Justin Forsett– Forsett had a break out year last season with the Ravens. With the dismissal of Ray Rice from the team, Forsett stepped up in his absence and had a Pro Bowl season. In standard scoring leagues he finished 8th out of all running backs. He will be the starting running back for the Ravens again and will be heavily relied on to carry the load. So how could this guy possibly be a sleeper? Forsett is currently projected as a middle tier RB2 by most rankings. People tend to think last year could have been a fluke. He does not have a body of your typical NFL running back, and they lost their offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak to the Broncos this past offseason. However, Forsett will be running behind a great offensive line in a familiar zone blocking scheme, which he excels in running in. He averaged over 5.3 yards per carry last season and actually should be in for a bigger year this season with former Bears head coach Mark Trestman replacing Kubiak as offensive coordinator. Trestman did not have great success as the coach of the Bears, but he is a great offensive mind and loves to get the running back involved in the passing game. Forsett only had 44 receptions for 263 last year compared to Matt Forte of the Bears, who had 102 receptions for 808 yards. Forte has had career years under Trestman and expect the same kind of results for Forsett this season. He will be a RB1 this fantasy season and should be taken in the first 3 rounds of the draft.
Todd Gurley– Many Atlanta fans should be familiar with former Georgia running back Todd Gurley. Yes, Gurley is coming off an ACL injury and will have to become accustomed to the speed of the NFL without a lot of reps, however, this man is a superstar. He would have gone in the top 5 in the NFL Draft had he not been injured, and there is nobody on the Rams’ running back depth chart with the talent this guy has. By the time fantasy playoffs come around, he will be star and a guy you want on your team.
Joique Bell- Bells seems to be a guy that goes under the radar in fantasy every year. The Lions drafted running back Ameer Abdullah out of Nebraska, but Bell is no stranger to some running back competition. Last season, he battled for the starting job with Reggie Bush and eventually became the feature back in the Lions offense. With the struggles of the Lions usually pass-happy offense, look for them to put the ball on the ground more and try to become a more balanced offense. Bell finished 14th out of all the running backs in standard scoring in 2014 and should be in for a similar year this fantasy season. He will never be a star in the NFL, but in he is a great value pick later the draft that could sneak up to the RB1-tier over the course of an entire season.
Ryan Mathews– This is one that could completely bite me in the butt, however, there is some logic here. Mathews has always been disappointing in the past for fantasy owners. So much so, that he almost can no longer disappoint… it is almost expected. He will be backing up Demarco Murray in Philadelphia this season. Murray is coming off a career year in Dallas and will be looking to put up the same type of jaw-dropping stats with the Eagles. When healthy, Murray is a star, but last season was the first time Murray ever stayed remotely healthy for a full season. It is very likely Murray will miss time over the season, and if he does, in steps a healthy Ryan Mathews. Mathews has undeniable talent and should be a starter in the NFL. If he gets some starter reps in the Eagles explosive offense, his fantasy value is way higher than it is now. He is a great late-round draft pick, but do not get too excited because after all it is Ryan Mathews.
Tevin Coleman– When it is all said and done, I expect Tevin Coleman to be the starting running back for the Falcons for the majority of the season. Devonta Freeman did show some potential last season, but Coleman was unbelievable in college at Indiana and has experience running in the Zone Blocking Scheme. He is a home-run threat every time he touches the ball, and in a fantasy sleeper, that is about all you can ask for. Expect for Coleman to put up big numbers in his rookie year as a Falcons, and possibly be a very solid RB2 this upcoming season.