As we’ve seen in recent years, it’s extremely difficult to predict just how successful rookie running backs will be. Mark Ingram was a first-round pick, but hardly made any impact for the New Orleans Saints. Alfred Morris, on the other hand, was a sixth-round pick and had one of the most productive rookie seasons in recent history.
So, while names like Eddie Lacy, Giovani Bernard and Johnathan Franklin may be the first running backs off the board, they might not be the most productive as rookies.
Today we’ll look at some running back sleepers to watch, who could end up being the difference between a last and first-place finish in your Fantasy Football league.
Knile Davis, Arkansas
Injuries and overall poor play caused Davis to fall from a top running back prospect to a potential late-round pick in the 2013 NFL draft. However, Davis has excelled in offseason workouts such as the NFL Combine and the Arkansas pro day.
Davis has the all-around game that teams love in an every-down back. He’s got great quickness (4.37 40-yard dash at the combine) and the vision to consistently pick up positive yards on the ground. He also flashes has the straight-line speed to outrun defenders in the open field.
The biggest issue surrounding Davis is always going to be his history with injuries. If there is a team that is willing to give him a chance, he could pay off in a huge way.
As for Fantasy Football, Davis has the overall ability in both the run and pass game to be a dangerous player. His knack for finding the end zone is an added bonus. In the right system, Davis could really thrive.
Christine Michael, Texas A&M
Even if Michael doesn’t end up getting the majority of the carries for an NFL team, he’ll still have some value as a goal-line back. In his senior season at Texas A&M, Michael recorded 12 rushing touchdowns, most of them coming near the goal line.
However, those who want to peg Michael as a short-yardage back only are mistaken. Michael is deceivingly quick, but also possesses the power and lower-body strength to consistently break tackles. He always keeps his feet moving, which helps him pick up extra yards after contact.
Where Michael struggles is in pass protection. He currently doesn’t display the willingness to consistently block pass-rushers.
Michael’s nose for the end zone should make him an interesting pickup in Fantasy Football. He shouldn’t be considered starting material for your roster until he’s the No. 1 back for a roster, but even if he falls down the depth charts, he’d still make an interesting pickup if you’re looking for a player who can get you touchdowns.
Miguel Maysonet, Stony Brook
If there is one name that you need to remember heading into the draft, it is Miguel Maysonet of Stony Brook. While Maysonet didn’t play the same level of competition as Davis or Michael did, that doesn’t make him any less talented as a running back.
Maysonet is only 5’9” and 209 pounds, but what he lacks in size he makes up for in natural ability. His vision is quite special as he consistently finds holes in the defense with the ball in his hands.
He’s also got the lateral quickness and agility to make defenders miss in the open field. What Maysonet isn’t going to do is overpower defenders or outrun defenders. However, when you watch him play, you see a player who simply understands how to be successful at the running back position.
If any rookie is going to be this year’s Alfred Morris, it is going to be Maysonet. As a Fantasy Football player, Maysonet could end up being the biggest steal in recent memory.