2020 Fantasy football running back sleepers: Zack Moss and other rushing delights

Without question, "sleeper" is a relative term, requiring context. Your definition of the word is heavily influenced by the size and competitiveness of your fantasy format. For our purposes here, "sleeper" can refer to any player who has an ADP above 120.0 and is rostered in less than 60 percent of Yahoo leagues. Any player fitting that description — drafted outside the first ten rounds (if at all) and widely available is clearly being slept on by the fantasy community.

Let's get started with the one true running back sleeper to rule them all ...

Zack Moss, Buffalo Bills

54 percent rostered, ADP 126.3

Moss is really the one guy on this sleeper list I need to land in a draft, or it feels like failure. He's a second-day pick stepping into what might very well be a substantial (and fantasy-friendly) role in Buffalo's backfield. Last season, Frank Gore handled 18 carries inside the 10-yard line for the Bills, while Devin Singletary saw only three. Moss is an obvious candidate to see high-value carries in goal-to-go situations in 2020. He was an unsolvable problem near the end-zone at the collegiate level:

Singletary clearly impressed as a rookie last season (5.1 YPC), but ball-security was an issue and he wasn't a particularly efficient receiver (6.7 Y/R). Moss is the bigger back, he's a skilled receiving threat (66 REC at Utah), and he's been a high-buzz player in training camp to this point. It's not difficult to imagine a scenario in which Moss outproduces Singletary for fantasy purposes.

Damien Harris, New England Patriots

26 percent rostered, ADP 130.4

Sony Michel remains PUP'd for New England with no clear ETA, and the newly signed Lamar Miller is in the same situation. Harris, meanwhile, has received all the work he can handle in training camp, earning consistently positive reviews. Let's not overthink this situation. Harris had a stellar collegiate career at Alabama, delivering a pair of 1,000-yard seasons while running ahead of Josh Jacobs and Bo Scarbrough. He can play. There's a very good chance he and Rex Burkhead will open the season as the Patriots' primary early-down runners, with James White maintaining his usual role. Harris remains severely under-drafted, considering his potential workload.

Bryce Love, Washington FT

9 percent rostered, ADP 133.6

Antonio Gibson is getting pretty much all the buzz generated by Washington's backfield, to the point that he's now routinely drafted in Rounds 6-8 in expert leagues. Here's one such example, here's another, and here's another.

Gibson's ADP in Yahoo leagues is nowhere near that range, but he's definitely gonna come off the board around there in live drafts filled with hardcore players. And if we're taking him in the seventh, we pretty much need him to be the head of Football Team's backfield committee.

It's a big ask (almost absurdly so) of a guy who primarily played receiver at Memphis; he's entering the NFL with only 33 career carries at the collegiate level. Gibson was a small sample legend, but it's hardly fair to ask him to excel in pass protection immediately as a pro. He can absolutely carve out value from the slot on a team starved for receiving talent, but it's tough for me to see him as a volume runner.

Which brings us, at last, to Love. We shouldn't need to remind you that he was a ludicrously productive back in the Pac-12, converting 263 carries into a whopping 2,118 yards (8.1 YPC) for Stanford back in 2017. Love has had a long, complicated road back from an ACL injury, but he's finally recovered and making plenty of noise in camp for Washington. He's running behind only 35-year-old Adrian Peterson at the moment, with a clear shot to carve out a significant role. AP and Love are afterthoughts in basically all drafts, yet those two will likely control the early downs. If the current version of Love is anything like the guy who ran wild at Stanford, he'll eventually be a factor for Washington.

Justin Jackson, Los Angeles Chargers

30 percent rostered, ADP 132.9

Austin Ekeler is plenty exciting and well-hyped around here, but he's not going to be the entire show in the Chargers' backfield. Jackson is battling fourth-round rookie Joshua Kelley for touches in camp, and should be considered at least a slight favorite for a rotational role for LA in the early weeks. We'll remind you that Jackson has been a highly efficient runner over 79 career carries (5.1 YPC), plus he's caught 24 of 30 targets. Melvin Gordon averaged 17.0 touches per game for the Chargers last year, and those opportunities won't all slide to Ekeler.

Chris Thompson, Jacksonville Jaguars

4 percent rostered, ADP N/A

Hey, remember those 76 receptions that went to Leonard Fournette last season, which he somehow converted into zero touchdowns and only 6.9 yards per catch? Yeah, much of that backfield receiving workload figures to shift to Thompson this season. He followed Jay Gruden to Jacksonville and it's a near-lock that he'll take over a huge percentage of snaps in passing situations. Thompson hasn't managed to play a full 16-game season since 2016, so health is an obvious concern. But when he plays, he's a pass magnet. Thompson averaged 4.6 carries and 5.4 targets per game over the past three seasons in Washington under Gruden.

Tony Pollard, Dallas Cowboys

48 percent rostered, ADP 127.5

It doesn't feel quite right plugging a bunch of understudy backs into a sleeper feature, but an exception can be made for Pollard. Without question, he would rank as a top-10-ish fantasy RB in most matchups if Ezekiel Elliott misses any time due to injury. Pollard averaged 5.3 YPC last season and twice erupted for 100-plus rushing yards. He actually handled 101 total touches in a year in which Zeke played all 16 games. It's a terrific sign for Pollard's future usage. He really needs to be drafted for his standalone flex potential; he's more than simply an insurance policy for managers who roster Elliott.

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