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by On July 11, 2013

The term ‘sleeper’ is a staple of pre-draft fantasy football chatter: a guy who may typically be drafted in the tenth round that offers sixth round value would be a good example of a sleeper. Today I’ll delve a little deeper, looking at the last RB you’re likely going to select, probably in the 3rd or 4th to last round to fill out your roster. All of these players’ ADP offers an opportunity that you could exploit in your fantasy league to give you a head start over your league rivals.

 

1.     Danny Woodhead, San Diego Chargers, ADP: RB58

 

Woodhead swapped New England for San Diego in the offseason, despite being the 24th highest scoring RB last year in a backup role for the Patriots. It’s clear that Woodhead has talent, especially in the passing game, though his running is an underrated skill – his diminutive size makes him harder to locate for defenders, and what you can’t see, you can’t tackle (According to some blind folk).

 

Woodhead’s new home gives me optimism for his fantasy value on several fronts; first, he is a better all round back than Ronnie Brown – who is over the hill in many respects. Secondly, the Chargers’ starter Ryan Mathews is fragile to say the least and his production has nosedived since his 2011 season when he outscored Adrian Peterson in total points. Finally, Woodhead is coming off his best statistical season, something that will be in the mind of OC Ken Whisenhunt as he finds a place for him in the Chargers offence.

 

Here are the stats from Woodhead’s last three seasons at the Patriots:

 

 

Rushing

Receiving

Season

Attempts

Yards

TD

Avg.

Target

Receptions

Yards

TD

2010

97

547

5

5.6

44

34

379

1

2011

77

351

1

4.5

31

18

157

0

2012

76

301

4

3.9

55

40

446

3

Statistics courtesy of www. MyFantasyLeague.com

 

As you can see Woodhead’s involvement has gradually increased while at the Patriots, and no doubt their fans weren’t happy to see him leave. He was an unpopular but necessary casualty of Bill Bellichick’s coaching style that saw Kyle Love unloved and cut.

 

At the very least Ryan Mathews owners should draft Woodhead as an effective insurance policy, but even with Mathews staying relatively healthy, I think Woodhead offers good value at his current draft position, if he’s utilised correctly he could become a flex starter, and potentially an RB2 if/when Mathews goes down.

 

2.     Zac Stacy, St Louis Rams, ADP: RB49

 

The rookie Stacy was one of three running backs tasked with replacing Steven Jackson after his exodus to the Falcons, but it’s not a tough argument to say he is in the driving seat at the moment, and could easily win out the job and be the feature back come week 1.

 

His main rivals for the spot include Daryl Richardson – who has been unspectacular at best for the Rams -  and Isaiah Pead, a second round rookie from 2012. Pead will miss the first game due to a suspension, and whilst Jeff Fisher has stated it isn’t going to harm his chance to win the job, I think it gives Stacy the initiative to prove his worth in week 1. The Rams have stocked up on offensive weapons this offseason, especially in the passing game – this will give the Rams RBs space to maneuver and it should open up middle of the field.

 

For these reasons I think Stacy is a steal at his current ADP, as his upside points to RB2 production. It wouldn’t hurt to draft Pead (ADP of RB47) as well if you have the roster space, but a gamble is sometimes necessary to win your fantasy league and I like Stacy’s talent and opportunity mixture going into 2013.

 

3. Bryce Brown, Philadelphia Eagles, ADP: RB39

 

Anybody who picked up Bryce Brown last season will testify that he is explosive and can win you fantasy matchups on his own. Anyone who let Bryce Brown hold their beer will tell you he ruined a great pair of jeans as he fumbled it within moments. Whilst I do like beer, I’m drafting Brown to run the ball, and in Chip Kelly’s fast-paced offence multiple backs are necessary.

 

Brown is the undoubted #2 running back, as I can’t see how Felix Jones will be favoured over Brown unless he keeps coughing up the football, this tells me he is going to see around 100 carries, and given the talent he’s shown us so far, he can be very effective with those carries. There is no circumstance imaginable where Brown usurps Shady McCoy as the number 1 RB with the Eagles, but he offers more upside than your average backup RB, since he will get more opportunity than most backup RBs (by the nature of Kelly’s system) and he’s shown he can do more with each snap.

 

Overall I think Brown is a firecracker of a RB. He may end up fumbling his way out of snaps, but holding onto the football is a skill that can be taught, whilst his instincts and athleticism are more innate qualities. Brown offers a little risk, but ultimately he brings a lot to the party, and could be considered as a flex RB with upside. Just don’t let him hold your beer.

 

 

Barring injury or a massive oversight, the picks you make in the first round rarely determine your fantasy fate. However the guys you grab late on can be a real difference maker – just ask people who drafted Michael Vick in 2010, Cam Newton in 2011 or C.J. Spiller in 2012. Looking deeper than your opponents can give you the edge needed to win your fantasy championship, and drafting one of these three guys as your final RB could push the advantage in your favour come the fantasy post season.



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