Fantasy - Thu 02/09/2010 - 17:11 EDT

2010 Fantasy Football Top 5 Sleeper Picks – Running Backs

No position in fantasy football creates a bigger challenge when searching for sleeper picks than the running back position. Star NFL running backs are discovered way before they reach the big show and shrewd fantasy owners track them during their college playing days.

Finding sleeper gold at the RB position is almost as tough as finding real gold. That doesn’t mean they are not out there;  you just have to work a lot harder to find them.

Sleeper Running Backs – Dig Deep & Reap The Rewards

The 2009 NFL season had an unusually high number of returning running backs that saw major increases in their fantasy point totals. Six running backs came in with over 100 FP more in 2009 than they produced in 2008. Some of them were stars waiting to happen, some of them were coming back from injury and some of them were sleeper picks.

Of the six, Kansas City Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles was the only one who could be classified as a true sleeper. Charles was in a tough spot in KC. He didn’t have an offensive line, he was coming back from an ankle injury, he had a new Head Coach and he was trying to push an aging Larry Johnson out of a job.

In spite of all of that, Charles posted 232 FP in 2009 compared to just 96 points during the 2008 fantasy season. That point total pushed Charles into the top ten at the running back position last season. By definition, he was a true sleeper in every sense of the word.

Top Fantasy Sleeper Picks – 2010 Running Backs

Donald Brown – Colts: After seeing limited reps in 2009 and producing just 74 points, Brown could be poised for a big year. The Colts are always shrewd operators at the NFL Draft and they selected Brown in the first round with the 27th pick in 2009. They expect their top draft picks to produce and they do so way more than they don’t. Indianapolis is growing tired of RB Joseph Addai and even though he posted a decent 250 FP in 2009, his days as the number one option in Indy are numbered.

Michael Bush – Raiders: The Raiders selected RB Darren McFadden 4th overall with their first pick in the 2008 NFL Draft and he has been a bust since day one. Injuries and playing for the Raiders have had an impact on “McFade” but a bust is a bust. With his size, speed and talent Bush has a chance to grab the reigns and run with them in Oakland this season. We think he will.

Arian Foster – Texans: This is another classic example of checking how a player finished the previous season. The Texans were horrific running the ball in 2009 but saw a ray of hope in Foster over the last four weeks of the season. In that span Foster racked up 61 FP and was the Texans number one back. He will fight for touches in 2010 but grabbing Foster as a reserve would be a good investment.

It’s not really proper to classify a player who went from a stud to a dud as a sleeper for the next season but both the Falcons Michael Turner and the Bears Matt Forte could be somewhat under valued on Draft Day. Both of them suffered huge drops in their numbers for various reasons during the 2009 season. Those reasons seem to be behind both players so they should have good value on Draft Day.

Sleeper running backs are very rare so seek them out and select them later in your draft to bolster your overall depth and to cover bye weeks.

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