Fantasy football managers love sleepers, players who end up outperforming their average draft position (ADP) and return great value during the season.
With limited workhorse running backs in the NFL, it can be especially important to land value picks at RB, a position that gets thin quickly after the early rounds of the draft.
Here’s a quick look at seven sleeper running backs who could provide great depth to your roster and potentially become starter-worthy RBs at some point during the season.
Brian Robinson Jr., Washington Commanders
Robinson (RB47 ADP) will miss at least the first four games of the season after being shot during an attempted robbery. Obviously, Robinson’s well-being is much more important than his fantasy football outlook. Now that we know he’s going to be OK, Robinson will have a chance to return later in the season and he has the talent to eventually emerge as Washington’s starter. Getting a talented running back at the very bottom of the draft and putting him on injured reserve for the first few weeks of the season could prove to be a smart move.
Tyrion Davis-Price, San Francisco 49ers
Going into the season, Elijah Mitchell is the 49ers running back to target, and Jeff Wilson Jr. is a solid handcuff. As is always the case with a Kyle Shanahan backfield, though, you never really know which running back could emerge as the guy for stretches during the season. San Francisco just used a third-round pick on Davis-Price (RB69 ADP), and his value will skyrocket if anything happens to Mitchell during the season (Mitchell missed six games last year). Davis-Price is worth a late-round flier in deep leagues.
Ken Walker, Seattle Seahawks
Seahawks starting running back Rashaad Penny has missed time with injuries in each of his first four seasons in the NFL, and Walker (RB39 ADP) will likely eat into his touches right away. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Walker eventually jump Penny on the depth chart later in the season, and he should have some flex value even before then. Landing a second-round talent with starter potential late in your fantasy draft is a no-brainer.
Kareem Hunt, Cleveland Browns
Hunt (RB29 ADP) certainly isn’t a deep sleeper as he’s a well-established name, but he’s a serviceable RB2 and a great RB3, especially in PPR leagues. Hunt has standalone flex value even when Nick Chubb is healthy, and Hunt would quickly become one of the top RBs in fantasy if Chubb is ever unavailable. Drafting Hunt gives you a good floor with the potential for a very high ceiling.
Tony Pollard, Dallas Cowboys
Similar to Hunt, Pollard (RB33 ADP) plays in a shared backfield but still has standalone value even if Ezekiel Elliott stays healthy. If Zeke is ever unavailable, Pollard would have a huge workload. And if both Cowboys running backs stay on the field all season, Pollard will still have flex value and RB2 upside given that his workload has increased in each of his three seasons in the NFL.
AJ Dillon, Green Bay Packers
Dillion (RB26 ADP) finished 26 points behind Aaron Jones in standard scoring last season and 44 points behind Jones in PPR leagues. So it’s understandable that fantasy managers are drafting Jones much higher (RB10 ADP), but Dillon shouldn’t be overlooked. Dillon is coming off a 221-touch season, and both Packers running backs could be more involved in the passing game this season after the team traded away star receiver Davante Adams. It’s not unreasonable to expect Jones to see an uptick in touches this year, and like the other RBs on this list, his value will skyrocket if anything happens to his backfield partner.
Dameon Pierce, Houston Texans
Pierce (RB27 ADP) is the sleeper running back in fantasy football this year. Not because he’s more talented than the other players on this list and not because he has a better pedigree (Pierce was a Day 3 pick in this year’s NFL draft). Pierce is considered a top sleeper for one reason: workload. Pierce will be the starter in a run-oriented Texans offense and even if his efficiency isn’t great, his volume alone should make him a very fantasy-relevant RB as a rookie.