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Sleeper Spotlight: San Francisco 49ers

As part of the premium content package, we’re not only releasing exclusive team capsules (complete with commentary), but also focusing on one sleeper from all 32 teams in the NFL.

These sleepers all have varying levels of “sleeperness,” but all merit a little more talking about than we had room for in the dynasty capsules for each team. Some of these players are deep dynasty sleepers who could merit a spot on your bench in a deep league, while others are players who may contribute a little faster than the deep prospects, but deserve more attention than they may be getting. By definition, a sleeper could mean something a little different to everyone, but we’re simply doing the best job we can to unearth one player from each team who fits the category in some way, shape or form.

We’ll just never insult you with a comprehensive list of “sleepers” that includes such names as Demaryius Thomas, Ryan Mathews or even someone like Stevan Ridley. You’re all too good for that.

While many of these players will undoubtedly fizzle, we figure there’s value in looking more closely at these deeper prospects and players. We invite you to keep an open mind and even re-assess your value on those who may be rostered in your league. You may even consider adding a few of these deeper prospects we focus on this Summer who are free agents in your league – after all, some are destined to pan out, too.

LaMichael James, RB SF
Age: 22 
(10/22/1989)

If you follow college football, you know what LaMichael James and the Oregon Ducks did last year. The non-stop, relentless, fast paced attack was practically unstoppable. Teams were not able to keep up with the speedy James and quarterback Darron Thomas in Chip Kelly’s read-and-react offense. Speed was not a term used to describe the 2011 49ers offense, however. They lacked anyone other than Vernon Davis who had the speed to scare defenses.

Enter James.

LaMichael James was drafted 61st overall in this year’s draft by the San Francisco 49ers and will immediately see touches as a change of pace back and will certainly have a “speed package” installed for him. At 5’8” and 194 lbs, the comparisons to Jahvid Best are both fair and warranted. He offers that same game changing speed that Best offers after running a 4.41 forty yard dash at the Combine. The difference between the two though is James is not bringing a history of concussions with him into the league.

James will never be a work horse back and will be better suited in a role similar to Darren Sproles in New Orleans, a player he is also rightfully compared to given his great hands in the passing game. Giving Alex Smith a running back with that ability to check down to will only help the explosiveness of this team. It will be interesting to see how things shake out in the 49ers preseason action. I fully expect Harbaugh and company to keep his role a secret and not give anyone a head’s up to what they have planned for their new toy. This team has added a ton of speed at every offensive level and James adds it where they needed it the most, the running back level.

In Dynasty start up drafts, James is currently going at the beginning of round twelve as the RB50. He’s definitely the type of RB5 you want in a PPR league. His upside is uncanny and the current NFL trend of using a running back by committee attack will only increase his value. Get him on your roster now and sit tight. He will definitely have some value this year in a limited role but his real value will come next year and beyond.

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JBlake
9 years ago

Several weeks ago, I chose James at 1.13 over Lamar Miller in a PPR league rookie draft. I really like them both, but the Sproles comparison appealed to me more than the Chris Johnson comparison I hear for Miller. Maybe because I’m a Sproles owner also…

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