The Fantasy Football Experts

Sleeper Six Pack: RB

Sleeper Six Pack: RB

Aug 8, 2012

Donald Brown

After failing to impress as Joseph Addai‘s backup and his occasional replacement in the starting lineup due to injury, Brown now heads into a pivotal season. Taken in the first round of the 2009 draft, Brown is only 25 years old and facing little competition from a mediocre but crowded Indy backfield. Brown is a bit undersized but feels very comfortable with the Colts new downhill, power running scheme under new offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, formerly of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Delone Carter is the primary competition but struggled with ball security as a rookie and only averaged 3.7 yards per carry on 101 attempts a year ago.

David Wilson

Wilson, a first-round pick, landed in a very good spot for him to contribute right away. Incumbent starter Ahmad Bradshaw, who has a history of foot and ankle issues, has historically worked best in a timeshare. Thankfully, Wilson doesn’t need many chances because of his ability to break off a big run at any time. The issues for Wilson are his limited receiving and blocking abilities which will cost him opportunities on third down. He also put the ball on the ground while at Virginia Tech quite often and a relapse could see him headed to the doghouse. His initial fantasy contributions may be inconsistent but if Bradshaw’s lower-body problems resurface Wilson’s value will sky rocket.

Ryan Williams

While Beanie Wells is coming off a 1,000-yard season with double-digit touchdowns he’s also on the mend from offseason knee surgery. Also keep in mind that Wells got 228 of those yards in one game yet recorded fewer than 55 yards in six other starts. On the season, he only registered a total of seven runs of more than 15 yards. Williams suffered a ruptured patella tendon in camp that wiped out his rookie season but he’s by far the more explosive back. Once a few highlight runs Williams should be able to work his way past Wells on depth chart at some point. The Cardinals haven’t added any running backs to compete with Wells or Williams so the team must believe these two will be ready to go for the start of the season.

Evan Royster

The Redskins began 2011 with Tim Hightower as their starting running back but a torn ACL in Week 7 put the spotlight on the now-departed Ryan Torain until Roy Helu took the reins with three straight games of 20-plus carries and at least 100 yards. However, his toe and ankle issues opened the door for Royster, who exploded for 132 and 113 yards in the final two games of the season. Hightower may not be ready for action until the third week of preseason while Mike Shanahan is going with Royster, not Helu, to start the first game of the exhibition season. Instead of risking a sixth-round pick on Helu, grab a Royster lottery ticket five, six rounds later.

Isaiah Pead

While Steven Jackson is looking to make it eight straight seasons with 1,000 rushing yards he also just turned 29 years old and will be losing some touches to his heir apparent, Pead. The rookie is smaller but has been compared to Chris Johnson by team officials. Pead is also an excellent receiver and can instantly fit in as the team’s third-down back. Fantasy managers that select S-Jax on draft day would be wise to grab Pead later on as insurance.  He’s also a nice late-round addition in PPR formats. Should Pead go undrafted in more shallow leagues he’s an immediate addition should Jackson suffer an injury.

Bilal Powell

We know the Jets badly want to get back to running the football. The issue is that the offensive line that once parted big lanes for Thomas Jones a few years ago is no longer playing at that same level. Meanwhile, Shonn Greene has done little to inspire much excitement, even when he’s been force-fed a bulk of carries. He also offers very little in the passing game, which opened the door for the now-retired LaDainian Tomlinson on third down and when the team was playing from behind. Currently, Powell is right on Joe McKnight‘s tail for the No. 2 RB spot. It’s also been said he looks like the best back in Jets camp, period. Powell is probably the most complete back on the team but needs the touches to prove it. Monitor Powell closely throughout the preseason as he could eventually leapfrog Greene as well.

Eric McClung

Eric McClung has been profiled by the FSWA (Fantasy Sports Writers Associtation) for covering the fantasy sports spectrum since 2007. Follow @ericmcclung on Twitter.

  • Joe

    donald brown disappoints every year, and that team is terrible. even if he had an MJD 80% of the workload (which he won’t), still not a viable fantasy option. I do agree with williams though…

    • Andrew Swanson

      Thanks for the comment. I think Brown is an excellent value at his current ADP. He averaged nearly 5 yards a carry last season and should benefit from the addition of Luck.