Unlike the Quarterback sleeper article I do not have projections for all of these guys since a lot of them are in backfields that we are unsure on. We don't quite know what their full-time role will be and some of these guys need an injury to hit. This is simply a list of running backs I believe in and should have at least some chance to become a contributor on your team - whether that is a season long/league winner or just a 2 week stint to get a couple of wins.
For the running back sleepers, I could bring up everyone's favorite, Javonte Williams - RB13. In this article I am going to look at running backs that are outside the FantasyNerds Top 36 Running Backs to be a deep dive into true legit league winners.
I want to briefly talk about guys between RB13 - RB36 just so we don't miss guys that could end up in the top 12. For some teams that go Heavy RB these guys could be league winners for their teams. Even the Hero RB builds benefit from some of these guys because they are drafting top-end WR to build their base with a guy that goes behind the consensus top running backs.
So let's talk some of these RB2/3 that could be top 12 running backs. Start with two guys that are back to back in the rankings. Travis Etienne - RB19 and Breece Hall- RB20 are two young backs that are collegiate stars. They both dominated and were drafted high by their teams in the NFL Draft. They have the college dominator factor with high draft capital. Those two things typically lead to a high share of the team's touches. I believe both of these young running backs will break out and have a chance at being top 12.
The next two are a little more interesting in their own ways and are back to back as well like the first two. AJ Dillon - RB25 and Clyde Edwards-Helaire - RB26, are also two young guys that are going into their third season.
Just a quick note on 4 other guys inside the top 36. The list is Devin Singletary - RB31, Chase Edmonds - RB32, Tony Pollard - RB33, and Rhamondre Stevenson - RB35. These are the last guys I will draft in the top 36.
A quick analysis of each, here we go.
The Second Year Takeover
Kenneth Gainwell - RB45
Gainwell was hand-picked by this coaching staff in the 2021 NFL Draft and they used him quite a bit throughout the season. It is a little telling when Miles Sanders has 0 touchdowns, but the Eagles total for running back touchdowns in 2021 was 15. Gainwell had 5 of those. He also earned 50 targets as a rookie. Gainwell in my eyes fits this offense better than Miles Sanders does. Gainwell has the apple of the eye of his coach and yours truly as a great target on all of my teams.
Khalil Herbert - RB 49
Khalil took all starters snaps in reseason week 1 with Montgomery out. It seems like the new coaching staff isn’t 100% in as Montgomery is the lead back and it may be a split role between him and Herbert. Last season Herbert started 2 games and totaled 37 carries for 197 yards and 1 touchdown with 7 receptions for 48 yards. That is 5.32 yards per carrying for him. He was my 5th best running back coming out in the 2021 NFL Draft so he is held high in regards to me because of that. I think he is in line for at least 35% of the carries and maybe closer to 50% of the RB passing downs work.
There are others that you can easily fall in love with and some that I will take in drafts because of pure opportunity chances. We will have injuries that push guys up or once the final depth chart is made for week 1 it will be a shock that some guys are their team RB2. This list of guys outside of FantasyNerds top 100 is merely deep league dart throws keep an eye on the waiver wire once we get a couple of weeks into the season and you can see the team running back usage more.
Beyond RB100 (close your eyes and throw the dart in deep leagues)
Running back is deep this year with guys that may have opportunities in the future. Whether that is a month into the season or next season we won’t know right now. I do see their plenty of good plays for drafting a lot of running backs late regardless of your draft approach and team structure. Hopefully, this list helps you.
Good luck with your drafts!!!
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