It’s always difficult to find guys who have low ownership in fantasy football leagues for these sleeper pieces. The incessant need to roster handcuffs (and handcuffs to handcuffs) usually has us scraping the bottom of the barrel to find fantasy football running back sleepers. However, not all is lost, as week one provides us with a bountiful cornucopia of players that could make decent week one running back sleepers. And by “bountiful cornucopia” I mean I didn’t have to stare at depth charts to figure out who guys are. As always, we provide you with two guys owned in fewer than 50% of Yahoo! leagues, and one guy owned in fewer than 10% of Yahoo! leagues for your week one running back sleeper needs.
Stop reading this right now. Go see if top week one running back sleeper Justin Jackson is available in your league. If he is, get him. I can wait…
Okay, now that’s out of the way: why go pick up Justin Jackson? Well, Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson are set to split the load this season for the Chargers. That is unless Melvin Gordon strolls back to the team. That’s looking less and less likely, as the two sides have gotten further apart recently.
Jackson mostly struggled as a rookie last season but had more than 30% of the carries for the Chargers twice. In those games, he ended as RB12 and RB17. When given volume, he produces. Ekeler is a fantastic change-of-pace back, but he’s just that: a change-of-pace back. He’s been given the RB1 role in Gordon’s stead in the past, and mostly underperformed with an expanded role, scoring just 10.83 fantasy points per game without Gordon, compared to 7.79 with Gordon (half-PPR).
Fantasy football analysts love to call players “home run hitters.” This analogy means that any given play could end in a 50+ yard touchdown (well not, plays with fewer than 50 yards to goal, but you know what I mean). Week one running back sleeper Justice Hill is the home runniest of home run hitters from this rookie draft and can take any rush or swing pass to the house. He joins a rushing attack that ran the ball more than anyone else last year with Lamar Jackson under center, and Mark Ingram can’t carry the load alone.
Hill forced the issue in the preseason, and the Ravens ended up with him, Ingram, and Gus Edwards. Edwards is a JAG extraordinaire, and Hill is already slated to be a part-time back behind Ingram. This is a desperation play and is better served as a pickup-and-stash move. That having been said, if you have to start him, it’s Miami. The Ravens are likely to go up big, which means cycling out their RB1 to save him some reps, and that is Justice Hill time.
If you have the courage to pick up and start the third-down back for a team that we have never seen work yet, then you are braver than I am. However, look at the guys ahead of him on the depth chart: First, career JAG Peyton Barber and second, Ronald “never ran the length of a basketball court in a single game during his rookie year” Jones II. Dare’s slated to be the passing downs back after forcing TB’s hand to remove Bruce Arians’ best friend, Andre Ellington. He’ll start as the passing downs guy, but doesn’t have much ahead of him to fight through to become the starter.
As for the 49ers, they retooled their defense this offseason but showed poorly last year against RBs. They allowed the sixth-most receptions and the ninth-most yards to the position. That means that there will be plenty of opportunities for Dare to make a big splash week one. You can beat the crowd and get him before the mad dash to the waiver wire.
Need some other sleeper advice for fantasy football week one? Check out our other weekly articles below (updated as they publish)
Wacko for Flacco (QB Sleepers)
He Better Be Good for Goodwin’s Sake (WR Sleepers)
Waller, I Hardly Know ‘Er! (TE Sleepers)
(Header Image Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/system13/21346663523/in/photolist-ywcmnE-zvoZY8-ywkemP by Bely Medved under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/deed.en)