Fantasy Football: RB Rankings/Sleepers


NEPD Staff Contributor: Jeff Fidler

Over the past few years we’ve seen an influx of versatile weapons at the running back position. Whether it be an upgrade in talent, creative coaching or a combo of both. The position is definitely taking over the league & the grip will only get stronger going forward. Football has always been about playing to your players strengths & taking advantage of the opposing teams weaknesses. There’s probably no bigger mismatch in todays games then a Bell, Johnson or McCoy out in space vs a LB. Now more than ever you have abundance of players capable of exploiting those match ups. The game is always changing & it’s cool to see it evolve.

When it comes to fantasy football landing spot is key. Here’s an early look at my top ppr rookie RB’s & some sleepers to keep an eye on.

1)Sony Michel – This is going out on a limb of sorts. I’m buying the potential of the situation but I don’t feel it’s that far-fetched. Michel is playing behind the GOAT QB/OL Coach & a top 10 OL. I mean normally this is a no brainer. The position has shown immediate translation to the league & New England just lost their best option in the backfield.  There are 2 points of obvious you can’t ignore. Michel’s fumble rate, which wasn’t a problem in terms of selecting him 1st round. And the RBBC approach some fear. This is the most legitimate concern. That said I believe Michel is the Patriots best runner day 1 & will take the majority of touches we lost with Lewis. If Burkhead is healthy he’s going to get more touches than last year but he’s Sony. Michel is as versatile, elusive & fast as Kamara with more power. Again if he stays healthy, doesn’t drop the rock, he’s tearing up this league 100%.


2)Royce Freeman – Freeman is somewhat under rated right now but the big bruising back with great balance landed in an optimal spot. He’s the best RB on the roster & will be starting day 1. With Keenum at QB, Denver will want to control the clock & ball on offense. That means leaning on a player like Freeman who eats up carries, bounces off defenders & will set the tone on that side of the ball. Freeman is a grind it out type back that offers rec ability, doesn’t fumble & will get goal line duties. Denver’s offense isn’t going to get the juices going in May but there’s a lot of upside there. From a fantasy perspective & irl. That division isn’t locked down by any one team. Broncos could definitely make some noise this year.


3)Saquon Barkley – Some might think I have Barkley low & that could be the case but I’m not buying the Giants just yet, I love Barkley but just don’t love the collective yet. The Giants have a ton of talent but have been lacking in coaching, chemistry & execution as of late. The pieces are there but have to be properly performed on the field. That said Barkley, Beckham, Shepard, Engram could be the best skill group in the league if New York’s OL & QB are up to the task, among other moving parts like a new coaching staff. The left side of the OL should be fun to watch though. Solder is a great player, better person but Will Hernandez is an absolute bulldozer in the run game.  As a dynasty pick, i could see an argument for #1 because going forward his potential is amazing in the right situation.


4)Derrius Guice – Guice is that prototype violent every down back that has succeed for decades in the league. Derrius has great vision, special power & a fierce jump cut that leaves defenders somewhere else. The only problem here is the coach. Gruden has already come out & said he’s only using him for 1st & 2nd downs which is nonsense. Now Jay Gruden forgot more than I’ll ever know about the game but Guice is a 3 down back.  Somebody please copy/paste that last sentence & have a plane carry that messege over Washington’s practices. Some players take a bit of projecting but Guice has displayed his soft hands before. Now he’s not going to catch 60+ balls a year but he has tons of potential there. LSU players come from a very conservative offense to say the least. Some coaches will ask players to only do certain things in college. That doesn’t mean said player isn’t capable of it & adding it to their arsenal. Guice will be a better pro than college player & an every down back in this league because he can pass protect as well.


5)Kerryon Johnson – I really love this pick & the Detroit backfield will be a nightmare for opposing defenses to tackle & get ahold of. Johnson is a bull of a back but has Bell-type patience & tremendous rec ability. Detroit has been in desperate need of an upgrade at the position & has to have that every down threat to complete that offense. Johnson has shown that he can be all those things in terms of versatility & done it against the best competition in college football. Now Blount is there & will have an impact but I think by mid-season/seasons end Johnson is the feature back there. He’s a big back that can help control the tempo & gives the offense something Blount can’t in his rec ability. This is his spot, he just needs to take it.


6)Rashaad Penny – Penny is someone I really loved coming out. Very productive, really nice vision & elusiveness. Penny also offers special team versatility in the return game & can catch the ball. Seattle really needs that “other” guy for Wilson who is seemingly doing everything by himself these days. Penny can control tempo. He’s a smart runner that gets from A to B quick, falls forward but also can take it for 6 every other play it seems. He’s a big, thick back that has a + fumble rate too. Seahawks really need someone to take some pressure off Wilson & Penny has the potential to excel in that role. Of course that entire team has been hampered & held back by the overall OL play the last few years. That issue has to get fixed going forward.


7)Ronald Jones – Jones might be a little low here but I have to see what his value is worth with that staff. Keotter really likes a few guys already there but Jones offers something both don’t. He’s a little undersized, might run a tad too high but Jones has legit burst & speed to take for 6 from anywhere. He has the quicks to escape outside & the ability to make people miss in the open field. His rec ability is the big wildcard. His value could shoot up if that area improves & gets more volume going forward. He’s more than capable of being that guy. Still, Jones offers potential starter upside on a team that just lost it’s best RB.


