We’re entering super-sleeper / possibly cut territory with running backs sale. Let’s see what we got.
- Latavius Murray – Drafted out of UCF, Murray initially drew comparisons with fellow Raider Darren McFadden with his size and speed and drew praise from coach Dennis Allen. Now sidelined with a foot issue, Murray might have lost his chance to be the primary backup.
- Kenjon Barner – Drafted out of Oregon, Barner was brought in behind an already crowded backfield on Jonathan Stewart, DeAngelo Williams, and Mike Tolbert in Carolina. Nothing special physical-wise, Barner stands at 5′ 9″ and 196 pounds. He’ll be lucky to get on the field and is better suited for special teams.
- Andre Ellington – Drafted 187th out of Clemson, Elllington currently sits 4th on the Cardinals depth chart. However, with Rashard Mendenhall and Ryan Willaims hurting, Ellington suddenly has a shot at some playing time and significant time in pre-season. He knows how to hit his holes and accelerate. Only fellow rookie Stepfan Taylor stands in his way. Ellington might be the best of this bunch.
- Mike James – Pick 189 of Tampa out of the U, James compares to Earnest Graham in size and ability. James has already secured the backup spot to Doug Martin so grab him if you can in deeper leagues.
- Rex Burkhead – Drafted one pick later out of the cornfields of Nebraska, Burkhead is nothing more than a special teams player at this point. His path to fantasy relevance is all but closed thanks to fellow rookie Giovani Bernard. Only draft Burkhead if you plan on keeping Bernard.
- Spencer Ware – Drafted 194th out of LSU, Ware has no shot at running back in Seattle’s crowded (and talent-rich) backfield. Which is why Pete Carroll would like him to learn fullback. It wont’ get him much fantasy stats so you can pass.
- Theo Riddick – With the 199th pick, Riddick went to Detroit to join the competition at running back between Reggie Bush, Mikel Leshoure, and Joique Bell. So far, Riddick is still competing for his roster spot. Nothing to see here.
For Part I click here. For Part II click here. For Part III click here.
Six backs were selected in the fifth round of the 2013 NFL draft. All would be considered sleepers in dynasty fantasy leagues. Let’s take a look:
- Denard Robinson (JAC) – Originally a quarterback at Michigan, Robinson was drafted 135th overall. Truly a jack of all trades, it seems as if Robinson’s speed is probably best suited at running back seeing as he ran a 4.34 unofficial 40-time at the combine. He grew into the role in rookie camp but it still adjusting after dropping a pass and fumbling a handoff. Robinson would be the #3 running back on the depth chart and should be stashed by all MJD owners in the event his contract isn’t renewed.
- Stepfan Taylor (ARI) – Drafted 140th overall out of Stanford, Taylor currently sits behind Rashard Mendendhall and Ryan Williams on the depth chart. With coach Bruce Arians already calling the running back race for 26-year old Mendenhall, and the team sticking by 23-year old Ryan Williams, there doesn’t seem to be a clear path for Taylor. In addition, thanks to the NFL’s graduation rules, Taylor is also starting behind the other backs. Only draft Taylor if you have either Mendenhall or Williams on your current roster.
- Joseph Randle (DAL) – Drafted 151st overall by Dallas, Randle has already been anointed the backup to DeMarco Murray and expected to carry the load, should it come to that. Randle is still recovering from thumb surgery but should be ready to go. While nothing special in college, the fact that he’s backing up one of the most brittle. Additionally, Randle now becomes a part of the revolving door of Dallas running backs which has had four different leading rushers in 7 years. This could be a gift and a curse for Randle but, for now, don’t pin your hopes on him.
- Chris Thompson (WAS) – Going 154th overall to Washington, Thompson is a massive unknown. He broke his back and college and tore his ACL in consecutive years at Florida State. But Washington feels like he can do it all. At the moment, there’s a pileup in the Washington backfield but Thompson is one to remember simply because Shanahan is so unpredictable. After all, incumbent Alfred Morris was drafted in the 6th round.
- Zac Stacy (STL) – St. Louis traded up to 160 to pick Stacy out of Vanderbilt after averaging 5.5 YPC on over 200 carries in the tough SEC last year. Stacy proved he can handle the load there but will have to compete with Daryl Richardson (23) and Isiah Pead (23). Richardson is projected as the starter after averaging 4.8 YPC on about 100 carries in his rookie year. However, coach Jeff Fisher indicated he’s not opposed to a running back by committee approach. Stacy is talented but will have to beat two young, good players first to get noticed.
- Mike Gillislee (MIA) – Picked 164th out of Florida, Gillislee was nothing special coming out of the draft with the look of a long-time backup. He’s also not caught up to number two Daniel Thomas as of yet and would start the season as the third running back if it started today. Gillislee is off the dynasty radar at the moment unless you’re a concered Lamar Miller owner.
For Part I click here. For Part II click here.
The second edition of our look at dynasty rookie running backs gets into sleeper pick territory. These next backs were selected in the 3rd and 4th rounds of the 2013 NFL draft and offer plenty of intrigue.
- Knile Davis (KC) – Drafted 96th overall, Davis was a combine stud with a 4.3 40-time and 31 reps on the bench press (which led all running backs). But when it comes to game time, he’s being compared to Shonn Greene. He concluded his college career with 8 fumbles and a 3.4 YPC. Looking at the situation in Kansas City, there is no path to starters minutes with Jamaal Charles. Nor should there be. Unless Davis can show promise in the few opportunities he’ll get, there’s not much to go off there. The only real reason to draft Davis is as a handcuff to Jamaal Charles.
- Johnathan Franklin (GB) – The Packers traded up to the 125th pick to snag Franklin to go along with Eddie Lacy. The Packers got great value as some had Franklin as the best running back in the draft after averaging over six yards per carry at UCLA. But at the same time, it remains to be seen where Franklin will fit in the new look backfield. Lacy is the obvious first stringer and goal line back but is Franklin a change of pace? 3rd down option? If he can get a cut of Aaron Rodgers throws, he’d be worth something as soon as this year. If not, Franklin is nothing more than a Lacy handcuff at this point.
- Marcus Lattimore (SF) – After totaling almost 1,500 yards and 19 total touchdowns as a freshman, Lattimore tore his left ACL the next year and completely ripped up his knee the year after, tearing 3 -CL’s (ACL, PCL, MCL) in his right knee. Widely projected as a top pick, Lattimore fell to the 49ers who, with their abundance of picks, was able to draft Lattimore as a luxury. Dynasty fantasy football players should probably treat Lattimore the same way. He won’t contribute any this year but would be great on the taxi squad. The offense in San Francisco is ideal but there’s no clear path to being the starter. Frank Gore has at least one more year while there’s competition for carries from Kendall Hunter and LaMichael James. Treat Lattimore as a luxury instead of a necessity.
None of these backs will contribute much this year but all are worth keeping an eye on for taxi squad. If NFL teams think this highly of them, you should too. Two are in the top 35 of running backs in dynasty ranks.
Part I click here. For Part III click here.