Top 10 Sleeper Running Backs to Target in 2024 Fantasy Football Drafts

Michael Fabiano identifies 10 sleeper running backs that need to be on your radar in 2024.
Dec 24, 2023; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Rico Dowdle (23) rushes with
Dec 24, 2023; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Rico Dowdle (23) rushes with / Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Sleepers: Quarterbacks | Wide Receivers | Tight Ends

The term “sleeper” has different meanings for different people in the world of fantasy football. Some folks believe it’s simply a player who will outperform his draft position. Others think it’s a relatively unknown or once-forgotten player who unexpectedly emerges or re-emerges into a useful fantasy option.

In my opinion, both definitions are true, but with a caveat: I don’t see a player as a sleeper if he’s already been a valuable fantasy asset during his career. For example, Rhamondre Stevenson can’t be labeled a “sleeper.” Did he have a disappointing 2023 season? Yes, but that doesn’t make him a sleeper now, even if he isn’t projected to be more than a double-digit pick in most fantasy drafts.

Could Stevenson be labeled as a bargain? Absolutely. But he’s not a sleeper. I also consider some rookies to be sleepers (as you will see), as these players could outperform their draft position without ever yet producing in the pros.

With that in mind, here are 10 sleeper running backs to target in the mid-to-late rounds who could be better than we’re expecting in the stat sheets this season.

1. Jonathon Brooks, Carolina Panthers

The first running back selected in the 2024 NFL Draft, Brooks will have a chance to compete for a prominent role as a rookie. While he will have to contend with Chuba Hubbard and Miles Sanders, Brooks has a far higher ceiling — assuming he’s ready to roll coming off a torn ACL in his final collegiate season. Brooks is no lock for Year 1 success, but I’d be willing to bet he’ll be a fantasy asset.

2. Jaylen Warren, Pittsburgh Steelers

You might not know it, but Warren scored more PPR points than Najee Harris last season, and he did it on fewer snaps and touches. Still, Warren is going a few rounds behind Harris based on average draft position data. That makes him the Steelers running back to target in PPR formats. What’s more, no quarterback with at least 10 starts targeted their running backs more than Russell Wilson last season.

3. Tyjae Spears, Tennessee Titans

The Titans made several big additions in the offseason, including prying away Tony Pollard from the Dallas Cowboys. As a result, Pollard is going a few rounds higher than Spears in drafts. Like Warren, that could make Spears the better of the two players from a value perspective. Coming off a season in which he averaged 4.5 yards per rush and had 52 receptions, Spears has some late-round appeal.

4. Trey Benson, Arizona Cardinals

Benson, the second running back picked in the 2024 draft, is likely to end up as one of fantasy football’s top handcuffs as a rookie. That’s because he’ll open the season behind veteran James Conner on the depth chart. Conner has never been super durable, however, so I wouldn’t be shocked to see Benson start a few games and maybe etch out a role even when Conner is on the field.

5. Chase Brown, Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals will have a new-look backfield after trading Joe Mixon to the Houston Texans. While Zack Moss will top the depth chart, Brown will also see more work in his second NFL season. He showed flashes as a rookie, especially when he got the ball in space as a receiver, so don’t be surprised if Brown has some standalone flex value during the bye weeks. He’s worth a late flier.

6. Ty Chandler, Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings added Aaron Jones to be their new top running back, so Chandler isn’t going to see a significant role to start the season. Still, Jones is entering his age-29 campaign and he missed six games last year due to injuries. If Jones can’t avoid the trainer’s room, Chandler could end up seeing more work. I can also see him etching out a role in the backfield even with a healthy Jones.

7. Rico Dowdle, Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys brought back Ezekiel Elliott, who is projected to be the team’s new lead runner, but coach Mike McCarthy expects to use a committee approach in the backfield. So while Zeke will be the first Dallas runner off the board in fantasy drafts, Dowdle should also see his share of the touches. And with Zeke entering his age-29 season and having a ton of punishment on his body, Dowdle could be used more often.

8. Kendre Miller, New Orleans Saints

Miller was considered a sleeper last season, especially with Alvin Kamara being suspended, but he never really made a fantasy impact due to injuries. Kamara is still in the mix and will continue to be the lead back, but at 29 he's certainly not the same player ... and some of his stats mirror that. That will make Miller someone to grab somewhere in the late rounds as a fifth runner with upside.

9. Kimani Vidal, Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers will run the football this season, and Vidal has a chance to be an under-the-radar option for coach Jim Harbaugh. The Bolts did sign Gus Edwards and J.K. Dobbins, but both come with question marks. Edwards is 29 and isn't a versatile back, while Dobbins has had knee and Achilles injuries in the last three years. This makes Kimani a definite sleeper.

10. Blake Corum, Los Angeles Rams

Corum doesn’t have much of a chance to start for the Rams, as breakout fantasy star Kyren Williams has secured that role. Still, Williams has had some issues with injuries in the past so Corum could see more work to keep Williams fresh. The rookie out of Michigan is more talented than the backs who were behind Williams a season ago, and any time he misses could push Corum into a significant role.

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Michael Fabiano


Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on Sports Illustrated and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. Formerly of CBS Sports, NFL Network and SirusXM, Michael was the first fantasy analyst to appear on one of the four major TV networks. His work can now be found on SI, Westwood One Radio and the Bleav Podcast Network.