Let’s face it the first 3-4 running back picks are etched in fantasy football stone somewhere. After that, there are a few gems that you can take late first round and after. And to make matters more enticing two to three of them might end up being the stud the Michael Turner was last year. One of these top ten sleeper running backs might even lead the league in rushing, touchdowns, or even receptions at the RB position.
1.Jamal Lewis – This guy has no immediate competition and he will get the rock. I’m not saying he’s one of the best but I’ve consistently grabbed Lewis in the ninth and above. To get a RB1 that late in the draft is fantastic. I expect decent numbers but not fantastic numbers. This is the guy you want to snag for the bye weeks.
2.Ray Rice – There are currently three guys getting the ball in Baltimore. Of those three Rice is the sure fire winner and the most likely to grab some valuable fantasy points. I’m not crazy about the time-share but you might be able to pick him up right before you draft your kicker.
3.Cedric Benson – A very productive last couple of games last season. Benson was on a roll until the season ended. Now he has a big fat raise and a chip on his shoulder to prove he’s worth it. Oh yeah, he’s a decent pass catcher and some guy named Carson Palmer is back running the offense. I’ve typically seen him go sooner than Jamal Lewis but as late as the last round or two.
4.Darren McFadden – Another committee with three running backs. Justin Fargas has a huge contract to live up to but won’t. Michael Bush is decent. However there are few backs in the league with McFadden’s explosiveness. Early reports have the Raiders using McFadden as both a running back and wide receiver. The quarterback is a dud and the Raiders know the only chance they’ve got rests with RunDMC.
5.Reggie Bush – Bush is officially the RB2. But so what, he dumped his girlfriend and is looking to have a fantastic year. Bush regularly lines up as a wide receiver and still has the moves to produce yardage after he gets the ball. I’ve seen Bush occasionally go in the fourth round but more often than not he’s sitting around till the seventh.
6.Brian Westbrook – I know how can Westbrook be a sleeper. He should be a solid first round pick but he often slips to the second round and even occasionally to the third. Make no mistake about it, Westbrook will produce. If you can get say two decent receivers in the first and second round and still have Westbrook waiting for you then pounce on him. That strategy will win your league.
7.LT – First off LT took a pay cut to restructure his contract just so he could stay with the Chargers. Second the man played his first preseason game since 2005. And third, he’s getting ready to play two preseason games for the first time in his career. Think he has something to prove? I would argue he’s a top 6 running back. Excellent choice and even better if you get him in the second round.
8.Julius Jones – OK. News flash, the Seattle Seahawks team last year is going to be nothing like the Seahawks this year. Jones isn’t going to be a fantastic top ten back but you will be able to get a decent bye player in Jones. The good thing is that Jones can be found in the refuse pile of second and third stringer running backs.
9.Ryan Grant – In the beginning of drafting Grant could be found in the fourth round and even farther into it. Nowadays though it’s hard to see Grant available in the third round. Any way you cut it you should grab him. Ryan Grant is a first rounder in disguise.
10.Larry Johnson – Another Jamal Lewis here. There isn’t really any competition for Johnson. Matt Cassel is going to struggle and Johnson will benefit from this. Time and time again he will find the end zone. Grab him around the sixth round. An excellent bye round candidate.