Tuesday, June 24, 2014

2014 Fantasy Football Running Back Sleepers

2013 was a rough year for first round running backs, it was horrible. C.J. Spiller, Ray Rice, Doug Martin, Arian Foster, and Trent Richardson really left fantasy owners hanging. Entering 2014, all of those running backs value has greatly dropped even making some of them decent values.

However, why run the risks of getting burnt on a first round running back again? If fantasy owners don't feel like getting back in bed with first round running backs, there are plenty of options for those that want to take their own running back by committee approach.

1. Pierre Thomas

A lot of people are going on about Khiry Robinson this year, but owners shouldn't overlook Thomas for him. With Darren Sproles and his 70-80 catches out of the picture, it opens up even more opportunity for Thomas, who caught 77 of his own passes in 2013. In addition to being number two on the Saints in catches, Thomas also lead the team with 147 rushing attempts, but produced a measly 3.7 yards per carry.

Regardless, Thomas is currently being drafted in the seventh round as the 31st running back overall. Thomas will likely replicate his 2013 receiving totals, in addition to his 147 rushes. Sure, Mark Ingram and Khiry Robinson will steal carries, but Thomas will be the undisputed receiver out of the backfield. Thomas also had five touchdowns last year, and it's a good bet he'd better that total.

2. Jonathan Stewart

It seems like ages ago since Jonathan Stewart totaled over 2000 yards and 20 touchdowns in his first two seasons with the Panthers. Sadly, everything after that was filled with disappointment and injury. Stewart has only played 15 games the past two season, and hasn't averaged better than 3.8 yards per carry.

Despite two rough seasons, Stewart is supposedly healthier than he has ever been after an offseason spent doing yoga.

Stewart has also spent his career having to contend for carries with DeAngelo Williams, but 2014 could be the year he overtakes the lead back role. Now 31, Williams likely isn't the same spry self he used to be, and the offense could look to Stewart for more explosiveness. Regardless, the Panthers run the ball a lot, 483 times in 2013, so even if Williams gets his touches, there should be enough to go around for Stewart.

According to Fantasy Football Calculator, Stewart ISN'T EVEN BEING DRAFTED in standard leagues. Knile Davis is being drafted over him! Nothing is guaranteed for Stewart in 2014, but he has a shot at carving out a big role in the Panthers offense.

3. Dexter McCluster

This is a deep sleeper, but I wanted to include someone other than the usual suspects. Ken Wisenhut, former Chargers offensive coordinator, led Danny Woodhead to fantasy relevancy with 76 catches, over 1000 yards, and 8 touchdowns. Now as the head coach of the Titans, Wisenhunt could recreate Woodhead's role, but wiht McCluster.

The Titans plan to use McCluster at running back, though he's somewhat proven to be a better receiver, McCluster won't be running the ball much anyway. McCluster has caught between 46 and 53 passes the past three years, and could up those numbers to 60 or 70 if used like Woodhead was in 2013.

No, owners shouldn't count on McCluster as a RB3, but for is definitely a decent flier for owners with one of their last 3 picks.

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