Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans — There’s a reason the Titans drafted the Heisman Trophy winner in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Henry was an absolute stud at the University of Alabama, and has already looked fantastic in preseason action. He could steal carries from DeMarco Murray, whom the Titans acquired via trade from the Philadelphia Eagles. Consider the fact that the Eagles signed Murray to a highly lucrative $42 million contract for five years just one season ago, and were compelled enough to trade away Murray just one season later. Murray had the lowest yards per carry of his career (3.6) in 15 games last season for the Eagles, with only one game with over 100 yards rushing; outside of that one game, he ran for less than 85 yards in every other game. Over the last eight games of the Eagles season, Murray ran for less than 70 yards in each of them. It’s no wonder that he spent time in Chip Kelly’s proverbial doghouse, just weeks after supposedly being the centerpiece of a vaunted rushing attack that Kelly was supposed to unleash. So, again, why is it going to get any better under Mike Mularkey?
Charles Sims, Tampa Bay — Yes, Doug Martin ran for 1,402 yards in 16 games last season, the second highest total in the NFL in 2015. The problem is, Martin missed 16 games over the two seasons prior to 2015. So, which Martin can we expect to see in 2016? That’s why Charles Sims is not only an invaluable handcuff to Martin, but could be a worthwhile selection outright. Even with Martin’s production last season, Sims put up 1,090 total yards on 158 touches last year (carries and receptions), and four receiving touchdowns himself. He was among the top 11 running backs in targets, receptions, receiving yards, receiving touchdowns, and yards per catch, so he’s especially valuable for people playing in point per reception (PPR) or half-PPR leagues. But, if Martin falters for any reason in 2016, Sims could become one of the premier dual threat options in the league.
Theo Riddick, RB, Detroit Lions — Ameer Abdullah is firmly entrenched as the starter in Detroit, and looks to be the running back who’ll get most of the carries for the Lions this year. However, if anything happens to Abdullah, Riddick is the next guy up for the Lions. Even if Abdullah stays healthy, Riddick should be on the radar for everyone playing in a PPR or half-PPR this season. Entering 2015 as mostly an afterthought, Riddick finished 19th among running backs in standard PPR scoring leagues, putting him firmly in the RB2 mix. He actually led the league in receptions among running backs (80 catches), was the second most targeted running back (99 targets), had the second most receiving yards among running backs (697 yards), and tied for seventh in receiving touchdowns. Riddick is often around the 40th running back taken in PPR/half-PPR leagues, making him a total bargain for players who are savvy enough to grab him in the middle-to-late rounds of the draft.
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