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Dynasty Rookie Draft Sleepers: Running Backs (Fantasy Football)

By now, we’re all aware this was one of the least-hyped running back classes in recent memory. Even so, some talented runners found a good home during the NFL Draft. But what about the players who didn’t get a full scouting report during the draft when their name was called? There’s some potential in that group too.

We’re going well beyond the Jonathan Brooks and Trey Bensons of this group to find you the best dynasty sleepers of this running back class. Let’s get into it.

2024 Dynasty Fantasy Football Guide

Dynasty Rookie Running Back Sleepers

Let’s dive into a few of our top dynasty rookie sleepers at the running back position.

Audric Estime (DEN)

It’s one thing to learn that Audric Estime is just 20 years old, but it’s quite another to see his birth year listed as 2003. Yes, you read that right. I’ll give you a moment while you ruminate about how old you are.

While Estime is just barely out of his teen years, the 221-pounder runs the football like a grown man seeking vengeance on anybody standing in his way. Estime took over the Notre Dame backfield in his second season, rumbling his way to 920 rushing yards and 11 scores before tallying 1,341 rushing yards and 18 scores in his senior season. He chipped in 135 and 142 receiving yards in those two years, respectively, but Estime makes his mark as a between-the-tackles bruiser. With 4.27 yards after contact in 2023, second best among all FBS running backs with at least 200 carries, Estime can best be described as a bulldozer. Although that’s his main course, his game comes with appetizers of vision and patience along with sides of quick burst and fluidity. He posted a forced missed tackle rate of 30% and while his pass catching abilities fall short of a strength, he caught all 26 of his targets at Notre Dame.

Estime possesses ideal measurables with a wingspan in the 85th percentile, arm length in the 91st percentile, and hand size in the 97th percentile. His bench press landed him in the 79th percentile while his vertical and broad jumps place him in the 86th and 87th percentiles, respectively. His glaring weakness, however, lies in his 40-yard dash which puts him in the 10th percentile at 4.71. It’s worth noting that Estime improved upon that time at his pro day with a 4.61 time and has been reported as fast as 4.54. Regardless, the dirty little secret that people don’t tell you about running backs is that long speed is overrated. Sure, it was fun to watch Ronald Jones outrun the secondary each of the whopping two times he made it that far downfield, but running backs with speed must be able to get to the third level of a defense before it becomes a factor. More important is a back’s short area quickness, and Estime’s 10-yard split of 1.58 put him in the 57th percentile.

Although he’s unlikely to run away from defensive backs downfield, Estime can handle a heavy workload and punish defenders well into the fourth quarter. He has more finesse to his game than a plodder and could push Javonte Williams for early down carries in Denver’s backfield.

Tyrone Tracy Jr. (NYG)

You might be wondering why a 24-year-old, fifth-round selection who has just one year of running back experience is an intriguing sleeper. My short answer is simply, go watch the film. After a career’s worth of wide receiver reps at Iowa, Tyrone Tracy Jr. played one season of wide receiver at Purdue before lining up in the backfield for his final collegiate season. Out of the backfield, Tracy makes light work of linebackers in space with some pop between the tackles. He’s a very fluid athlete with loose hips and elusiveness to evade tackles and pick up extra yardage.

That’s what you see on the film, but if you like statistics, Tracy posted an impressive 716 rushing yards and eight rushing touchdowns. He finished the season with a 90.5 PFF rushing grade with an elusiveness rating of 163.5. His 4.44 yards after contact per attempt were the seventh most among running backs with at least 50 attempts, and the best mark in the draft. Tracy has good size at 5-foot-11 and 209 pounds and offers an exciting blend of size and speed. His 4.48 40-yard dash lands him in the 82nd percentile while his agility score and burst score put him in the 96th and 93th percentiles, respectively. It should go without saying, but Tracy is a more than capable receiver with long strides in the open field.

The Giants filled their vacant running back position with Devin Singletary, a capable starter who is best suited for a role in a committee. Anybody know who is next on their depth chart? Bueller? Tracy will have an opportunity to make his mark in the passing game as a third down back, but he’s talented enough to garner early down work. Still don’t believe me? Go watch the film.

Rasheen Ali (BAL)

After a torn bicep during a Senior Bowl practice, Rasheen Ali was unable to participate in the NFL Combine. Had he been able to, Ali would have won over many fans in the process. He appeared on Bruce Feldman’s “Freaks List” thanks to a 36-inch vertical, 10-foot broad jump and 500-pound squats.

Ali offers smooth athleticism and quick feet, with explosiveness and burst at the point of attack. He is especially effective as an outside zone runner while varying his speed before a one-cut upfield. Ali cleared 1,000 rushing yards in two different seasons and tallied over 40 touchdowns in 34 career games. The 5-foot-11 and 206-pound back is a strong pass catcher, posting 557 receiving yards and lining up in the slot at times.

However they choose to get him the ball, Ali can be an explosive play maker for the Ravens. They added Derrick Henry in the offseason who will command tons of work in this offense, but Keaton Mitchell is still working his way back from a torn ACL, which could open a path for Ali. He’s capable of creating big plays and making the type of impression Mitchell made this past season.

Kimani Vidal (LAC)

As Troy’s all-time leading rusher, Kimani Vidal was an interesting prospect prior to the NFL Draft, but his landing spot aided his way up fantasy draft boards. The Chargers signed Gus Edwards and JK Dobbins, but Dobbins is not a lock to make the roster and head coach Jim Harbaugh has left no doubt of his intentions to run the football.

Vidal is a strong, muscular player with versatility to play in different schemes and styles. He plays with great vision while offering a great deal of play strength and agility getting upfield. He excels at finishing runs, often lowering the shoulder and falling forward for extra yardage. Vidal doesn’t generate the top end speed you hope for, but he offers plenty of the acceleration you need. Perhaps the best aspect of Vidal’s game is how versatile he is in the open field. Vidal can win with physicality and strength or elusiveness and shows great footwork but will often bounce the run outside unnecessarily.

No matter how your evaluation of Vidal breaks out, he will get an opportunity to run for Harbaugh and company which makes him a worthwhile investment.

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