The NFL preseason is underway. Fringe players are fighting for their roster spots. Final cuts are coming up, but some players are making their mark as potential difference makers out of the backfield. It’s time to take a look at some running backs who could surprise the league and make a difference in fantasy football 2019.
Three Sleeper Backs for Fantasy Football 2019
Darrell Henderson, Los Angeles Rams
The Rams made Henderson their third round pick this year, as a contingency plan for Todd Gurley and his ailing knees. According to early reports, Henderson could be much more than just a backup plan. He has made splash plays throughout camp, and has a chance to show out in the preseason as well. Shortly after the draft, Rams GM Les Snead compared Henderson to Alvin Kamara. Though the comparison may be a bit much, it’s clear that the Rams want to feature Henderson in their offense. They are primed to make another deep playoff push, and Gurley’s health is instrumental to that goal. They may want to rest him as much as they can in the regular season, giving Henderson a solid opportunity to shine. Though he’s a smaller back, he’s explosive and strong. His balance as a runner may be his best trait, and he can make plays as a receiver out of the backfield as well. In his junior season at Memphis, he piled up over 2000 yards from scrimmage on an incredible 9.5 yards per touch. He has excellent value in late rounds, especially in PPR leagues.
Kalen Ballage, Miami Dolphins
Kenyan Drake was fully expected to carry the load for Miami in 2019. However, Ballage has come out of nowhere in camp to push him for snaps. He surprisingly received most of the first-team reps throughout camp, and the Dolphins clearly like his potential. He has good size and is a sure handed receiver. His 14th round ADP is far too low. This backfield profiles as somewhat of a split, with Ballage handling early-down and short distance work. Drake will most likely play a high-volume change of pace role. Ballage is a steal at his current ADP, and will make some fantasy owners very happy in 2019.
Duke Johnson, Houston Texans
Duke Johnson finally got what he wanted. After requesting a trade from Cleveland post-Kareem Hunt signing, he has at long last been dealt to the Houston Texans. This is a huge jump in fantasy value for Johnson. There could be a lot of opportunity for Johnson in Houston as more than just a change-of-pace back. D’Onta Foreman is gone. There isn’t much there behind Lamar Miller, who has underwhelmed throughout his career. Johnson is a top three receiving back in the NFL. He’s also a decisive runner with excellent balance and vision. He’s not a guy who can carry the ball 250 times a year, but 100 carries and 50-60 catches isn’t out of reason. His current ADP places him as the RB57. This is far too low, especially in PPR leagues. There is a chance he could wind up in the top 30 by season’s end.
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