While the passing-down running back community is still reeling from the loss of Danny Woodhead to another season-ending injury, this niche industry looks set for a bizarre boom in Week 3.
Two of its modern-day mainstays are about to be called up to the show, in a manner of speaking, as injuries wrecked some the violent position’s combatants in Week 2.
Charles Sims and Theo Riddick are pass-catching backs by trade; they’re about to become ball-carriers since their respective teams will each be without starters Doug Martin and Ameer Abdullah. They both need to be considered for your temporary team this Sunday considering DFS sites, and their full or partial PPR setups cater to this kind of scenario.
Riddick and Sims are still going to catch passes, but now they’re about to be used more often on run downs. This is the kind of situation that should excite fans of this position — passing-down backs are one of the most aesthetically enjoyable facets of NFL games.
If you did not enjoy a priority pick in your shallow league waiver hierarchy and didn’t draft one of these men in your deeper league, a chance to capitalize comes as a result of Martin and Abdullah’s misfortune.
Both are worth owning this weekend — DraftKings uses the two-running back/FLEX lineup that makes such an arrangement ideal — and are in a position to be yards-from-scrimmage standouts due to the roles in which they now find themselves. Each is priced affordably, with DraftKings slotting the Lions and Buccaneers’ likely starters at $4,900 (tied for 21st among RBs) and FanDuel actually placing Riddick ($6,400, 21st) above Sims ($6,300, 25th) despite the Detroit back not likely having a goal-line role.
Sims makes for a slightly better pick even though the Rams have one of the NFL’s best front sevens. The Buccaneers do not employ anyone else who will be vulturing red zone work, since the diminutive Jacquizz Rodgers is Tampa Bay’s No. 3 back who now moves to No. 2 without Martin.
This is quite interesting since the third-year player has not acted in this role before. But Sims consistently flashed as a pass-catcher and ball-carrier in 2015 — totaling 1,090 yards from scrimmage. He caught 51 passes and averaged 4.9 yards per carry. There’s upside here, especially considering the reps he looks like he’ll be receiving.
The Rams being underdogs as they trek to south Florida, Sims isn’t likely to see his team play from behind for long. While that’s his usual spot, receptions will be there any way (he has six in two games in spot duty behind Martin), and his handoff count will rise.
He did not receive more than 12 carries in any game last season and has logged just 13 thus far in 2016. Sims is not exactly built like a pure third-down back, at 6-foot and 214 pounds, so being in a position to receive goal-line work isn’t surprising.
Sims hasn’t impressed in those 13 totes (2.5 yards per carry), but he has enough volume coming his way Sunday. DraftKings awarding one point per reception and FanDuel giving a half-point raises his floor since Rodgers isn’t likely to play much. The former third-round pick is particularly enticing on DraftKings.
Riddick is one of the most electric open-field runners in football, passing the eye test frequently. He finished with 830 yards on a staggering split (697 receiving, 133 rushing) in 2015 but was already on pace to shatter his single-season carry high of 43 (he already has 18 carries for 82 yards and a touchdown through two games) before Abdullah went down.
Playing behind Abdullah and Joique Bell left Riddick way down in the handoffs pecking order in ’15, but he dizzied defenders out of the backfield. The Lions line him up as a receiver often and get him involved in routes atypical of the position at which he’s listed.
Riddick will have Dwayne Washington in vulture position near end zones, but with the Lions not likely to be in clock-milking mode against the Packers at Lambeau Field, they’re going to use Riddick often. It will be fascinating how the Lions will deploy Riddick now that he’s its their running option, but it’s safe to say he’ll receive plenty of touches. Like Sims, that PPR format elevates his floor.
DraftKings’ format opens the door to a Sims RB-2/Riddick FLEX/someone much better at RB-1 look, and fake funds should be available to spend on receivers.
FanDuel, it’s probably best to go with just one since it doesn’t include a FLEX. Sims, with his expected red zone work, looks like the slightly better play there, especially being $100 cheaper.
Plus, going with these two won’t leave you vulnerable to game flow. Barring injury, these backs are going to be out there throughout, whether their team is ahead or behind.
So, enjoy these visually distinctive players this weekend and marvel at the underrated passing-down backs as they make their plays for full-time duty.