Everyone knows the stud Running Backs in Fantasy Football. Le’Veon Bell, Todd Gurley, and Ezekiel Elliott are all monsters who will all cost a top five pick. But who are the players that could provide serious fantasy value that can be drafted at a discount price? As with any position, finding value late in your fantasy draft is key to winning. With that in mind, here are a few flier candidates at Running Back. If they hit, you’re well off. If not, they will go down as a drop come week 3. These players are all low risk/high reward players heading into 2018.
Frank Gore, Miami
Every year I avoid drafting Gore because of his age and every year he continues to provide some fantasy value. In fact, he technically finished as a RB2 last year despite passing the 30 year mark, the age where Running Backs usually start to fall apart. And you can save the “going to Florida to retire” jokes, Gore still can make a weekly impact. Kenyan Drake burst onto the scene last year and is likely to see the majority of early down work. But Dolphins Head Coach Adam Gase has been ambiguous with his depth chart and has both Drake and Gore listed as co-starters. Gore is not the back who dominated your fantasy league back in 2006, but he can still be a useful piece. Keep him in mind when looking for a diamond in the rough at the end of your draft.
Nyheim Hines, Indianapolis
Marlon Mack will get first crack at the Colts starting Running Back spot, but Hines and fellow rookie Jordan Wilkins are names to keep in mind. Mack got some opportunities last season as the number two behind Frank Gore, and his production was a mixed bag. Hines was the higher draft pick and seems to be on deck if and when Mack struggles. Just like with just about every player on the Colts, fantasy production is largely dependent on the health of Andrew Luck. If Luck is healthy and can carry the offense, the ground attack is much more appealing. Rookie Running Backs are all the rage now in fantasy, and Hines has a chance to be the sleeper among this year’s first year tailbacks.
Spencer Ware, Kansas City
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Heading into 2017, Ware was expected to be the Chiefs’ primary ball carrier. A torn PCL robbed him of the entire season, and then Kareem Hunt happened. Hunt’s monster 2017 season has made Ware an afterthought in the Kansas City offense. This is understandable, but not entirely fair. Ware excelled as a runner and pass-catching back in the previous two seasons before his injury. He’s still relatively young and will have a lot to fight for coming into this season. Andy Reid offenses can produce backup fantasy value for running backs, especially for backs proficient in catching the ball. Hunt is the first option in KC, no doubt. But Ware still has plenty of upside in an offense that can feed a lot of mouths.
James White, New England
The Patriots love to rotate their Running Backs and Bill Belichick hates to provide a depth chart. This may scare a lot of fantasy players away from the New England backfield. While this situation is not ideal, it doesn’t prevent any one ball carrier from getting viable fantasy production. James White is the longest tenured back on the Patriots and obviously has the trust of the coaching staff. He scored in the past two Super Bowls, including the game winner in SBLI. Sony Michel, who was the projected starter, may be injured once the Regular season begins. Rex Burkhead will likely benefit most from this, but don’t count out White in getting touches. He’s the pass catching, change of pace back on a Tom Brady led offense. That alone warrants a late round flier.
Samaje Perine, Washington
Derrius Guice was set to be the lead back for the Redskins offense before tearing his ACL earlier this week. That leaves the starting RB spot open in Washington. Chris Thompson will probably get first crack to become the top back, but he’s a pass catching specialist who isn’t known for running between the tackles. Samaje Perine is more built for power runs and may now see first down carries with Guice down for the season. Rob Kelly is in the mix too, but Perine is the younger option with more tread on the tires. Last year Perine struggled a bit when he was given lead back duties, but that was with a busted offensive line. A healthy O-line with a new Quarterback in an offensive scheme could benefit Perine who should warrant some attention late in drafts.
Kenneth Dixon, Baltimore
Running Back has been a bit of a revolving door for the Ravens in recent years. Last year Alex Collins broke out and is the clear number one going into this season. While Collins certainly looked the part, there is still a chance the Ravens want to see what else they have in the backfield. Kenneth Dixon missed all of last year with an injury, but looked good in his rookie season in 2016. Baltimore still has Buck Allen as a third option, but at this point his fantasy ceiling seemed capped. Collins will likely warrant at least a fifth round pick in fantasy drafts. A backfield with both Collins and Dixon has yet to be seen, so the workload still has to be determined. Dixon may surprise fantasy players this year as a guy who is almost free in standard leagues.
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