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RB3s With RB1 Potential (2019 Fantasy Football)

RB3s With RB1 Potential (2019 Fantasy Football)

Last week, we examined sleepers at the wide receiver position. More than sleepers, we asked our writers to identify players that are currently being drafted as WR3s that carry WR1 potential. This week, we’re taking a look at running backs who carry the same upside.

As you get into the middle and later rounds of fantasy drafts, you are looking for upside more than security, especially at the running back position. That’s exactly what these players provide.

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Which player outside the top 30 RBs has the best chance to finish as an RB1 for the season?

Mike Davis (CHI)
“I’ll go deep on the consensus for this one, but Mike Davis is going severely overlooked in early ECR and ADP. He’s currently ranked as the No. 57 running back in ECR and No. 51 in ADP. The Bears made it a point to sign him early in free agency and then gave away Jordan Howard for practically nothing. Many are thinking the Bears are going to draft a running back, but they don’t have a pick until the third round and it’s a weak running back class. Running backs drafted outside of the top three rounds rarely get on the field without injury their rookie year, so my take is that Davis is a low-end RB2 with RB1 upside. Tarik Cohen is a player, yes, but the Bears have a clear role for him. Davis will be the primary 1-2 down running back and the goal-line back who just happens to catch more passes than Howard did (who finished as the RB20 in PPR leagues last year despite offering little in the pass-game).”
– Mike Tagliere (@MikeTagliereNFL)

Royce Freeman (DEN)
“Freeman was drafted in the third round in last year’s rookie draft by the Denver Broncos to be the premier back but no one saw the undrafted, local hero Philip Lindsay coming. However, 2019 is a different year with a new coaching staff. Lindsay is still recovering from a late-season injury and might not be totally ready in time for the opener. The truth is Freeman is built like a bell cow and was one in college, excelling as both a runner and pass catcher. Last year he was treated like Jordan Howard when he was in Chicago. If Lindsay gets delayed in his return and if Freeman hits the road running he has potential RB1 upside. Let’s just hope his new management figures out how to utilize his skill set so he can show everyone how talented and versatile he really is.”
– Marc Mathyk (@Masterjune70)

Carlos Hyde (KC)
“There are a few in this range with quite a bit of upside, namely the San Francisco backs and Hyde. Among them, Hyde is my favorite because of the offense he plays in. Granted, Kyle Shanahan is tremendous but he isn’t Andy Reid, nor does Matt Breida have Patrick Mahomes on his team. Hyde is in a toss-up competition for the Chiefs’ starting running back job and should he come out on top, as his superior talent indicates he will, we are looking at someone who could return second-round value.”
– Bobby Sylvester (@bobbyfantasypro)

Jaylen Samuels (PIT)
James Conner suffered a lower-body injury toward the end of last year which opened up playing time for Jaylen Samuels. Samuels took advantage of the opportunity — when Conner was out Week 13 through 16, Samuels was highly effective. He ranked as the RB12 in PPR formats over that period. Since 2014, the Steelers have been responsible for a top-five RB every year. He is the perfect weapon for the Steelers scheme as he was the jack of all trades H-back at NC State racking up touches at running back, receiver, and tight end. His low-cost, high-upside price late in drafts is a steal and he especially benefits from playing in a potent offense and having a top-five offensive line unit that returns every starter from last year. The only obstacle Samuels faces is the man currently positioned in front of him on the depth chart, James Conner. Conner has dealt with injuries in the past, and if he experiences injuries in 2019, Samuels is in the perfect position to accrue RB1 fantasy numbers.”
– Chuck Gioffre (@cgioffre34)

Rashaad Penny (SEA)
“Carlos Hyde is my first choice as he has the skill set and opportunity to thrive this year, but I also see Penny as a huge sleeper. I’m sure we all remember the sensation formerly known as Thomas Rawls, and while I respect Chris Carson, I’m just pointing out that he wouldn’t be the first out-of-nowhere RB to have a short shelf life in Seattle. The Seahawks spent a first-round pick (their only selection in the first 78 picks) on Penny for a reason, and the kid has undeniable talent. Some of his runs last year were spectacular and seemed to genuinely inspire the team. I would not be surprised to see Penny eventually grab the starting job this year as he displays a better grasp of the playbook and earns the trust of his coaches.”
– Sheldon Curtis  (@sheldon_curtis)

Austin Ekeler (LAC)
“Ekeler was a pleasant surprise last year, building on a solid rookie campaign and finishing the 2018 season with 958 yards from scrimmage with six touchdowns. He was the 24th ranked running back in PPR leauges and that was with RB Melvin Gordon starting 12 games and Ekeler playing a secondary role most of the season. His 46 ECR is really low considering he is entering his third season and he was a productive player sharing time with Gordon last year. Gordon has had injury issues in the past and he is entering the final year of his contract. I would not be surprised if Ekeler continues to have a big role in his third season and at 24 years old, he could be poised for another Top-30 season.”
– Derek Lofland (@DerekLofland)

D’Onta Foreman (HOU)
“Injuries have obviously derailed Foreman’s career till this point, but being able to make it back to the active roster at the end of last season and the Texans letting Alfred Blue walk this off-season might finally give him the opportunity fantasy owners have been waiting for. Foreman currently has an ECR of 50, which if it holds, could provide fantasy owners a nice lottery ticket later in drafts. With the Texans posting a top-12 offense in 2018, including being fourth in rushing attempts, I think there is a good opportunity for Foreman to leapfrog Miller and take over the lead back role in an explosive offense this season.”
– Kyle August (@kyleFFfellas)

Ronald Jones (TB)
“I really considered picking Latavius Murray here, but I’m going Ronald Jones. Apparently, he’s caught the eye of Bruce Arians and the new coaching staff, and Arians has already made it clear he intends to get the running game going in 2019 after it stalled out last season. Jones didn’t impress in his rookie campaign, but the Bucs’ offensive line was a mess, and the team spent all year airing it out a million times a game and getting caught up in “FitzMagic” and Jameis Winston’s continued off-the-field idiocies. It’s easy to forget the talent this guy displayed at USC, but make no mistake — he’s an impressive back with a lot to prove. Time to channel the inner Jim Morrison and get the “RoJo Rising.””
– Zak Hanshew (@ZaktheMonster)

Lamar Miller (HOU)
“As unexciting as Miller is as a player, he’s been a value in fantasy football for years now, and early 2019 ADP suggests he will be again. Currently the RB28 in HAlf-PPR drafts according to Fantasy Football Calculator, Miller could well finish inside the Top 12 RBs by the end of the year. Miller is fast (4.40, 98th-percentile speed score), meaning big plays are always a possibility, he’s easily a better receiver than D’Onta Foreman, who recorded just a 3.6% target share in college and has 10 targets through 10 NFL games. Miller received 63% of Houston’s RB carries + targets in 2018, good for 14th in the league, so it’s not a tough case to make for him to see a strong workload again. Even if Foreman takes work away, it won’t likely be the most valuable opportunities (targets). If Miller breaks a few big plays and gets on the right side of a bit of touchdown scoring luck, his RB1 narrative is pretty easy to spin in a strong Texans offense that should be moving the ball and scoring plenty in 2019.”
– Mark Leipold (@LeipoldNFL)

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