U.S. Markets close in 4 hrs 29 mins

Yahoo's 2018 Fantasy Football Sleepers: Running Backs

For a sizable chunk of 2017, New England’s Rex Burkhead was more than just FLEXY SEXY in .5 PPR leagues. More of the same is on tap in the follow up. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

“Sleeper” is a complicated and often misused word spout ceaselessly in fantasy. Anyone who tells you Rashaad Penny qualifies is a run-of-the-mill Captain Obvious who deserves decisive ridicule. For this exercise, we’re focused on UNDERVALUED options available outside the overall top-75, according to ADP.

Andy: Giovani Bernard, CIN (132.8 ADP, RB50). OK, maybe Gio is too established and well understood to fit anyone’s definition of a sleeper. But his draft price is absurd, relative to various other running backs who figure to catch 50-plus passes and receive 100-120 carries. Bernard was a much more efficient runner than Joe Mixon last season (4.4 YPC vs. 3.5) and he remains a key committee member in Cincinnati. We’re treating Mixon as if he’s an every-down, all-situation running back, yet Bernard is still in the team picture. If Mixon again struggles behind a suspect O-line, Gio could see an uptick in touches. In any sort of PPR format, Bernard has a decent weekly floor. 

Brad: REX BURKHEAD, NE (80.6 ADP, RB34). Check, baby, check. Rex ‘n effect is about to shake investor rumps. Yes, the buzz surrounding Sony Michel has already shattered eardrums throughout Fantasyland. I greatly respect the rookie’s skill set, but it seems unlikely OC Josh McDaniels will take a sharp, sudden turn in his backfield philosophy. It will almost certainly remain a timeshare featuring Burkhead, Michel, James White and whoever lands a roster spot between dead weights Jeremy Hill and Mike Gillislee. Best guess: Michel heads up the committee totaling close to 15 touches per game with Burkhead chipping in roughly 11-14 grips. Most importantly, if the youngster’s fumbling issues persist, which for a time were problematic during his days at Georgia, many of Burkhead’s projected touches will come inside the red zone. Juicy.

When gifted a similar workload last season, Burkhead proved quite valuable. From Weeks 8-14, he crossed the chalk seven times and averaged 68.2 total yards per game, good for the 11th-best output in .5 PPR. Equally impressive, he ranked RB7 in yards per touch (5.5), RB12 in fantasy points per opportunity and RB4 in catch percentage. Bottom line, slotting somewhere inside the RB top-24 is easily repeatable for my hair-challenged hombre.

It’s assumed Michel outperforms him, but not by enough to warrant a 40-pick difference in ADP. Burkhead, a bargain in the middle rounds, is one of the finest RB3/RB4 targets in re-drafts.

Dalton: AARON JONES (87.41 ADP, RB37). He’s currently dealing with a hamstring injury and opens the season with a two-game suspension. But Jamaal Williams got just 3.6 YPC last season compared to Jones’ 5.5, and while the plan is for Ty Montgomery taking over passing down work, he hasn’t been able to stay healthy playing the position. There’s hardly any guarantee Mike McCarthy makes the right decision, but Jones is clearly the best running back on Green Bay’s roster, and a featured role in what should be among the league’s top offenses with Aaron Rodgers back brings massive upside. The Packers’ defense should also be much-improved, and their offensive line projects as one of the league’s better units, so this situation is ideal (although newcomer Jimmy Graham could steal some short touchdowns).

Jones’ 6.1 YPC against base fronts last year ranked second in the NFL, as did his breakaway run rate (7.5%). He still needs work in the passing game, both as a receiver and blocker, although he added bulk to his lower body during the offseason in hopes of improving in pass protection. Jones looks like a potentially elite talent in an offense that’s going to score a bunch of points with thoroughly mediocre competition at RB, and yet he remains cheap at draft tables thanks to the suspension (weeks in which Williams will face a couple of tough run defenses against Minnesota and Chicago). Jones could be a true difference maker in 2018 fantasy leagues, and it wouldn’t surprise if he cost something like a second round pick next year.

[Yahoo Fantasy Football leagues are open: Sign up now for free!]

Scott: ISAIAH CROWELL (96 ADP, RB41). I can understand why the crowd might be cool on Crowell. He was in Cleveland for four years, the NFL’s Siberia. The Jets aren’t expected to be a 2018 contender, either, and that could mean messy game scripts. And Crowell is already into his fifth pro season, and backs don’t have the longest of shelf lives.

