Fantasy Football Rankings 2015: Top 10 Sleepers Running Backs

Joseph Randle has a chance to surprise the fantasy world in 2015. (Getty)

Joseph Randle has a chance to surprise the fantasy world in 2015. (Getty)

Editor’s note: Heavy’s partners at DraftKings are gearing up for another football season. Sign up now with DraftKings promo code HEAVY and get a $600 deposit bonus with no season-long commitment.

The running back position is still the lifeblood of a fantasy football team.

You don’t have a good backfield, and your team is toast.

But let’s face it, the number of 3-down backs in the NFL are dwindling. There are maybe 10 running backs — including Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles, Eddie Lacy and Matt Forte — who dominate the touches for their respective teams.

More and more NFL teams are using 2 backs with maybe a 70/30 or 65/35 percentage breakdown of touches. So, of course, you need to know who the backup ball carriers are.

But finding a sleeper — a player who much isn’t expected from on the season’s onset — goes beyond that. With sleepers you need to know the entire the depth chart. Is the starter injury-prone? Does he have a chance to be a touchdown vulture? Is he a good receiver who can rack up the receptions? Does he have a dominant offensive line? Or is he simply just flying under the radar?

You’re not going to find any projected Top 25 — maybe 30 — running backs on this list. You’ll see a few familiar names and probably some new ones. Some veterans and some rookies. But they are all names you need to know.

Editor’s Note: The NFL season is just about here and Heavy’s partners at DraftKings have all your fantasy football needs covered. Sign up with DraftKings today for a chance to win $2 million in Week 1’s Millionaire Maker contest.

Here are the top 10 sleeper running backs for 2015:

1. Joseph Randle, Dallas Cowboys



Randle is going to be the most-recognized name on the list. He had a pretty eventful calendar year. Mostly off the field with a couple arrests, but that’s not what this post is about. On the field, he was the backup to 2014 NFL leading rusher DeMarco Murray. And when he got his chances, Randle took advantage, averaging 6.7 yards per carry on 51 attempts. He has skills, he has arguably the best offensive line in the league, but he also has to fight Darren McFadden for carries. I’m not too worried about that as McFadden hasn’t exactly been a model of health during his career. Randle and D-Mac are both home run hitters, but it will be Randle who stands out in the Big D in 2015.

2. Tre Mason, St. Louis Rams

Mason doesn’t have 25-carry-per-game potential which is why the Rams drafted Todd Gurley, who, by the way, is going to be drafted way too high in most fantasy drafts. Trust me, the injury-prone Gurley isn’t getting 300 carries this season. Mason is a scat-back type, but he’s got that ability to take it to the house at any time. He got 179 carries in 2014, but with Gurley on board and healthy — we think — Mason probably won’t approach that number. So why is he No. 2 on the list? Because if Gurley isn’t healthy, Mason becomes the man.

3. Ameer Abdullah, Detroit Lions

The Lions have some talented backs, headed by starter Joique Bell. Bell was a touchdown vulture when Reggie Bush was in Motown, getting 15 rushing TDs over the past 2 years. But as an every down back? Not sure Bell has that ability as he hadn’t gone over 4 yards per carry the past 2 seasons. Ameer Abdullah, a rookie from Nebraska, isn’t a bruiser at 5-foot-9 and 205 pounds, but he’ll get his fair share of totes.

4. Roy Helu, Oakland Raiders



Latavius Murray is the back most are expecting to get the bulk of the carries for the Raiders this season. He’s got the size and speed to take it to the house each time he carries the ball. But he’s rather inexperienced and hasn’t been able to stay healthy. And these are the Raiders, so you never know what you’re going to get. Helu is the one I’m watching closely. He showed promise in Washington and didn’t seem to get a fair shake there. Maybe Helu seizes the opportunity. Oakland also added Trent Richardson, but let’s not buy into that one.

5. David Cobb, Tennessee Titans

The Titans have one of the youngest offenses in the league and Cobb, the rookie from Minnesota, doesn’t have much competition in the backfield. Bishop Sankey? I mean, he’ll get the shot to be the starter again, but the second-year pro wasn’t exactly the model of consistency in his rookie season. Unless you want consistently wanted under 4 yards per carry. Nobody wants that. Cobb could be the steal of the rookie class runners.

Editor’s Note: The NFL season is just about here and Heavy’s partners at DraftKings have all your fantasy football needs covered. Sign up with DraftKings today and get a free entry to a fantasy football contest.

6. Knile Davis, Kansas City Chiefs



Let’s be clear: Knile Davis isn’t unseating Jamaal Charles as the starter. But when he was called upon to be the starter when Charles missed some time early in 2014, Davis responded with a couple of 100-yard games and a few touchdowns. Davis is certainly capable of being a fantasy star. Keep him firmly on your radar as a Charles handcuff.

7. David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals

The Arizona starter is Andre Ellington and we know he can play. But we also know he can’t handle a 25-carry workload as he broke down often in 2014. Johnson is a 6-1, 224-pound rookie from Northern Iowa who was drafted in the third round. He’s going to get carries and has the potential to unseat Ellington with solid play. Or at least get early-down and goal line carries. Nothing wrong with being a touchdown vulture.

8. Cameron Artis-Payne, Carolina Panthers

Jonathan Stewart no longer has to deal with the departed DeAngelo Williams, but Stewart hasn’t been so reliable in recent years. He’s a 15-carry back, too many injuries. Artis-Payne is certainly no slouch. He led the SEC in rushing last season with 1,600 yards, one of the highest totals in Auburn history. We’ve seen Carolina employ the 2-back system for years, so there will be touches to go around.

9. Javorius Allen, Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens backfield is crowded with late-bloomer Justin Forsett and Lorenzo Taliaferro, but Baltimore used a fourth-round pick on Allen, who was a Doak Walker finalist at USC. He’s probably going to need an injury or something to make an impact, but you never know. You need to know his name.

10. Alfred Blue, Houston Texans

When healthy, Arian Foster is one of the best in the business. That’s been the problem, though. He has played in just 21 of 32 possible games the past 2 seasons. And now, Foster has been sidelined with a potentially serious groin injury. While he had 169 carries in 2014, Blue averaged only 3.1 yards per as a rookie. But Blue is going to get the first shot at heading up a potential running back by committee. Ugh. Also in the mix are Chris Polk, Jonathan Grimes and rookie Kenny Hilliard. This is a wait-and-see situation to say the least.

Editor’s note: Are you playing daily fantasy yet? Heavy’s partners at DraftKings are paying out $1 billion to daily fantasy players. Sign up with DraftKings promo code HEAVY and get a $600 deposit bonus with no season-long commitment.