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Fantasy Football: Sleeper RBs and Updated Cheat Sheets

By Bo Mitchell

Anthony Maggio, John Tuvey and Bo Mitchell will be here all season delivering the edge you need to dominate your fantasy football league. Visit each Wednesday for a new column and every Thursday for a new episode of the Fantasy Football Party podcast.

First off, want to give a huge shout out to everyone who joined us at Mystic Lake for the Fantasy Football Convention last Saturday. We had a blast, and hope you did, too. Our second and last preseason event will be the Union 32 Draft Extravaganza on Sunday, September 3, from noon to 3. Host your fantasy football draft or auction with 8 or more league members at Union 32 in Eagan that day and your table will get a $25 beer card! The first two auction leagues to RSVP will also get a Fantasy Football Party podcast host as your league’s auctioneer! We’ll also be available for Q&A throughout the event. Email Diane at Union 32 ( today for more information or to sign up.

All right, that’s enough foreplay. Let’s get to the running backs…

Bo Mitchell’s running back sleeper: Terrance West, Ravens

Picking West in your fantasy draft is about as exciting as taking the kids to go see the latest Transformers movie. It doesn’t really stir your emotions and it won’t win any awards, but damn if it doesn’t get the job done. Matinee-priced tickets for 120 minutes of happy, distracted kids is a fair trade-off for many parents – just as a thrift store-priced starting running back is to fantasy owners.

When I say “starting running back,” I mean he’s the Ravens’ starter (or 1a) running back — not an every-week fantasy starter.

I don’t even have West ranked as a RB2. He’s more of a high-end RB3 or flex play – and there’s nothing wrong with that given his Average Draft Position. According to Fantasy Football Calculator, West’s ADP is in the mid-to-late seventh round, behind second-team running backs like Tevin Coleman, Derrick Henry and Eddie Lacy, as well as a full two rounds behind Doug Martin, who is suspended the first three games of the season and will share touches with Jacquizz Rodgers and Charles Sims upon his return. Put in context, West is a bargain.

Yes, I am aware that Danny Woodhead is in Baltimore’s backfield now. And, yes, I have him ranked higher than West, much higher in PPR formats. This only goes to further deflate West’s perceived value.

By the middle of the seventh round, I will have a few running backs on my team already. Maybe even three. Getting West at that point – a guy who is projected to lead the Ravens in carries, rushing yards and goal-line carries this season – makes for a good ROI.

Sleepers don’t always have to be shiny new, young players who aren’t well-known. Sometimes it’s just a solid veteran who’s underpriced.

Bo’s cheat sheet

Anthony Maggio’s running back sleeper: Mark Ingram, Saints

Yeah, what Bo said! At least that last line. What’s Mark Ingram done lately? Oh, only followed up his #9 standard league RB finish in 2015 with a #10 finish last season while hitting the 1,000-yard mark for the first time in his career. And what’s he get for that? An ADP of RB27 on—five spots AFTER Adrian Peterson. Alrighty then, your loss is my gain. While you’re worried about Ingram splitting carries with non-vintage Peterson, I’ll note that Ingram only managed 50.4% of the Saints’ running back touches in 2016.

Ingram has top 15 finishes in receptions among RBs in back-to-back seasons, so I’m also not worried about rookie Alvin Kamara making any significant dent here.

Strength of schedule is nothing more than a tiebreaker for me rankings-wise so I won’t dwell on it, but I will note that Warren Sharp’s strength-of-schedule analysis pegs New Orleans’ slate among the league’s easiest for running backs.

In short, Ingram’s a no-brainer at his going price (I have him 15th overall in my ½ PPR cheat sheet). Go ahead and stack up at wide receiver in those early rounds. Then, when your league mates are taking the likes of Christian McCaffery, Dalvin Cook, Joe Mixon, Carlos Hyde, Spencer Ware, Mike Gillislee, CJ Anderson—among others whom I have ranked after Ingram but have higher ADPs—you can snag Ingram and feel confident doing so.

Maggio cheat sheet

John Tuvey’s running back sleeper: CJ Prosise, Seahawks

No team spent less on their offensive line last season than the Seattle Seahawks, and the results were as unimpressive as you’d expect. The franchise that has given the fantasy community Curt Warner, Shaun Alexander and Beast Mode rushed for fewer yards than all but three teams last year and were saved from the utter ignominy of being dead-dog last in running back fantasy points only by a pair of Christine Michael two-touchdown games.

So Seattle went out and acquired Eddie Lacy to compete with Thomas Rawls for carries behind an offensive line that can be considered improved only because it couldn’t get any worse. This battle royale pits Lacy, who the team has to pay to nudge his weight down from potential lineman territory and whose production has plummeted by an average of seven fantasy points per game since his first two years in the league; against Rawls, whose 161-yard playoff ravishing of the hapless Lions masks a season in which his yards per carry dropped almost two and a half yards from his 2015 debut.

One thing is certain: neither Lacy nor Rawls will be Seattle’s pass-catching back this season—not with a combined average of 1.7 receptions and 14.8 receiving yards per game.

No, the third-down back role will go to a former Notre Dame wide receiver whose 89% catch rate dwarfs that of both Rawls (76%) and Lacy (57%): CJ Prosise.

And that role is Prosise’s floor. At minimum he’s the pass-catching back on a team with a shaky line that realistically goes two-deep at receiver—and then only if you’re including the tight end. The Seahawks finished in the middle of the pack in running back targets and receptions, but Prosise will house the lion’s share of them.

There’s also the very real possibility that neither Rawls nor Lacy distinguish themselves and Prosise sees additional touches on first and second downs. That happened last season for a two-week stretch prior to Prosise’s season-ending injury—and over that span he ranked sixth among running backs in fantasy production.

In two starts in weeks 10 and 11, Prosise produced 142 rushing yards and a touchdown on 21 carries, along with 92 receiving yards on nine catches.

That’s 117 yards from scrimmage on 15 touches—a realistic weekly total given the certainty of Prosise’s role in the passing game and the possibility that he’ll bump Lacy and/or Rawls for early-down work as well.

A solid floor and a highly productive ceiling—all for a tenth-round pick given Prosise’s current ADP as RB39. Isn’t that what a sleeper is all about?

Tuvey’s Cheat Sheet

Anthony Maggio, John Tuvey and Bo Mitchell co-host the 1500ESPN Fantasy Football Party podcast. Bookmark the podcast page for upcoming episodes and subscribe to the podcast now! Don’t act like you’re not impressed.

Maggio hosted Fantasy Football Sunday on 1500ESPN from 2012-2013. Mitchell is Vice President of Content for Sportradar. And Tuvey is Director of Content at Fanball. All three men are kind of big deals, enjoy leather-bound books and have woodwork at home that smells of rich mahogany.

Follow Maggio @MPLSMaggio
Follow Bo @Bo_Mitchell
Follow John @jtuvey

The post Fantasy Football: Sleeper RBs and Updated Cheat Sheets appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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