When a team's quarterback battle is at the forefront, it's very easy for other storylines to get lost. Enter running back James Davis, the Cleveland Browns' sixth-round pick, who's quietly having a noteworthy preseason and raising his fantasy football hype with each showing.
Humbled and anxious to prove his worth, Davis has impressed over Cleveland's last two preseason games with his burst and sharp cutbacks (sound familiar? He reminds some of a young Jamal Lewis). Against Tennessee on Saturday night, Davis rushed five times for 28 yards and caught four passes for 27 yards. Lewis sputtered for 23 yards on 10 carries.
But it was this 81-yard touchdown run versus Detroit that really seemed to catapult Davis from last-round flier to legitimate fantasy sleeper:
Reports started to crop up recently that Lewis looked "decidedly unquick" and "slow and tentative". While it's important not to overreact to training camp talk, there is no arguing that Davis' Average Draft Position of No. 172 is far too low.
Lewis is 30 years old and coming off a clean-up surgery on his ankle. Davis is seven years younger and a hungry rookie. So far this preseason, Davis' yards per carry stands at 7.8. Lewis? He's averaging 2.6 yards. Early on, we talked about how versatile back Jerome Harrison could be one to watch, but now that Harrison has been sidelined the last three weeks with an ankle injury, our attention shifts firmly over to Davis.
Also consider Lewis is only signed through 2010. He's still going to be the starter this year and a willing mentor for the rookie, but it's not a stretch to think Davis could be starting, or at least in a timeshare, by season's end.
At the very least, Davis looks like an underrated keeper and it's time to get him stashed in standard leagues as well.