Fantasy Football Sleepers: The 5 Best Sleeper Running Backs for Week 1

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Fantasy Football Sleepers: The 5 Best Sleeper Running Backs for Week 1

In fantasy football, the owners who consistently augment their top draft picks with solid "sleeper" candidates each week are typically the players who do the best record-wise.

Receiver is a great place to find sleepers on a week-to-week basis, but no position beats running back for breakout potential on any given NFL Sunday.

Here is a list of the top running back sleepers for Week 1 of the NFL season: 

Ben Tate, Houston Texans

If Arian Foster is to miss the Texans' Week 1 matchup with the Colts, Tate becomes an instant start as he'd be likely to get most of the carries in Foster's absence.

Tate has looked good enough in preseason and camp to be trusted to put up good numbers against a small Colts defense.

Remember the opener last season? Foster put up 231 yards in a Texans win over the Colts. I'm not saying Tate could equal that mark, but he has the opportunity to have a good game fantasy-wise if Foster can't suit up.

Delone Carter, Indianapolis Colts

The Colts have listed Carter as their No. 2 running back and that's good news for those of you who took Carter in your fantasy draft.

With Kerry Collins likely to start at quarterback, the Colts go from a pass-first team to a run-first team.

If Carter truly does get No. 2 back carries, he'll find good opportunities against a Texans defense that is making the transition from a 4-3 to a 3-4. In addition, Carter is scheduled to get most—if not all—of the Colts' goal line carries, which puts him in line for a productive fantasy scoreline.

James Starks, Green Bay Packers

The Packers have said that they'll use Starks and Ryan Grant in a timeshare role, but don't let that stop you from using Starks from time to time.

He looked like the more natural and aggressive runner this preseason. The Packers don't run the ball as much as most NFL offenses, but coach Mike McCarthy will give the run game a chance if he has the right players in his backfield.

With Starks there, he has that.

If you're really in need of someone to spot start, Starks could be your guy.  

Kendall Hunter, San Francisco 49ers

Like Carter in Indy, the 49ers have named Hunter their No. 2 back behind veteran Frank Gore.

This sets up a perfect situation for Hunter. He'll get spot carries, but he's looked so explosive at times in the preseason that the 49ers might have trouble keeping him off the field. This could certainly become the case if their passing game continues to look as anemic as it did in exhibition play.

He might be a risky start in Week 1, solely because Gore does take most of the carries. However, if Gore takes a nick, this is Hunter's backfield. That scenario could spell big points for his owners.

Taiwan Jones, Oakland Raiders

It's been said a thousand times, but it's worth repeating: The Raiders love speed.

More than any other team in the NFL, their front office values it the most. Jones has plenty of speed, and that gives you the feeling that Oakland will find ways of getting him on the field. He's looked so good in limited preseason action, displaying not only the speed aspect but also vision and a natural feel for the position.

I'd expect the Raiders to run right at the Broncos on Monday night. Somewhere down the line, that will include Jones as well.

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