Ah, but the price is cheap. And Crowell wasn’t exactly run into the ground in Cleveland (737 carries in four years), so the tires have tread left. He’s a handier receiver than some realize, with 68 catches the last two years. And while Bilal Powell will certainly have some role in the New York backfield, Elijah McGuire recently had a setback (busted foot) in camp. The Jets might have one of the tidiest backfield depth charts when the season opens.

No, Crowell isn’t a sexy, home-run, yell-it-from-the-rooftops pick. But we need some boring value plays, too. He qualifies there. Somehow he managed 4.5 YPC the last two years, in the Cleveland chaos, and ranked as high as RB14 in 2016. He’s mildly underrated as draft season heads to August.

Liz: C.J. ANDERSON, CAR (92.7 ADP, RB39). Not the flashiest choice, but a solid one.

Coming off of a 1,000-yard season, Anderson has plenty left in the tank. Last year, the 27-year-old ripped off nine breakaway runs (#13) and managed a top-thirteen juke rate (28.6%). That number figures to increase, as he’ll be trading up from Trevor Siemian/Brock Osweiler/Paxton Lynch to the ultra-mobile Cam Newton, which should open up holes and provide the Cal product with extra running room.

Replacing Jonathan Stewart, Anderson is likely to average upwards of 13 totes per contest. Assuming he stays healthy (which is distinctly possible given a reduced workload) and that he’s slightly more efficient than Stewart was in his age 30-season, I’d expect Anderson to close out 2018 in the RB25-RB30 range. That’s quite a bargain considering his late eighth-round draft price.

Follow the Yahoo fantasy football crew on Twitter: Andy Behrens, Dalton Del Don, Brad Evans, Matt Harmon, Liz Loza, Scott Pianowski and Tank Williams

More sleepers from Yahoo Fantasy Sports

Quarterbacks | Running backs | Receivers | Tight ends | One steal from all 32 teams

More from Yahoo Fantasy Sports

  • Business
    TheStreet.com

    Will the Market Care About Microsoft's Upcoming Quarterly Numbers?

    Overall market action is quite weak again with breadth running around 2050 gainers to 4400 decliners. There are over 150 new 12-month lows to less than 20 new highs. What is most interesting about the action is why the vast major of big cap names are

  • Business
    CNBC

    Goldman Sachs sees a correction coming for chipmakers but still likes Nvidia

    "We foresee a cyclical correction approaching and recommend investors to stay selective in Semis," Goldman Sachs said in a note Thursday. Nvidia is Goldman's top choice in the industry. Goldman Sachs warned clients about a downturn coming for the semiconductor sector, but still recommends some chip stocks.

  • Jamal Khashoggi's death may end an era of Bay Area tech investment
    Finance
    American City Business Journals

    Jamal Khashoggi's death may end an era of Bay Area tech investment

    New details have emerged about the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents — involving his beheading and dismemberment upon entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey — thanks to audio files described by Turkish officials. As evidence mounts of the Washington Post columnist’s gruesome death tied to Saudi Arabia, Bay Area tech companies, which have gobbled up billions in funding from the kingdom in recent years, could see that money river dry up as Saudi investment becomes increasingly toxic. A week after Khashoggi’s disappearance, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman still vehemently denies any involvement from Saudi Arabia, as does President Donald Trump.

  • The ‘smart money’ says it’s time to buy the Chinese internet giants and the U.S. FAANGs
    News
    MarketWatch

    The ‘smart money’ says it’s time to buy the Chinese internet giants and the U.S. FAANGs

    When the media and investors turn negative on stocks but the “smart money” is bullish, it’s a good time to think about buying. After all, exactly what is the smart money, and how do you know? Lately, several fund managers who pass this test have been pounding the table on Chinese internet names.

  • Kinder Morgan Beats Q3 Earnings Estimates, Improves Leverage
    Finance
    Market Realist

    Kinder Morgan Beats Q3 Earnings Estimates, Improves Leverage

    Kinder Morgan Beats Q3 Earnings Estimates, Improves Leverage Kinder Morgan’s third-quarter results Kinder Morgan (KMI) announced its third-quarter results on October 17 after the markets closed. The company announced an adjusted EPS of $0.21—up ~40%

  • Finance
    Associated Press

    Philip Morris: 3Q Earnings Snapshot

    NEW YORK (AP) -- Philip Morris International Inc. (PM) on Thursday reported third-quarter net income of $2.25 billion. On a per-share basis, the New York-based company said it had profit of $1.44.

