Sleeper Watch: Bryce Brown

Why Brown Will Be the Steal of Your Draft

By Alan Cosgrove    

As we talked about in our first deep sleeper article about Brandon Weeden, there's no sense in getting all excited about the trendy sleeper because odds are his price will reflect all that hype. We don't want hype, we want steals. So look for the guys no one else it talking about. Or, better yet, look for the guy all the experts hate, but for irrational reasons.

Which leads us to my favorite sleeper of the year: Bryce Brown.

But Bryce Brown fumbles so much! He fumbled all the time last year and he's already fumbled in the pre-season! He'll never change! They'll never give him the ball! LeSean McCoy is too good!

Well, McCoy is pretty good. But forget the rest of it. Yes, fumbles hurt, but they won't keep talent off the field. You know who had a fumbling problem in his early years? Adrian Peterson. You think anyone in Minnesota said, "You know what, the kid has talent, but we should bench him until he learns to hang onto the ball." I doubt it.

Brown averaged 4.9 yards per carry for Philly last year, which might not sound like anything to jump up and down about, but listen to this: on the same team, behind the same offensive line, LeSean McCoy, the perennial ultra-stud (and ultra-expensive fantasy player) averaged 4.2 yards per carry. That's right, on 115 carries (to LeSean's 200), Brown was .7 yards-per-carry better than a guy who will cost you at least five - maybe ten - times as much in your auction. And it's not like McCoy is exactly a master of ball security; both guys fumbled four times last year.

Now, you say, there are no points for yards per carry in fantasy. Who cares how good Brown is if McCoy gets all the carries? Good question. The answer? Chip Kelly! Chip Kelly is in Philadelphia! I love Chip Kelly, and so will Bryce Brown owners. Kelly doesn't have any loyalty to anyone in Philly. He didn't draft McCoy or Brown and he doesn't care who is making what money. He wants to win, and he'll give the ball to whoever produces. And even if McCoy is the "starter" on paper, there will be plenty of carries to go around. As my friend Jeffrey Jon Pitts likes to say, everyone's going to eat in Philly. People might hear the words "spread offense" and think Chip Kelly is planning to throw 50 times a game. But I don’t buy that. This is a run-first offense; they get to the line fast, run a ton of plays, and anyone with talent and fresh legs will get his chances.

Even before Kelly came to Philly, Brown showed his huge upside. In the week after McCoy went down last year, Brown had 178 yards and two touchdowns against Carolina, and he followed that with 169 yards and two touchdowns against Dallas. You can teach a guy how to hold onto a football; you can’t teach him to do what Brown does when he has the ball in his hands. And Brown did not exactly come out of nowhere. When he was in high school, there was talk that he was one of the great running back prospects of all time. Although some trouble with the NCAA and the fallout from the Lane Kiffin mess at Tennessee left him without much of a college resume, he's a tremendous talent who's shown that his NFL ceiling is sky high.

Best of all? He's currently being drafted as the 40th-45th running back in most leagues. You won’t find anyone else with his talent and in such a perfect situation at the end of your auction. He’s cheap and he’ll get his chances, and when he does, he's going to score somebody a ton of fantasy points. Make sure it's you.