Value is the key to drafting in fantasy football, especially in the middle and late rounds. The first few rounds are about taking the best available can’t miss players. Things get a little murky after that as the draft possesses. Savvy players will begin to deviate from their cheat sheets as they start filling holes and looking for steals for the rest of their draft. The later a player is taken, the more likely they are to not perform, but there are always those sleeper players who outperform their ADP. Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Peyton Barber is one of those players.
Peyton Barber is a Solid Sleeper in This Year’s Fantasy Football Drafts
Strong Last Season
The Buccaneers backfield was a mess last season. Doug Martin looked washed up after he returned from a three-game suspension. Jacquizz Rodgers flashed at times but didn’t stand out much. Charles Sims is more of a pass-catching back, and nothing more. Barber was finally given a shot in week 13 after Martin suffered a concussion the week before. From there he proved he deserves some consideration for the starting job. Barber racked up 102 rushing yards and added another four catches for 41 yards.
In week 14, he did not start, but split carries with Martin, thoroughly outplaying him. After that, the job was his for the rest of the season. Although he still didn’t have enough carries to get over 100 yards, he did average over four yards per carry and ran hard every play. At worst, he keeps the same role, and may not be flashy. He could still be a solid FLEX play or RB2 depending on the matchup. At best, Barber builds off of last year and continues to push for more playing time.
Other Backs Not Coming Through
The Buccaneers drafted Ronald Jones in the second round of this year’s draft. Many analysts immediately penciled him in as the starter due to how early he went in the draft and a lack of established backs coming into the season. With only five games of meaningful playing time under his belt, this shouldn’t have come as a surprise for Barber. However, during preseason action, Jones has not proved that he is ready to carry the load quite yet.
Through three preseason games, Jones has rushed 18 times for a whopping 18 yards. He doesn’t look like he quite has his feet under him and is slow and indecisive to hit a hole. He had one flash play last game against the Detroit Lions, where he took a pass 37 yards, but he’ll need to work on his consistency before he sees any real game time.
Barber, on the other hand, has hit the ground running in the preseason. He has started each game and accumulated 87 yards on only 15 carries and scored two touchdowns. Barber runs with authority and is sneaky slippery, breaking off a few long runs. If he continues this play into the regular season, Tampa Bay will have a tough time keeping him off the field.
Interestingly enough, Barber is still being mocked later than Jones by basically all analysts. Barber is usually a few spots lower than Jones, more than likely because Jones is expected to take over the job at some point. This is where the risk comes in. He might. But he might not. Currently, his ADP is somewhere after the tenth round in standard, ten-team leagues. There is a real shot that Barber keeps the starting job for the duration of the season. Besides, this is where dart throws are taking place anyway.
Other running backs in the area are C.J. Anderson or Aaron Jones. Wide receivers in a similar spot include Kenny Golladay and DeVante Parker. Anderson flamed out with the Denver Broncos and comes to the Carolina Panthers behind Christian McCaffrey. Jones will start the season serving a two-game suspension. He returns in a crowded backfield where he will compete with Ty Montgomery and Jamaal Williams for snaps. Golladay is in a similar position as Jones and will fight for targets behind established veterans Golden Tate and Marvin Jones. Parker has never really been fantasy relevant.
For players still looking for value running backs in the later parts of the draft, Barber should be a primary target. His small sample size and a young rookie breathing down his back are cause for concern but are also the only reason he can be taken so late in drafts. His upside is huge and looks the part of a lead back. He begins the season as a starter and will fight hard to keep that spot.