Show Navigation
Show Menu

RB Sleepers 2024 (Running Backs)

By Matt Schauf | Updated on Thu, 27 Jun 2024 . 12:28 PM EDT
Tyjae Spears leads this list of RB sleepers for 2024 fantasy football drafts.


6 RB Sleepers ... Plus a Bonus

How much can running back sleepers really help your fantasy football team?

I mean … don’t we know by draft time who’s getting the ball in each backfield? Aren’t the true sleepers really just handcuffs whose starters go down?

Well, let’s check out some RBs who went outside the position’s top 30 in 2023 ADP:

These RBs delivered big fantasy production vs. ADPs outside the top 30 in 2023: Jaylen Warren, Raheem Mostert, De'Von Achane, Devin Singletary, Gus Edwards, and Kyren Williams.

That’s three guys who finished among the top 5 RBs in PPR points per game, another who ranked fifth in receptions, and two more who wound up leading backfields in top-12 offenses. And only Edwards needed an injury ahead of him to provide opportunity.

How to Find RB Sleepers

Of course, we don’t want to downplay the role of injuries here. RB is a tough position, and many starters will get hurt.

Spending a later pick on a talented backup behind a risky starter can pay off big time, and our Injury Guide highlights the riskiest lead backs.

But we’re primarily focused here on players who could pay off even without a teammate injury. We’re looking at upside players in uncertain situations. That uncertainty will often lead fantasy drafters to just let all the RBs involved slide down the board.

The result: You don’t need to know the answers to take advantage of the opportunities.


2024 Sleeper Running Backs

These RBs are all going outside the top 30 at the position in 2024 fantasy football drafts. All have upside paths that make them attractive sleepers.


We factor ceiling projections into the 3D Values that determine our RB rankings. And halfway through your draft, your Draft War Room will switch into Upside Mode. That further highlights those ceiling outcomes that can turn players such as these RBs from late-round picks into league winners.


Mid-Round RB Sleepers

These guys all sit outside the top 30 RBs in ADP, just like the aforementioned group. Could they be ready to deliver similar fantasy boosts?

Tyjae Spears, Tennessee Titans

Tyjae Spears ranks among RB sleepers because he's going after Tony Pollard, near the bottom of RB3 range.

Spears opened this draft season on our Fantasy Football Breakouts list. That changed after the Titans signed RB Tony Pollard in free agency.

Pollard actually stands out as the better value in current best ball drafting by our ADP Market Index. But you don’t have to be out on one to be in on the other.

How can the ADP Market Index help you win?

New Coach Sees Room for Both

Titans HC Brian Callahan has called Pollard and Spears “interchangeable” at multiple points this offseason, while also deeming their skill sets different.

It’s clear that he plans to use both in the new offense. And it’s also likely too early to know exactly how that plan will solidify.

Spears Played Well as Rookie

Despite entering Derrick Henry’s backfield as a third-round rookie, Spears carved out a solid role. He tied for ninth among all RBs in targets and tied for 10th in receptions.

He also ranked 19th in yards after contact per carry among 78 RBs with 40+ carries, according to Pro Football Focus. Pollard tied for just 44th.

What if Pollard Doesn’t Rebound?

The contract Tennessee gave Pollard clearly says they expect him to rebound from a disappointing 2023. If he disappoints again, though, Spears would clearly stand to benefit.

It would also help Spears if Pollard simply continues to prove he’s best deployed as a part-time back.

And, of course, a Pollard injury would vault Spears’ fantasy ceiling.



Chase Brown, Cincinnati Bengals

Chase Brown has room to become the RB sleeper in the Cincinnati backfield.

I mentioned that best ball ADP (the most active draft market right now) has both Titans RBs as value picks. You might notice that the same index lists Brown and Zack Moss both as negative values.

But that doesn’t mean you should just skip both Bengals RBs.

It might actually signal that you should target Cincinnati backfield pieces.

