Who Should Be LeSean McCoy's Handcuff in 2016?
It's July, so, naturally, we're talking about backup running back jobs in the NFL.
But this specific job is kind of important. The Buffalo Bills are a run-first team -- no NFL team had a lower pass-to-run ratio last year -- which means starter LeSean McCoy may not be the only fantasy-relevant player in the Bills' backfield this season. I mean, he certainly wasn't last year. And, as a lot of you know, McCoy has a lot of career touches (1,664 carries), which means having strong support is vital.
That support was supposed to be Karlos Williams, who made a name for himself last year as a rookie after scoring seven times.
Williams, though, who's had issues this offseason with his weight, has been suspended for four games after violating the league's substance abuse policy.
Enter Mike Gillislee, who had a 5.7 yards per attempt average while scoring three touchdowns of his own last season.
Reports from Buffalo are saying Gillislee will take over the number-two spot on the Bills' depth chart with Williams out -- that makes sense given the team's depth. And looking at his yards per carry average (5.7) from last season, you could start to make a case that he should hold the job even when Williams gets back.
But a word of caution for those of you who like to handcuff your backs in fantasy football: perhaps no running back's averages from last year are skewed more than Mike Gillislee's.
According to our Net Expected Points (NEP) metric -- which you can read more about in our glossary -- Gillislee had a 0.08 Rushing NEP per rush average last season, which ranked 10th of the 82 running backs with 40 or more touches last season. Not bad. The problem is that his Success Rate -- a measure of the percentage of positive NEP runs made by a player -- was just 27.66%, which ranked 81st among the same group.
In other words, Gillislee's middle name should be "big play".
And while Williams certainly had his fair share of monster plays, he was still gaining positive runs far more consistently. Not only was Williams the most efficient back in the NFL last year per NEP, but he had a Success Rate of 49.46%, a top-five number.
So, yes, Gillislee will more than likely hold the backup role while Karlos Williams is out. But if Williams can return and be close to his 2015 form, the numbers show that he should easily be the team's number-two back.
And that means folks who like to handcuff in fantasy football probably shouldn't with LeSean McCoy this season.