Get your fantasy football lineup locked in on this Sunday morning by taking a look at these top 10 RB sleepers who could come up big in fantasy football week 6.
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Jacksonville Jaguars running back T.J. Yeldon (24) is one of my RB sleepers this week since he’s getting most of the work in the Jaguars backfield and is in a good matchup this week. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
Backfields across the NFL continue to be in a state of flux with new injuries every week and some players making their way back to fantasy-relevant roles as they come back from injury or find a new team. These players stepping up can be helpful to fantasy football owners who need a boost this week from some RB sleepers. Whether injury or bye-weeks have left you searching today, check out my top 10 last-minute RB sleepers as you finalize your DFS or season-long lineup for week 6.
Each Sunday, you can find these position-focused last-minute sleepers here on FanSided along with plenty of other posts to help you throught the week. Check out my top 10 last-minute WR sleepers if you’re also hitting the market for receiver help this Sunday
In case you haven’t found been able to use them yet or this is your first visit to our weekly sleeper RBs, FanSided has assembled some great tools to help you get your lineup set for fantasy football each week. You can find all our coverage on the fantasy football hub where you’ll find the top 10 Week 6 matchups to attack for the week as well as full Week 6 rankings. You can also get any specific lineup question answered by checking out the new start/sit tool.
This weekly post is desigend to feature some running backs that I think are coming into the week a little bit underrated. Whether they are mid-range players with a chance to join the elite options this week or players on waiver wires that may be nice plug-and-play options, I think they’ll excel this week based on projected workload and matchup. At the end of the day, I think they’ll be the best RB sleepers in fantasy football week 6.
All these RB sleepers are risky to some degree which is why other owners are passing them up. However, I think they can be used as cheap DFS plays or as plug-and-play options off of many league’s waiver wires. Just one more note of caution–these are RB sleepers, so don’t go crazy and take a flier on one of them over a more established play.
Let’s get going with my five last-minute sleeper running backs week 6 by starting with a running back making his return in a great place to succeed.
Sep 8, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Carolina Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart (28) against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos defeated the Panthers 21-20. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Jonathan Stewart-Carolina Panthers
The Panthers are excited to get Jonathan Stewart back this week as they head to the Big Easy to face the Saints. Stewart has missed the last three weeks with an a hamstring issue, and he comes back at a good time for owners who held on to him through the injury. If you can get Stewart on the waiver wire, he’s a great plug-and-play option today against New Orleans defense which is allowing more fantasy points per game to opposing RB than any other team in the NFL this season.
Stewart only played one healthy game this season running for 64 yards on 15 carries in the season opener against a tough Denver defense. He and Cam Newton both missed last week’s loss which dropped Carolina to 1-4 on the year. Newton and Stewart’s return should help the reigning NFC Champions get things turned back around starting with this week’s game against New Orleans.
The downside with Stewart is always that he doesn’t get many rushing TDs. If the Panthers get the ball close to the end zone, Cam Newton normally ends up running it in. However, with Newton just a week removed from the concussion protocol, Carolina may be more inclined to give that goal line work to Stewart.
Even though they have played one fewer game than most NFL teams, the Saints have allowed more rushing TDs to opposing RBs than any other team in the NFL. They have been destroyed but the Raiders and Falcons on the ground, and Stewart will hope to have similar success this week. If someone in your league gave up on Stewart too early, he’s one of the RB sleepers to target this week based on matchup and fairly low expectations.
Oct 9, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Philadelphia Eagles running back Ryan Mathews (24) runs the ball against Detroit Lions free safety Glover Quin (27) during the fourth quarter at Ford Field. Lions win 24-23. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Mathews-Philadelphia Eagles
In many leagues, Ryan Mathews owners were too quick to move on from the Eagles primary running back after a disastrous Week 3. Week 3 was a great win for the Eagles, but Mathews watched almost the whole game from the sideline while Wendall Smallwood and Kenjon Barner tore up the Steelers. Through the team’s Week 4 bye, some people thought Mathews wouldn’t have a role in the backfield moving forward.
Mathews erased those fears last week, though, as the team came back from the bye with him still as the primary option in the backfield. In the team’s loss to the Lions, Mathews ran 11 times for 42 yards and hauled in all five passes thrown his way for another 33 yards and a touchdown. He continues to split time with Darren Sproles, but seems to have a pretty solid role when healthy.
As far as we know, Mathews is 100% and ready to roll again this week as the Eagles head to Washington. So far this season, Washington is giving up the fourth-most fantasy points in the NFL to opposing RB. Last week was the first week of the season then didn’t give up a rushing TE to the opposing RB. Look for Mathews to be a solid mid-range RB2 this week making him one of the RB sleepers who I think is startable in almost all formats.
