Digging Down Deep In The Sleeper Bin

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All owners should keep a sharp eye out for Colts rookie RB Delone Carter this year.

For this edition of my Fantasy Football Sleepers series on running backs, I really had to dig deep into the fantasy bin in the hopes I can pick a name that almost no one in your league will think of drafting.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Colts RB Delone Carter.

"Greg, WTF are you talking about?" I know. I know. Carter isn't exactly a guy that jumps out at you and screams SLEEPER!, but hear me out for a minute on a few reasons Carter could be just what the Colts' offense needs.

First, let's take a look at Carter's stats while playing at Syracuse:

Year Team G Rush Yds Yd/Rush TDs Rec Yds Yd/Rec TDs
2006 Syr 12 156 713 4.6 4 9 46 5.1 0
2008 Syr 5 23 137 6.0 0 0 0 - 0
2009 Syr 12 236 1021 4.3 11 11 117 10.6 1
2010 Syr 13 231 1233 5.3 9 8 45 5.6 0
Career 42 646 3104 4.8 24 28 208 7.4 1

Not exactly impressive outside of 2009 and a breakout senior season with a whopping 24 touchdowns, but Carter wasn't exactly a pillar of health, having missed the 2007 season with a hip injury. He was also bothered with hip problems in his senior season, but still managed to put up strong stats.

Carter's off-field issues at Syracuse didn't throw up any red flags during the Draft.

Carter was also suspended in the Spring of 2010 after punching a student when a snowball hit a car Carter was riding in. He eventually pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge and was reinstated in August.

Okay, so we have an injury-prone running back who has a bit of a temper. So why exactly do I think the guy can make it as a legit NFL player?

Simply put; the Colts have one of the most questionable backfields in the league.

Joseph Addai is a free agent and has lost a lot of leverage in talks to re-sign after his 2010 season was a mess after dealing with neck and shoulder injuries for most of the year.

Donald Brown, who was once thought to be Addai's successor as the starter, fell on his face after putting up a measly 3.9 yards a carry as the starter in eight games last year.

Mike Hart eventually saw some time with Addai's injury, but I don't see the team thinking he can be the featured back.

Javarris James is nothing special and long-time veteran Dominic Rhodes is not expected to be re-signed.

So that brings us back to Carter. While I don't envision him as a guy who is going to blow up right out of the gate, there isn't any reason why he shouldn't be given the chance to shine considering everything I talked about above. He runs much faster than his size at 5'9' / 224 would dictate, putting up forty times of 4.46 and 4.50 at the Syracuse Pro Day.

The Colts are hoping Carter can be the answer to their short-yardage woes.

Right after the Colts took Carter with their No. 119 overall pick, the Indianapolis Star reported that the team is hoping Carter can solve their "persistent short-yardage problems."

Matt Williamson of ESPN's Scouts, Inc. went even further, picking Carter as his early Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate and naming him the "best value pick in the draft."

Pretty strong predictions for a kid who has yet to take a snap as a pro. But in a league where the dreaded Running-Back-by-Committee has taken over, finding a player who can carry the ball 20+ times a game, no matter how far under the radar he may be, is like finding gold in a Cracker Jack box.

If you can afford to carry 5-6 running backs in large-roster leagues, I would easily draft Carter as the upside is there. If he starts making noise as early as training camp, I would pounce if he is there very late. In PPR leagues, however, I wouldn't expect a whole lot considering he was never much of a receiver in college. But who knows. With Manning at the helm, Carter could show some pass-catching ability.

For those in leagues that only allow a certain number of players at each position, I would wait on Carter, hope no one else picks him up, then keep a heavy eye on him during the first few games of the season.

Make sure to check out FantasyKnuckleheads.com's full series of Fantasy Football Sleepers appearing throughout the Summer. And for those who play in IDP leagues, Tom Diggs can lead you to victory with his many rankings and sleepers of all defensive positions.