When constructing your bench (or trying to find starters in Zero RB), you have two options: 1) You can take reliable guys – players that you know won’t get you zero, but probably won’t tear the roof off either; or 2) You can take boom or bust type guys – players that may very well get you zero, but have the upside to potentially swing a matchup if things break right. The focus here will be on the former – players ranked outside the top 20 RBs in PPR scoring that offer safe weekly production.
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Bilal Powell (NYJ) ADP RB23
Who doesn’t like a green Bilallipop? Now you’re never going to be able to look at Bilal Powell the same. But Powell is more than just a great name. He’s a really solid PPR back. Powell caught 58 passes last year while mostly playing behind Matt Forte. That is almost certain to flip this year. Forte’s body couldn’t hold up last year, and he’s already missed time in training camp with a hamstring issue. He’s not breaking down – he’s broken down. Even in limited snaps, Forte is probably going to miss games this year. Regardless, Powell should start and see a good 60% of the snaps even with Forte healthy. Powell averaged 20.5 carries over the final four games of 2016. His touch floor should be relatively high in 2017. 10 carries should be his absolute floor and he should see four or five targets each game. The Jets may not score very often and Powell may not swing weeks frequently, but he will get you double-digit fantasy points more often than not. He makes for a great Zero RB target or third running back/flex option.
Danny Woodhead (BAL) ADP RB22
This one is no surprise. One of the premier passing catching backs of the last decade, Danny Woodhead now finds himself in a position to try and replicate his career 2015 season. He’s not going to be that good again, but this is a guy just two years removed from an 80-catch season. Baltimore has the most vacated targets in the league, and Woodhead will be more of a pass catcher than runner of the ball anyway. I expect him to see close to 100 targets and probably handle a few carries each game. As long as he can stay on the field, which is no guarantee, Woodhead has one of the safest PPR floors in all of fantasy football.
Theo Riddick (DET) ADP RB31
He is the poster boy for PPR. I wouldn’t even think about drafting him in standard, but I’m aggressively targeting him in PPR. Riddick is so much more a receiver than a running back that his receiving stats are listed before his rushing stats on Pro-Football Reference. In 2015, Riddick saw 99 targets. Last year, he was on pace for even more until he went down with a wrist injury after just 10 games. Riddick caught at least four passes in all but one game last season. He also works out of the slot and could pick up some of the targets vacated by Anquan Boldin. In 2016, Riddick finished top-24 at his position seven out of 10 games, which was the 10th most top 24 finishes by percentage. Then there’s the added caveat that Ameer Abdullah hasn’t been particularly good at actually playing football in his young career. While the Lions will likely go to some sort of committee with Zach Zenner and Dwayne Washington if Abdullah goes down, Riddick will certainly see an uptick in carries. He’s one of those guys with a high weekly floor and high seasonal upside because of the potential opportunities for an increased workload.
Darren Sproles (PHI) ADP RB46
I was a lot higher on the Darren Sproles bandwagon in 2016 than I am this year. However, he’s still a safe PPR option. Sproles is available as your fifth running back, yet he’s the type of guy that you can always plug into your lineup and know you’re getting a few points. He posted a top-24 weekly finish in eight of his 14 games. That’s solid. He also led the Eagles in red-zone touches. Sproles has at least 40 receptions in each of his last eight seasons. Sproles caught at least one pass in every game last season. He averaged about 10 touches per game. That’s not going to win you weeks, but Sproles will ensure your team gets something out of that RB slot if you need him in a bind.
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Jason Katz is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Jason, check out his archive or follow him @jasonkatz13.