Charles Sims Is the Perfect Running Back to Draft in Your PPR League

Charles Sims 2015 both rushing and receiving was better than you think. Can he replicate this in 2016?

I love Amazon Prime. To me, it's the ultimate value play, providing exclusive video content like All or Nothing: A Season With the Arizona Cardinals, free two-day shipping, and subscribe and save.

However, I tend to underappreciate it until I get burned elsewhere. For instance, after the Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA Title, I patiently waited three weeks for another website to get my Cavs championship t-shirt. There's no way Amazon Prime would've taken that long.

So what's my point? In an increasingly pass-heavy NFL, many owners have moved away from spending top fantasy draft capital on running backs. Therefore, if I'm in that category, I want my running backs to be efficient, versatile, and with future upside -- like Amazon Prime's one-stop shopping.

And if I'm searching for a running back in 2016 who exemplifies the Amazon Prime versatility at a value price, that back has to be Tampa Bay's Charles Sims.

Ground Delivery

After Doug Martin's revival in 2015 and big contract extension, it's easy to overlook what Sims brought to the table for the Buccaneer offense last season.

Let's start with Sims' rushing abilities, namely using our Net Expected Points (NEP) -- which you can read more in our glossary -- metric. For comparison sake, let's look at the Tampa Bay running backs side by side.

Player (Rush) Rushes Rush Yards Avg. Rush TDs Rush NEP Rush NEP/Play Success Rate
Sims 107 529 4.94 0 -0.97 -0.01 44.86%
Martin 288 1,402 4.87 6 -1.59 -0.01 42.36%

While Martin had a monster fantasy season rushing-wise, both backs were extremely effective in average yards per carry -- Sims finished third among NFL running backs with 90 or more carries in rushing yards per attempt, while Martin finished fifth.

So everyone's aware, rushing plays tend to result in negative expected points, as passing is far more effective. Both Sims and Martin were directly at the league average on a per rush last year, but Sims' Success Rate -- the percentage of positive runs made by a running back -- was in the 90th percentile among high-volume backs.

In other words, Sims was incredibly effective last year, despite the highly-touted Martin getting all the praise.

Release the Drones!

Much talk in the Bucs' offseason plans has centered around Sims becoming even more involved in 2016 to both keep Martin fresh and to highlight Sims' receiving prowess, which is among the best for pass-catching running backs. Here's how Sims and Martin compare in the receiving game, again factoring in ranking running backs with a minimum of 90 rushing attempts:

Player (Receiving) Receptions Rec Yards Avg. Rec TDs Rec NEP Rec NEP/Target Success Rate
Sims 51 (4th) 561 11.0 4 33.3 (5th) 0.48 (10th) 74.5 (7th)
Martin 33 (18th) 271 8.2 1 12.5 (25th) 0.28 (30th) 69.6 (15th)

Sims was far above the average in Reception NEP per target -- points added on a per target basis -- of 0.36 among backs last year, but according to our numbers, Martin lagged. More importantly, Sims was the more versatile of the two backs. In fact, in 2015, only four running backs (including Sims) posted more than 50 receptions and 100 carries. The others? Devonta Freeman, Duke Johnson, and Mark Ingram.

Additionally, Sims' volume in the passing game was fairly consistent, as he had 10 games of 3 or more receptions, meaning the volume was there on a weekly basis to make him a viable fantasy running back, especially in PPR leagues.

The Opportunity

When it comes to volume, Sims' rushing opportunities appear ready for an increase because he's had proven results, and it improves -- at least, according to the team's staff -- Martin's effectiveness and freshness. This provides a nice number of carries for Sims as a floor, which enhances his fantasy value, especially given Sims' ability to score from anywhere on the field.

From a receiving standpoint, Sims was already the team's second-leading receiver last year, and the team didn't draft any receivers.

The team designs plays specifically for his route tree abilities. In 2015, Sims scored on a wide receiver screen from 32 yards out against the Texans, an improvised wheel route for a 50-yard touchdown against the Bears, and a back-shoulder touchdown between two-defenders versus Philadelphia while lined up in the slot.

Game script also plays a significant role in a receiving back's workload in the passing game. In 2015, a lot of Sims' fourth quarter or overtime receptions (almost half) came when the team was trailing. If we assume Sims will have more of an early-game role, as shown above, then this certainly can't hurt his fantasy value. We project an 8-8 season for the Bucs, which means negative game scripts will be coming for Tampa Bay. That helps Sims.

Lastly, let's not forget that Martin has missed 15 games in his four-year career due to injury. If Martin gets injured again, Sims could turn into a potentially better fantasy starter than Martin based on his pass-catching ability and the opportunity.

The Value Proposition

Sims is currently coming off the board 32nd at the running back position and around the end of the seventh round in 12-team PPR leagues. Our projections currently peg Sims as the 36th-ranked running back in PPR formats, with similar rushing and receiving volumes to last season.

Based on his versatility highlighted by supreme pass-catching ability and rushing efficiency, though, Sims' metrics seem to offer upside on his draft position. Don't be surprised if he outperforms his average draft cost.