Note: This piece was originally written on July 15th by Alan Harrison and is one of many unique pieces that can be found in our 2014 fantasy football draft guide. None of this information has been updated since it was originally published.
The definition of a sleeper or a bust has drastically changed over the years. Access to the Internet — and instant news feeds such as Twitter — have ultimately provided equal access to relevant cutting edge information to all fantasy football enthusiasts.
The following list of names may guide you to a few wins this season. However, these guys may not return a profit based on their ADPs, and you may want to avoid them on draft day.
All ADP data is found in parenthesis (ADP) and taken from FantasyPros.com. All commentary reflects a 12-team league.
Marshawn Lynch | Seahawks (8)
This guy has been amazing, especially since joining the Seahawks. But he’s got an awful lot of wear-and-tear on the body for just 28 years of age. Just shy of 2,000 career touches, Lynch has played in at least 13 games in each of his seven season in the league. And in each of the last five years, Lynch’s workload has spiked. I’m not betting on an injury here, I’m just not sure I’d be willing to invest a top eight pick on a back with so many miles on him. Much respect for this man on his career achievements, but I’m passing on him for fantasy football in 2014.
Toby Gerhart | Jaguars (48)
Volume. Many are preaching Gerhart will be a top ball carrier based on the fact he is the default back in Jacksonville. Sure, the situation is beneficial, but is the passing game polished enough for defenders to not stack the box? I’m not so sure. And Gerhart has just one (1) 100-yard rushing game and one (1) 50-yard receiving game in 61 career contests in the NFL. Not exactly impressive. Additionally, the former Viking has scored just eight career touchdowns, five of which that came from inside the 10-yard line. A fantasy owners looking to employ the Zero RB strategy may find some value in Gerhart as a fourth round selection, but I wouldn’t count on him returning a profit at that price.
Ray Rice | Ravens (67)
Offseason issues may be in the rearview mirror, but Rice’s steady decline over the past few years can’t be forgotten. Yards per carry, yards per reception, yards per game, yards after contact per game, attempts per game and trips to the end zone have dipped each season since 2011. Each of the four rushing touchdowns Rice logged in ‘13 came from three yards or less — not exactly stunning. A ding to his personal status based on his recent actions may give people reason to believe the running back could be on a mission this season, but I’d stick with the numbers. Bernard Pierce should steal some more touches from Rice this season and owners may be left scratching their heads, again.
Steven Jackson (78)
In Steven Jackson, the Falcons have a running back that can both carry the rock and catch some passes out of the backfield. Historically, Jackson owns eight 1,000-yard seasons and an impressive 8.0 yards per reception average over his career, but will age and opportunity result in Jackson’s numbers slipping again? He’s 31-years old. Rushing attempts, rushing yards, receptions and yards receiving have each dipped in the last three seasons. Six of Jackson’s seven touchdowns before his injury last season came from inside the 10-yard line. Julio Jones will be back this year and the Falcons have Quizz Rodgers/Devonta Freeman all waiting for touches. At this point, I’d rather reach for someone with a bit more upside than hope that Jackson can turn the clock back.
Darren McFadden | Raiders (120)
At the 120th pick I suppose it’s hard to call someone a bust. But, even that late in your drafts, I’d much rather take a flier on of the sleepers noted above or backs like Terrance West or Danny Woodhead. McFadden seems to have all the talent in the world, but he can’t seem to stay healthy. That parlayed with the fact that he’ll be just one part of the Raiders’ running back committee has me staying far away from the former Razorback on draft day.