Dynasty Sleepers: Running Backs
Smitty discusses dynasty league running back sleepers.
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Below you will find a list of 2016 Dynasty Sleeper RBs heading into the 2016 fantasy football season. If you haven’t drafted yet in your upcoming startup dynasty league, target these players below if the price is right (I describe what the right price might be). If you are in an existing dynasty league, try acquiring these players on the cheap. Enjoy.
Devonta Freeman (RB/ATL)
How can this guy be a sleeper? Well, when you have top 1-5RB upside, yet you continue to get doubted and pushed down rankings/ADPs into the 8-10 RB range (in all formats), well, that is kind of the definition of people sleeping on a player, is it not? While sleepers are often thought of as deep/hidden gems, they can also come in the form of a well-known player, or even a top 10 overall player. It all boils down to value. Freeman gets no respect on a consensus level/basis, and given he has top five RB appeal, the risk is extremely low in that 8-10 RB range, yet his upside is ridiculously good. We are talking “win a league” type of good. In existing dynasty leagues, my advice is to buy-low, but maybe first inquire about a couple other players on the Freeman owner’s roster, just so you don’t scare them off. The thing about Freeman is this… his owners doubt him, but they also fear giving him up. If you ask for Freeman right out of the gate in trade talks, the odds are much greater that his current owner will want top five RB value in return. However, if he isn’t the first player or two that you inquire about, you will likely increase your chances of getting that owner to value Freeman around where ADPs have him, which is in that ridiculously low range (7-10 for running backs).
Eddie Lacy (RB/GB)
As with Freeman above, sleepers doesn’t have to be an extremely deep breakout, it can be a big name player as well, just as long as people are sleeping on his value. Now, I’ve seen Lacy overvalued, and extremely undervalued. So, much depends on the fantasy football owners you are playing/drafting with. Consensus rankings and ADPs around the industry have him falling around the 11-14 range for RBs, and that is great value. He still has fantasy RB1 appeal, yet that’s RB2-type value, so the risk is low and the upside is very strong. Lacy was overweight last year, and he lacked motivation. He is a new man this off-season, though, as endless reports have him down 15-18 pounds and in elite condition. Assuming he avoids injury in 2016, Lacy is a good bet to rush for 1,100-1,200 yards, 9-10 TDs, and he should pull in 35+ balls for 300-400 yards and 2-3 more TDs. That’s an RB1 season, folks, and you only have to pay RB2-type value. He is only 25 years old, too. He is a great runner to draft outside the top 10RBs, and he is a great buy-low in existing leagues.
Carlos Hyde (RB/SF)
Equal parts risk and upside, there is a lot to like and fear about Hyde heading into 2016. Chip Kelly is the worry, as he didn’t use either LeSean McCoy or DeMarco Murray properly in recent seasons. So, you have to wonder, what will change? However, given Hyde is ranked in the 12-15 range for dynasty running backs heading into 2016, he is worth taking a stab at via trade in existing leagues, and he is worth drafting in startup drafts if you can get him near that same kind of value. He has RB1 upside if given the carries, and Kelly and staff seem to like him in SF. Handcuff him to be safe, and that could be Shaun Draughn, or someone else come August. Handcuffing should eliminate a lot of risk, thus making Hyde a “win a league” type player at his current dynasty value.
Jay Ajayi (RB/MIA)
The Dolphins drafted Kenyan Drake at running back, but this is almost good news, as Drake is talented, but nowhere near the threat of many other rookies Miami could have taken on draft day. The concern, and risk, is that Miami tried to bring in C.J. Anderson on a huge contract, which could indicate they aren’t super confident in Ajayi being an every-down back. That said, the talent is there, I saw it last year, and we called him out as a HUGE sleeper heading in 2016 (before the 2015 season even came to a close). Hopefully, talent wins out in this case, because this kid has a grip of it. I wouldn’t be shocked if he cranked out high-end fantasy RB2-type numbers in 2016. I also wouldn’t be shocked if Miami screwed this one up and didn’t see the talent, much like the organization didn’t see how good Lamar Miller was. So, approach with caution, in case Ajayi’s ADP climbs in the coming months, but consider him a monster sleeper anywhere near that 18-20+ range for RBs, which is currently where he seems to be floating.