While many are focused on running backs ranked inside the top 25, here are two running backs ranked outside many experts’ top-25 that could put up a big day on Sunday:
Rex Burkhead, Patriots
The injury to fullback James Develin should provide more work for the Patriots backs, in particular Rex Burkhead who will likely benefit the most from his absence. Despite James White coming back, Burkhead still seems fit to get a lot of touches as the coaching staff seems to have leaned on him a lot the first few weeks. The Bills defense presents a much bigger challenge than the Steelers, Dolphins, and Jets defenses the Patriots have seen thus far, but that doesn’t mean Burkhead’s touches will be limited.
With Buffalo’s secondary being the best in the NFL and the possibility of Julian Edelman being limited because of injury, it should force Brady to use his backs more in this game, making Burkhead a great play in PPR leagues and Half-PPR leagues. Burkhead has put up double-digit points already twice this year in Half-PPR leagues and should put up another one this week in Buffalo.
Darrel Williams, Chiefs
When the season began, Williams was considered the fourth man in line to get touches for the Chiefs, behind Damien Williams, Lesean McCoy and rookie Darwin Thompson. Many were surprised he even survived the final cuts. He enters week 4 as the No. 2 running back behind only McCoy. Damien Williams has already been ruled out, and as for Darwin Thompson, he just simply hasn’t impressed the coaching staff enough to warrant playing time, particularly with his struggle to pick up blitzes. McCoy will likely play, but hobbled by an ankle injury he re-tweaked in week 3, he’s likely to be limited, opening the door for Darrel Williams to get a lot of touches in this game.
The Lions run defense ranks 18th in the NFL and haven’t seen an offense nearly as explosive yet this season as what they will face on Sunday. Darrel Williams had a solid game last week against a good Ravens defense while filling in for McCoy, running 9 times for 62 yards and adding another 5 receptions for 47 yards. He’s great for PPR and Half-PPR leagues as he rack up a few receptions, and I expect him to see around 50% of the backfield touches in this game, maybe more. He’s a good flex start this week for the deeper leagues.
Other deep sleepers I like: Carlos Hyde, Texans; Adrian Peterson and Chris Thompson, Redskins