FantasyPros

Ahmad Bradshaw

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Trent Richardson is the starting running back in Indianapolis. He is not good at football and has struggled with injuries already in his short career. Ahmad Bradshaw is the lone backup.

    So why is everyone sleeping on Bradshaw so much? Sure, he has injury problems of his own, but he rushed for over 1,000 yards just two years ago and looked good in his three games as a Colt in 2013.

    At 28 years old, Bradshaw is no spring chicken, but he's still young enough to recuperate and make an impact once Richardson inevitably cedes carries due to injury or ineffectiveness. 

    He's essentially going undrafted right now, which is an absolute steal considering he has RB2 upside. 

Shane Vereen

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    The only player in New England's backfield who I'm considering as a good draft option this year is Shane Vereen, and in any type of PPR league his value should be very high.

    He was on pace for an outrageous 128 targets in 2013 and had 47 receptions for 427 yards in just eight games. The injury history is obviously a concern, but all players have flaws once you're getting into the seventh round.

    Might as well take a back with incredible upside like Vereen. For all the attention Tom Brady gets, the Patriots finished ninth in the league in rushing yards in 2013, and LeGarrette Blount is now in Pittsburgh.

    There will be ample opportunity for Vereen to make a big impact in both the running and receiving game this year. 

     

Terrance West

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    Mark Duncan/Associated Press

    I feel like people are forgetting who Ben Tate is: a guy with only 421 career carries and an extensive problem with staying healthy.

    Sure, he had a lot of long carries in Houston's favorable offense, but people are way too confident in his ability to be a great lead back in a very shaky offense. 

    Enter Terrance West, a rookie from Towson who flew under the radar before the NFL draft but is now starting to get some love in fantasy circles.

    There is bound to be plenty of opportunity for him to steal carries from Tate, and he's an injury away from being a legitimate RB2.

     

Ryan Mathews

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    The highest rated player on this list, Ryan Mathews isn't unknown, but he's certainly being undervalued at his current late-fourth-round ADP.

    People must be forgetting that he's only 26 years old and he rushed for 1,255 yards in 2013, 1,091 yards in 2011, and was on pace for 943 yards in 2012.

    He really broke out last season with 1,444 total yards and seven total touchdowns. The backfield may be a bit crowded with Danny Woodhead and Donald Brown, but it was crowded last year too, and I don't see why he can't get those same numbers again.

    A fringe RB1 at the end of the fourth round? That's the definition of value, my friends.

Carlos Hyde

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Frank Gore has been one of the most durable running backs in the league for a long time now, but at 31 years old, he's bound to slow down at some point.

    With 2014 second-round pick Carlos Hyde waiting in the wings, the 49ers may be happy to give Gore some extended rests throughout the season to keep him fresh for the playoffs.

    Kendall Hunter is on the IR, and LaMichael James is rehabbing his fractured elbow. Hyde is essentially alone behind Gore at this point.

    Hyde is a big back with surprising quickness who has the physical build and attitude conducive to succeeding the NFC West. He could make a big impact in 2014 and would become an instant top-12 running back if Gore ever goes down.

     

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