Each year in fantasy football circles everyone has their own opinion about sleepers and 2009 is no different. Sleeper picks can build up or tear down your team so consider all the options during the mock drafts. You never know when someone is going to have a breakout season. Here are some of my ideas about RB sleepers that may have a significant impact in 2009.
2009 Fantasy Football Sleeper Predictions: Running Backs
Shonn Greene-New York Jets
While Thomas Jones is still the starting RB, he is on the wrong side of 30 and if he gets injured, all signs point toward Shonn Greene as his replacement with Leon Washington remaining the 3rd down back or the RB used most often in passing situations. Shonn Greene makes a great "handcuff" if you draft Thomas Jones in fantasy football. I would target drafting Greene around the 13th round in typical fantasy drafts.
Matt McGuire, a writer for Walterfootball.com also puts Shonn Greene on his list of sleepers. According to McGuire, "If Thomas Jones continues to hold out and is cut, Greene might become a viable RB3. We do know the Jets love Greene because they traded up for him in the third round. At the moment, Jones is still on the roster, so we need to see how this plays out before solidifying his fantasy projection in August. "
Andre Brown-New York Giants:
Now that Derrick Ward is leaving the Giants to play for the Tampa Bay Bucs, Brown is the leading candidate to replace Ward as the 3rd RB in the Giants "three-headed monster" running game. Brown has the same build as Derrick Ward, so he could easily fill this role, therefore he is worth keeping an eye on in preseason. Draft him in fantasy football only if he gets the backup job to Brandon Jacobs or he is used a lot in the "three-headed" attack and succeeds in that role. If he has a great pre-season, look to draft him around the 14th round right before taking a defense or kicker.
Glen Coffee-San Francisco 49ers
Frank Gore's injury history makes Coffee a must have "handcuff" pick for Gore owners. I would look to draft him around the 12th round in most fantasy drafts and keep a close eye on him during preseason.
James Davis-Cleveland Browns
Jamal Lewis is getting older and if he was to get injured, Davis is the favorite to replace him as the starting RB for Cleveland. Davis is a power back who could return value to fantasy owners who are willing to take a chance on him around the 13th or 14th round in fantasy drafts. Watch the training camp and preseason battle between Davis and Jerome Harrison closely to see who comes out on top this year.
Derrick Ward-Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Ward has the chance to be this year's Michael Turner. Fantasy Sports writer Patrick ONeill says in his article Fantasy Football Sleepers: Running Back Rankings in Fantasy Football 2009, "Derrick Ward has so many things going right for him in Tampa Bay it is almost silly." Ward has been used mainly as a backup RB in the past, but now he has a great shot at becoming the starting RB in Tampa Bay. Tampa Bay is a team that likes to run the ball and I believe Ward has the skills to succeed in this system.
According to FFToolBox.com Ward is an undervalued sleeper. "Ward is the better bet to breakout as a star than Graham in the Tampa Bay backfield, and is an excellent choice in the middle rounds as a # 3 option capable of producing 1,200 yards on the ground, as well as 40 catches with 7 total TD's in 2009, "states FFToolBox.com. Tampa's defense is good enough to keep most games close therefore giving Ward a great opportunity to see a lot of touches every game. However, Earnest Graham may steal some of his goal-line carries and this may decrease Ward's TD totals.
Felix Jones-Dallas Cowboys
It is not football unless we talk a little about the Dallas Cowboys so last but not least we have Felix Jones. Jones will get more carries per game, I believe, than most people think he will. He has the explosiveness to score just about any time he touches the ball and could put up great numbers for savvy fantasy owners who are willing to take a chance on him in the middle to late rounds of fantasy drafts.