2010 Fantasy Football Preview: Light Sleeper Running Backs

Ryan Lester@LestersLegendsSenior Writer IAugust 11, 2010

HOUSTON - NOVEMBER 29:  Running back Steve Slaton #20 of the Houston Texans carries the ball against the Indianapolis Colts on November 29, 2009  at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas. The Colts won 35-27.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

We already previewed the deep sleeper running backs, guys who should be on your radar, but not necessarily your roster (click here to see the article). This group of RBs are guys that you will draft for RB depth, but could end up being your fantasy saviors.

Tim Hightower, Arizona Cardinals (ADP 117)
Beanie Wells is the Cardinals back that everybody is clamoring for, but Hightower had more total yards (1026 to 936) and TDs (eight to seven). Hightower had 10 TDs in 2008 so even with a reduced role, he could still be in line for carries at the stripe. Given Beanie’s track record with injuries, Hightower could even see a few starts.

Chester Taylor, Chicago Bears (ADP 119)
Chester will be 31 in September, but he doesn’t have a lot of wear on his tires. He has topped 160 carries just once in his eight year career. Like Forte, he is capable of running between the tackles and catching the ball out of the backfield. Plus, he is familiar with his divisional foes. This is a make-or-break year for Lovie Smith so if Forte struggles, Taylor will get a shot.

LenDale White, Denver Broncos (ADP 182)
He will miss the first four games with a suspension, but if the injuries continue in Denver, LenDale could see his first share of meaningful snaps since 2008.

Kevin Smith, Detroit Lions (ADP 199) 
Smith is coming off an ACL tear and the Lions drafted Jahvid Best, but Smith is a guy who has accumulated 1723 yards (2424 total) and 13 TDs (12 rushing) in 29 games. Best too is an injury concern so don’t be surprised if Smith gets some starts this year.

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Steve Slaton, Houston Texans (ADP 96)
Arian Foster and Ben Tate appear to be better suited to be every-down backs, but the Texans are a pass-oriented team and Slaton has 94 catches in two seasons. Even in a forgettable year he caught 44 balls for 417 yards and four TDs. Assuming he stays healthy, Slaton will make an impact for the Texans in 2010.

Donald Brown, Indianapolis Colts (ADP 95)
While I caution you not to be took quick to write-off Joseph Addai, I also caution you not to overlook Donald Brown. He is the Colts’ future at RB and will get a bigger chance to show his worth.

Thomas Jones, Kansas City Chiefs (ADP 90)
Speaking of guys who have been wrote-off too early, people have been singing Jones’ Swan Song for years. The Bears couldn’t bury him. The Jets couldn’t bury him. As good as Jamaal Charles, aka Chris Johnson Lite, was last year, I don’t think they brought in TJ to babysit. He will get his touches, most notably at the stripe.

Ahmad Bradshaw, New York Giants (ADP 82)
Brandon Jacobs could have a monster comeback season or he could continue to disappoint. The jury is out. Meanwhile, Bradshaw could end up being the feature back for a team that will be looking to run more in 2010. He could be a steal in the seventh round of fantasy drafts.

LaDainian Tomlinson, New York Jets (ADP 112) 
Does LT have anything left in the tank? The Jets are gambling that he does. It is Shonn Greene’s turn now, but he has to show that he can stay healthy and score TDs. Two things that LT has been able to do his whole career. He doesn’t have the burst he once had, but the Jets do have an outstanding offensive line.

Darren McFadden & Michael Bush, Oakland Raiders (ADP 77 & 84)
Run DMC is on the fringe of bust status after injuries, ineffectiveness, and JaMarcus Russell’s ineptitude have held him to 856 yards and five TDs in two seasons. He has salvaged some value by catching 50 passes for 530 yards, but he is still waiting to deliver on his expectations both with the Raiders and fantasy owners alike. Meanwhile Bush, who actually has fewer total yards (1277 to 1386) than McFadden, is regarded in many fantasy circles as the better NFL back. They figure to be a pretty evenly split RBBC, but if one goes down with an injury, the other could see a huge increase in value thanks to the stability Jason Campbell should bring at QB.

Darren Sproles, San Diego Chargers (ADP 116)
Ryan Mathews is all the rage, but Sproles is a dynamic playmaker that could combine for 1000 total yards and six+ TDs. If Mathews struggles, Sproles could see an even bigger role.

Justin Forsett, Seattle Seahawks (ADP 113)
Forsett is another undersized back that could put up a healthy total yardage number. He should be particularly busy in the passing attack.

Derrick Ward, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (ADP 211)
Ward was a free agent disaster for the Bucs last year, but don't bury him just yet. Some of his struggles can be attributed to a knee injury. Cadillac Williams has had more than his share of injuries so Ward will be in the mix, and could take over if the Caddy goes in the shop again. 

Larry Johnson, Washington Redskins (ADP 178)
LJ’s season can go either way. He could be sent out to pasture or he could reclaim some of his glory if Clinton Portis is the one sent out to pasture. You should be able to wait the bulk of your draft before selecting him, so even if he’s a miss, it likely won't do too much damage.

Also check out:
2010 Top 30 Fantasy QB Rankings
2010 Top 50 Fantasy RB Rankings
2010 Top 60 Fantasy WR Rankings
2010 Top 25 Fantasy TE Rankings
2010 Top 25 Fantasy IDP Rankings
2010 Top 25 Fantasy Team Defense Rankings
2010 Top 15 Fantasy K Rankings
2010 Fantasy Football Top 50 Rankings


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