Fantasy Football: Do Not Ignore These Late Round RBs in 2018
No matter your draft strategy, league type, or scoring format, I think we can all agree that hitting on a late round draft pick is going to increase your chances of a successful fantasy season. Those that embrace the Zero-RB strategy live and die by the late round running back and in 2018 there are many guys going in the 10th or later that can be valuable additions to your fantasy team. Whether you’re looking for a current starter, a goal-line TD vulture, or the ever-popular 3rd down pass catcher, they are all there for you in the late rounds. Here are 6 guys being largely ignored but could be the perfect final piece to your #FootClanTitle.
Listen to who Andy, Mike, and Jason like as late-round sleepers in the most recent podcast, Sleepers & Values.
James White (Current ADP 10th Round RB45 – 2017 Finish RB41)
With the addition of Sony Michel, people are ignoring the man who has been the best pass-catcher for the Patriots in each of the last 3 seasons, and that was with Dion Lewis on the team. Lewis’ exit and the addition of Michel should mean that White’s role will remain largely the same…the primary pass-catching back on a team that loves to throw the football. White has caught at least 40 balls for three straight years and should start 2018 with a ton of targets as Julian Edelman serves out his 4 game suspension and Michel already recovering from an injury.
Corey Clement (Current ADP 10th Round RB46 – 2017 Finish RB49)
It is my thought that Clement flashed in Super Bowl 52 what we can expect to see a lot of in 2018: Raw Playmaking Ability. The Eagles backfield is crowded for sure but Jay Ajayi showed very little to make us believe he will be a true bell-cow this year and Darren Sproles is 35 and coming off of a season where he only played 3 games. With LeGarrette Blount leaving town, there are plenty of carries to make Clement fantasy relevant and if he proves to be the pass catcher he showed he could be in the Super Bowl, he could be a true 3-down back for the Eagles by season’s end.
Latavius Murray (Current ADP 10th Round RB48 – 2017 Finish RB24)
Do I buy the narrative that Murray and Dalvin Cook will split carries? No, no I do not. Does this mean that Murray cannot be a value in 2018? No, no it does not. With Jerick McKinnon leaving for San Francisco, there are 150 carries to send Cook’s way, meaning that Murray could still see the 200 or so carries he did in 2017. But even if he doesn’t see the same volume, where he gets his carries is most important. Murray was top 10 in the league in carries inside of the 10 and inside of the 5. Even with the return of Dalvin Cook, at the very least, Murray should continue to see the goal line work that he parlayed into 8 TDs and a top 25 finish in 2017.
Giovani Bernard (Current ADP 12th Round RB52 – 2017 Finish RB30)
What you see is what you get with Giovani Bernard. The Bengals have never wanted him to be more than a pass-catcher and, if all goes to plan, that’s all he’ll be asked to bein 2018. He is not going to take the job from Joe Mixon, but if Mixon goes down, Gio showed in 2017 that he can fill in admirably. My favorite part of Gio’s 2017 is that he managed a top 30 season despite scoring fewer than 5 fantasy points in 7 of the Bengals first 12 games. But over the last 4 games, Gio was a top 10 fantasy RB. He caught 43 balls last year and should easily be able to repeat on a Bengals offense that looks primed to rebound. He is a valuable handcuff for any Mixon owner and has plenty of standalone value in any PPR league.
Bilal Powell (Current ADP 12th Round RB53 – 2017 Finish RB27)
I honestly have no explanation for the ADP dip that Bilal Powel has faced from his finish last year. He finished as a top 30 RB in fantasy last season despite only seeing 45% of the teams carries and ceding some passing down work to the now gone Matt Forte. Even with the addition of Isaiah Crowell, Powell can expect 150 carries and most of the passing down work. He is viewed largely as a 3rd down back but last season he only saw half the targets he had in the previous 2 years, meaning there is room for growth in the passing game that should more than makeup for what he loses in carries. Worst case scenario: his role stays the same and he is a top 30 RB. But he has run this entire preseason as the starter, which could mean more touches for him, and make him the biggest value to be had after the 12th round in fantasy football.
Devontae Booker (Current ADP 14th Round RB60 – 2017 Finish RB55)
A starting NFL running back available in the 14th round of your fantasy draft sounds made up. But that is the scenario that we find ourselves in with Devontae Booker. It was reinforced again after the 3rd preseason game that Booker would be the starter and, while he will more than likely lose that job to rookie Royce Freeman before season’s end, that makes him valuable to kickoff the NFL season. Last season, the Broncos split time between Booker and Jamaal Charles backing up CJ Anderson and Booker still finished as the RB55. Even if he is just the primary backup to Freeman, if he takes all of the work that Charles leaves behind, he could crack the RB top 40 for the year. But if he starts the season in the CJ Anderson role, he could be a top 20 back for the opening month that you got with your last draft pick. That’s the definition of a winning lottery ticket.