Fantasy Football 2020: Sleeper Running Backs to Target in Late Rounds

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistAugust 3, 2020

FILE - In this Oct. 31, 2019, file photo, San Francisco 49ers running back Matt Breida (22) carries the ball against the Arizona Cardinals during the first half of an NFL football game in Glendale, Ariz. Breida has been traded to the Miami Dolphins by the San Francisco 49ers for a fifth-round draft pick on Saturday, April 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, FIle)
Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

The Miami Dolphins' draft-day acquisition of Matt Breida flew under the radar, but it could be the transaction that helps the team have a more balanced offense in 2020.

Brian Flores' team had a single running back total of more than 200 rushing yards last season, and 37-year-old quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was the franchise's top rusher.

With Breida in position to help Jordan Howard in the backfield, the Dolphins could be positioned to improve on their five-win campaign.

Breida is not the only fantasy football sleeper to look at from the AFC East. James White has been a model of consistency in the New England Patriots backfield and could benefit from Cam Newton's mobility in the pocket if he starts under center.

The Kansas City Chiefs' running back situation is also worth watching for sleepers as fantasy drafts get closer. Andy Reid has a trio of players he could call on to support Patrick Mahomes in his dynamic offense.


Sleeper Running Backs to Target

Matt Breida, Miami 

Breida stands a good chance of beating out Howard for Miami's starting role.

In 2019, the former San Francisco 49ers running back produced 623 rushing yards and 5.1 yards per attempt. That total alone was three times better than Miami's top ground-gainer from the running back position.

The additions of Ted Karras from New England and first-round draft pick Austin Jackson to the offensive line should help create more holes for Breida. As a decent pass-catcher, Breida could rack up some points in points-per-reception leagues as the Dolphins try to help Tua Tagovailoa ease into the NFL.

Patrick Laird, Kenyan Drake, Kalen Ballage and Mark Walton combined for 74 receptions out of the backfield in 2019, so there is an opportunity for Breida to leak out and provide support for Preston Williams, Mike Gesicki and others in the passing game.

Breida carries an average draft position of 97, per Fantasy Pros, and he should be available as a bench or flex option around the eighth or ninth round in 12-team leagues.


James White, New England

White has become a valuable late-round pick in the past two years because of his ability to get into the end zone.

The Patriots running back does not have the volume in carries and rushing yards that warrant a selection well above his ADP of 113, but he has been a good depth option, especially in PPR leagues. White finished 2019 with five more receptions than carries, and five of his six trips to the end zone occurred on passing plays.

If Newton takes over at quarterback, White could be the biggest beneficiary since the signal-caller has plenty of experience working with a pass-catching running back.

White will not turn into Christian McCaffrey in 2020, but he will be a good outlet for Newton on designed plays or when he scrambles. The 28-year-old could also benefit from the lack of quality depth at wide receiver behind Julian Edelman and Mohamed Sanu.

If Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels have more trust in White than Jakobi Meyers, N'Keal Harry and others in certain situations, he could receive more snaps in red-zone opportunities.


DeAndre Washington and Darrel Williams, Kansas City 

Kansas City's running back situation behind rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire will be worth monitoring throughout training camp.

DeAndre Washington and Darrel Williams will be thrust into increased roles after Damien Williams opted out of the season.

Edwards-Helaire is coming off a strong season at LSU and will be a primary target in PPR leagues because of his pass-catching ability, but he has not been through the grind of a 16-game NFL season.

Washington set career bests in carries and receptions as a backup for the Raiders in 2019, and he may turn into a red-zone option to spell Edwards-Helaire.

In four years with the Raiders, Washington found the end zone eight times and totaled more than 30 receptions in two seasons. Darrel Williams has more experience within the Chiefs system, which may give him the initial advantage in the fight for the No. 2 spot on the depth chart.

In a limited role last season, Williams scored a trio of touchdowns on 141 rushing yards and caught 15 passes for 167 yards.

Whichever player emerges as Edwards-Helaire's backup is worth a late-round look, especially in PPR because of the high volume of passing attempts expected from Mahomes.


Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90Statistics obtained from Pro Football Reference.