Fantasy Football Leagues require that you start 2 RBs, and in those leagues with a flex position, you may even find yourself needing a third RB starter. Since we are usually talking 12 man leagues, that means 24 to 36 RBs will be starting every week, and you will need backups, since the injury bug and underperformers always bite you. How do you avoid the pain of over-spending on RBs, and where are those el-cheapo value picks? We are off and running with RB sleepers for 2009.
There are basically 3 levels of RB Fantasy production for you to consider. The top tier is 250 to 300 Fantasy points in a standard scoring format, with about 4 or 5 RB candidates. The second tier is 200 to 250 points, with around 10 or 11 RBs. Then you have maybe 15 guys who will give you 150 to 200 points. This only accounts for 29 or 30 really productive runners. You can see how important it is to get a couple of sleepers, and get them at a discount.
Derrick Ward has so many things going right for him in Tampa Bay it is almost silly. Earnest Graham will be sharing carries with him, but after an ankle sprain for Graham last year, and a huge contract signed by Ward in the off-season, it is obvious where TB will be handing the ball most of the time. Ward averaged 5.3 yards a carry at New York the last two years, and is a threat to catch the ball as well. Look for 48 catches, 1500 total yards from scrimmage and 8 TDs. These kinds of numbers will put him at the bottom of the second tier of backs, and you can expect to pick him up in the 6th or 7th round, not bad for 3rd or 4th round numbers.
Donald Brown is a speedy UConn Rookie tailback that impressed Indy bigwigs with his hands as much as his feet. If you recall how Joseph Addai did three seasons ago in a running back by committee effort, and factor in Addai’s less than impressive 2008, I think you can look for 150 fantasy points from Brown. Addai has not played a full season for 2 years now, and Brown will probably go around round 12 – 14. Getting 6th round production in round 12 is what the draft is all about, and I do not think you can go wrong here.
Anyone can pick Matt Forte with the 5th overall pick, but knowing who to pick in the mid to late rounds, without paying too much, is where Fantasy Titles are won. Look for things like backups, people splitting carries with injury-plagued guys, and team-jumpers going into favorable situations. If you keep these things in mind, you will be sure to get good value from the RB position, and nab a sleeper or two.