I think the best way to look for sleepers in running backs is to identify the guys you think are the riskiest at the top of draft boards and draft who's behind them. The reason those guys are getting drafted so highly is that the opportunity is there. But if they're risky, something might happen to them, and whoever is behind them, guess what, that opportunity is there for them too!
Last week we dove deep into who I think are the riskiest running back picks early on in drafts right now (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_Vov7rUJyQ&feature=youtu.be) - guys getting drafted in the first three rounds that are the riskiest among the ones around them: Dalvin Cook, Kenyan Drake, Clyde-Edwards Helaire, James Conner and Todd Gurley.
Based strictly off that list, I think we can find a few gems in the sleeper department.
Off the rip, we have
Alexander Mattison - Minnesota Vikings
+ Mike Boone?
Current ADP: 87, RB36
Admittedly, I'm not a huge Mattison fan as a player, or at least I wasn't about him coming out of college. But he definitely did his thing last year, and Cook's got a whole lot of mess going on in his kitchen. The holdout talks, the injuries.
Let's be real, though. If Cook signs this summer, and he's on the field, Mattison is strictly a handcuff. This is strictly taking a pick on a guy that gives you multiple outs.
You can talk all you want about Tony Pollard, Latavius Murray, etc - those guys have 0 redraft value outside of Kamara and Zeke getting hurt. None. That's really poor analysis and advice if people are giving it out.
With Mattison, there are multiple outs, all long-shot, but at least the numbers are more in your favor than these other handcuffs.
It's cool that you like him, but before Cook got hurt, Mattison had one game of more than 7.4 fantasy points.
While he saw 7.5 carries per game, he was getting 0 valuable touches. Less than half a target/game, one rushing TD on the year. The two most valuable touches for fantasy RBs are carries inside the 5-yard line, and receptions. That was all Cook.
But, this is an extremely RB-friendly fantasy offense, and depending on how the many spices of Cook's future bake out, Mattison could be the guy.
I'm just saying, Minnesota has given us nothing to work off of that tells us Mattison is in for a bigger role if Cook is here. Because the way people talk about Mattison make it seem that way.
Chase Edmonds - Arizona Cardinals
Current ADP: 130, RB52
Now, this is what I'm here for. Give me all the Chase Edmonds. I have drafted 3 teams this summer from scratch, some redraft, some dynasty, I own zero shares of Kenyan Drake, I've drafted Edmonds in 3-of-4.
What's wrong with Drake? Well in last week's video, I'll give a quick synopsis - I hate that we haven't' seen him do it over a full season, despite having an 8-year sample. Can he hold up for 16? Can he be good for a full 16? For as great as Drake was last year in fantasy when he came over to Arizona, the advanced metrics say otherwise, he was NOT a good running back, by himself:
The breakaway run rate was 25th, evaded tackles/attempt was 49th, yards created per carry was 49th, 57th in yards created pre touch, but the run-blocking efficiency that he actually enjoyed was 4th best among all running backs in the NFL. Despite the OL as a whole being poor.
Ranked 34th (of 41) in yards per target
Ranked 30th (of 41) in yards per reception
AND YES this is just from week 9 forward, on the cardinals.
Chase Edmonds was an absolute workhorse in college, at Fordham, three straight years of 280+ touches and 20+ total touchdowns.
Chase Edmonds just makes too much sense as someone who I think will get on the field for a team that scores a ton of fantasy points by their running backs, in the double-digit rounds.
Damien Williams - meh, ADP too high (69th, RB31) so you're this is far from a sleeper, CEH's risk is RBBC, so it's not like you'd prosper with DWill if this comes to fruition.
Anthony McFarland - Pittsburgh Steelers
Current ADP: 168, RB59
I really love this kid. One of the first prospects I watched when I started diving into dynasty/rookie content this summer.
Looking at his boxscore from college won't tell you much given the context behind it. His first year with Maryland, he rips off over 1000 rushing yards, on 131 carries. That's 7.9 yards per carry. He only scored four rushing touchdowns, but all four came from 25+ yards out, and 3-of-4 came from at least 64 yards out (64, 75, 81)
The following year, he starts red hot out of the gate.
McFarland has a real smooth first cut, with loose hips, so imagine Darrell Henderson but able to move laterally.
The last time they had a guy like this, with explosion and long-speed, I wanna say was Willie Parker. Maybe I'm wrong, I'm not a Steeler historian but I think I'm right.
Same exact size as AMC
Had a pretty, pretty good time during his days in Yellow and Black.
In the history of the Steelers, they have had one regular-season rushing touchdown of more than 50 yards. It was Willie Parker in 2005.
Now I know silly Willie is faster than AMC, but y'all get the point.
Either way, I think McFarland is really good, and I think (not just me, but everyone included) thinks James Conner is an injury waiting to happen.
Other Notables Going 100+ ADP
Sony Michel (108 - RB44)
Matt Breida (97 - RB40)
Zack Moss (112 - RB46)