2018 Fantasy Football Sleepers: Digging for gold at RB


NFL Training camp is around the corner, meaning that fans will be following closely as they prepare for another year of fantasy football. At Cover1.net, we’ll be preparing you to dominate your leagues by providing content ranging from rankings, players we love, players we hate, and much more throughout the offseaso. A gold-derived, Dutchmen, who goes by the name, Goldmember once said, “You see Austin Powers, I love GOOOOLD!”

I too, love gold. Especially in the form of a running back who’s being drafted in the seventh round of mock fantasy football drafts but has the potential to be a RB1. That’s the true treasure.

A running back drafted in the seventh round of fantasy football drafts should have high upside, even if that comes with a low floor. A “boom or bust” prospect that could be the player to win your league should that running back pull through. By the time that the seventh round rolls around, you likely have two or three running backs on your roster already. But instead of getting antsy, why not take advantage of the extremely deep group of wide receivers and take another ball-carrier, unless you took a quarterback or tight end early in your fantasy football draft, leaving you playing catch up.

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Let’s take a look at the four running backs that are currently being taken in the seventh round of PPR Leagues, according to Fantasy Football Calculator.

Being a PPR Fantasy Football League, we’ll weigh each running back’s catching ability, as well as projected volume for receptions, a favorable game script and several other factors in order to determine which ball-carrier fits best.

The four running backs that we’ll be evaluating are:

Chris Thompson – Washington Redskins – ADP: 7.02
Carlos Hyde – Cleveland Browns – ADP: 7.06
Marshawn Lynch – Oakland Raiders – ADP: 7.08
Aaron Jones – Green Bay Packers – ADP: 7.12

This group of running backs isn’t the sexiest but there is definitely a hint of potential. Injury concerns, projected workload and scheme fits make it difficult to predict the breakout play. But, as a seasoned fantasy football owner, we must be the savvy GM to predict who will be the 2019 version of Duke Johnson. Here’s how I view these running backs, in a game called

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At first glance, this group looks aged with a hint of potential. Injury concerns, volume concerns, and the thought of some new schemes make it very difficult to predict who will be the breakout player. But, as a true fantasy owner, we are the ones who decide who will be 2018’s Duke Johnson. So let’s play a game called The Good, The Mediocre, The Bad and The Ugly.

The Ugly – Carlos Hyde


Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Carl Hyde was a PPR monster last year toting the rock for the San Francisco 49ers. He saw 88 targets in the passing game, catching 59 passes (59 points), adding four rushing touchdowns as well.

In the 49ers first 11 weeks of the 2017 NFL season, Hyde averaged 4.45 receptions per game for 28.82 yards. He found the endzone four times on the ground as well in that span. Then came Jimmy Garoppolo. When Garroppollo took over as the starter and quickly began leading the 49ers to victories, Hyde saw himself slowly phased out of the passing game.

After his hot start, Hyde averaged just two catches and 10 receiving yards-per-game to close the season and his rushing stats weren’t all that impressive either.  With a roller coaster final 5 weeks, Hyde averaged over 5 yards per carry against the Rams and the Texans. Albeit he averaged under 3.18 ypc against the Titans, Jaguars and Bears.

Nonetheless, when Garroppolo arrived, Hyde was no longer seen as a vital piece to San Francisco’s offense, and departed as a free agent, signing with the Cleveland Browns, to complement the aforementioned Duke Johnson and rookie Nick Chubb, who was taken in the second-round. This hinders Hyde’s value immensely as his value in the passing game is diminished but his workload will almost undoubtedly decrease also.

It’s already been discussed that the Browns will go with the hot hand, which gives very little skepticism for Hyde and the entirety of the Browns backfield when it comes the fantasy draft days.

The Bad – Chris Thompson

Chris Thompson is an interesting option for PPR leagues. The 2-year old only carries the ball roughly 60 times per year, but he’s hauled in at least 35 receptions in each of the previous three seasons. The Washington Redskins selected LSU star Derrius Guice, who will likely be a noteworthy running back, but that shouldn’t take Thompson’s value away at all.

The veteran is sure to vulture some of Guice’s potential scores, which honestly factors into my hesitance to draft Guice early.

