It’s almost September, so most everyone interested in fantasy football is hitting the web and their local grocery store to read up on all the hot new rookies. We’ve talked about players like Trent Richardson, Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III at length since February and have turned our attention to many of the lesser known players who aren’t exactly household names.
We know you visit DLF because we dig deeper and offer something different to stay outside the mainstream. For the past month, we’ve been covering the preseason with game previews and talked about tons of deep sleepers and projects. In that time, there have been several who have stood out and we’ve tried to focus on them a little more as we go.
That brings us to the Rainey boys – Chris and Bobby (no relation).
As camps have moved along, each of these young running backs has shown the ability, drive and skill level you’d see from a highly regarded top draft pick. However, Chris was taken in the fifth round by Pittsburgh and Bobby was undrafted altogether and later signed with Baltimore as a free agent. Baltimore and Pittsburgh are bitter rivals and don’t see eye to eye very often, but it seems they both have one thing in common – they each found a gem named Rainey.
Let’s start with Chris.
Chris Rainey is better known than Bobby since he played at a high profile program at the University of Florida. Before that, he was a high school standout in Florida where he led the Lakeland Dreadnaughts to their third straight 5A High School Football Championship in 2006 with 2,478 yards rushing and 32 touchd0wns, including an amazing fifteen touchdown runs of fifty yards or more. You may also be surprised to find out he’s the younger brother of Rod Smart, better known as “He Hate Me” from the XFL days. He also knows fellow Steeler Maurkice Pouncey quite well since he lived with his family for some time as a teen.
Rainey battled some shoulder issues in college, but was still pretty productive. He finished his Gator career with 2,464 rushing yards and thirteen touchdowns on 396 rushing attempts, as well as 795 receiving yards and six more touchdowns on 69 receptions. He also had 454 return yards on eighteen kickoff returns. Even better, he was a track star and was on a collegiate sprint team with Patriot running back and Olympic medalist Jeff Demps that won the NCAA 4×100 relay title.
The challenge Chris has is his size. At just 5’8″ 3/8 and 180 pounds, he has a way to go before being able to handle the pounding that will come his way in the pros. However, he’s incredibly fast and dynamic, making him a perfect return man. However, Rainey has shown the Steelers he could be much more than a special teams ace. So far this preseason, he’s produced 62 rushing yards and a touchdown on just 13 carries, as well as 67 yards and another score on only five catches. Put that together and he’s averaged over seven yards per touch – that’s not bad.
With the backfield in Pittsburgh currently looking like a total mess, Rainey is worth a stash in a deep dynasty league. Isaac Redman has been banged up and unimpressive, Rashard Mendenhall won’t be back for some time and Jonathan Dwyer has never been very consistent. While Rainey lacks the size to be a dominant runner, he does have the ability to be a very dangerous hybrid player for Pittsburgh as early as this season. It wouldn’t be a shock to see him be a nice return specialist and a significant part of a running back committee with dangerous big play ability.
Now let’s take a look at Bobby.
Bobby Rainey was an incredibly productive running back at Western Kentucky. In his last two seasons, he had 709 carries for 3,294 yards and 34 touchdowns – now that’s the definition of a workhorse. Rainey was near the top of the Nation in both carries and rushing yards in both seasons. He’s also just the eighth Division I (FBS) player since 2000 to post two straight 1,500-yard seasons. How about the laundry list of others who have done that – it includes LaDanian Tomlinson, Ray Rice, DeAngelo Williams, Darren McFadden and Steven Jackson. Not bad company, if I do say so myself.
Oddly enough, Bobby is only 5’8″, but carries 205 pounds very well on his frame. In a word, he’s tough. He’s actually been described as a hybrid of Darren Sproles and Maurice Jones-Drew. He’s also very fast as he’s been clocked in the mid 4.4’s in the 40. Much like Chris, he was a collegiate track star as well. There are questions about the competition he faced and the immense workload he had in college and those two issues helped drop his stock completely out of the draft.
After signing with Baltimore, Bobby made a great impression at rookie camp and hasn’t looked back. So far this preseason, he’s posted 46 yards on 17 carries (not a great average of just 2.7), but has also caught ten passes for 121 yards and two touchdowns. Meanwhile, the Ravens third round pick Bernard Pierce has produced just 36 yards on 14 carries and two catches for 19 yards – he’s also looked very ordinary in the process.
Reports are surfacing that Rainey has already passed Damien Berry and Anthony Allen and has likely locked up a job as the third running back at worst. However, it’s apparent to anyone who’s watched him that he’s nipping at the heels of Pierce to be Ray Rice’s handcuff.
This is the best time of the year for hard core dynasty players as we make our choices on which players we take some chances on and stash on our benches with the hopes they can develop. This year, you could do a whole lot worse than either player with the last name of Rainey.