2016 Running Back Sleepers

Christine Michael (Seattle)- I know I know you've heard this song before, but I sense something different about him this year.  Michael came on strong late last year.  He had a strong preseason.  The word out of camp was that he's had an awakening.  Little things like he’s listening to coaches about switching the ball to the correct side now indicate that he knows this is his final shot.  His attitude has changed for the better.  He ran with power and determination versus the Cowboys and if Rawls breaks down the gig is his.  At worst he's in a rbbc and with Marshawn Lynch’s retirement someone has to run the ball in Seattle.  The Seahawks offensive line is bad, but their defense should keep games close enough to provide plenty of rushing attempts.

Tevin Coleman  (Atlanta)- Few people remember that Coleman was the favorite to win the running back job last season in Atlanta, not Freeman.  He suffered a rib injury early last year which hampered him much of the season.  Coleman is faster and possibly better at catching the ball than Freeman.  With his speed he is a big play machine and he has the size to hold up.  He was 2nd in the nation in rushing yards in college at Indiana and the last time I checked the Hoosiers aren’t exactly a football powerhouse.  The addition of free agent center Alex Mack helps the line and with Julio Jones the Falcons have plenty of firepower to score points.  Even if he splits the carries with Freeman he could turn some of those carries into big plays.  He reminds me of a young Chris Johnson.  And they didn’t call him CJ2K for nothing.

Arian Foster (Miami)- I think he’s the bell cow back in Miami not Ajayi.  When he plays he’s one of the best in the league.  He’s one of the few backs you can get late who can be an every down back.  Ajayi’s knee has no cartilage so I doubt he can handle a full work load.  The question with Foster is can he hold up after recovering from an Achilles injury?  He looked great in camp.   A lot of people have written him off.  They wrote him off a few years ago and he surprised folks.  I believed in him then and I believe in him now.  He’s worth a shot and he won’t cost you that much.

DeAngelo Williams (Pitt)- Not exactly a sleeper in the traditional sense, but I’m worried about LeVeon Bell’s knee holding up.  He injured two ligaments last year- naturally that’s when I owned Bell.  Torn knees aren’t easy to come back from.  Bell’s looked good in his limited preseason appearance, but he’s broken down two years in a row now.  If Bell doesn’t hold up or fails another drug test you’ve won the lottery.  The Steelers are one of the most powerful offenses in the league.  Owning their starting running back is gold Jerry gold! And even if Bell doesn’t get hurt he’s suspended the first three weeks so you’ve got a top running back to help get your team off to a good start.

Duke Johnson (Clev)- I love Duke’s talent.  His receiving skills are top notch and he has the ability to be an every down back.  In ppr’s he’s a star.  He reminds scouts of LeSean McCoy.  There are plenty of garbage yards to be had in the 4th quarter when Cleveland is trailing.  And if anything happens to Isaiah Crowell Duke's the man. 

Keith Marshall (Wash)- He was put on the pup list so this is more of a guy to keep a close eye on.  The Redskins could have cut him, but didn’t which speaks volumes.  It tells me they still believe in him.  If Matt Jones breaks down or continues to fumble the ball, a distinct possibility, Marshall could get the call midseason.  In college he was more highly touted than teammate Todd Gurley at Georgia.  Yes the same Todd Gurley who plays for the Rams and went in the first round of most fantasy drafts.  A knee injury launched Gurley ahead of him.  Marshall’s finally recovered from it.  He has the size and speed to be a difference maker if he can regain the old form. Longshot Pick