Some say it’s too early to look at sleepers for the 2014 season. Those are the people who will be missing out on the playoffs this year. Let’s face it, you came to here because fantasy football prep never ends. Every draft pick you make next season should add value to your team (and if you come here it will). So to provide you with the top talent in all rounds of your draft I’ve isolated a trio of running backs who will be the difference between making the playoffs and winning a championship in 2014.
I’m not sure why we all aren’t losing our minds over Toby Gerhart getting starting job in the NFL. Fantasy football’s most important handcuff will become it’s most important sleeper. I’ll list (some of) the positives. One of the most effective backups in his career, so we know he’s familiar with the speed of the game at the pro level. At 6’0 231 lbs he’s sure got the build of a workhorse back. Add the fact that he’s got 77 catches in his career and I start to salivate. Plus he spent his career behind Adrian Peterson, which is like having a master class in running the football. Gus Bradley was asked if Gerhart was going to be his bell cow and he answered, “You know what, that’s what we hope to see” Gerhart will finish next year as a top 10 RB, but you won’t have to pay for that production with a high pick. Draft and enjoy.
Andre Ellington was the most talented runner on the Cardinals last year. Now this year he’ll get his shot to show everyone that he deserves the starting job. I just said how much I liked Toby Gerhart’s size, and although Ellington is considerably smaller at 5’9 199 he still plays big. His strengths are patience, hands, and open field moves. Elington shows astounding patience for a guy as quick as he is, waiting for his blockers to get in position in front of him. When he is in the open field he employs the stiff arm to keep himself separated from defenders in pursuit. And for how little he was used by Bruce Arians, Ellington still managed 39 receptions for 371 yards. Need more to be happy about? When free agency opened up Arizona was yet again a player adding Jared Veldheer from Oakland immediately improving the Cardinals line. Easily a top 15 back next year.
I’m a huge fan of LeGarrette Blount, so I enjoyed seeing him become relevant again in New England. However, the fact of the matter is that if Shane Vereen wasn’t inured none of it ever would have happened. The moment Stevan Ridley’s fumbling issues reemerged it would have been Vereen stepping into the starting role for the Patriots. In fact, if you look at Vereen’s stats in week 1 (14 rushes for 101 and 7 catches for 58) it appears that he already started emerging as the go to guy for Bill & Co. Vereen is PPR gold with 47 catches in just 8 games. but standard league players will enjoy the 427 yards he piled up on those catches and the 3 receiving TD as well. Certainly the Patriots most versatile back, Vereen will earn a special place in fantasy owner’s hearts next season. He’s a can’t miss top 20 talent.
Not wild about one of these guys? Got anyone you like that I didn’t mention? Comment below and I’ll tell you what I think!