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Every year, there are running backs who break on to the scene that no one saw coming.
Last year was Arian Foster and Peyton Hillis. Looking at the running backs this year, there are three players who I think will greatly exceed their draft position and expectations heading into 2011.
First has to be one of the new Denver Broncos, Willis McGahee. He is heading to a Broncos team led by coach John Fox, who has some experience using two quality backs from his time in Carolina. Coach Fox has already come out and said McGahee will be the goal-line back for the Broncos.
I would not be surprised to see him get a few starts as the season moves on. I am not sold on Knowshon Moreno as a No. 1 back, and McGahee is a talented veteran back who can start to steal carries if Moreno starts slow.
Second is rookie Mark Ingram, who joins the very powerful New Orleans Saints' offense. Pierre Thomas is still there, but with Reggie Bush gone and Thomas' injury history, I think Ingram will get plenty of chances early on and could take over as the No. 1 quickly.
My last sleeper is Tim Hightower. He has always been that borderline starter, popular sleeper pick in Arizona but now joins Mike Shanahan. Mike has given fantasy owner's nightmares with his running back rotations but also made some fantasy stars.
From the sounds of it, Hightower is the guy and has been playing pretty well this preseason.