If you employ the Zero RB theory or just happened to stock up on wide receivers and tight ends, you may find yourself in the middle rounds looking for running backs with the kind of upside that can really help your season. Here are some of the guys that you should be targeting.
Charles Sims, RB - TB
Perhaps no other mid-draft pick has as much upside as Sims. Here's a guy who played in 41% of the snaps last year, rushed for 529 yards, and caught 51 passes out of the backfield. Sims put up 1,090 yards total including 4 receiving touchdowns. While both Sims and Doug Martin averaged 4.9 yards per carry, Sims was much more involved with the passing game. While Martin is still the back to own on the Bucs, if he were to go down, the ceiling for Sims is awfully high. You're not going to find much more upside in a player who isn't the starter. Look for him to go around the 9th-round.
Rashad Jennings, RB - NYG
I nabbed Rashad Jennings as my RB3 in Round 8 during a recent industry league draft. By the time we get to the 8th round, there shouldn't be many starting RB's left on the draft board. Given the shaky nature of the Giants backfield last year and the cadre of players vying for touches (Shane Vereen, Andre Williams, Paul Perkins, and Orleans Darkwa), I'm not completely surprised. As of right now, Jennings is the primary back for the Giants. When he was the featured back over the final four games last year, he rushed for an average of 108 yards per game. That's great upside for a guy in the 8th round.
Jay Ajayi, RB - MIA
When Arian Foster landed in Miami, the Jay Ajayi stock took a hit. We've been told that there will be "plenty of carries to split" between Foster and Ajayi, and while Ajayi is technically listed atop the depth chart at the moment, it will likely be the veteran Foster who gets the starting nod. As talented as Foster is both rushing and receiving, he does carry significant injury risk meaning that Ajayi's role could easily grow if Foster gets hurt. The Dolphins' offensive line should be better than last year (which isn't saying much given that they ranked dead last in terms of run blocking) which makes Jay Ajayi's 9th/10th round value a bit more promising.
Melvin Gordon, RB - SD
So far Gordon has looked pretty good in the preseason, which is a nice sign given that 2015 was simply terrible for the former Badger. The offensive line in San Diego didn't help matters, nor did his injury. He appears to be in solid shape after undergoing microfracture surgery on his knee this offseason. He won't get the passing down work as that will still go to Danny Woodhead, but don't be surprised to see Gordon get 225-250 touches this season. He should be available towards the tail end of the 6th round.