“Changes aren’t permanent, but change is!” I think Geddy Lee wrote those lyrics after looking at his fantasy football running back group after a particularly bad week. Yes, I know he’s Canadian. The Canadian Football League has fantasy football, I assume? That describes this week’s running back sleepers, as two of these guys weren’t starters on Saturday night. And heck, one of these fantasy football sleeper running backs just joined the team! Before checking out these guys, check out Waleed Ismail’s Waiver Wire Week 2 Cheat Sheet to see if anyone slipped through the cracks. To qualify for this article, a player must have below 50% ownership in Yahoo! leagues. One of these fantasy football sleeper RB clocks in at below 10% ownership for you deep divers.
Carlos Hyde versus Jacksonville (38% Owned)
There’s a lot of reasons to not like Carlos Hyde. He’s on his fourth team since the beginning of last year, and he is in a split backfield with Duke Johnson Jr. However, he good in his debut with Houston on Monday Night Football, posting 83 yards on ten carries. He isn’t going to catch the football a ton (that’s what DJJ is for), but that’s some great plug and play. And Hyde didn’t do it against jabronis on defense, either. The Saints team he ran all over in week one was the only team in the league to allow fewer than 1,000 rushing yards to RBs. Their 895 was the lowest since the 2010 Steelers allowed just 883 rushing yards to opposing running backs.
This week he takes on a Jacksonville defense that has already giving up a ton of production on limited carries to a running back that just joined a team. LeSean McCoy had just ten carries against this defense on Sunday, which he turned into 81 yards and a score. Hyde has to contend with Duke Johnson for touches, but he’s likely to get the ones at the goal line that turn into touchdowns. That’s what saved Damien Williams Truthers last weekend, so it could save you, too.
Giovani Bernard versus San Francisco (33% Owned)
Giovani Bernard is the super-sub that the Bengals tried to replace, couldn’t replicate, and extended. He comes in when Joe Mixon inevitably suffers an injury, and he usually produces. Joe Mixon is on the verge of not playing Sunday with an ankle sprain, which would make it prime Giovani Bernard Time. Giovani Bernard Time is exceptionally profitable over the last couple seasons. In games without Joe Mixon, Giovani Bernard averages 88.75 total yards, with 4.5 catches per game. He’s scored four times in the four games without Mixon, and this all puts him as RB6 in the games he’s played without Mixon around.
And now Mixon won’t be around, and he won’t be around to take advantage of a 49ers defense that seems predicated on knocking the quarterback around. The downside to this for the defense, is that they let the running backs get what they may. They breathed new life into Ronald Jones II, who finally gained enough yards in a game to get from one end of a basketball court to another. They should have the same game plan against Andy Dalton, which will give Bernard plenty of space to produce.
Raheem Mostert at Cincinnati (9% Owned)
Like Bernard, Mostert hopes to make the most of his suddenly increased role. Tevin Coleman suffered an ankle injury last week against the Buccaneers, and the 49ers already ruled him out for Sunday’s contest. That leaves Raheem Mostert to soak up touches in a traditionally split backfield. Mostert played great, chipping in 40 receiving yards on nine carries, including a powerful 18-yard run. He filled in last year as well, and ran great before a broken arm cut his season short. He had 261 yards on 34 carries last year, which is an impressive figure no matter how you slice it.
This week, Mostert gets a Cincinnati defense that stopped the run somewhat successfully last weekend against the Seahawks. It will not be the easiest fantasy football matchup. However, I am banking on the fragility of current lead back Matt Breida to garner Mostert more touches. You never want to root for injury, but it’s sort of an inevitability for Breida. Related, Matt Breida was briefly banged up against the Buccaneers. It wouldn’t be insane to see history repeat itself.
(Header Image Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/30/Carlos_Hyde.JPG under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/deed.en)