NFL Fantasy Week 4: Sleeper Running Backs

You know what makes me scratch my head? When my better-known peers get paid big bucks to tell you running backs who are already among the top 24 rushers every week “might be a sleeper”.

No… they might continue to do what they’ve done all season. The definition of a sleeper is someone who will surprise. Now, if you tell me the guy clinging to the RB-24 spot might explode into the top-5, I can accept that. But don’t tell me you “guessed right” when he comes in with the 23rd-best score of the week.

Every week, I ask Baby (from “Baby Knows Sports- @patopps61) for potential surprises. Together, we decide on three rushers who might either make a leap from obscurity or bounce back from some tough starts.

None of these running backs are among the top 24 NFL Fantasy scorers yet. But we think they have a shot at breaking through in Week 4.

Best Bet: Aaron Jones, Packers vs. Buffalo

Baby and I fought about including Jones because he was supposed to be the starter for Green Bay before his suspension, and he might have been a top-24 back had he been with the team all season.

But after a 7-touch debut left open the Packers’ running back by committee conundrum, we decided he was a fair sleeper candidate.

He’s our best bet because he passed the eye test in his first performance of the season. Jones managed to pick up and average of 4 yards after initial contact on his 6 rushes last week. Besides, Green Bay said they planned to limit him last week. He’s a lock for more work in Week 4.

Jamaal Williams didn’t look bad last week, either, but neither Williams nor Ty Montgomery did enough in the two weeks prior to make us believe Mike McCarthy won’t make Jones the lead horse again toot sweet.

Green Bay has to establish a credible running game to protect its most valuable asset, Aaron Rodgers. They won’t fool around too much with the committee approach now that they know Jones hasn’t lost a step.

Good Bet: James White, Patriots vs. Dolphins

PPR league owners might say, “Duh!” about James White as a sleeper, since he averages 13-points per game for them. Standard scoring leagues have seen White wallow around 8 points each week.

Against the Dolphins on Sunday, White is primed for a breakout. Tom Brady will try to win this game himself to dissuade rumors of his decline. No one cares his wide receiver corps and lead rusher are missing. It’s Brady’s fault the team lost two games in a row.

The Patriots and Brady haven’t lost three games in a row since 2004. Brady will go to his second-most reliable target of 2018, James White, as often as he can, just to give Gronk a breather here and there.

If Bill Belichick wants to run the ball, we don’t have much faith in Sony Michel to keep the coach’s trust. Michel managed just 3.6 yards per carry against one of the worse run defenses in the league last week.

Kenjon Barner might see some action, but we believe James White will handle about 8 carries to go along with 10 targets. That’s enough to make him a top-20 running back, at least.

Not a bad bet: Kenyan Drake, Dolphins at Patriots

We can see your eyeballs rolling from here. Baby and I were among the NFL Fantasy owners burned by Drake in what was a great set-up last week.

Here comes his bounce back performance. New England gives up 4.7 yards per carry. Miami knows it might have to outgun Brady, but they will try to control the ball for a while.

Even if the game becomes a shootout, Drake stays in there with the opportunity to turn a draw or screen into NFL Fantasy points, too.

It’s enough of a chance to make him our deep sleeper of the week.

Don’t bet on it: Sony Michel, Patriots vs. Dolphins

Geez! It’s like we only researched two teams here! But we feel obligated to warn those reading about Michel’s pending breakout as the newly crowned starter that he is no sure thing.

As mentioned earlier, Michel averaged 3.6 yards-per-carry against the second-worst rush defense. Sunday, he faces the second-best rush defense in a game his quarterback would prefer to keep in his own hands.

If Michel doesn’t produce early, Belichick might give Kenjon Barner his shot if the game is in hand. If not, look for the reliable James White to see early-down action on occasion.

Michel needs a solid run or two early if he expects to stay in the game plan. We’re betting against it.

What do you think? Any of these sleepers have a chance to save your NFL Fantasy week?

This article was originally published on sports