2012 Fantasy Football Sleepers: Running back

by Cory J. Bonini on August 27, 2012 @ 13:50:40 PDT


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Each year fantasy football owners gain a leg up on their competition by finding sleepers in their drafts. KFFL.com has identified these candidates for the 2012 season and analyzed why you want them on your team.

Other players fall into the undervalued category: Their fantasy stock isn't as high as it should be, and you often can land them on the cheap to help bolster your lineup. Generally, undervalued players are veterans that are coming off a down year or returning from injury and have slipped below the radar of most fantasy owners. KFFL will help you take advantage of their oversights on your quest to building a championship roster!

Note: All Average Draft Position (ADP) figures are based on standard-scoring, 12-team leagues.


DeMarco Murray | Dallas Cowboys | ADP: 11th overall

2012 Projected NFL/Fantasy Football Statistics

Run Att Run Yds Run TD Rec Rec Yds Rec TD Tot TD
Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi

As a rookie in 2011, Murray made a mark with a limited workload. His first extensive action resulted in a 253-yard effort, and he churned out a 5.5 yards-per-carry average on the year before a fractured ankle ended his season in Week 14.

Felix Jones has proven to be nothing better than a spell back and should be used in that role this year. Murray's size (6-foot, 227 pounds) is more conducive to that of a featured back, while his pass-blocking skills improved considerably as the year went along. He is also a capable receiver out of the backfield.

One thing to remember with Murray is that he will have monstrous games and could easily follow them up with duds. This largely is a product of his style of running and Dallas' offensive approach. It is no secret that Jason Garrett loves to throw the ball, but the offense may have to rely more on the run if Dez Bryant misses any time because of a potential looming suspension.

His season-long durability should be a moderate concern for owners looking to draft Murray, but he is healthy thus far in training camp. Try to draft Murray as a high-upside No. 2 back that carries some risk, so factor that in when you are rounding out your running backs corps. He is going as a low-end No. 1, however.

Isaac Redman | Pittsburgh Steelers | ADP: 4th round

2012 Projected NFL/Fantasy Football Statistics

Run Att Run Yds Run TD Rec Rec Yds Rec TD Tot TD
Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi

Isaac Redman, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Forget Mendenhall in 2012

Rashard Mendenhall (knee) is recovering from a devastating, late-season anterior cruciate ligament tear that is likely to cost him time this year. He probably will not be close to 100 percent until the waning weeks of the season. Redman, a powerful yet nimble third-year back, should take the reins of the offense. He is dealing with a minor groin injury but should be fine for the regular season.

This system will open up a little more under Todd Haley, so don't expect as much running as you are accustomed to seeing from Pittsburgh. However, Ben Roethlisberger's shoulder injury could mean more running than planned.Even still, more passing attempts should clearly provide ample running lanes by this improved offensive line. Redman has averaged 4.5 yards per carry on 162 career attempts. At 6-foot, 230 pounds, he can be a load to take down.

While Redman's best value will be found in standard-scoring setups as a third back, he is surprisingly capable as a receiver. That was hardly an enthusiastic endorsement, we know. The point is, he remains an acceptable RB2, even in point-per-reception leagues.

Willis McGahee | Denver Broncos | ADP: 4th round

2012 Projected NFL/Fantasy Football Statistics

Run Att Run Yds Run TD Rec Rec Yds Rec TD Tot TD
Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi

Ronnie Hillman | Denver Broncos | ADP: 10th round

2012 Projected NFL/Fantasy Football Statistics

Run Att Run Yds Run TD Rec Rec Yds Rec TD Tot TD
Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi

We combine the two for one main reason - the same one they are both included to begin with: Peyton Manning. Should Manning return as Peyton Manning and not transform into Elvis Grbac, both of Denver's backs should be extremely useful for fantasy purposes.

McGahee could see more running room by way of fewer stacked boxes and become a goal line behemoth. He enjoyed a bit of a renaissance last year with far less to work with at quarterback.

Hillman is a dynamic rookie from San Diego State University with very good hands and an open-field slashing ability to pick up yardage in chunks. He should be a third-down spell for McGahee, as long as his blocking doesn't regress. The rookie is working his way back from a slight hamstring strain, so temper your early-season expectations.

McGahee is a quality third back that should play well above his draft placement, while Hillman could be a sneaky pickup as a fifth back for owners in PPR leagues. The bottom line is that Manning makes everyone around him better, especially the guys lined up behind him.

Which other running backs have fantasy football sleeper written all over them?

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Fantasy football sleepers: QB | RB | WR | TE | PK | DT


About Cory J. Bonini

Cory is KFFL's General Manager. In late 2002, he joined the KFFL staff as a research analyst and has been involved in fantasy sports since 1996. A member of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, as well as Fantasy Sports Writers Association, Bonini has been featured in print, on radio and on scores of websites. Bonini co-hosted Big Lead Sports on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio from 2011 to 2012.

Bonini was recognized with the 2010 Best Article in Print Award from the FSWA and was a finalist for the same award in 2011. In '11, he finished first overall in the FSWA NFL experts challenge that featured 60 of the industry's best competitors.

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