Oct 2, 2016; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens running back Terrance West (28) celebrates after scoring a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Oakland Raiders at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
Terrance West-Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens are 3-2 after dropping two straight and will take on the Giants this week after switching out Offensive Coordinator’s this week. Marc Trestman is out after a couple bad weeks, and the offense will now take its cues from Mary Mornhinweg. One of the problems with Trestman’s offense was he didn’t seem completely committed to the run.
Mornhinweg should change some of that which gives Terrance West lots of upside this week against the Giants. West has been exceptional the last two weeks since taking over for the released Justin Forsett. West dominated the Raiders in Week 4 with 113 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries, but inexplicably only got 11 carries against Washington last week. He totaled 95 yards on those 11 carries, but didn’t get consistent work.
The Giants aren’t a great matchup for West this week, and Kenneth Dixon will likely continue to ramp up to a bigger role in the backfield. However, West is still one of the better RB sleepers this week and can be used as an RB2 in a game where I think the Ravens will get their offense back on track and put together some solid numbers.
Oct 2, 2016; London, ENG; Jacksonville Jaguars running back T.J. Yeldon (24) works around Indianapolis Colts defensive back Rashaan Melvin (30) during the third quarter of the game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Indianapolis Colts at Wembley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports
T.J. Yeldon-Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars spent a lot of money to bring in Chris Ivory to help supplement their second-year back out of Alabama. However, Yeldon has been stepping up and producing which has led to him getting most of the work int he Jacksonville backfield. As the Jags return from their bye week, Yeldon is a little under-rated in a good matchup against the Bears.
Before the bye, Yeldon played 75% of the team’s snaps in London as they knocked off the Colts. He had a season-high 71 yards rushing on his 14 carries and chipped in 46 more yards on four catches. Yeldon is averaging over four yards per carry this season compared to just 2.1 for Ivory, so expect him to cntinue to be the primary back.
The one area where Yeldon could lose carries to Ivory is near the goal line which does put a cap on his ceiling. See how that situation breaks down over the next few weeks, but Yeldon is definitely a starting option this week as the Jags face Chicago. He’s one of the RB sleepers who makes sense to get into your lineup this week even though he is a “fringe” option most of the time.
The Bears defense has been better against the run the last two weeks, but much of that is due to opponent. They held the Lions and Colts in check, but they struggled earlier in the season against Lamar Miller and Ezekiel Elliott. The lanes should be there for Yeldon this week as he tries to post his second straight game with over 100 yards rushing and receiving.
Jun 14, 2016; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens running back Justin Forsett (29) runs across the field during the first day of minicamp sessions at Under Armour Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Justin Forsett-Detroit Lions
The Lions signed former-Ravens running back Justin Forsett earlier this week, and he looks like he got to the Motor City just in time. The Lions’ backfield has been wiped out by injury. Ameer Abdullah is already on IR and Theo Riddick and Dwayne Washington have also been ruled out of the week.
While he’s playing in a new system, Forsett looks likely get all the work he could handle on all downs. There is one other option the Lions will mix in, but Zach Zenner (more on him later) is a flier who hasn’t ever contributed at the NFL level outside of preseason.
The Lions are at home against the banged-up Rams defense this week. Last week, the Rams allowed over 150 yards and a rushing touchdown to LeSean McCoy and the Bills’ running backs. While it’s unrealistic to expect Forsett to be as effective as McCoy, he is one of the deeper RB sleepers with the highest upside since he should get most of the workload.
Forsett has had a turbulent season after entering camp as the presumed starter, getting cut by Baltimore, being re-signed before Week 1, getting cut again after two weeks, and ultimately ending up in Detroit. He didn’t generate much when he was active with the Ravens finishing with just 98 yards on his 31 carries (3.2 YPC) and 36 more yards on 11 catches. However, he steps into a great opportunity in the Detroit backfield against LA today making him one the most attractive of all the RB sleepers who may be on your waiver wire.
Oct 2, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman (25) tackles New York Jets running back Bilal Powell (29) in the first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports
Bilal Powell-New York Jets
The Jets continue to deploy a running back rotation featuring both Matt Forte and Bilal Powell. Lately, it has been Powell who has looked the more effective of the two backs. If Powell is still available in your league, he’s a great option off the waiver wire as he moves toward a 50-50 split with Forte. As long as Forte is there, Powell won’t be reliable enough to start on a weekly basis, but he’s one of the better RB sleepers to plug in on a temporary basis.
In Week 5, Powell ended up with 27 snaps compared to 37 for Forte. He ran the ball just four times for ten yards, but he hauled in six passes for 41 yards. Powell hasn’t gotten all the fantasy football buzz he deserves since he hasn’t gotten into the end zone, but he has caught exactly six passes for at least 40 yards in three straight weeks. He is averaging 6.4 yards per carry as well, and is looking effective in the time he gets.
