Punch Drunk Wonderland

2013 Fantasy Football Sleepers – The RBs

Giovani BernardOffseason Edition No. 2

This is a look at some of the running backs that have legitimate sleeper potential for the 2013 season.  These are guys that are either great value options or sleeper long shots that you can target late or pick up off waivers in your leagues.

Giovani Bernard (RB, Bengals)

Bernard is looking like he could be the future in Cincinnati’s backfield.  Running Back’s Coach, Hue Jackson, has said he can see him fitting as an every-down kind of player.  Bernard is obviously competing with BenJarvus Green-Ellis and he may not necessarily be the starter Week 1, but there’s real potential for him to start taking on a prominent role as the season progresses.  He’s been going off the board in mid-to-late rounds in snake drafts and is typically around the 30th running back taken. He’s a great value with upside.

Vick Ballard (RB, Colts)

Ballard’s stock has slipped considerably in the offseason following the signing of Ahmad Bradshaw.  When the 2012 season ended he was full of upside and many felt he was in a position to become a viable RB option in 2013.  Bradshaw’s appearance suggests that maybe the Colts don’t have the confidence in Ballard that we thought.  There’s a chance Ballard may not even be the starting running back for the team in Week 1.  That being the case, his draft value will be very low.  However, he potentially has a ton of upside and Bradshaw is injury prone.  While, the two backs might be competing for time at the beginning of the season, Ballard could very well wind up the work horse later on.

Kendall Hunter (RB, 49ers)

Frank Gore is still the starter in San Francisco, and he still has juice in the tank. But, Hunter showed strong promise last season before his injury and there’s reason to think he should still play a decent role in the offense.  Regardless of Gore’s health, Hunter should still see touches.  Of course, he’ll be competing with rookie Marcus Lattimore and that could play into touches a bit.  That said, Hunter has upside at a great value.

Isaiah Pead (RB, Rams)

Pead is competing with Daryl Richardson and rookie Zac Stacy. There very well could be a committee in St. Louis, but there’s reason to think Pead could have the most upside of the three.  He’ll be suspended for Week 1 which means he’s going to be a great value.  If you’re looking for an under-the-radar guy at a great value, Pead’s your guy.

Bryce Brown (RB, Eagles)

McCoy will be back from injury and, if healthy, has a chance for a monster year in the new Chip Kelly Offense.  That said, McCoy has been banged up in recent years.  Brown stepped in for a few huge performances in McCoy’s absence last season, but he and the entire offense struggled as the season ran down. A new system could mean big potential for Eagles running backs, and Brown has good upside as a handcuff for McCoy or a late draft/waiver vulture addition.

 Shane Vereen (RB, Patriots)

The Patriots offense is a mess at this point in the offseason.  Their receivers are questionable and following the Hernandez fiasco and Gronk’s injuries they’re tight end situation is pretty sparse.  The upside is they’re running back situation is pretty good and they still have that one guy…what’s his name…Tom Brady running the offense. The Belichick/Brady combo should be able to find a way to make an offense work, and a likely part of that process will be in the run and screen game.  Look for Ridley and Vereen to play big roles in the offense this season.  Ridley will see the majority of carries, but Vereen will be mixed in and is a playmaker.  Last season he was lined up all over the field in multiple formations, and the patriots like to keep defenses on their toes.  Don’t be surprised if Vereen winds up being a big piece in this offense for 2013.  He’ll be a great value in the draft, so go get him.

Andre Brown (RB, Giants)

The word on the street is that the Giants will be “going with the hot hand” at the running back position in 2013.  That said, I think it’s pretty safe to say David Wilson will be the starter and will receive the majority of carries. However, Brown will be a solid change-of-pace back and should Wilson come up lame or lose the “hot hand”, then Andre will be the go to guy.

K. Smelser About K. Smelser
Kelly Smelser is Owner/Senior Writer for Punch Drunk Wonderland and PDFantasy Sports. Architect of the PDW fantasy football world and general spinster of NFL and Fantasy Football news and analysis. Long walks on the beach, sunsets, and other such niceties are also fine...