RB Dare Ogunbowale, Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
A trendy sleeper last preseason, managed to carve out a role as a pass-catching specialist for the Bucs in 2019, reeling in 35/46 targets for 286 yards while also punching in a pair of touchdowns on the ground. Ogunbowale was no world beater by any means, checking in as the team’s tertiary back mostly to take the load off of Ronald Jones and Peyton Barber. With Barber being replaced by a slightly more dynamic back in Ke’Shawn Vaughn and Jones still on the roster, the path to a starting role is almost entirely blocked off. However, the path to fantasy relevance is wide open for the fourth-year back, thanks to the presence of the team’s new QB, future Hall of Famer Tom Brady. Brady (who targeted the RB position 164 times in the passing game last season) is going to need a pass-catcher out of the backfield to checkdown to (fairly often). Here’s how Brady’s top ‘checkdown backs’ have fared in fantasy (for PPR leagues) these past five years.
- 2019 James White RB18
- 2018 James White RB7
- 2017 Dion Lewis RB15
- 2016 James White RB26
- 2015 James White RB39 (caveat here: Dion Lewis was the RB42 this season, their combined points would have made them the RB7 overall)
While Jones (31 catches in 2019), Vaughn (66 receptions in his college career), and seventh-round pick Raymond Calais (a speedster with the potential to be an effective third-down back) are all capable of filling this need, Ogunbowale is a steady pass protector who could very well earn Brady’s trust thanks to his veteran instincts and his similarities to James White (both are Wisconsin backs with relatively similar skill sets, although White is clearly the superior talent). It’s a bit of a longshot for sure, but Ogunbowale may very well carve out a very juicy fantasy relevant role for the Buccaneers this season, making him well worth stashing at this stage in the offseason.
RB Jeff Wilson Jr., San Francisco 49ers:
I’m gonna begin this section by saying this. I have no idea what the 49ers are going to do with their backs. Wilson is going into his third season with the team after latching on as an UDFA in 2018, and he could very well be pushed off of the roster by one of the team’s latest undrafted signings — Salvon Ahmed (Washington) and JaMycal Hasty (Baylor) — if he fails to impress during training camp. Yet Wilson has proven time and time again that he can be a very capable rusher when his number is called, scoring five touchdowns for the team in 2019 (tied for third on the team). We have seen the Niners rely on the hot hand week-in and week-out, with the ‘lead back’ role being passed back and forth between Tevin Coleman, Matt Breida, and Raheem Mostert last season. With Breida off to Miami, Wilson will have the opportunity to absorb some of the 142 touches vacated by the team’s ex-starter. While Coleman, Mostert, and Jerick McKinnon (if healthy) are all expected to get their share, Wilson is a candidate to put up some really valuable RB3 or RB4 level points depending on the game script (and who has the ‘hottest hand’).