Dynasty Sleeper – Chris Warren III
We are currently in the quietest period of the dynasty fantasy football season. 2019 rookie drafts have not begun to take place, and start-up drafts are another month or so out. But that doesn’t mean you should be resting on your laurels. If you want to build a championship roster, you need to outwork your league mates year round, and part of that means finding sleepers that can be acquired on the cheap before their price tag increases.
Sometimes you need to look a little down the depth chart to find the next guy, and in this article, I will be looking at Oakland Raiders running back, Chris Warren III.
Warren was a UDFA from the University of Texas. It’s not surprising he went undrafted considering his overall lack of production:
See? Nothing at all remarkable.
However, if we dig a little deeper, there is some context to his sophomore and junior seasons. In 2016, D’Onta Foreman was the lead back in Texas, rushing for over 2,000 yards on 323 attempts. He was then drafted in the 3rd round of the NFL draft by the Houston Texans.
In 2017, the Longhorns offense was bad. Really bad. They utilized a running back committee of four different backs, with no player seeing more than 83 carries on the entire season. In fact, all four backs had fewer rushing attempts combined than Foreman did in 2017. That doesn’t excuse the fact it was his worst season in college, but it’s important to note nonetheless.
So what does Warren actually offer? Since his production doesn’t tell us much, how are his measurables?
Well for starters he is a solid, although not exceptional athlete – grading out in the 83rd percentile of the SPARQ evaluation. He has the ideal build for a running back with an 81st percentile BMI (per Player Profiler). Anything over 32 is considered extraordinary, meaning 31.7 isn’t bad at all. He lacks the top end speed, which is unsurprising given he weighs nearly 250 pounds, but his agility score is strong for a man of his stature. Warren is a downhill runner, who keeps his legs churning after contact. He reminds me a little bit of LeGarrette Blount (a comparison also made by Matt Waldman in his RSP), but with a little more athleticism:
Fortunately, Warren knows he doesn’t have the breakaway long speed like other running backs and uses his size to his advantage – Waldman breaks down a perfect example of this:
Chris Warren all Self Awareness Part ll: Turning a race into a demolition derby. pic.twitter.com/14yB6tFmyN
— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) March 2, 2018
The Raiders Gave Warren the opportunity to produce in the 2018 preseason and took full advantage. He was the leading rusher during the preseason. It seemed Warren was a lock to make the roster, but what happened next was strange: Warren was sent to the IR with a knee injury, but it didn’t appear severe:
I haven’t heard of an injury for Chris Warren. Some shady stuff going on here…. https://t.co/7AWMox3V6s
— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) September 2, 2018
Whether he was really hurt, or just being protected from practice squad vultures by his franchise, we might not know. If he was being protected (as is suspected), it’s a positive indicator from the Raiders that they hope he will contribute next season.
What we do know is Warren certainly has the opportunity to be the Raiders starting running back in 2019. Oakland is clearly in a rebuild situation. Nothing says “we want to lose” like trading away Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper. Gruden has his plan, and I would be foolish to second guess a Superbowl winning coach, but right now the starting running back job on the Raiders is up for grabs. Marshawn Lynch, Jalen Richard, and Doug Martin are all free agents at the end of the 2018 season. Given the direction of the roster, it’s hard to see any of these veterans returning to the Bay Area in 2019. Even if Richard returns, he could form a nice partnership with Warren as their skill sets are very complimentary.
Is Chris Warren going to be fantasy relevant in Oakland in 2019? I don’t know. But I am willing to pay the small cost to acquire him to find out.
What do you think of Chris Warren? Are you buying him? Let me know on Twitter @FF_DownUnder.