The very nature of the way running back is drafted in fantasy football, and the limited opportunities for the position make this the hardest piece of writing weekly, and also the one most prone to whiffing. Running backs owned in fewer than 40% of leagues are mostly not worth using, as any RB worth his salt has been snatched up and placed at the end of a bench… just in case. All this hedging means that I am less than confident in these streaming candidates, and once you see them, you’ll agree. Usually, the deep dive is backs owned in fewer than 10% of leagues, but that list is incredibly bleak this week.
Darren Sproles at Chicago (39% owned)
Sproles did not have an all-that-productive week one, but the stats around his final box score are what make him intriguing this week in a plus matchup. First, he out-snapped Ryan Mathews (38 to 37), which technically makes this a committee, but Mathews out-carried Sproles (22 to 7), so if you look at the carry numbers, it doesn’t look like one. This week they take on the Chicago Bears who allowed the tenth-most points to running backs last year. They also gave up a ton of points to committee backs, with Jerrick McKinnon, Charles Sims, Matt Jones,Alf Morris, CJ Anderson and James Starks all getting at least eight fantasy points against them over the second half of the season. With the split workload, it’s worth a shot.
Terrance West at Cleveland (26% owned)
The theme this week is the less-owned half of committees. Let’s be clear, by all indications the long play is injured, Kenneth Dixon. But the second most awakened back this preseason behind the caffeine-induced levels of wokeness from Christine Michael. He split snaps and carries with Justin Forsett last week, with rumors that West would be the red zone and goal-line back (if they ever got that close). Available in basically three out of four leagues and taking on the hapless Browns, West should get his goal-line shot this weekend. He’s a dark horse for double-digit fantasy points if he does.
Shane Vereen versus New Orleans (16% owned… I cheated, work with me here)
The third part of the “lesser owned half of committees” isn’t a committee. Vereen’s role as the passing-downs back to spell Rashad Jennings might find him on the field more often this weekend against New Orleans. While Jennings got the bulk of the carries, Vereen had a much higher YPC (4.2 to 6.3) and had only seventeen fewer yards than Jennings last week on ten fewer touches.
Vereen showed that he still has the receiver back skills that once made him a fantasy commodity in New England. He’s a complete desperation move, but if you’re looking in the deep dive section, you’re desperate. He’s worth a shot in a shootout, maybe just on a GPP lineups in DFS if nothing else.