Don’t worry if you can’t get an elite RB.
This article is the second installment in which I will breakdown each position group and identify which players I feel are being underrated by the masses. Having quality running backs is a fairly consistent predictor of success in fantasy football. With the NFL transitioning into more of a passing league, the true workhorse running back is a rare, valuable commodity. If you are in a position to draft a player who fits this mold, pull the trigger. If not, you must plan accordingly. Here are a few players you should target later in the draft who can provide you with invaluable running back depth:
*ADP’s (Average Draft Position) and site rankings fluctuate*
Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens
ESPN.com: Ranking - 54 / ADP (ranking, not actual value) - 59
NFL.com: Ranking - 69 / ADP - 71
Yahoo.com: Ranking - 82 / ADP - 102
Ray Rice was involved in a domestic incident in the offseason, and thus, suspended for the first two games of the 2014 season (should have been for longer) for his actions. His two-game absence will cause some people to move him down their boards, but you shouldn’t make that mistake.
Rice came into camp lighter than last season, and reportedly, has looked great. There is no question that as long as he is healthy, Rice is going to get plenty of touches. If he improves his play, and the offensive line stabilizes from a poor 2013 season, Rice could be looking at a bounce-back year in 2014. Sitting the first two games hurts, but if he performs like he could over the remainder of the season, having to fill an RB2 spot for two games is completely worth the long-term reward.
Joique Bell, Detroit Lions
ESPN.com: Ranking - 66 / ADP - 73
NFL.com: Ranking - 57 / ADP - 83
Yahoo.com: Ranking - 47 / ADP - 90
I drafted Reggie Bush last season, and as a result, picked up Joique Bell as a handcuff. Little did I know Bell was going to play a crucial role in my playoff run, even when Bush was healthy. The Lions’ offense asks running backs to run the ball as well as catch the ball out of the backfield. Bell catches the ball well and also provides a bigger alternative to Bush on the goal line. He will get carries and catches every game even if Bush is healthy. If (when) Bush gets injured, Bell will step into a role he is familiar with and produce at a high level. Don’t get too excited and reach for him, but Joique Bell is in position to have a great 2014 season.
Darren Sproles, Philadelphia Eagles
ESPN.com: Ranking - 87 / ADP - 94
NFL.com: Ranking - 85 / ADP - 103
Yahoo.com: Ranking - 112 / ADP - 122
Darren Sproles was one of Drew Brees‘ favorite targets during his time in New Orleans. Sproles is getting older and may have lost a step, but the situation he is about to enter in Philadelphia is perfect for him. Chip Kelly is a genius when it comes to utilizing smaller backs and putting them in position to succeed, dating back to his days at Oregon. While teams key in on LeSean McCoy, Sproles should get his fair share of touches. He won’t run the ball much, but the key is that he is designated as a RB. Sproles is similar to Danny Woodhead in that he will get valuable touches for an RB, even if they are primarily catches. Sproles is currently a fantastic value pick on Yahoo.com, and if he slides a few slots in NFL or ESPN leagues, don’t hesitate to draft him.
Andre Brown, Houston Texans
ESPN.com: Ranking - 126 / ADP - 169
NFL.com: Ranking - 148 / 186
Yahoo.com: Ranking - 171 / 178
With Ryan Fitzpatrick at the helm, the Texans will certainly run the ball a good bit of the time. Arian Foster is always an injury risk, and there are concerns how motivated he is to play for a Texans team with Fitzpatrick as QB. If Foster goes down, Andre Brown is in line to get a lot of carries. Brown has performed well in the past when given a chance and has the potential to be a quality Flex option if Foster proves to be ineffective. In the case that Foster gets hurt, Brown will become a valuable trading chip and a viable RB2.
Edited by Nicole Yang.
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