Welcome to this weeks’ edition of the Monday Morning Sleeper. Last week I profiled Joe Williams, a running back playing for the San Francisco 49ers who may have an excellent opportunity under a new coaching regime
A Fantasy Football Sleeper is a player that is in a position to play beyond their rankings or expectations, and who may provide you with some value at their draft position.
This week I will be profiling another rookie running back, but one who has a much tougher path to fantasy relevance ahead of him. That player is Elijah Hood, and he is a first-year running back playing for the Oakland Raiders.
Hood was drafted in the seventh round, 242nd overall, in the 2017 NFL entry draft by the Oakland Raiders. He finished his career at the University of North Carolina with 2,580 rushing yards on 430 carries, for an average of 6.0 yards per carry. This included 29 touchdowns over his three seasons with the Tar Heels.
Hood is a strong and powerful runner, who may lack speed, but makes up for it with his ability to grind his way through defenders to gain a few extra yards. He also possesses excellent pass blocking ability, which adds to his versatility on the field, and could lead to other opportunities in different formations.
Hood has some obvious competition for reps on the Raiders, and one huge road block ahead of him for lead back duties. Marshawn Lynch, AKA Beast Mode, signed with Oakland this off-season, and instantly became the Raiders undisputed starter. Lynch comes with some question marks. First of all, he is 31 years old, which is past the general expiry date for an NFL running back. Historically, the decline has been well documented. Second, he missed an entire season of football after retiring for the 2016 season. This missed season of playing at a high level could have an impact on his level of play. Third, he has chronic back issues which have caused him to miss time in the past. How will his back hold up week in and week out, only time will tell.
Two other speed bumps on the Raiders roster are DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard. Washington is still young, and has a very real shot at the backup duties behind Lynch. He has experience playing for the Raiders and is already familiar with the offense. Richard is similar, and is even younger than Washington. Before Lynch was signed, it was a coin toss as to who would take over the lead back duties. While both of these backs possess better speed and agility than Hood, Hood’s versatility should separate him from these two quickly through training camp.
With Hood expected to assume backup duties behind Lynch, it would not be surprising to see Hood make and appearance sooner rather than later. With Lynch coming out of retirement, and suffering from chronic back issues, Hood should see plenty of action this season.
Hood is currently ranked 237th overall, and is the 77th ranked running back, according to Fantasy Pros. He is ranked behind the rest of the Raiders running backs, including Lynch, Richard, and Washington. I would take him ahead of all three of them in dynasty formats, and behind Lynch in redraft.
Thank you for reading The Monday Morning Sleeper, and follow me on Twitter, @HaehnelJames
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