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The Unusual Suspects: 3 Late Round Running Backs to Target

Phil Alexander gives you three late round running backs who have emerged as potential championship difference makers as we approach the end of draft season.

Since I started writing about fantasy football five years ago, it’s become an annual tradition of mine to wrap up the preseason by sharing my ‘Usual Suspects’ - the players who landed on the majority of my rosters and will either lead me to glory or haunt my existence during the upcoming season.

As I started writing this year’s edition, two things struck me:

First, I had already written about these guys all preseason. If anyone wants to know who ended up on most of my teams, they could read my player spotlights, value plays, check my rankings, or the results of numerous staff mock-drafts I took part in. There’s really not much more I can write about the guys I’ve been drafting all preseason I haven’t already written.

And second, if you haven’t drafted yet, you don’t need an inventory of my teams dating back to July. You need fresh, actionable advice. So instead of sharing the players who found their way onto most of my rosters, I’m changing things up a bit.

The three running backs listed below aren’t found on many of the teams I’ve already drafted, but they would be if draft season started today. You can call these guys ‘late risers’ or say their ‘stock is up’, but I’m sure many would disagree. 

All I know for sure is my outlook on these players has changed for the better in recent weeks, and breakthrough performances by late round running backs are often fantasy championship catalysts. As we enter draft weekend, here are three ‘Unusual Suspects’ to target at running back once your draft reaches the double-digit rounds:

Rex Burkhead

Why I doubted him - Besides the presence of Mike Gillislee, Dion Lewis, and James White on New England’s running back depth chart? For most of the summer, it appeared Bill Belichick’s dreams of playing fantasy running back Russian roulette with a bullet in every chamber were finally realized.

How he won me over - Before I get into Rex Burkhead, let’s get one thing straight: The running back who ends up with the majority of goal line carries in New England is someone you want on your fantasy team. We all remember LeGarrette Blount leading the league in carries from the five-yard line or closer last year. Just in case you think Blount’s 2016 was a one-off event; since Bill Belichick took over as Patriots head coach in 2000, New England has scored 294 rushing touchdowns from inside their opponent's 5-yard line. The Patriots lead the league by more than 12% over the next closest team (New Orleans) over the same span.

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