  • Aurora Cannabis Gets License for Aurora Sky Facility
    Finance
    Market Realist

    Aurora Cannabis Gets License for Aurora Sky Facility

    Key Updates from the Cannabis Sector after Legalization in Canada (Continued from Prior Part) Aurora Sky license On October 17, Aurora Cannabis (ACB) (ACBFF) announced that it received sales licenses from Health Canada. Aurora Cannabis stated that with

  • Cramer: Buy FAANG now
    NFLX
    CNBC Videos

    Cramer: Buy FAANG now

    CNBC's 'Squawk on the Street' team discusses why Jim Cramer is bullish on FAANG stocks.

  • Nokia in Q3 2018: Why Analysts Are Estimating Lower
    Finance
    Market Realist

    Nokia in Q3 2018: Why Analysts Are Estimating Lower

    Nokia (NOK) is expected to announce its third-quarter earnings on October 25. Analysts expect revenue of $6.4 billion compared to $6.46 billion in Q3 2017, indicating a year-over-year decline of 1%. Revenues for Ericsson (ERIC) and Juniper Networks (JNPR) are expected to fall 4.2% and 6.5%, respectively, in their current quarters.

  • How the Recent Sell-Off Impacted AT&T’s Technical Indicators
    Finance
    Market Realist

    How the Recent Sell-Off Impacted AT&T’s Technical Indicators

    What Investors Should Know about AT&T’s Growth Prospects (Continued from Prior Part) AT&T’s moving averages Now let’s look at AT&T’s (T) technical indicators and compare them to its peers in the telecom space. The sell-off of AT&T stock in October saw

  • Bears in for a Tough Ride after Alcoa’s Third-Quarter Earnings
    Finance
    Market Realist

    Bears in for a Tough Ride after Alcoa’s Third-Quarter Earnings

    Alcoa (AA), the leading US-based aluminum producer, released its Q3 2018 earnings yesterday, October 17, after the close of markets (XME). Alcoa’s Q3 earnings were better-than-expected, and the stock was trading sharply higher in after-market trading yesterday. Alcoa reported revenues of $3.39 billion in the third quarter.

  • 'It's Not a Republican Problem.' Mitch McConnell Blames Entitlements for Rising U.S. Deficits
    Politics
    Fortune

    'It's Not a Republican Problem.' Mitch McConnell Blames Entitlements for Rising U.S. Deficits

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday blamed rising federal deficits and debt on a bipartisan unwillingness to contain spending on Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, and said he sees little chance of a major deficit reduction deal while Republicans control Congress and the White House. “It’s disappointing but it’s not a Republican problem,” McConnell said in an interview with Bloomberg News when asked about the rising deficits and debt.

  • Why American Airlines Group Stock Jumped 6% -- Then Gave Most of It Back
    Business
    Motley Fool

    Why American Airlines Group Stock Jumped 6% -- Then Gave Most of It Back

    Shares of American Airlines Group (NASDAQ: AAL) popped 6.4% in early trading Wednesday before retracting to close the day up less than 1% -- just 0.9%, to be precise. An upgrade assigned to the stock by Deutsche Bank appears to be the primary reason for the move. A Deutsche Bank analyst upgraded American Airlines stock from "hold" to "buy" on Wednesday, as we're told by our friends at StreetInsider.com.

  • MoviePass parent under investigation by New York attorney general
    Finance
    American City Business Journals

    MoviePass parent under investigation by New York attorney general

    The New York attorney general has opened an investigation into Helios and Matheson Analytics Inc., the parent company of MoviePass Inc. At issue is whether the majority owner of the movie subscription service misled investors about its financials. Attorney General Barbara Underwood is leveraging New York’s anti-fraud law the Martin Act for the investigation, which is in its early stages. The stock has been trading at around 2 cents for a couple of months now as the company struggles to convince investors that MoviePass’ business model works.

  • Blackstone third-quarter profit beats estimates amid market rise
    Business
    Reuters

    Blackstone third-quarter profit beats estimates amid market rise

    By Joshua Franklin NEW YORK (Reuters) - Blackstone Group LP (BX.N), the world's largest manager of alternative assets, modestly exceeded analyst expectations with an 11 percent jump in third-quarter earnings on Thursday, as climbing equity

  • A former GE exec who trained new managers found that almost all of them were making the same mistake
    Business
    Business Insider

    A former GE exec who trained new managers found that almost all of them were making the same mistake

    Beth Comstock is the former vice chair of General Electric. Comstock would hand out "permission slips" authorizing employees to take risks — but she also said it's important for people to stop hiding behind their excuses. Beth Comstock doesn't tolerate excuses.