8)Nick Chubb – The Browns just scare people & little children in general so its always tough pulling the trigger on a Cleveland player but things are turning around there. Chubb is a tough, downhill runner who will carry a defender or two with him on some runs. He’s a freak in terms of measurables & as mentally tough as they come. It’s been rumored he has better hands than some believe too. Michel just excelled in that area at UG. The backfield is a little crowded but Chubb has been there, done that & come out on the other side. The Browns team is actually a lot closer than most realize but the coaching & front office continuity, overall competence has been so putrid for decades. The Browns could have a really good offense. They have some nice skill weapons in Gordon, Njoku, Landry & Coleman. A good OL but most important & finally have a QB. Whether it’s Taylor or Mayfield in 2018-19 the offense will be a lot better but I think it could be a surprise if Baker starts.


9)Nyheim Hines – Hines is a chess piece that will give D.C.’s fits if probably utilized. He’s a tough, gritty undersized RB that will do most of his damage 3rd down & in the rec game. Hines has real experience at WR. More importantly he has the speed & juke moves to leave defenders behind. Hines is a big play threat, he has several TD’s of over 45+ yards on his career. One of the “knocks” on Hines was that he’s more of an athlete than RB or WR. I see that as potential waiting to be molded. Hines won’t be n every down back but he’ll make an impact for sure.


10)Mark Walton – Walton reminds me a lot like Kareem Hunt. Very tough runner with + contact balance & vision. Undersized but again tough as nails. He’ll give you some yac. Walton also has + rec ability with several highlight reel catches on his resume. Whether it’s an over the shoulder catch on a wheel route or just a simple screen/dump off Walton big play capability. Doesn’t have great speed but he has very good acceleration & more enough speed to win.




5 Sleepers in no real order with a chance to make some noise.

Kallen Ballage – H/W/S freak. Very tough inside zone runner that ran the wildcat at times. Ballage  ia a great rev weapon, tons of potential there. Looks like a big TE at times. Huge mismatch in the rec game. Straight away runner, doesn’t offer much wiggle.

Chase Edmonds – Is definitely someone you want to grab if you have the opportunity. Edmonds is a smaller back & went to a small college. He also had to deal with injuries that kept him off the field. Despite that he’s wildly productive & versatile. Edmonds has over 85 rec’s in his career. Multiple 1600+ seasons & an array of jukes, cuts & spins that leave defenders looking helpless.

John Kelly – is another guy that could very well have a Hunt-like effect on a team. Unfortunately starting duties are out of the question for the immediate future but the potential is there if the case should present itself to Kelly. Like Hunt, Walton, Kelly runs low to the ground & has great contact balance, running right through defenders would be attempts.

Trenton Cannon – I interviewed Cannon before the draft & he couldn’t have been nicer. Truth be told that’s not why he’s on the list & definitely not why he was drafted. That would be because he has real skills to help a team. Cannon has great acceleration, is a rec threat & can make an impact on special teams in the return game. Cannon might not be a “name” player, yet. That doesn’t matter. What matters is he what it takes to be a 3rd down factor & weapon on s/t’s.

Jordan Wilkins – is someone to keep an eye on this summer. Very nice footwork, at times very decisive. Just plants & hits hole with aggression. Very good in the open field with + agility. He definitely could make some noise on that team/backfield & isn’t likely to cost you a high pick.


Top 10 Dynasty RB’s (As of now)

  1. Barkley
  2. Guice
  3. Michel
  4. Freeman
  5. Penny
  6. Chubb
  7. Johnson
  8. Jones
  9. Hines
  10. Walton


Wide Receivers & Tight Ends next week.




5 Responses to “Fantasy Football: RB Rankings/Sleepers”

  1. kevinz says:

    Your quite welcome.

    I agree with what all said Sony was my first Binkie in Feb then felt got pushed to high for Pats.
    Agreed 21 would be keep teams d coaches up at nights that’s a given lol.
    Sony for sure our best runner hope just don’t over work him that my only worry

    • Jeff Fidler says:

      Thats def a concern about drafting him. This team is all about the playoffs/SB & a healthy Michel in Jan/Feb is key.

      We really do have a top 5-7 group imho. And yea I’m so pumped for 21 man.

      I want to see Gronk, 11, (Hogan/Mitchel/Matthews/Dorsett) w/ Sony & Rex sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo bad!

  2. Daniel says:

    Great…….So Derrick Johnson just signed for a relative peanuts deal. We could have had him for Something like 1.5M.

  3. kevinz says:

    Nice list Jeff i really hope Sony is on Kamara type level i am one trying not to get my hopes up.

    • @j_fid says:

      Haha Yea I hear ya man. And thank you!

      Honestly I’m really excited, I understand wanting to keep expectations low but he’s a great player & such a great fit.

      I really think rn he’s our best runner. More powerful than Kamara, elusive, pass pro. I just don’t see him coming off the field that much. I wouldn’t be surprised a bit to see more 21 per on the field (2RB/1TE)

      I just wouldn’t want to be the DC trying to stop Gronk, our run/rec game w/ Rex, Sony & White … while containing Matthews, Edelman, Hogan & co

      I think Sony & Wynn is be in the OROY convo

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