The world of Fantasy Football takes us through many peaks and valleys with the hopes of finding that diamond in the rough. Fantasy Football drafts are like a roller coaster ride with many unpredictable twists and turns that ultimately lead to a playoff caliber roster. But, how you get to that point remains a mystery every year heading into the season.
After the first few rounds, business starts to pick up and the owners who take calculated risks are usually the ones who come out on top. Safe owners who draft strictly by the default rankings that USA Today printed at their local 7-Eleven will be left scouring the waiver wire for the players that were selected on draft day.
With all that being said, the running back position always opens us up to a lot of speculation and questions. As NFL head coaches continue to drive us nuts with their goal line packages and split backfields, we remain focused on our hunt for week-to-week production. One thing is for certain, only the risk-takers prevail. Lucky for you, I have some guys listed below who I feel are worth the risk! Here are my running back sleepers for the 2017 season:
• Dalvin Cook, Vikings
What can’t this guy do? With Latavius Murray still not 100% from offseason ankle surgery, Cook has the tools to be #1. The O-line may not be the best, but his pass-catching ability is a perfect fit for Captain Checkdown himself, Sam Bradford.
• Bilal Powell, Jets
The J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS stink and Matt Forte is old. After last season’s first few games, he started to break down and I doubt age has gotten kinder to him. Without a great quarterback to throw down the field, Powell can be a PPR monster.
• Samaje Perine, Redskins
This guy’s name alone breathes excitement. If you add that with his pedigree and a fantastic O-line that averaged 4.5 yards/carry last season, it all points in a positive direction. However, reports have him struggling in pass protection, but once he conquers this feat he could be in line for more work.
• Kareem Hunt, Chiefs
Yes, I am well aware of Spencer Ware and his 1,368 total yards last season, but why was Mahomes drafted in the first round and Hunt in the third of this year’s draft? Andy Reid has seen an opportunity to get a few playmakers to form a nucleus with Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, so he took it. Say what you want, but some guys like Brain Westbrook turned into PPR monsters under Big Red and I think Hunt can use that same blueprint. All it takes is a few good performances or an inevitable injury!
• Jamaal Williams, Packers
Last season, the Packers turned to converted wide receiver Ty Montgomery to lead their running attack after Eddie Lacy ate his way out of the backfield. He showed he can be serviceable, but not enough for the Packers to leave the draft without a starting caliber running back. They selected Williams in the fourth round and plan to use him early. The Packers offense can be explosive at times and Mike McCarthy has shown he has a tendency to using multiple back sets in the past. All Williams needs is a head start and he could be discount double checking in the end zone with Mr. Rodgers real soon.
• Danny Woodhead, Ravens
This is one of the most intriguing guys in the draft this year. In his last two healthy seasons [2013, 2015], he averaged 79 receptions and showed the toughness needed to run in between the tackles. If Joe Flacco is healthy, we may see one of the best fantasy seasons out of a Ravens running back in quite a while.
• Isaiah Crowell, Browns
Yes, the Cleveland Browns are on the come up and Crowell is one of the reasons why. As a 24-year-old running back playing in one of the worst environments in football over the last couple years, he has excelled when people didn’t think he would. With an uneasy feeling at the quarterback position, handing the ball off will become a priority. He is in the midst of signing an extension which shows the Browns are ready to trust him with the ball for the foreseeable future. When it comes time for your draft, I think you should, too!
As always you can stop by my Facebook page (FantasySportsAddiction) or tweet me (@TCutillo23) for questions or some nice fantasy debates. I can also be heard weekly via the internet stream live at WengRadio every Monday at 4:00pm EST for a weekend sports wrap. But most importantly, you can catch me here at Pi!
Follow Philly Influencer on Twitter (@PHL_Influencer), Facebook and Instagram.
For fantasy purposes, all my articles are predicated upon a PPR-based system.