These aren’t bottomless pit deep sleepers. They’re more like shallow grave sleepers, as in, grab these guys and prepare shallow graves for your competitors, or just let them lie there, either or. These are guys I like at their current ADP and am targeting like when I’m driving and an old lady crosses the street (and I get out and help her safely across).
Beanie Wells — People are reading way too much into Tim Hightower running with the first team in OTAs. Ken Whisenhunt is loyal to his veterans, at least in formalities, but Beanie has already taken over the lead back role by having more looks from week 13 on, both overall, 92 to 66 and in the red zone, 17 to 7. And now that Kurt Warner is gone, The Whiz will be able to implement his run first ways. in 2004 his Steelers ran 63% of the time and in 2005, 59%. This with with a young Ben Roethlisberger. With Warner, the last three years the Cardinals ran 40%, 35% and 38% of the time. There is no reason to think that percentage isn’t going to shoot up with Leinart at the helm. Wells is a better back than Hightower and will continue to widen that gap as the season progresses. Add to that, his ADP is falling around the end of the second round, beginning of the third, and you have some voluptuous value.
Ahmad Bradshaw — Bradshaw is the better back of the running back duo in New York. That of course doesn’t mean he will end up out fantasy pointing his way to stardom, but I think it gives him a leg up. Brandon Jacobs will probably remain the lead back, but I don’t trust his ability to stay intact. His running style lends itself to multiple beatings on each play. He is a large, large man, but also somewhat of a wuss. Now, I’m not saying I could take him. He’d beat me like a rented mule, but if both backs are somewhat injury prone, I like the one that has the ability to evade tacklers.
Justin Forsett — The Seahawks offensive players don’t exactly instill much confidence, but Forsett is by far the most explosive player on the team. Julius Jones is done for, done in and Crocodile Dundee, but not in the “This is a knife” kinda way. Jones inexplicably remained the lead back last season even after Forsett ran wild while he was down with an injury. But the good news is that there’s a new coach in town and I believe talent will win out. Another good sign is that Jones wasn’t the hammer last season. It wasn’t as if Forsett would help them get into the red zone and then JJ would punch it in. Forsett actually had more looks in the red zone and the same amount inside the 5 yard line. I don’t believe the Seahawks will have a ton of scoring opportunities, but with Forsett’s ability to catch the ball and the large skill gab between Jones and himself, I see a productive year for a good price.
Donald Brown — I’m not dissing Joseph Addai here (do people still say diss?), but I’m just looking at the long term ramifications of giving Addai the bulk of the work all season. Do the Colts want to bring Addai back next season? Do they want to give him a healthy raise? If they really need him next season, do they want to give him big numbers to bargain with? Would they rather work Donald Brown, the younger and cheaper back, into the starting role? Do they want to not give Brown a lot of looks when there is a very good chance he will be the starting back next season? Not at his price, No, No, Yes, and No. I don’t believe Brown is an extremely superior back to Addai, but I do believe he will be more capable in this, his second season, and as long as he doesn’t get injured like last, he should do well.
Michael Bush — It has yet to be seen how the running back position will play out in Oakland, but as you can tell, I think Bush will become the lead back. And with an improved team that might be worth his ADP of 99. Check out my post on him. I think it has stood the test of time, just like Shakespeare.
Larry Johnson — Now, I loathe to ever mention Larry Johnson’s name in polite company, but thankfully you ain’t all that polite. If LJ’s ADP wasn’t 155 I wouldn’t even take a second glance, but it is and I did. There is a lot of noise coming from beat writers and even our man Jason La Canfora that LJ could be the lead back in Washington. Clinton Portis had about 12 different body parts tweaked, strained or pulled at one point last season and I just don’t see him able to handle a full load. Add to that Shanny’s ability to squeeze running back goodness from a turd and you have LJ on this list.