Fantasy Football Running Back Sleepers

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Remember the age-old adage, defense wins championships?

Not in fantasy football.

Running backs win championships.

Just ask those who drafted Le’Veon Bell in the 2nd round and picked up Justin Forsett and C.J. Anderson off waivers last season. Those players turned in elite production for much less than elite investments, and it’s those moves that made the difference.

Remember, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter. I’ll be answering lineup, trade, and waiver wire questions all season long. You can find my 10 Bold Predictions, Positional Rankings, and QB Sleepers underneath on Endzonescore.com.

I’m all about PPR (point per reception) leagues, so all of my analysis is derived with that format in mind.

10 Fantasy Football Bold Predictions for 2015

Quarterback Rankings for 2015

Running Back Rankings For 2015

Wide Receiver Rankings for 2015

Tight End Rankings for 2015

Defense/Special Teams Rankings for 2015

Quarterback Sleepers for 2015

Let’s take a look at three players at the running back position that I expect to well outperform their current average draft position and auction price in 2015.

ADP and auction value derived from ESPN.com

Andre Ellington, Arizona Cardinals (ADP: 61.8, #24 RB)

Let’s face it–as a in between the tackles runner–Ellington stuck in 2014, averaging 3.3 yards per carry and struggling mightily to get to the next level until he suffered a season-ending injury in Week 13.

So why the optimism? Volume, volume, volume.

Ellington averaged 20.5 touches per game last season, and was heavily involved in the passing game, catching four or more passes in eight of his 11 games.

He also came into the season with a foot injury that zapped some of his explosiveness and considering he had to play half his games staring at 8-man boxes that dared the likes of Drew Stanton and Ryan Lindley to throw the ball, I’d say it’s close to a miracle he was able to average close to 100 total yards per game. The sledding will be much easier with Carson Palmer spreading the defense out.

I’m not worried about the Cardinals selecting running back David Johnson in the 3rd round of this year’s draft, either. Bruce Arians said Sunday he envisions Ellington having a similar workload in 2015, and–while the addition of Johnson may take away a few goal line carries–may actually keep Ellington fresh and work in his favor.

Currently being drafted outside the top 20 running backs, I don’t think it’s inconceivable that Ellington finishes as a top 12 back in PPR formats, meaning he’ll be on a lot of my rosters this season.

Ameer Abdullah, Detroit Lions (ADP: 101.8, #38 RB)

For fantasy owners, Abdullah couldn’t have landed in a better spot. On a high-volume passing team that likes to give the ball to their running backs in space and on screens, Abdullah agility, acceleration, and hands make him the perfect compliment to Joique Bell and someone I can see Matthew Stafford getting the ball to in a variety of ways.

An underrated between the tackles runner with surprising power, his build isn’t all that unlike Jamaal Charles, and his lateral quickness is just as dangerous, albeit with out home run hitting speed.

Currently being drafted as a RB4, I could easily see the Nebraska product returning low end RB2/FLEX value all season long considering Lions’ running backs combined to 108 passes in 2014, among the most in the NFL. 60 catches are a reasonable projection for me.

Duke Johnson, Cleveland Browns (ADP: 123.6, #43 RB)

Sticking with another rookie back, Johnson’s value in 2015 will have a lot to do with how fast he learns the playbook and how well he pass protects, but with a current draft price that’s outside the top 40 running backs, I’m willing to wait for a few weeks until his talent overtakes Isiah Crowell and Terrance West.

An explosive runner that averaged over 6.8 yards per carry at the University of Miami, Johnson–like Abdullah–doesn’t have your typical feature back frame at 5’9” 207, but he makes up for it with his heart and tenacity.

Although he’s likely to make the most of his value this season as a receiver out of the backfield, Johnson’s big play ability and chance at a starting role by season’s end makes him one of the highest upside running backs likely to start on your bench this season.

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