Reading the Market

If you scroll down past the Bengals in those best ball ADP rankings, you’ll see a lot of green values on the way to and even surrounding Moss and Brown.

The ADP Market Index points out positive and negative values at RB by current best ball draft trends.


The abundance of green says best ball drafters are undervaluing RBs in general relative to our projections. Yet within that context, they’re also overvaluing both Bengals backs by at least a little.

That could mean you should skip both players. But do you really want to be out on the whole Bengals backfield?

The two seasons so far in which we got a full run from QB Joe Burrow found Cincinnati RBs ranking 13th (2021) and sixth (2022) in total PPR points.

Joe Mixon finished the past three years ranked 12th, sixth, and sixth in PPR points per game.

Embrace the Uncertainty

No one expects any 2024 Bengals RB to assume Mixon’s role. Frankly, none of us can be sure just how the work will be split.

That kind of role ambiguity will always push a RB down in drafts. And it should make you wary of taking a guy too early. But neither Cincinnati RB is currently going before the middle of Round 8.

We’re not planting a flag in Brown. Jared already wrote up Moss in our initial Sleepers article.

Who to ultimately favor will depend some on how their ADPs sort out through summer, as well as what we get via camp reports. But it’ll also OK to be in on both players so you can chase the situation.

Brown Looks Ready to Build

Brown flashed as a rookie while seeing light work. Even when that picked up late in the year, he remained way behind Mixon.

That Cincinnati added nothing more than Moss while off-loading Mixon looks like a mark in Brown’s favor. The returnee arrived as just a fifth-round pick. But he finished college with a workhorse fifth season (328 carries, 27 receptions) and then tested very well at the Combine (89th-percentile speed score).

Brown reportedly followed a mostly quiet rookie year by taking his first full NFL offseason seriously:

“I have a lot of people now around me to help keep my body in shape. I learned so much from last season and I'm taking that knowledge and doubling it in year two. It's investing in the craft, investing in my body. I think that's where people are wrong, a little bit (in the offseason). They focus a little too much on the extracurriculars, travel, all that.”

Doesn’t look like it’ll cost much to draft Brown and see if that pays off.



Austin Ekeler, Washington Commanders

Austin Ekeler ranks among RB sleepers primarily because he's going in RB4 range.

Ekeler stunk in 2023 vs. what we’ve come to expect from him. He set career lows in:

  • Yards per carry (3.5)
  • Yards after contact per attempt (2.64)
  • PFF elusive rating (49.4)
  • Yards per route (1.25)

Among 33 RBs who carried at least 175 times, Ekeler ranked:

  • 29th in success rate
  • 33rd in EPA per rush
  • 32nd in explosive rush rate

Maybe he’s just done. Or maybe a high-ankle sprain took him down.

Ekeler suffered the injury in Week 1 and remained out until Week 6. That injury often limits player performance even after they return.

And Ekeler came back to a deteriorating offense that had already lost WR Mike Williams for the season and would eventually lose QB Justin Herbert and WR Keenan Allen early.

We can’t know how different Ekeler’s late-season production might have looked in a healthier situation.

Why Bother Now?

Here’s what we know about Ekeler:

  • He’s a workout maniac.

Just Google “Austin Ekeler workout.” Google will probably figure it out before you even finish typing. That type of offseason worker earns some benefit of the doubt on readiness for the next year.

  • Injuries have probably been less of a problem than you think.

You might view the veteran RB as a constant injury question. But the fact is Ekeler has played 16+ games in three of the past five seasons. And our Injury Predictor has him at a relatively low 36.3% chance of injury this season.

The Draft Sharks Injury Guide gives Austin Ekeler a fairly low level of injury risk among RBs for 2024.


  • He’s in a new spot.

There’s a new coaching staff in Washington, meaning no history with Brian Robinson Jr. There is, however, history with Ekeler. Commanders RBs coach Anthony Lynn was the head coach of the Chargers when they signed Ekeler as an undrafted free agent in 2017. He coached Ekeler until his 2020 departure.