  • Employee Accused of Urinating on Production Line at Food Processing Facility
    Business
    WTKR - Norfolk

    Employee Accused of Urinating on Production Line at Food Processing Facility

    Smithfield Foods, Inc. said in a statement Tuesday that it disposed of more than 50,000 pounds of product after reports of an employee urinating at his station at the company’s processing facility in Virginia.

  • Why Winnebago Stock Surged 17% -- Then Gave Most of It Back
    Business
    Motley Fool

    Why Winnebago Stock Surged 17% -- Then Gave Most of It Back

    Shares of RV-maker Winnebago Industries (NYSE: WGO) leapt 17.6% in early trading after the company reported earnings Wednesday, before retreating to a more recent price up just 5% from yesterday's close. For its fiscal fourth quarter of 2018, Winnebago reported $0.94 per share in earnings, exceeding expectations for $0.86, on sales of $536.2 million. Motorhome sales slowed, but towables were a bright spot for Winnebago in Q4.

  • Why MannKind Corp. Soared 16.4% Tuesday
    Business
    Motley Fool

    Why MannKind Corp. Soared 16.4% Tuesday

    After MannKind Corp. (NASDAQ: MNKD) announced that it closed on its planned collaboration agreement with United Therapeutics (NASDAQ: UTHR), its shares rallied 16.4% on Tuesday. MannKind only has one Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved drug to its name, Afrezza, an inhalable insulin. Afrezza was launched in 2015 and sales have been far shy of optimistic pre-launch forecasts.

  • Don't Fall Into These 2 Yield Traps: This Stock Is a Better Buy
    Business
    Motley Fool

    Don't Fall Into These 2 Yield Traps: This Stock Is a Better Buy

    For example, USA Compression Partners LP (NYSE: USAC) and CSI Compressco LP (NASDAQ: CCLP) offer investors yields of 12% and 13%, respectively, but they provide a niche service, and results can be volatile. Leverage can be great when things are going well, but can cause problems when times are tough.

  • Business
    Barrons.com

    The Black Hole Inside General Electric

    RBC Capital Markets, Wolfe Research, and (BCS) all upgraded the shares this month after Larry Culp was named to replace John Flannery at the helm. Today, the Financial Times reported that GE Power was going to win a contract in Iraq over rival (SIE) (SIEGY). Wolfe analyst Nigel Coe wrote that could help turn investor sentiment on GE, noting that the struggles in GE Power are what drives most of the negative feelings toward the stock.

  • Intel restructures manufacturing organization
    Finance
    American City Business Journals

    Intel restructures manufacturing organization

    Chip giant Intel is restructuring its technology and manufacturing business group as it chases more connected device markets and grapples with delays on its next chip generation. In a memo to employees, reviewed by the Business Journal, Group President and Chief Engineering Officer Murthy Renduchintala described splitting the technology and manufacturing business into three groups. The three new groups are technology development, manufacturing and operations and global supply chain.

  • Pfizer Offers Early Retirement to U.S. Employees Ahead of Layoffs
    Business
    Fortune

    Pfizer Offers Early Retirement to U.S. Employees Ahead of Layoffs

    Pfizer is offering U.S. employees early retirement ahead of company cuts that will hit around 2% of its 90,000 workers worldwide, CNBC reports. In an internal message to employees Tuesday, the company said the layoffs are a part of restructuring that aims to “simplify the organization to avoid duplication, create single points of accountability and reduce the number of layers within teams,” the New York Business Journal reports. “As we prepare for growth we are creating a simpler more efficient structure which will affect some managerial roles and responsibilities,” a Pfizer spokeswoman told CBNC.

  • The Khashoggi disappearance hangs heavily over a $2 trillion deal that the London Stock Exchange is hoping to close (LSE)
    World
    Business Insider

    The Khashoggi disappearance hangs heavily over a $2 trillion deal that the London Stock Exchange is hoping to close (LSE)

    The CEO of the London Stock Exchange has been courting the Saudi Kingdom to lure the IPO of Saudi Aramco, the country's state-run oil company. Unfortunately, London really needs a deal of that size to shore up its post-Brexit reputation. The Saudis say they want to place their IPO in 2020 or early 2021.

  • Alipay Hacking Comes at Sensitive Moment for Alibaba
    Finance
    Market Realist

    Alipay Hacking Comes at Sensitive Moment for Alibaba

    Hackers broke into the accounts of Alipay users and made off with an unknown amount of cash, according to Bloomberg. The hackers used stolen Apple identities to carry out the theft. Tencent (TCEHY) also reported theft of funds from its mobile payment app WePay, also called WeChat Pay, where stolen Apple identities were involved.