Thompson was a RB1 through the first six weeks of the season, finishing in the Top-12 three times and in the Top-five twiceFinishing inside the top 12, three times, and inside the top 5, twice, thanks to his contributions in the passing game. You better believe that got every PPR owners attention, real quick.

Thompson still finished the 2017 season with the sixth-most receiving yards for a running back (510) while playing in just 10 games. There’s a lot of potential for Thompson, but his age is a cause for my hesitance to select him in the seventh round. The running back position is en vogue again and Guice has the potential to emerge as a star in a similar manner to Kareem Hunt’s rise. age stops me from going for him in the seventh round. It’s a new-mans league and Guice is primed to be a star, similar to Kareem Hunt, who lined up behind Alex Smith last season.

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The Mediocre – Marshawn Lynch

Beast Mode returned from his brief retirement last season and had dreadful fantasy football output. Some of that was due to play-calling, as Lynch was eased into his role with the Oakland Raiders as a complementary ball-carrier. He didn’t top 14 carries until Week 11, leaving fantasy owners fed up with the former superstar who danced on the Jets one week and knocked over an official the other.

But Lynch did finish the final 6 weeks averaging 18.3 carries, 83.5 rushing yards, 4.56 yards per attempt, 2.2 receptions a game, while totaling 3 more touchdowns in those final 6 weeks. Showing that the Beast Mode locomotive was gaining momentum. Just in time for the old school, run it down their throat to open passing lanes, use the fullback to lead the way, coach John Gruden is back and ready to let Lynch loose.

Still I’m not buying on Lynch in the seventh round. He was being drafted to high last year and this year I’m afraid we’re singing the same tune. Lynch is another year older and as much as Frank Gore proves me wrong, I’m just not going to sink my seventh round pick on a running back that could meet his final day in the NFL at any given moment. His two targets a game is why he’s not on my list, no matter how far he drops, for PPR. I’d rather have Theo Riddick on my team in a PPR league then Lynch. If you’re playing a standard league, it’s a different story. Yet, we practice what we play, which is PPR leagues.

The Good – Aaron Jones

nfl, aaron jones, fantasy footbal, green bay packers,

Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Risky is as risky does. Forrest Gump didn’t say that exact same sentence, but you get the point. Jones stands to be one of the riskiest players drafted this season.

We’ve seen Aaron Jones win a game on his one and only touch whilst breaking a 20-yard, overtime, game-winning run. We watched as Jones averaged an impressive 5.5 yards per carry on his 81 rushing attempts. The reason I like Jones leapfrogging both Jamaal Williams and Ty Montgomery is his 7.5-percent breakaway run rate (the percentage of runs that gained 15 yards or more) – good enough for second-best in the NFL.

Jones seemed to be a highlight reel in the making. Jones put the world on notice when he burst onto the scene against the Cowboys. Tallying 134 total yards, 19 carries, 1 reception and a touchdown. Jones returned to the top of the charts, two weeks later, with an even more profound game. Finishing with 138 total yards, 17 carries, 3 receptions and a touchdown. Jones pittered off after that game as he played in 6 more games while adding just 19 more carries all season

With Rodgers back under the helm, there will be an overabundance of running lanes. Any running back should have a very good fantasy season, especially in comparison to where they’re being drafted. Jones will have to start the season explosive if he wants to separate himself from the other two Packer running backs, including my 2017 pre draft-sleeper-ROTY Jamaal Williams and a very sneaky PPR back Ty Montgomery. Any of the three can shine like the yellow on the Packer helmets on a sunny, fall, Sunday afternoon. So let the games begin in Green Bay.

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In brief, I like the potential that Aaron Jones brings to the table. He could be a RB3 and not see the field. He could be the RB1 and break off multiple big plays. I’m drafting my backup running back to be a guy who could score 20+ points at any time, not a guy should score me 10 points every time. If I wanted to play safe, I’d play at the kids table. Yet, I have a bourbon in one hand, a cigar in the other, and as Austin Powers once stated, “I also like to live dangerously.” So I’ll select Aaron Jones, Running Back, Green Bay Packers.