  • Lynn definitely factored into Ekeler’s landing spot as a free agent.

"This man is an absolute guru. So just being back in a room with him I know will definitely keep me focused, keep me locked in and give me the best opportunity to push myself as a player. And so that was the opportunity and the environment I wanted to be in."

  • It’s Austin Ekeler.

Ekeler’s bad 2023 found him ranking 20th in PPR points per game. That followed finishes of first, third, 13th, sixth, and 26th (his second season).

Now that’s he’s priced as a RB4, the question is not so much “why draft him” as it is … “why not?”



Ty Chandler, Minnesota Vikings

Ty Chandler gets RB sleeper status because of the upside attached to Aaron Jones' injury risk.

The Aaron Jones signing obviously didn’t help Chandler. But it didn’t hurt him as much as the market reaction indicates.

Jones has been an effective all-around RB for seven years. He has not, however, been a workhorse.

Jones has averaged 12.1 carries per game for his career, including fewer than 13 per game for each of the past three seasons.

Each of those seasons also saw AJ Dillon average at least 10.9 carries per game.

Chandler More Handcuff-Level Play

If Jones gets similar carry volume in Minnesota, it likely won’t leave as much for his backfield mate.

Kevin O’Connell’s Vikings ranked 18th and 28th in RB carries for his first two seasons at the helm. Green Bay ranked 10th, eighth, and 14th over the past three years.

And Jones should easily lead the receiving. He has ranked among the league’s top receiving backs through most of his career. O’Connell highlighted Chandler’s need to improve in that area even before Jones arrived.

Jones Carries Injury Risk

Minnesota’s not a bad place for a RB to carry contingency value.

Jones’ 87.6% probability of injury this season ranks him seventh-highest among RBs in our Injury Guide.

He has lost multiple games to injury three of the past four years.



Late Round Running Backs

Bucky Irving, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

We’ll always love Rachaad White around here for delivering as our 2023 Breakout Player selection. But his strong fantasy production belied poor rushing efficiency.

Among 51 RBs with 90+ carries in 2023, White ranked:

  • 44th in PFF rushing grade
  • 42nd in yards after contact per carry (PFF)
  • 46th in rush yards over expected per carry (NFL Next Gen Stats)

He was even worse in 2022.

Room for Rookie to Siphon Work

Irving, meanwhile, rated near the top of the nation at breaking tackles, forcing missed tackles, and gaining yards after contact over his two years at Oregon.

He ran efficiently. And HC Todd Bowles has already said Irving adds something the team lacked in 2023:

“He can stick his foot in the ground and run the ball. More importantly, he can make the first guy miss more often than not. And, you know, that’s a rare trait to have in this ballgame, especially when, you know, so many guys can tackle well and get to the ball real fast. To make the first guy miss and potentially have big-play ability, that’s something that we didn’t have a lot of last year.”

Both RBs Can Catch

White fared much better as a receiver than he did as a runner last season. But Irving also posted strong receiving numbers in college.

He tallied 87 receptions across two Oregon seasons and averaged 8.3 yards per catch for his college career.

Irving’s not likely to simply overtake White in that area – especially after his pass-blocking grades declined through his college career. But he also doesn’t look like a player the Bucs would take off the field for passing situations.



Tyrone Tracy, New York Giants

The Giants signed RB Devin Singletary for three years in free agency, a deal that gives him the 15th-highest annual average salary at the position. It also reunites him with HC Brian Daboll, who served as Bills OC for Singletary’s first three pro seasons.

The team clearly plans to have Singletary lead its backfield. But last year marked the first time in five seasons that Singletary topped 188 carries. He’s averaging 11.4 rushes per game for his career, with a high of 12.7.

There should be carries available under a coach who has had six of his 10 NFL offenses rank among the top 8 in rushing attempts.

