If you’re reading this, welcome and congratulations to the fantasy football quarterfinals. It’s week fifteen, so ideally you don’t need to find a running back sleeper. But, if you do, we have our weekly running back sleeper article ready to rock and roll for you. To qualify as a running back sleeper, a player must be available on the waiver wire in over 50% of Yahoo! leagues. For deep league players, we provide a running back sleeper available in at least 90% of leagues.
This should say “non-Lynn Bowden edition.” I discuss the rookie WR/RB in the wide receiver sleepers this week because there are more running back options than receiver options in week fifteen.
Sleeper Running Back Option #1:
Gus Edwards versus Jacksonville (39% rostered)
The Ravens turned their running game over to J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards over the last two weeks. Dobbins has mostly stolen the spotlight because, well, we want him to play well, but Edwards has at least one touchdown or 100 yards in three-straight games. He is the short side of the platoon, but he is also the short-yardage back for Baltimore, cashing in two short touchdowns last week. This week, the Ravens take on the Jaguars, as in “the Jacksonville Jaguars are an amazing matchup for running backs.” The Jags are not only circling the drain after losing literally every game except week one, they are also terrible against RBs! They allow the fifth-most fantasy points to the position, yielding at least 20 points to the position three-straight weeks.
Sleeper Running Back Option #2:
Jeff Wilson Jr. at Dallas (43% rostered) or
Benny Snell at Cincinnati (21% rostered)
I don’t think I’ve done a contingency sleeper before, but both of these guys are champing at the bit to get the lions’ share of the carries pending the outcome of injury investigations to players ahead of them on the depth chart. Jeff Wilson will sit if Raheem Mostert can go, and Snell only gets the nod with a bad James Conner diagnosis. I would go JWJ over Snell if both lead backs are active. Wilson has 12, 7, and 11 carries in his last three games, and had three cracks at the goal line against Buffalo before cashing one in last week. He’s going to get play even if Raheem Mostert is healthy, and the Cowboys allow the sixth-most fantasy points to running backs this season.
As for Snell… there’s a reason people lovingly call him Benny Snail. He’s improved on his running this season but has languished as the short side of the platoon with James Conner. Conner is likely to miss this week with a quad injury after looking horrible (10 carries for 18 yards) in his return from the COVID-19 list. If Conner misses the game, Snell will get a shot at the crown once again. Snell has double-digit touches twice in a game twice this year, and he turned in 113 yards and 93 yards, respectively. They get the Bengals, who are playing out the string this week. The Bengals have allowed double-digit HPPR points to a running back in four-straight games while playing marginal plays like Wayne Gallman and Myles Gaskin in that span. If Conner is out, Snell should do just fine in a pinch.
Deep Sleeper Running Back Option:
Peyton Barber versus Seattle (7% rostered)
So, it’s come to this. Peyton Barber. Like JWJ and Snell, Barber comes into play due to an injury to a much better player ahead of him on the depth chart. Barber gets something that you can’t deny when Antonio Gibson is off the field: touches. I don’t know why, I don’t know how, but Barber has at least 11 carries in three-straight games, with 14 and 12 carries in the two games since Antonio Gibson suffered his turf toe injury. Unfortunately, he hasn’t done great with them, turning 26 carries over the last two games into just 60 yards. Luckily, he also gets goal-line cracks, so you’re basically banking on him falling into the end zone for a touchdown.
The Seahawks started the season as a tough run defense, but in an effort to lock down their pass defense, they’ve let the run defense falter. The Seahawks allowed at least 25 fantasy points to three of the last four running back combinations to play against them, so even if J.D. McKissic gets a ton of work, there’s still enough room for Barber to turn his paltry number of carries into a good outcome.
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