Very Deep Sleeper: Dare Ogunbowale (2019 Fantasy Football)
R.C. Fischer discusses deep sleeper candidate, Buccaneers’ RB Dare Ogunbowale in Season 4 of his Very Deep Sleeper series for FantasyPros. This piece is part of our article program that features quality content from experts exclusively at FantasyPros. For more insight from R.C. head to Fantasy Football Metrics.
I would never have thought that I’d be seriously considering the fantasy fate of Dare Ogunbowale in this or any other year, but here we are…
Two things converged to bring Ogunbowale to this Very Deep Sleeper series in 2019:
First, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a total and complete mess of a backfield.
Second, Ogunbowale is playing the best ball of anyone in that backfield this preseason.
On number one, you will easily get on board with the Bucs’ backfield assessment portion of my Ogunbowale case, because we all see it as a mess. Nobody is moved by any of the names above him on the depth chart (Barber, Jones, and Ellington). For number two, you might not agree that Ogunbowale is the best back the Bucs have currently, but let me make that case to you.
Peyton Barber is, arguably, the least exciting starting running back in the NFL for fantasy purposes. Be honest. You’d take LeSean McCoy or Adrian Peterson before Barber, wouldn’t you? Many fantasy GMs are taking clear backup and specialist role RBs before they give in and grab known incumbent and currently stated starter Peyton Barber.
People were taking Ronald Jones ahead of Barber for a while in redrafts, but it looks like this preseason has re-reminded everyone that Jones is terrible and that has stopped happening. The NFL is also re-remembering such things, as Jones is on the verge of a cut or trade by the team. Even if they keep Jones rostered, presumably in memory of his draft status, he’s still going to be a no-impact player.
Andre Ellington has ties to Bruce Arians going back to Arizona. They go back to the glory days when Arians assessed Ellington as clearly better than their young 3rd-round pick David Johnson… remember, Johnson was a middle of the draft grab for Arians only because Arizona couldn’t trade up high enough to land their top of their board first choice: Ameer Abdullah. We know how that decision ended up for Ellington…and for Abdullah. Now Ellington is reunited with Arians, and he provides some nice, veteran depth at running back that Arians can trust.
It was supposed to be Barber-Jones with Ellington in the hole for the Bucs in 2019 but Dare Ogunbowale has come in and overturned that master plan with his play this preseason. If Arians makes the mistake of trying to slide him on to the practice squad so he can keep Ronald Jones to save organizational face (and so he can keep Ellington as his second-son type of player), teams in need will pounce. He’s been too good this preseason for an always-desperate running back market not to keep him in demand.
When I saw Ogunbowale work in camp and play in preseason games, I was stunned. I scout a lot of players (at all positions) for NFL Draft consulting and for dynasty rookie draft work on CollegeFootballMetrics.com, and I vaguely remembered Ogunbowale…as a forgettable RB prospect. Not the ideal size (5’11″/210+) and no measurables that jumped off the page, and a decent but quiet career at Wisconsin.
But this 2019-version of Ogunbowale…I am seeing him with new eyes. He is by far the most talented Tampa Bay running back this preseason (although, admittedly, they do have the worst backfield group in the NFL). He looks like he’s added 5-10 pounds of muscle but has also stayed lean and quick…a good start on a transformation. But what grabbed my attention was his fearless running style. He’s decisive and aggressive running between the tackles. Dare takes every carry and runs like his life depends on it, which is exactly the way Ronald Jones DOESN’T run the ball. Above all, Ogunbowale is an excellent receiver. He’s equipped with not just good or great hands, and he’s like a wide receiver out of the backfield. He is an excellent route runner (Peyton Barber said that he’s the best route running RB he’s ever been around) and he’s smart in screen set-ups. In Week 2 of the preseason, Ogunbowale caught two screens and took them for 40+ yards (one got called back). He was the second-leading receiver for Wisconsin in 2015, which was his first year as a starter/first year ever as a college running back – a converted, walk-on defensive back (2013-2014) prospect who became a scholarship starting running back in the Big Ten (2015-2016).
Ogunbowale was undrafted in 2017 and has bounced from Houston to Tampa Bay to Washington (where he made the main roster for a few games) back to Tampa Bay last year where he was activated by the Bucs for two games to return kicks and play special teams. He now stands in the enviable position of solid running back talent, with some preseason buzz for the team, working on a weak depth chart ripe for him to leap into a split role or lead role quickly. Ogunbowale on the Patriots right now…no chance to make the team. Ogunbowale on the Bucs right now…could be their leading rusher in 2019.
Dare Ogunbowale is currently going as the 112th standard running back for 2019 redraft according to FantasyPros’ consensus expert rankings. And I’m not proposing we’re at a point of making him a 15-16-17th-round redraft late grab, although it’s not crazy to do so in August. But I’m not drafting him in my typical-sized redrafts as of this writing.
What I do propose is for you to watch the 53-man roster situation for Tampa in September. If you see Ronald Jones moved out…it’s because of Ogunbowale and you can start to get a bit excited for the possibilities and maybe he is a late round redraft flyer after cut down day. But, even better, if you see that he made the team and Ellington is the roster casualty…it leaves awful Ronald Jones as the easy takeout target for Ogunbowale. And soon afterward, Dare would effectively be the No. 2 running back with the very unexciting Peyton Barber in front of him to start the 2019 regular season…another easy takeout target. The dominoes in Tampa are all set up for Ogunbowale to knock them down… if Arians gives him the slightest sliver of a chance to.
If Arians butchers this, which is not unimaginable, and cuts Ogunbowale — then watch what team Ogunbowale goes to. His new home (like, for instance, today’s Houston Texans) might be a favorable spot for him to rise quickly and see action right away.
2019 Very Deep Sleeper series (Season 4), so far:
- Darren Waller (TE – OAK) – Link: (S4, E1)
- Matt LaCosse (TE – NE) – Link: (S4, E3)
- Daniel Brown (TE – NYJ) – Link: (S4, E4)
- Phillip Dorsett (WR – NE) – Link: (S4, E5)
- D.J. Chark (WR – JAC) – Link: (S4, E6)
- Mike Boone (RB – MIN) – Link: (S4, E7)
- Jalen Hurd (WR – SF) – Link: (S4, E8)
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