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Fantasy Five: The Under Valued Rock Toters

So you need a good stable of running backs this season. The problem is that they go quick. Most quality backs will go early in your draft. While I’m not suggesting that you join the masses, I am suggesting that there is some upside in later rounds at running back.

Here are a few that I consider little investment/high-reward candidates:

ROOKIE –

Demarco Murray, Dallas

Long gone are the days of the single back who gets all the carries in the fourth quarter. Marion Barber‘s release opens the door for Felix Jones, who has the best big-play ability on the team.

Tashard Choice will get the bulk of the inside carries because of his leg drive inside. Choice will not make you miss and lacks the speed to be the main recipient. Lonyae Miller‘s skills are pedestrian compared to the other talent on the roster. That leaves us with the third-round pick, (71st overall) from Oklahoma. Murray has all the intangibles to be a feature back and a great No. 2 punch to Felix Jones.

Jones will be the main contributor early on but his durability is very suspect. I love the opportunity here and I am smiling in the late rounds with the upside of Murray. Murray’s speed is more than adequate and he has big play written all over him. Fantasy is a game of opportunity. I suspect that we will see Murray get plenty of it.

VETERAN –

Ronnie Brown, Philadelphia

Didn’t anyone in fantasy football get the memo? Brown will spell LeSean McCoy this year as the No. 2 back. So what?  Here’s why he’s worth a look.

Do you think that the Wildcat is dead? The left-handed Brown is a real threat because he reads defenses better than anyone. He may not be the home run threat that McCoy is, but he is the best back at the stripe. His value comes there as the only other back that will see time is Dion Lewis. Lewis is smaller and shiftier with good vision a la Darren Sproles.

McCoy will get lots of work, and when the Eagles are rolling Brown will benefit. Call it a hunch but I am buying in late rounds. There are those that think that Michael Vick is the goal line back on the keeper. My thought is that the opportunities will be plentiful. Most will use him as a handcuff to McCoy. I’ll stash him and wait for opportunity to knock.

DARK HORSE – Nicolas Grigsby, Miami

Unless you watch Arizona football, or really do extensive research, you won’t know who he is. That will not stop me from drafting this rookie with my last pick. Yep he’s that cheap.

While you never heard his name called at the NFL draft, he is blessed with great speed ( 4.31 in the 40-yard dash at his pro day), good hands, and a 45-inch vertical. Call me crazy now and I may just be, but I see something special. He is trapped behind oft-injured Reggie Bush, second-round pick Daniel Thomas from Kansas State, and a couple of never will be’s in Lex Hilliard and Kory Sheets. So most of you will stay away and take a wait and see to what shakes out. We know Daniel Thomas starts the opener. We know that Reggie Bush doesn’t make it through a season. The last intangible is that he beats out a couple of scrubs.

I’m a believer, and before you criticize think of all the ludicrous picks that your fellow franchise owners have made. I am a buyer in the last round based purely on opportunity and his skill set.

JOURNEYMAN – Carnell ‘Cadillac’ Williams, St. Louis

He will spell Steven Jackson and the tread on the tires for Jackson wears thin. Jackson has had some serious back problems the last two seasons. As a dedicated Rams fan, I know opportunity when I see it.

Jackson carried 654 times the last two years. My guess is that the magic number for him is around 255 this year as they add Williams and Jerious Norwood. Williams should be in the mix and is considered as a journeyman.

He provides good depth as a bye week fill in and a spot starter. He isn’t going to overwhelm you with delight, but is still very capable.

While you can have the aforementioned players relatively cheap, here’s one that I am high on. So chances are so is everyone else. He is listed as No. 33 on this site and quite a bit lower elsewhere. I seriously doubt he falls into my lap this year after this article. Everything I do is for you.

BEST OPPORTUNITY OUTSIDE TOP 20 BACKSBenJarvus Green-Ellis, New England

I like Danny Woodhead but Green-Ellis is the real deal. He is not likely to repeat his 1,000-yard, 13-touchdown season, but I seriously think 9-10 touchdowns and 800 yards is well within the realm of possibility. I am a buyer at the beginning of the sixth round. His current average draft position is late sixth round/early seventh round (68-74 overall). I would be mid-to-late fourth round if he had any real receptions. He fits the system perfectly and is without ego.

May you create your own list and find some talent on the cheap. Good luck and happy hunting.

Questions/comments/concerns to michaelfsarmento@gmail.com.

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