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Backup running backs to target late in fantasy drafts

The running back position is always a tough one to sort out. We rank out backup running backs with ADP and tiers to figure out some interesting sleepers.

New England Patriots running back Rhamondre Stevenson (38) celebrates his touchdown with teammates during the second half against the New England Patriots at MetLife Stadium.  Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The running back position is one of the most consistent to fall to injuries throughout any NFL season. And now we have an extra game, taking us to 17 total. A starting running back who touches the ball over 20 times a game is going to have trouble staying on the field for 17 games. That means we need to be prepared for injuries and give extra weight to those running backs poised to see big workloads if the starter goes down.

We’ll take a look at some of the best and brightest running backs who you can grab late in fantasy drafts this weekend or at least be prepared to grab off the waiver wire when a roster spot opens on your team. For this exercise we’ll focus on PPR leagues and backs that can be drafted in the ninth-round or later.

We’ll use the aggregated ADP provided by FantasyPros.

Tier 1

Sony Michel, Rams, RB42, Overall 127

Michel is a question mark, which has kept his ADP low enough to still have value. The Rams haven’t shown a real interest in giving Henderson a big workload and likely want to spread out touches to save both of their backs. I still like Henderson to lead the backfield, but there is a chance Michel takes over and this offense should be better with Matthew Stafford at the helm.

Rhamondre Stevenson, Patriots, RB 51, Overall 173

Stevenson got a nice boost with the Patriots trading Michel to the Rams, but he also got a boost when they let Cam Newton go and went with Mac Jones at quarterback. Newton was by far their most used goal line rusher last season and with him gone it opens up opportunities for starter Damien Harris and the backup Stevenson. Stevenson scored five touchdowns in preseason and there is a real chance he’ll be used around the goal line.

Tony Pollard, Cowboys, RB 43, Overall 129

Pollard has shown he’s a competent backup with upside. Elliott is the lead back to be sure, but Pollard would likely become a RB1 in his own right if Elliott misses time. With Dak Prescott back and the receiver group stacked, Pollard would be in line for positive touches more often than not.

Alexander Mattison, Vikings, RB47, Overall 152

Mattison is all but guaranteed a big workload if Cook misses time. And in the Vikings offense, that usually means fantasy production. They let Mike Boone go this offseason, which helps Mattison secure those touches even more than before.

Darrel Williams, Chiefs, RB61, Overall 210

Williams is set to be a big part of the Chiefs offense. I really like Clyde Edwards-Helaire in PPR leagues, but Williams could easily get a nice chunk of early down attempts along with work at the goal line. And if CEH gets injured, he’d be in line for a big workload.

Tier 2

Tevin Coleman, Jets, RB53, Overall 187

Coleman is slated to be the starting running back for the Jets. That doesn’t mean he isn’t risky in a backfield that looks like it has three backs who will get touches and a rookie who can gain touches, but his ADP makes up for that risk.

Ty’son Williams, Ravens, RB70, Overall 260

Williams has looked great in preseason and is slated to start the year as the Ravens RB2 behind starter Gus Edwards. Justice Hill is still in the picture, but has been injured, but I believe Williams has won himself the opportunity to roll with the job and see if he can hold onto it.

Boston Scott, Eagles, RB66, Overall 241

Miles Sanders is the lead back, but Scott is set to see a big heaping spoonful of touches alongside him. Sanders can catch the ball, but Scott is a better receiver and will be a useful PPR back this season.

Tony Jones Jr., Saints, RB69, Overall 247

Jones Jr. played ahead of Latavius Murray this preseason and is more versatile. That doesn’t mean he’ll be the exclusive backup to Alvin Kamara, but there is a real chance that he can win and keep that job. If he does, his ADP is a steal.

Tier 3

Jaret Patterson, Washington, RB83, Overall 351

Patterson was awesome this preseason and has the ability to contribute if given a chance. At this point he’s likely to see little action with Antonio Gibson and J.D. McKissic ahead of him, but if he gets a shot, he’ll be worth picking up.

Kylin Hill, Packers, RB92, Overall 341

Hill won the No. 3 running back job in Green Bay, which is an offense I’d like a piece of. His road to touches is tough, but with A.J. Dillon ahead of him, Hill would see passing down work if Aaron Jones were to miss time to injury.

J.J. Taylor, Patriots, RB89, Overall 315

I love Taylor’s ability and could even see him cut into James White’s workload at some point, but he is sitting fourth on the depth chart. But in the end, White is his biggest competition, as he is suited for the receiving back role more than Damien Harris or Rhamondre Stevenson.

Ty Johnson, Jets, RB78, Overall 256

Johnson, like Tevin Coleman is part of the Jets running back by committee approach at the moment. He’s been running ahead of rookie Michael Carter, who has the highest ADP of the group. Carter is the player I’d like on my team of the three, but not at his ADP. You could get some use out of Coleman an Johnson this season at a value pick.