Arguably the biggest key to fantasy football success is do find value in the later-stages of the draft. Pinpointing and landing successful undervalued sleepers can single-handily win a league.
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Beckham went undrafted in huge majority of fantasy football leagues last season, proving that finding the right sleepers can mean huge success for your fantasy team.
In an NFL where passing totals are exploding through the roof, the running back position is getting harder and harder to fill in fantasy football. Filling one of your running back slots with a late-round sleeper, now that would be a dream scenario.
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Because of this, I have found myself digging deep while looking at the running back position. Finding a late round gem is never easy, but there is one player who continues to stick out to me; Tennessee Titans rookie running back David Cobb, who was selected by the team in the fifth round (138th overall) of the 2015 NFL Draft.
Cobb joins the Titans after an extremely successful two-year stint at the University of Minnesota. Cobb took over the starting running back job for the Golden Gophers in 2013, and became a successful workhorse for the team for two straight seasons.
He rushed for a combined 2,828 yards and 20 touchdowns during his last two college seasons, resulting in a 5.13 yards per carry average. Cobb showed an impressive burst and incredible power in college that should translate nicely to the NFL level.
Cobb has nice skills for the running back position, but my belief in his fantasy value has more to do with his opportunity with the Titans.
Centered mostly around 2014 second-round pick Bishop Sankey, the Titans running game was stagnant last season. Averaging on 90.4 yards per game on the ground, the Titans finished the season with the seventh-worst rushing attack in the entire NFL.
Clearly the players who were involved with the running game did have success last season. The only major change the Titans made in the entire attack was the drafting of Cobb. To me, that makes it seem that they have some serious confidence in his abilities to held turn their running game around.
Sankey had his opportunity last season, and the results were not pretty. Sankey averaged only 3.7 yards per carry last season, and honestly appeared to be nothing more than an average talent. While Sankey will still be in the mix, the opportunity for carries will be there for Cobb. Especially on the goal line, where his skill-set is primed to succeed.
The Titans’ rushing game issues cannot be completely blamed on Sankey. The other running backs were not productive, and the offensive line was far from perfect.
While I do not expect the offensive line to automatically be great, it is a young group who should improve drastically moving forward.
The presence of second overall pick Marcus Mariota should also have a positive effect on the running game. Mariota is a very talented passer who defenses are going to have to respect. He is an immediate upgrade for the Titans at the position, simply based on his ability to make NFL throws.
May 26, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee Titans first round draft pick quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) passes during OTA drills at Saint Thomas Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports
However, that is obviously not Mariota’s only value at the quarterback position. He is an extremely mobile quarterback who brings incredible value to the field as both a passer and a runner. When it comes down to it, Mariota’s presence on the field is going to be very positive for the running game.
Fantasy running backs have typically had success when a mobile quarterback is under center. Think of Alfred Morris with Robert Griffin III, LeSean McCoy with Michael Vick, Russell Wilson with Marshawn Lynch and the list goes on and on.
Having Mariota under center does not by any means guarantee fantasy success for Cobb, but his ability to distract the defense with his mobility will certainly help open up holes for Cobb in the running game.
Finding running back value late in your fantasy draft is not easy, but with a strong skill-set suited for goal-line success, and a great opportunity to succeed in a fresh offense, Cobb is a player who I will be targeting. His upside is real, and Cobb has a great chance to reach that upside this season.
The way he is currently being overlooked, makes him an obvious target in all fantasy leagues.