Fantasy Football: Running Back Sleepers

Fantasy Football: Running Back Sleepers image shonn greene 300x255Whether you play in a weekly fantasy football league, where you pick a new team every week, or a season-long fantasy football league, you need to know about running back sleeper picks. Here are some of our top choices for this NFL season so far.

Marcel Reece, Oakland Raiders

Going into Week 10, Raiders fullback Marcel Reece had a grand total of zero rushing yards on one carry. But there are a couple of reasons why Reece could be worth a look – the Raiders’ injury situation at running back and Reece’s ability to catch passes.

In Week 9 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Oakland lead running back Darren McFadden suffered a high-ankle sprain. His backup, Mike Goodson, also suffered a high-ankle sprain. So for the foreseeable future, it appears that the Raiders will have to turn to Reece, with Taiwan Jones also in the mix.

Reece led the Raiders in receiving yardage in Week 9 with 95. He had eight catches, tied for the team lead, and was targeted nine times.  Reece also caught a thirteen-yard touchdown pass from Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer with just 3:51 left in regulation, cutting Tampa Bay’s lead to 35-32 (the Bucs went on to win, 42-32).

McFadden only gained 17 yards before getting hurt and Goodson gained no yards, but while Reece had no rushing attempts, Jones had just one attempt for two yards.  So Reece’s production in the passing game appears to give him the edge over Jones in who gets playing time.  In addition, Reece was already the starter at fullback, while Jones was the third-string running back.

While Reece’s reception and yardage totals in Week 9 were not just season highs, but career highs (Reece is in his fourth season), Reece had reached 90 receiving yards twice before, once in 2010 and once in 2011.

There are other fantasy football running back sleeper picks that people at sites like DraftStreet.com are checking out:

Isaac Redman, Pittsburgh Steelers

When you rush for 147 yards and a touchdown on the road against the defending Super Bowl champions, you deserve a sleeper mention.  Especially if you also had 105 receiving yards the week before. But it must be noted that Isaac Redman got his chance against the New York Giants because the Steelers’ usual starter, Rashard Mendenhall, was injured and running back Jonathan Dwyer was also out.

When Mendenhall returns from his Achilles injury, he should regain the starting job, but going into Week 10, Mendenhall had missed three straight games.

When Dwyer returns, he could also provide competition for Redman, considering that Dwyer gained over 100 yards in each of the first two games of Mendenhall’s absence before Dwyer missed Week 9.

But as the Steelers’ Week 10 game approached, Redman was the healthiest Steeler running back.

From Week 10 to Week 13, the Steelers play Kansas City, Cleveland and Baltimore twice. Going into week 10, all three opponents had defenses towards the bottom of the league in rushing yards allowed per game.

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