We continue our annual 32-part Summer Sleeper series where DLF scribes identify a lightly-touted player on each NFL roster who may be worthy of your consideration. Our subjects all have varying levels of “sleeperness,” but each merits a bit of in-depth discussion here in the Premium Content section.
To help everybody along, we are going to be categorizing our sleepers under one of three headings:
- Super Deep Sleepers – Players who aren’t roster-worthy in 12-team leagues, but are still worth keeping an eye on.
- Deep Sleepers – An end of the roster player who is more often than not on the waiver wire in 12-team leagues.
- Sleeper – A likely rostered player who makes for a good trade target. Their startup ADP puts them out of the top-175 or so.
Because we aren’t going give you the likes of mainstream sleepers like Allen Robinson or C.J. Anderson, most of these players will undoubtedly fizzle. All we are asking is for you to keep an open mind and perhaps be willing to make room for one of these players on your bench. You never know when the next Alfred Morris is going to spring up. Feel free to add your own thoughts about our choice for the designated sleeper, or nominate one of your own in the comments below.
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Josh Robinson, RB IND
The Indianapolis Colts player who I feel has the best opportunity to outplay his current average draft position of 159.17 is rookie running back Josh Robinson.
The Colts selected Robinson in the sixth round of the 2015 NFL Draft with the 205th pick out of Mississippi State. He’s a 5’8”, 217 pound wrecking ball of runner who runs low to the ground and through arm tackles. He’s a patient runner who doesn’t waste time dancing behind the line of scrimmage. He’s also proficient in the passing game and a very willing pass blocker, which is critical for any rookie running back.
He’s not the quickest runner in the world, though. He ran a 4.70 second 40-yard dash at the Combine before only slightly improving at his Pro Day with a 4.65. The next hurdle for Robinson will be transitioning from the zone-read, spread offense of Dan Mullen to a pro style offense led by Andrew Luck.
Forming an electric college backfield with Dak Prescott, an explosive dual threat quarterback, Robinson was able to rush for 1,203 yards and 11 touchdowns during his final collegiate season. He left Mississippi State tied for the school record with a career 6.2 yards per carry average. He now finds himself in a premier situation with Luck, Frank Gore and the Indianapolis Colts.
Over the last two seasons, the Colts have fared better than the league average in terms of PPR points by running backs. Considering the fact they were dragging around a huge lump of dead weight by the name of Trent Richardson, it’s pretty impressive. The Colts have used a two running back system since Luck entered the league, first with Vick Ballard and Donald Brown, then with Richardson and Brown, and last year with a combination of Richardson with Ahmad Bradshaw or Dan Herron. This season should be no different as the Colts roll with a heavy dose of Frank Gore while sprinkling in occasional touches for Herron. Giving such a heavy workload to a 32-year old running back is rarely a recipe for success, unless you’re Fred Jackson, but Gore has been incredibly durable and hasn’t missed a game since 2010. Josh Robinson should consider himself extremely lucky to be the understudy to one of the best running backs in the league over the last ten years.
With an extremely loaded group of pass catchers made up of T.Y. Hilton, Andre Johnson, Phillip Dorsett, Donte Moncrief, Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener, these Colts runners will practically never see seven in the box, let alone an eighth defender. This offense should produce legitimate fantasy studs at every level.
If Gore stays healthy, Robinson may find it tough to gain meaningful snaps in year one. If Gore winds up missing significant time though, Robinson will leapfrog Herron on the depth chart as the team’s primary ball barrier while keeping Herron in his situational passing down role. You can draft Robinson as a handcuff to Gore with the hopes of him taking over a more meaningful role in 2016, but he’s literally one hit away from RB2 territory right away.