Especially in PPR leagues, Powell is a great add, but he does have tough matchups the next two weeks against the Cardinals and Ravens. Powell faces Arizona on Monday Night Football, and he could have a busy game if New York again ends up playing from behind. He could pass Forte in the timeshare later in the season, but until there’s an injury it’s hard to predict exactly how the situation will play out. He definitely is making the most of his touches and getting enough of them to be one of the RB sleepers to consider if he’s on the waiver wire in your league.
Oct 2, 2016; Baltimore, MD, USA; Oakland Raiders running back DeAndre Washington (33) runs with the ball in the second quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
DeAndre Washington-Oakland Raiders
The Raiders are one of the teams who enter the week without their starting workhorse back. For the second week in a row, Latavius Murray is sidelined with a bad case of turf toe. He was unable to practice all week, and the decision was made to give him Sunday off. The Raiders will again turn to a dynamic pair of rookies as they look to improve to 5-1 which would give them sole possession of first place in the AFC West.
When Murray was out last week, rookie DeAndre Washington out of Texas Tech got the start and carried the ball nine times for 23 yards and hauled in five passes for 29 more yards. He was out-produced by fellow-rookie Jalen Richard (more on him on the next slide), but Washington continued to get carries throughout the game as he should once again on Sunday.
Washington and Richard actually have a pretty good matchup as they take on the Chiefs who are allowing the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing RBs so far this season. Le’Veon Bell had a huge game against KC just before they took their bye week last week, so there should be lanes for Washington to attack. The only limiting factor on his value as one of our RB sleepers this week is that he willl once again be part of a committee instead of handling all the work himself like Forsett could end up doing.
Oct 9, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders running back Jalen Richard (30) before the start of the game against the San Diego Chargers at Oakland Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
Jalen Richard-Oakland Raiders
While he got about the same amount of touches as starter DeAndre Washington, rookie Jalen Richard was the more productive of the two backs last week. The tandem will again fill in for Latavius Murray this week against the Chiefs making Richard another one of the RB sleepers you can look to if you’re in a pinch today.
Last week, he totaled 97 yards with 31 yards on eight carries and six catches for 66 yards. In PPR leagues, I’d give him a slight edge over Washington, but the backs seemed to rotate based on series more than specific situations.
Richard and Washington both have upside, but their ceiling is limited since they share time and give up goal line work to Jamize Olawale. Richard looked slightly more effective in the passing game, and there should be plenty of passing situations as the Raiders tangle with the Chiefs this afternoon.
Oct 9, 2016; Green Bay, WI, USA; New York Giants running back Bobby Rainey (43) rushes with the football during the third quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Green Bay won 23-16. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Bobby Rainey-New York Giants
The Giants are expected to get Rashad Jennings back this week, and he’ll slide back in as the team’s primary running back in a tough matchup against the Ravens. The matchup isn’t a great one, and coach Ben McAdoo will probably still use a rotation against one of the best run defenses in the league.
Since Shane Vereen is still out for the season, Bobby Rainey should continue to get playing time even if Jennings does return as expected. Last week on Sunday Night Football, Rainey led the Giants is snaps in the backfield playing 21 downs while Orleans Darkwa was a distant second with 14. Rainey ended up with 22 yards on his five carries, but he again proved to be an able receiver out of the backfield posting 52 more yards on his six catches. In the last two weeks, Rainey has 95 receiving yards.
If you are in a PPR league, Rainey is definitely worth a roster stash as we go through the bye-week season, but it’s tricky to say what his role will be moving forward. He likely will at least be the team’s receiving-down option this week and should get enough work to be one of the RB sleepers you can start in PPR formats.
Oct 9, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions fullback Zach Zenner (34) runs the ball during the first half of a game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Zenner-Detroit Lions
Since the Lions won’t have any of their top three options at running back from the start of the season, the fourth RB in line in Detroit makes an interesting flier pick this week. The Lions have brought in Justin Forsett since the beginning of the year, so Zenner won’t have the backfield to himself, but he’s the only Lions’ running back that has been with the team over a week.
Last week, Zenner was involved a little bit as the primary backup behind Theo Riddick. He ended up with seven carries for only nine yards and added 23 yards on two catches. Zenner has some potential and will get a decent amount of touches although he hasn’t shown he can be a productive option even when he gets the work.
If any of the other options on this list are available, I’d take them over Zenner, but he will get some work against the banged up Rams defense. He’s one of the riskiest RB sleepers to roll with this week, but he will get enough opportunities that he could potentially pay off.