2015 Fantasy Football: Top RB Handcuffs

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Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

Roy Helu, Raiders –  Technically I am breaking my 3rd down back rule that I stated in the intro, but with the likely release of Trent Richarson, Helu will also be the primary backup to Latavius Murray. With only 82 touches last season on a really bad team, Helu’s contributions were over looked by most. His YPC average of 5.4 was one of the best in the league (40 carries) as was his 11.4 YPR (43 catches). The Raiders are counting on Latavius Murray to handle the majority of the early down duties, but Murray is untested and has had a few injuries in his short career. I like Murray to have a breakout season, but if his nagging injuries pop up again then Helu could be a very useful fantasy option. In PPR leagues Helu is already worth a bench spot with a ton of upside if Murray goes down.

Andre Williams, Giants – His seven TDs look good last season, but his 3.3 YPC doesn’t. Williams didn’t pass the eye test for me either, looking stiff and slow through the line of scrimmage. He did show some power and short-yardage skill, which could end up earning him the goal-line back job. Getting red zone carries will give Williams enough value to make him borderline own-able. When you consider the starter, Rashad Jennings, has missed an average of 4 games per season over the last three years that gives Williams a real shot of being the Giants RB1 for a stretch this season.

Charles Sims, Bucs – Doug Martin is not good. Don’t believe the off-season reports or the local scribes touting Martin’s return to his rookie year form. He’s been awful the last two seasons (3.6 YPC) and even his solid 2012 stats were inflated by a 251-yard game against a hapless Raiders squad. As bad as Martin has been, Sims didn’t show much in his first season either. He averaged a paltry 2.8 YPC and failed the eye test miserably. I loved Sims in college and his tape reminded me of Matt Forte, so I’m not giving up on him yet. At Sims’ price, he’s worth an end of the draft gamble as he could take the starting gig from Martin by midseason.

John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Cameron Artis-Payne, Panthers –  Panthers starter Jonathan Stewart has missed 20 games over the last three seasons. A guy who averages just under 7 missed games per season definitely qualifies as injury prone. Artis-Payne has a few veterans ahead of him on the depth chart (Mike Tolbert, Fozzy Whitaker) but no one with the 3-down potential that Artis-Payne possesses. His one-cut and go running style is a perfect fit for the Panthers offense and he most likely would have gone a few rounds higher in other drafts that weren’t loaded with RB talent like last year’s.

Jay Ajayi, Dolphins – The Dolphins don’t seem to trust Lamar Miller to be a work-horse back. They brought in bums like Daniel Thomas and Damien Williams to split carries with Miller the last two seasons, and I think they will give Ajayi every chance to earn carries and keep Miller fresh. If not for some suspect knee x-rays, Ajayi could have gone as high as the 2nd round after a very productive 2014 season at Boise St (2,358 yards from scrimmage). He could be a steal for the Dolphins and a stealth fantasy pick late in the draft.