Punch Drunk Wonderland

10 Undervalued Running Backs With a Ton of Fantasy Football Potential

Winning your fantasy football draft almost always hinges on your ability to find the draft day steals.  These are the players that come to you at a great value. Going into 2014 there is great potential to see a reemergence of the running back position in fantasy football and there are quite a few potential steals on the board.

Our friends at numberFire.com put together another great roundtable of experts to discuss 10 undervalued running backs that could be fantasy steals in 2014.

Fantasy owners are shying away from early-round running backs due to the high bust rate at the position. While these bust rates are true, what many folks fail to realize is that, after Round 5 or 6 of a standard fantasy draft, the bust rates of running backs become exponentially worse.

This, however, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t draft running backs in the middle rounds of your fantasy draft. In fact, the numberFire football crew thinks there’s still a ton of value to be had at the position throughout Rounds 6 to 12 this season.

Terrance West, Cleveland Browns

By Tony DelSignore

Sitting at number two on the Browns running back depth chart, Terrance West presents an interesting value on draft day. Backfield mate Ben Tate is being taken nearly three full rounds higher than West in fantasy drafts, and while Tate clearly has the talent to be a lead runner in Cleveland, he hasn’t proven to show sustained periods of good health.

In four seasons, Tate’s missed an entire campaign due to an ankle injury, three games with a hamstring injury, and was put on injured reserve again at the end of last season with a rib injury. I highly doubt Tate will be able to hold up under the workload of a full-time starter in the NFL.

Currently being taken as the 34th running back off the board at the beginning of Round 8 according to Fantasy Football Calculator, Terrance West has the talent and explosiveness to break out as a rookie even if doesn’t immediately get the starting role in Cleveland. And if things go West’s way and he does see 250-touch volume, I like him as a true breakout candidate with RB2 upside in 2014.

Steven Jackson, Atlanta Falcons

By JJ Zachariason

A season ago, Steven Jackson was a second-round fantasy selection. After 12 games and 537 rushing yards with his new Falcons team, Jackson finds himself at the end of Round 6 in fantasy drafts according to FantasyFootballCalculator.com.

Steal.

While many would consider Steven Jackson a geriatric running back with little upside at age 31, I see him as a geriatric running back with an easy shot at 250-plus carries. And any running back in a high-powered passing offense will have ample opportunity to score, which is what Jackson did last year – seven total touchdowns in 12 games, the most he’s had since 2008 – despite the Falcons seeing such poor game scripts.

You may be scared off by injury, but when Jackson returned back to reasonable health last year, he competed. And he competed well. From Weeks 12 through 16 (five games), Jackson finished with four top-24 running back performances. He scored 16.9 PPR fantasy points or more in three of those games (top 10 games), with the fourth coming in at 12.9 points. It wasn’t so much that he was overly effective – his Rushing Net Expected Points (NEP) per rush was a bottom-tiered -0.08 – but he scored. And let’s be honest, Jackson’s never been a running back you love for efficiency. At least now, in Atlanta, his opportunity to score should be plentiful.

Continue reading at numberFire.com… (@numberfire)

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...

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