The NFL has two weeks in the books, and we’ve learned the same thing we learn every year about this time: we don’t know anything. The entropic nature of the NFL season means we are starting to scramble to replace guys who we thought were starters for us. With that in mind, let’s take a look at three running back sleeper options for your fantasy football teams this week. To make this running back sleeper list, a player must be on fewer than 50% of Yahoo! rosters as of writing. Each week we make one super-special deep dive pick (10% rostership or lower).
Running Back Sleeper #1:
James White versus New Orleans (50% rostered)
Go get James White. Please? He’s rostered in just half of Yahoo! leagues despite ranking third in targets, and second in catches at running back. If your league rewards any sort of points per reception, you need to get James White onto your roster. The Cam Newton Patriots are dead, and the Mac Jones Pats look a lot like the Tom Brady Patriots, at least as far as James White is concerned. He’s an RB2 just sitting on the waiver wire. Go cut Sony Michel or AJ Dillon or James Conner and put James White onto your fantasy football team.
This week, he gets a tough matchup… I think? Maybe? Through two weeks I’m not sure what to think of the Saints’ defense. They dismantled the packers, but then they faced Christian McCaffrey who did CMC things against them. So, at this point, I don’t think they’re anything to fear. The Packers’ week one thing was just really weird, is all. At this point, I am going to want to see more from them before I panic about my running back drawing the Saints’ defense.
Running Back Sleeper #2:
Kenny Gainwell at Dallas (33% rostered)
Through two weeks, Gainwell averages just over ten opportunities per game. He’s obviously taken a backseat to starter Miles Sanders, but those ten opportunities have me a little bit interested. The Eagles faced an insanely stout defense last week against the 49ers’ front seven, so he ended up with just 14 rush yards on 6 attempts last week. But, the Cowboys are closer to the Falcons than the 49ers, so let’s focus on that Falcons game, shall we?
Gainwell was in on the two-minute drill at the end of the first half, and multiple times he ended up on the field for passing downs. This tells me that he’s the hurry-up back, which is something the Eagles will need this week against the Cowboys since they’ll likely be in a track meet with America’s Team. Dallas stymied the Bucs’ running backs in week one, but that had more to do with Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette than it did Micah Parsons and Leighton Vander Esch. Last week, Austin Ekeler gashed them for 115 yards on 18 touches. Gainwell has that two-tier skillset that lets you believe that he can do mini-Ekeler things this weekend for the Eagles.
Running Back Sleeper #3:
Jacques Patrick versus Green Bay (8% rostered)
The 49ers’ running back situation is extremely bleak. Last week’s 100% FAB waiver wire wonder, Elijah Mitchell, suffered a shoulder injury at the end of the SF-PHI game. Throw in Trey Sermon’s concussion, JaMycal Hasty’s leg injury, and the fact that 49ers tried out every guy you picked up and dropped for your 2016 fantasy football squad this week, and you have a guy who could get a lot of run this week. Patrick isn’t the best runner, but he’s big and hard to bring down. I’m imagining 11 carries, 40 yards, and a touchdown. Things could go a lot worse for your deep dive running back sleeper.