More importantly for Tracy, Singletary has always graded out much weaker in receiving than rushing. Last year’s career-high PFF grade ranked him just 36th among 61 RBs with 30+ targets.

Rookie Brings Receiving Upside

We know Tracy can catch the ball. He spent most of his college career at WR, tallying 113 receptions at 10.6 yards per catch.

Tracy transitioned to RB at Purdue over his final two seasons and averaged 6.6 yards per rush there on 130 carries. His 23.1% explosive-run rate led the class, according to PFF. And he backed that explosiveness up with a 98th-percentile Relative Athletic Score at the Combine.

Tyrone Tracy's Relative Athletic Score reveals the physical upside he brings to the position, making him a potential RB sleeper.


Tracy has already mixed in with the first team and has a shot to open the year as the No. 2 RB and receiving complement.

Top competitor Eric Gray garnered just 23 total touches last season after arriving in Round 5.



Developing RB Sleepers: Los Angeles Chargers

Call this a copout if you want, but it’s really just being honest. There are too many unknowns to plant a flag with any member of the Chargers backfield right now.

Gus Edwards clearly stands as the best bet to lead in carries after signing a two-year deal before either of his main competitors arrived this offseason. But he now carries a foot injury into training camp. We’ll see how long it affects him.

J.K. Dobbins brings the highest ceiling … or at least he did before tearing an Achilles’ tendon last September. And you could view his decision to sign a minimal deal in April as a positive or negative.

  • Optimist: Dobbins chose to play his one-year, “prove it” deal for OC Greg Roman, whom he knew from their time in Baltimore. And he lands in an open backfield that presents opportunity to climb the depth chart.
  • Pessimist: Dobbins knew he wouldn’t get more money anywhere else even if he waited until later in the offseason. He visited the Chiefs shortly before signing with the Chargers, and K.C. elected to re-sign Clyde Edwards-Helaire the next day.

I love the upside on Kimani Vidal, who led FBS in carries and ranked second in rushing yards last year. He checked in sixth in PFF rushing grade among 157 RBs who carried 100+ times. And then he delivered an 88th-percentile speed score, 77th-percentile burst score, and 79th-percentile agility score in Combine testing.

If you’re picking one sleeper from this backfield right now, it’s Vidal. That’s why we already highlighted him among the running back sleepers in our initial sleeper article.

Watch the Market Here

Edwards’ foot injury is the key unknown right now. It hasn’t significantly lowered his ADP yet, as you can see from his trendline …

Gus Edwards ADP trendline shows that he hasn't moved down much since suffering a foot injury.

But that’ll likely change if he’s sidelined early in camp. And any significant ADP dip for Edwards would likely send Vidal in the other direction.

So let’s watch this situation through summer and try to mine the best value in what’s likely to be one of the league’s most run-heavy offenses.


Want a Draft Assistant to Highlight Top RB Values as You Go?

You want the Draft War Room ...

You'll never miss out on top sleepers again

Matt Schauf Author Image
Matt Schauf, Editor
Matt has earned two Fantasy Pros accuracy awards for IDP rankings and won thousands of dollars as a player across best ball, dynasty, and high-stakes fantasy formats. He has been creating fantasy football content for more than 20 years, with work featured by Sporting News, Rotoworld, Athlon, Sirius XM, and others. He's been with Draft Sharks since 2011.
Other rankings are stale  before the 2nd round.

Draft using the best dynamic tool in the industry. Our fantasy player valuations (3D Values) change during your draft in response to...

  1. Exact league settings - direct sync
  2. Opponent and Team Needs
  3. Positional scarcity & available players
  4. Ceiling, injury risk, ADP, and more!

You need a dynamic cheat sheet that easily live-syncs with your draft board and adapts throughout your draft using 17 crucial indicators.

Get your Draft War Room Today
Compare Plans » Compare Plans »