Every fantasy owner has heard the old, reliable strategy.
"You have to get your running backs early."
While that remains true for the most part, what if a fantasy owner could strike gold on a top 20 running back in the middle round? It seems to happen every year, and while it's certainly a more risky strategy, the team that finds the diamond in the rough is often the most successful. It's all about knowing where to look.
With that in mind, here are five running backs to target in your fantasy drafts. All average draft position date collected from Fantasy Football Calculator.
1. Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals, Average Draft Position: 42.2
The fantasy world is starting to catch on to Giovani Bernard. The most talented running back in the 2013 NFL Draft class, Bernard finds himself in an ideal situation, surrounded by talented weapons in the Bengals' offense. BenJarvus Green-Ellis is the only thing standing between Bernard and fantasy stardom. Most time in the NFL, talent wins out, and Bernard has far more of it than Green-Ellis.
2. Shane Vereen, New England Patriots, Average Draft Position: 61.2
The Patriots are going to have a different look on offense this season. Without Rob Gronkowski, Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez, the Patriots will be looking for new playmakers. Shane Vereen is one of them, with his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and be a threat in the running game. Stevan Ridley will get his fair share of carries, but the Patriots are a high volume offense with plenty of production to go around.
3. Daryl Richardson, St. Louis Rams, Average Draft Position: 46.2
Get Daryl Richardson while you can, because his average draft position is rising fast. Richardson has won the Rams' running back job and has shown a ton of improvement throughout training camp and the preseason. With Steven Jackson out of town, Richardson will have a chance to become St. Louis' featured running back. If that offense improves, Richardson could be one of the biggest beneficiaries.
4. Bryce Brown, Philadelphia Eagles, Average Draft Position: 105.3
Fantasy owners who picked up Bryce Brown were rewarded with some of the biggest single-game performances of the season. He has since been forgotten because Lesean McCoy is back healthy. But in Chip Kelly's offense, there should be plenty of carries to go around. As Brown showed last year, he doesn't need a ton of carries to make a big impact. In the ninth round, Brown is an ideal No. 3 running back.
5. David Wilson, New York Giants, Average Draft Position: 27.9
David Wilson is talented enough to be a first-round pick in fantasy football. But the presence of Andre Brown and Tom Coughlin's quick hook have made Wilson a risky commodity. In the final four games of 2012, Wilson had over 250 rushing yards and four total touchdowns while not fumbling once. If he keeps the ball off the turf, he could be a steal in the third or fourth round of your draft.