Rookie RB Sleepers

Let’s be honest, if you can go this far down on consensus rankings and spot value then you’ve got a keen eye. A typical redraft league doesn’t account for these types of players so they are the equivalent to waiver wire considerations is most formats.

The key for today is going to be discussing the paths to fantasy relevance without banking on any of these names in standard-depth, redraft formats. Think of this as a way to have a head start on the waiver wire over the rest of your league mates.

1. Javian Hawkins -Atlanta Falcons

Photo Credit: University of Louisville Athletics

College: Louisville Age: 21 Size: 5′-8″ 183lbs

The Falcons signed Javian Hawkins as a UDFA following the 2021 NFL Draft. Hawkins sticks out situationally for the Falcons checking in at #3 on a depth chart that features 29 y/o Mike Davis and 30 y/o Cordarelle Patterson. The narrative towards getting an opportunity is definitely present, the hope now is that Hawkins can break off a few big plays for an Atlanta Team with a brand new backfield in 2021.

If you’re not familiar with his college career here are some quick hits:

  • 2019 Rushing 264/1525/9TD’s in 13GP
  • 2020 Rushing 133/822/7TD’s in 8GP
  • 2020 Receiving 16/127/1TD in 8GP
  • Opted out of the remainder of the 2020 season after 8GP

Hawkins is drawing NFL comparisons to Nyheim Hines with similar size and outside rushing abilities. Look to draft Hawkins as a late round flyer between the 13th-15th rounds of your redraft leagues.

2. Gerrid Doaks – Miami Dolphins

College: Cincinnati Age: 23 Size: 5′-11″ 228lbs

The Dolphins came into the 2021 NFL Draft very likely to be “in the mix” on some of the top end RB’s from the 2021 Class. They surprisingly waited until the 7th round to select an RB and did so with a senior out of Cincinnati who had a career 5.2 YPC average. Doaks was also strong in the pass catching game and is regarded with higher end pass protection rates at the college level.

On the depth chart in Miami you’ve got Miles Gaskin, Malcolm Brown, Salvon Ahmed and Patrick Laird. This is a crowded room and it lowers the immediate impact that Doaks will realistically have. It’s not unheard of for an RB to come out of the 6th or 7th round of an NFL draft and have a great career. You may think back to Chris Carson who was drafted in the 7th round of the 2017 NFL Draft.

Gerrid Doaks doesn’t have a likely impact for your redraft leagues. He’s outside of the depth of most draft formats going in the round 20-22 range. Keep this name in the back of your mind should an injury occur ahead of him on the Dolphins depth chart. You’re best value on Doaks is going to be in Dynasty rookie drafts where he is going to be available in the 4th and 5th rounds. This isn’t going to cost you much and fits nicely into a Taxi Squad position for the 2021 NFL season.

3. Kylin Hill – Green Bay Packers

College: Mississippi State Age: 22 Size: 5′-10″ 214lbs

When grading prospects in previous years the aspect of a player opting out before entering the NFL Draft wasn’t as consistent as we saw in 2020. Here is another guy who opted out after 3GP during his Senior Year at Mississippi State. Like Javian Hawkins, the draft stock of Hill likely took a dip leading into the 2021 NFL Draft. As Fantasy Football managers we want to arm ourselves with these relevant pieces of information.

Through his College Football career, Hill had a 5.6 YPC average while scoring 16TDs on the ground. His attributes as a pass catcher aren’t to be overlooked either, Hill finished with a 9.4 YPR average highlighted by 23 receptions in 3 GP during the 2020 season where he racked up 237 yards and 1TD. That is a very impressive stats line

I’m looking for Kylin Hill as a flyer in the 5th round of rookie drafts or with depth in a deeper dynasty startup. I don’t view him as a concern to the roles for Aaron Jones or AJ Dillon. Instead, I look for Kylin Hill to potentially work his way into a 3rd down role or a change of pace back.

4. Rhamondre Stevenson – New England Patriots

College: Oklahoma Age: 21 Size: 6′-0″ 231lbs

If you don’t get those LeGarrette Blount vibes when you watch tape on Stevenson then you’re missing the highest of hopes that Fantasy Managers can have for the coming years in New England. Bill Belichick likes to utilize runners with the strength of Stevenson in short yardage situations to create a size mismatch.

Stevenson boasts outstanding 7.2 YPC and 10.6 YPR career averages which are extremely impressive given that he ran a 4.63s 40-yard dash time at his pro day leading up to the NFL Draft. The real hope here is that Stevenson gets a hold on the red-zone work for New England, who are notorious for getting the ball inside the opposing 5-yard line and using a punishing heavy run formation to succeed.

I’m looking for Stevenson around RB8 in dynasty rookie drafts this year and I think he has the ceiling to blast a good portion of the Running Backs listed ahead of him in 2021. In redraft formats his ADP is still just outside of the 15th round and therefor I recommend you keep your eyes on him as a name you should expect to see in early weeks on the waiver wire.

5. Chris Evans – Cincinnati Bengals

College: Michigan Age: 23 Size: 5′-11″ 211lbs

Evans college career was interrupted by serving an academic suspension for the 2019 season. Prior to that point Evans had an instant impact coming out of high school racking up an 88/614/4TD rushing stat line as a freshman. Note the 7.0 YPC average he managed playing in all 13 games of his freshman year and see why his raw talent is something that NFL organizations would love to work with.

The lack of playing time from 2018 until the point at which he was drafted would appear as a concern for fantasy relevance but I’m going to look at it in a different light. Evans lacks some of the miles that other college players put on. Its great to see Evans have the confidence of at least one NFL franchise and an opportunity to rise on a depth chart which just saw Giovani Bernard leave to Tampa Bay.

Realistically we’re looking for an opportunity for Evans to emerge as a fantasy relevant RB inside the next two years. The most obvious route to success there is through injury to Joe Mixon or Samaje Perine who both sit ahead of him on the Bengals depth chart. Keep Evans filed away until a potential injury happens in the Bengals backfield. With the road Joe Mixon has travelled since 2017 its not out of the question for us to see Evans role expand as early as 2021.

Thanks for stopping by and lending us your ear ahead of the 2021 NFL season. Its always a great feeling to be well informed leading into the NFL season and we are here to help you do just that. For more Running Back related content check out the Top 10 drafted RB’s in the 2021 NFL draft.

David Carey – June 17th, 2021

Follow me on Twitter @87_Carey and @fantasymarksmen

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