5 Value Running Backs Who Should Be On Your Radar in 2014

Freeman is an injury away from being a Fantasy impact in 2014.
Photo from: Wikipedia Commons

Fantasy Football season is nearly upon us, and with that comes post-draft talk, rankings, arguments, position battles and Fantasy draft preparation. Most avid Fantasy Footballers know that championships can be won with three very good players, but most of the time it is teams with depth and a surprise stud or two that no one expected to shine or play.

I will be sharing players who may be flying under the radar, undervalued, or biding their time to shine in 2014 here at fakepigskin. I will start with the position that many, including myself, value as the most important position for any fantasy squad….Running Back. The Value Running Backs could be the most beneficial mid to late round pick on your fantasy teams in 2014, so be prepared.

I usually ease in to the Fantasy Football mindset each year while focusing my energies on the Fantasy Baseball season. However, once June rolls around the juices start to flow, and the excitement begins for draft prep and football writing. This is the first, of many more things to come for me over at my new home Fakepigskin.com. Plus, the highly anticipated Fake Pigskin Draft Guide will be coming soon, and if you aren’t excited yet…..Well. You should be. Don’t go into your drafts with only a top 250 sheet, study up and be prepared. There is no offseason! Thanks for reading.

 Keep in mind the below are listed in order for sleeper value, not my actual ranking. Thomas will be guaranteed the most carries/catches from day one, however he is slightly more obvious of a pick to owners then the players I ranked 1-4.

 

5. Pierre Thomas, Running Back- New Orleans

Thomas and the Saints hope to celebrate again in 2014. Photo from: Flickr Commons

Thomas and the Saints hope to celebrate again in 2014. Photo from: Flickr Commons

Pierre Thomas had a career renaissance if you can call it that. He had 549 yards with 147 carries in 2013, but the kicker to Thomas sneaky value was hauling in 77 catches for 513 yards. That puts him at over 1000 yards total in 2013.  Plus, with Darren Sproles no longer there to take receptions away from Thomas in one of the most lethal offenses in the league, that only adds to his value.

I am not forgetting Khiry Robinson, but if you are looking for a back, especially in PPR leagues Thomas has sneaky value. In standard formats his value may not be as significant, but I would still like to have him as an RB3. Definitely low-end RB2 value in PPR.

4.  Terrance West, Running Back- Cleveland Browns

This one may surprise some of you especially looking at the Browns offseason addition of Ben Tate. However, the draft left many scratching their heads as the Browns moved up to snag this back from Towson who didn’t play Division 1 football. He will definitely spell Tate at first, but I am not a big believer in Tate being a workhorse back, and West has very good hands which could add to his playtime for passing downs.

I am not reaching for West in re-draft formats, but he will one of my top 3 sleeper targets. In Dynasty format his value should climb as well. I would rather take a flyer on a guy like West over a #3 or 4 receiver on some teams, just for the upside potential.

3. Chris Johnson, Running Back- New York Jets

Chris Johnson sitting on his helmet

Chris Johnson sitting on his helmet

There are a TON of Running Backs in New York right now. Johnson is one of the newest additions and has the most big play capability. He is recovering from Meniscus surgery, and because of that may have an added question mark to 2014 along with his play time concerns. However, it has to be noted that Johnson ends up with  1000 yards in every single year of his career. By default that is valuable, and the Jets have 2 mobile Quarterbacks so it should be noted that Johnson’s best seasons were with mobile Quarterback in Tennessee.

I am taking him for a flyer and sneaky value pick if I can get him this season.

2. Carlos Hyde, Running Back- San Francisco

Hyde is a big boy who takes punishment as well as gives it as the stereotypical bruiser back. He is a workhorse, and enjoys running up the gut, much like current starting back Gore. Hyde will not be a threat immediately, barring injury, but Gore is on the downside of his career without a doubt. He is getting older, and looking closer at his numbers over the final stretch of 2013, there is no doubt he is not as useful as he once was.

So, if an injury happens, or a timeshare starts to evolve in San Francisco in 2014 Hyde will be the front-runner to take the majority of carries, including the goal-line. He has good hands in the receiving game as well, which helps add to his value as well.

1. Devonta Freeman, Running Back- Atlanta

Freeman is an injury away from being a Fantasy impact in 2014. Photo from: Wikipedia Commons

Freeman is an injury away from being a Fantasy impact in 2014.
Photo from: Wikipedia Commons

Like Hyde, Freeman is the other Running Back who will be loosely involved in the beginning of the season, but with potential to take over the lead role in Atlanta. Freeman is the new backup for Steven Jackson, who like Frank Gore is well beyond his prime years, and oft-injured in the twilight of his career. This leaves the door open for Freeman who is very good at catching the ball in the open field like Jackson, to slowly chip in to Jackson’s workload, and eventually supplant him as the starter.

A dynasty no-brainer and a re-draft late round flyer for sure.

Thanks for reading my first post on Fakepigskin, hope you enjoyed it. Have any comments, other players I missed, disagreements, or want to laud me with praise? Go ahead in the comments below. Also feel free to follow me on twitter for any Fantasy advice, questions, or commentary @fantsychillpony

 

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