5 Late-Round Running Backs You Should Be Targeting

Bonnema analyzes five running backs who offer lots of upside for little draft capital.

There’s football on TV and school is back in session, which means it’s time to take ADP seriously. A lot can and will change between now and the start of the season, but late-round sleeper picks rarely see wild swings barring a major injury or suspension. To keep track of risers and fallers, keep an eye out for ADP risers and fallers updates. You can find our consensus ADP list here, which can be sorted by a variety of different formats and ADP tracking sites.

When targeting late-round running backs, there are two specific criteria we aim for: players who will immediately inherit RB1 duties in the case of an injury, and players who could either climb to the top of the depth chart as the season carries on or offer top upside thanks to their receiving ability and fertile offenses. The following five backs (plus an honorable mention!) meet those criteria.

As far as what “late-round” means, the following list only includes players that have fallen out of the 10th round in 12-team PPR leagues based on our consensus ADP list from August 12, and will be updated as necessary.

Matt Breida

There are two major concerns with Breida. The most obvious is his ability to stay healthy. He battled through injuries last year and rarely avoided the questionable tag, making him a major risk every single week. He ended up missing two full games and missed multiple snaps in others due to injury.

The second major concern is the 49ers’ crowded backfield. They signed Tevin Coleman during the offseason, reuniting him with Kyle Shanahan to presumably become the RB1, while Jerick McKinnon offers an electric change-of-pace option. That leaves little clarity for Breida’s role. However, there’s a chance McKinnon misses the start of the season:

In-house injury expert Jene Bramel noted that PRP treatment is often used to combat arthritis symptoms (which is common post-ACL surgeries if associated with meniscus or cartilage injury). Furthermore, Matt Borrows added this when projecting the 49ers’ 53-man roster:

“The 49ers are trying to get McKinnon’s knee back to normal and are giving him plenty of encouragement and incentive during training camp. However, they seem to be drifting steadily toward this conclusion: McKinnon might not be ready to contribute at the start of the season.”

Barrows went on to say that there’s a chance McKinnon lands on injured reserve, which means he’ll miss the first eight weeks of the season. In that scenario, Breida offers immediate value, even in a timeshare. When healthy, he looks every bit like the kind of back Shanahan wants to feature. Breida managed 1,075 total yards in 2018—the 21st most of all running backs—despite missing time and handling only 36.2% of the team carries. He averaged six yards-per-touch and led the team in both opportunity percentage (carries + targets) and red zone touches. He may not have the build to withstand a typical workhorse role, but he has the skill to steal the lead from Coleman in whatever timeshare the 49ers run.

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