Even though he won’t be involved with Chip Kelly‘s powerful offense this upcoming season, running back Bryce Brown should be on your draft board as one of the biggest fantasy football sleepers in 2014.
Brown has had a very interesting journey to now find himself with the Buffalo Bills. Considered one of the best high school running backs since Adrian Peterson, Brown showed potential in his freshman year with the Tennessee Volunteers by rushing for 460 yards, scoring three rushing touchdowns and totaling 137 receiving yards. In 2010, after coach Lane Kiffin left to take over USC, Brown decided to find a new team after just one season with the Volunteers. The talented back transferred to Kansas State, but Brown reportedly quit the team in 2011 and decided to enter the 2012 NFL Draft.
The Philadelphia Eagles didn’t need another running back with superstar LeSean McCoy leading the team, but selecting him as a seventh-round pick was not much of a risk for Andy Reid. I remember picking Brown off of the waiver wire when McCoy was out with concussion issues, but I didn’t start him when he got his first chance to lead the rushing attack. Unfortunately for me, the 23-year-old went off for 178 rushing yards and two touchdowns. I did start him the next week, however, and Brown did not disappoint with another huge performance of 169 rushing yards and another two touchdowns. He did lose three fumbles between those two games, but he was given a free pass by fantasy owners because of his outstanding performance.
Brown struggled the remainder of the season, and 2013 was not much better because of his lack of involvement in the offense. He was inherited to Kelly, and he just didn’t seem to have place in the system. Now that he finds himself in Buffalo, however, he has a huge opportunity ahead of him.
The Eagles might have ranked first in rushing yards this past season, but the Bills finished second because of C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson. Part of the reason behind the heavy rushing attack for the Bills was due to the injuries of franchise quarterback hopeful E.J. Manuel, but the ground game will still be heavily relied upon in 2014.
While 33-year-old Jackson was still very productive last season, age will eventually slow him down and this season could be the start of his decline. Spiller was unable to return the magic from his 2012 campaign, and he often fought through injuries during the season. Spiller made the coaches very disappointed, and their lack of faith in him was highlighted by the signing of Brown.
If either of these running backs struggle or miss any games due to injury, Brown is going to take over the rushing attack for Buffalo. He has the speed and athleticism to continually rack up fantasy points, and he did not fumble the ball once in his final season with the Eagles.
He may have had a strange road to get into the NFL, but don’t miss out on owning one of the biggest sleepers in the 2014 fantasy football season.