stine MichaelsBy: Nate Leer
Prime time fantasy football draft season is just a few weeks away. If you’re like me, you can’t wait to get the 2017 season underway. I have been doing more and more mock drafts and it is interesting to get a feel for what players can be had at value late in drafts. By definition, these are players with significant downside and/or very limited upside. However, there are always players that emerge from late picks that help fantasy teams win. Sometimes those players help in big ways, becoming huge difference makers during the stretch run. However, late round value might also be less impact but very useful as injury replacements, bye week subs and/or flex options.
My favorite strategy in redraft leagues is to take a quantity over quality approach at RB. The position is so volatile that I would rather have more low end guys than less mid round players. That means skimping on bench players and/or passing on having a K for a week or 2 in order to get sleeper RBs who may show promise early..
On a 15 man roster, I have no problem having 6 or even 7 RBs with maybe 2 QBs, 3 or 4 high end WRs and 1 or 2 TEs. That means taking mostly RBs in rounds 10 – 15. Therefore it is key to identify upside players or underrated consistent performers to target in those late rounds. Each one of the guys I am about to list fits one of those 2 categories.
Here are my top 10 RBs who are outside of the Yahoo and ESPN top 100 players for standard leagues.
- Thomas Rawls – Sea: Fantasy footballers are missing the boat on the Seahawks backfield. Everyone seems to assume that Fat Eddie (Lacy) will be the prime fantasy asset but I think it is entirely possible that he is a distant secondary option, if Rawls stays healthy. Granted that is a big “if” but well worth the risk as late as your last pick in a draft. His late draft status and potential upside make Rawls the best value play in drafts.
- Theo Riddick – Det: As Ameer Abdullah rises, Riddick falls. That may be fair as I understand the attraction of Abdullah’s talent but Riddick is a great get late especially in any type of PPR league. He probably does not have a lot of upside but he is absolutely likely to be plug-and-play player who can get 8-12 points a week. His consistent skills are why Riddick is 2nd on this list.
- Terrance West – Bal: West is the presumed starter so he could be useful RB3 especially early in the year. Yeah, he’s not exciting but you definitely could do worse after the 10th round.
- Jamal Charles – Den: As with Rawls, I tend to trust incumbent RBs more than vets brought in on the cheap. However, Charles is another back with past success who’s often not even drafted. If his knees are 80% of what they used to be, he still might be the most talented back in Denver. Given his versatility and possible big play potential, he could rise to the top for the Broncos.
- Marlon Mack – Ind: Frank Gore can’t last forever and the likes of Christine Michael, Robert Turbin and Josh Ferguson certainly don’t look like anything more than depth players. That means Mack is the best prospect to be an every down back if (when) Old Man Gore kicks it. Mack was productive in college and sometimes that translate to NFL success better than physical measurables.
- Joe Williams – SF: Williams will start out behind Carlos Hyde but you can bet that new coaches and management would just as soon turn to a guy they drafted. With Hyde’s injury history and Williams potentially fitting in the new system better, Williams offers cheap RB2 upside.
- Rob Kelley – Was: Kelley is a volatile fantasy commodity. I have seen him go in drafts and mocks anywhere from 90-120. Plus, his value could be impacted by the emergence, or lack thereof, of rookie RB Samaje Perine. Whichever one of Kelley or Perine loses the training camp battle could very well be a late round super value.
- Jonathan Stewart
- TJ Yeldon – Jac: Yeldon is the closest thing to a 3rd down, pass catching back that the Jags have. That alone could give him value especially in PPR formats. Also, as big and fast as he is, rookie Leonard Fournette isn’t proven and Yeldon could gain major touches if the rook struggles.
- Dion Lewis – NE: Lewis was the back to own in Beantown as recently as the divisional round playoff game against Houston in which he scored 3 times including a kick return and totaled 64 yards from scrimmage. Drafters are overvaluing James White due to his big Super Bowl but Lewis has been the better pro when playing.
Other RBs to consider late in drafts: Matt Forte – NYJ, Rex Burkhead – NE, Jeremy Hill – Cin, DeAndre Washington – Det, Jamal Williams – GB, Jonathan Williams – Buf.