Sleeper Running Backs

Part 1 of 3

By MV August 1st 2015


It is time to use that word that is synonymous with fantasy football, sleepers. Today, with as much information as we all have it is difficult for us to tag anyone as a “sleeper”. We define a sleeper as a player that is greatly undervalued and has an opportunity to be a fantasy force while being drafted as a backup. As a baseline for identifying our sleepers we used our Average Cheat Sheet and excluded the top 30 Running Backs listed. The Average Draft Positions are totaled from 5 of the biggest mock draft sites and we filtered by PPR 12 team league formats.

We love a lot of Running Backs late in the draft this year, and we have a list of about 15 RB’s that we will be targeting as great value in our drafts. We will break the list into three articles as we tier the sleepers into 3 categories:

  1. Sleepers (very likely to outperform their ADP)
  2. Deep-Sleepers (has a great chance to be fantasy starter)
  3. You’ll feel like a genius (long-shot with great upside)



Doug Martin – ADP 7.5

We won’t call him by his corny nickname. It has been a disappointing couple of fantasy years since his breakout 2012 campaign where he had 319 carries for 1454 yards and 11 TD’s. He also had 49 catches for 472 yards in his rookie season. That performance landed him in the 1.1 – 1.3 spot in most drafts in 2013. He started off real slow in 2013 then went down with a season-ending injury. He came back in 2014 weighing in at 225 and reportedly had struggled with conditioning. Doug Martin is now down to 210 pounds and is saying he is in the best shape of his life. The passing game gets an upgrade with 1st overall Jameis Winston throwing to one of the best trios in the NFL. Charles Sims has not looked very good in the offseason and it should be Doug’s job. The Bucs offensive line is not one of the best, but they spent 2 second round picks on lineman that should both start. All in, this is a much better offense than it has been in recent years. Doug is playing for a contract and this could be the year that he puts it all together.


Chris Ivory – ADP 8.5

Chris Ivory has been on the “sleeper” radar since being traded from New Orleans in 2013. The Jets brain trust admitted to lightening Ivory’s workload last year in attempt to keep him upright. Chris has been sidelined a few times in his carrier to injury, but he played all 16 games last year. Chris had 880 yards and 6 TD’s last year on 198 carries. We can see him getting more than that this year. Chan Gailey is the new OC and could bring a new dynamic to this offense which is still handicapped by Geno Smith. Still, Brandon Marshall could be a huge help. Best case scenario Ryan Fitzpatrick takes over as the starter.  This is a backfield that is littered with interesting talent, but Stevan Ridley is still sidelined with a torn ACL and could land on the PUP list. Chris is 27 and we are betting that this will be his career year.


Shane Vereen – ADP 6.8

Remember we are listing PPR format sleepers. Shane is another guy that has been on the radar for a couple of years. Vereen went down in week 8 with a fluke hand injury in 2013, but was on pace for 94 catches and 854 yards with 6 TD’s with 416 and 2 on the ground. Even if Rashad Jennings is healthy Vereen will perform. This is a pass first offense and Vereen is one of the best receiving backs in the league. He ran a disgusting wheel route in New England and with a better overall receiving core group in New York it will open things up for him even more. Eli and him will develop a bond as the check down option when things get messy. Reports are that is already occurring and he Shane is seeing much more than passing down work. His mediocre season in 2014 was a combination of Bill Belichek and the muddiest backfield in history. But thank you Bill, your inconsistent use of Vereen will serve as a benefit to his ADP this year. We love this guy as a consistent point producing flex option.

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