Fantasy Football Sleepers Part Three: Running Backs

Nick AllenCorrespondent IAugust 20, 2009

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 21:  Jamaal Charles #25 of the Kansas City Chiefs carries the ball during the game against the Miami Dolphins on December 21, 2008 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

First off, before writing this article, I think I should define the term "sleeper." I have a few definitions that I would use. 

I would define a sleeper as an undrafted player that obtains unexpected success or a player that is drafted in the later rounds of a fantasy draft and outperforms his draft position significantly.

The key to winning your fantasy league is finding several of these sleepers late in your draft.

I have constructed a list of a couple running back sleepers for the upcoming fantasy football season that will help you in your search for one of those gems.

Oh, and just for the record, this list will not include rookies.


Felix Jones

I know what you're thinking, Jones isn't much of a sleeper pick. He is expected to do well this season.

I'm kind of breaking my own rules with this pick, but I do think he outperforms his ADP significantly.

Had Jones not been injured last year, I believe he would've been among the top rookie RBs.

In six games last season, he carried the ball 30 times for 266 yards and three touchdowns. Not to mention he averaged an amazing 8.9 yards per carry or what he did in the return game.

With the loss of T.O., the Cowboys should be more of a run-oriented team. Jones should get a lot more carries this year as the Cowboys save up Barber to close out games.

Jones is a great No. 3 fantasy option and a great flex play in all formats.


Tashard Choice

Wait, what? Two Cowboys?

Yes, I expect all three of the Cowboys RBs to be featured in the offense. Choice should also be on your team if you own either MB3 or Jones. You all should know what happened after both were injured last year.

In 10 games last year (really only five, in the other five he had six carries or less), Choice ran the ball 90 times for 472 yards and two touchdowns while averaging 5.5 yards per carry.

He's a nice receiving threat out of the backfield too—last year he caught 21 passes for 185 yards (8.8 yards per catch), including a 50-yard catch.

Choice is a nice handcuff and sleeper candidate for your fantasy team, especially in PPR leagues. If you own Marion Barber or Jones and this guy is on the waiver wire, pick him up now.


Jamaal Charles

I would actually prefer having Charles on my team over Chiefs starter Larry Johnson, but if you're an L.J. owner, you must have Charles.

Johnson is about to turn 30 and is on the decline. I expect Todd Haley to eventually bench L.J. in favor of Charles, something similar to what he did last year with Edgerrin James and Tim Hightower.

Last year, Charles had 629 total yards (357 rushing, 272 receiving) and one touchdown as a backup.

If Charles stays in the same role he was in last season, I expect slightly better numbers this time around.

However, if he takes over for L.J. and you have him on your team, you've struck fantasy gold, especially in PPR leagues.


Ahmad Bradshaw

The story's the same for Bradshaw as it is for Jones—he's not much of a sleeper, but I do expect some big things from him this year.

Bradshaw is a must-have if you're a Brandon Jacobs owner. With the pounding a runner like Jacobs goes through, he's bound to get injured sometime.

Bradshaw should be a solid fantasy option. Last year's backup to Jacobs, Derrick Ward, still managed to get enough carries to rush for over 1,000 yards. As the third RB, Bradshaw even managed to get 355 rushing yards and two total touchdowns last year.

With the loss of Plaxico Burress, the Giants don't really have a No. 1 receiver. Until one of their receivers can solidify themselves as a No. 1, I expect the Giants to be a run-oriented team, making Bradshaw a good flex play in all formats.

This is it for RBs. Next up: Kickers—kidding of course. Look out for my QB post next.

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