By Seth Woodman
Free agency is always one of the most exciting times of the year for football fans. It’s always fun to see which team is going to drop a ton of money on a player that is just going to be a former shadow of themselves. This year, the biggest moves were pretty uninspiring. Julius Thomas was shipped off to Jacksonville who was second to last in Red Zone scoring in 2014 and does not have Peyton Manning Throwing him the ball. A better landing spot for a mediocre player was Torrey Smith, who gets to play with Kaepernick who has a big enough arm to make him a worthwhile boom or bust WR3. For the most part though, free agency was relatively boring for offensive players and fantasy impact. Amongst the more interesting pickups was Roy Helu, who received a two year, four million dollar deal from the Oakland Raiders. Helu should be on everyone’s radar as a sneaky RB3 pick up, who has RB2 upside if he ends up as the #1.
New Offensive Coordinator in Oakland
Bill Musgrave was hired by head coach Jack Del Rio. Musgrave has proven to be a formidable offensive coordinator with time in Jacksonville, Carolina, and Minnesota. The one thing that Musgrave has consistently had is a strong running game. With backs like Fred Taylor and Adrian Peterson, this may be more an example of the talent provided to Musgrave. Regardless of all that, Musgrave’s teams have run well and his running backs have caught the ball well out of the backfield. Ranging from 24 [year Peterson got injured] to 74 targets, Musgrave’s backfield has been very competent with pass-catching out of the backfield. With Carr’s average length of completion at about 6 yards per attempt and with about 120 throws behind the line of scrimmage and 174 attempts between 1 and 10 yards, Roy Helu will certainly benefit as the most talented pass catcher out of the backfield for the Raiders in 2015.
Lack of History – Latavius Murray
Latavius Murray was a fantasy darling of the community at points last year, but it’s hard to argue that he is the most talented back in the Raiders’ backfield currently due to the fact he has an exceedingly limited experience. Murray ran for 424 yards over the course of six games, with another 143 yards receiving. Two large plays made up for 24% of all Murray’s yards, the ninety yard run vs. the Chiefs and a 46 yard reception vs. the Broncos. He ran for double digit carries in four games and only averaged 3.9 yards per carry of the course of those four games, relying heavily on big plays to bolster those numbers. With his average draft position in the 5th round, Murray is a serious risk at running back. Roy Helu provides an interesting play on that risk.
Interesting History – Roy Helu
Helu is going to be a solid PPR option for RB3, regardless how the other situation plays out. In 2014, Helu had 42 receptions for 477 yards with two scores. In addition, he tacked on 200 yards and a score on the ground. In his rookie year, he received double digit carries over the course of six games for 84 yards on the ground in each of those games. In addition to those 84 yards, he put up 43.5 yards through the air in each of those games. In 2012, he got hurt and was overtaken by Alf Morris. In 2013, he was less effective, but buoyed his fantasy production with four touchdowns between the two games where he received double digit touches. Last year, he received double digit touches twice, once for 36 yards and then 83 yards. Helu’s history is longer and, when provided an opportunity to shine, Helu can exceed expectations of being “just a passing downs back.”
Many analysts are putting money down on Murray as the lead back in Oakland, but last year he proved relatively ineffective and gained most of his yards on big plays. His ADP is currently higher than the likes of CJ Spiller, Isaiah Crowell, and Mark Ingram. Whereas, Roy Helu is going at pick 156, which puts him at the end of round 13 in a 12 team league. The investment and possible payout for Helu is just too good to pass up in most cases. Use your fifth round pick on a more valuable player and grab Helu later in your drafts. Worst case scenario you’ve got a RB3/Flex play in PPR leagues as a change of pace passing downs back in Oakland, best case scenario is he ends up as the lead back when Murray fizzles out and could be a top 15 back. Either way, grabbing Helu in round 12 or 13 should pay off for you and your dynasty team.