Every year we try to give fantasy owners some loss protection. Guys to pick up in case your stud goes down. Or guys to pick up in hopes someone else's stud goes down. Cruel thought, but it happens. And we've seen in the past that picking up insurance policies late in the draft can pay off in a big way.
Of course not all backups are created equal. Running back Brandon Oliver is likely going to log over 300 carries this fall. The odds of him going down are high. However, there simply is no clear-cut backup behind him worth investing in. That's not the case with the guys listed below. They are top talents sitting and waiting behind other top talents. These are some backups worth owning.
James White, RB, Wisconsin - This is an obvious one. Montee Ball is set to log a lot of carries once again and if he can't stay healthy, White will see a huge boost in production. Keep in mind White has already rushed 298 times for 1768 yards and 20 touchdowns the last two years
Thomas Rawls, RB, UofM - Timely eh? Ironically enough Rawls was the first person that came to my mind while generating this list before Fitzgerald Toussaint was popped for DUI. With Alabama on tap in the opener, there could be some injury casualties right out of the gate. And if Toussaint is suspended against Air Force or UMass... hello Rawls. He's a brawler and one of our top unrated freshman from 2011. He would see significant carries if Toussaint is suspended or injured for any length of time.
Waymon James, RB, TCU - With the departure of Ed Wesley, the TCU running back situation becomes much more fantasy-friendly. If I had the choice, I'd take Matthew Tucker. He had twice as many red zone and goal line carries as James in 2012. But if Tucker were to go down, James would be the man.
Isaac Bennett, RB, Pitt - Bennett racked up 124 yards in the Blue-Gold spring game, and he could rack up even more if Ray Graham struggles in his return from knee surgery. Paul Chryst is in town, so look for Bennett to see plenty of carries even if Graham is healthy. Though his fantasy value hinges on Graham's health. Another back that fits this mold is Sadale Foster.
Cassius McDowell, RB, Toledo - The Rockets seem to be loaded with playmakers and McDowell is no different. He could play receiver or running back this fall. His fantasy value will come at running back should something happen to David Fluellen.
Joe Bergeron, RB, Texas - Remember the Longhorn backup that rushed for over 300 yards and five scores in two games when Malcolm Brown was hobbled by a toe injury? We do. We also remember that same back burning fantasy owners when he was a game-time scratch against Missouri. The Longhorns bring in another topflight freshman running back this fall, so things could get even more crowded. Still Bergeron has proven he can carry the load if called upon.
Anthony Knight, RB, Nevada - Stefphon Jefferson is one of the sexy sleeper picks for 2012. But watch out for Knight. The redshirt freshman is going to steal carries, and if Johnson doesn't get the job done, Knight will get his turn. See our player preview on Knight for more information.
Connor Halliday, QB, Washington State - Let's just assume for a minute that Jeff Tuel wins the job. With that out of the way, when is the last time a Wazzu quarterback made it through an entire season unscathed? Offensive line woes have left Pullman QBs exposed, and it will likely take two to make it through the season once again.
Brian Bennett, QB, Oregon - Marcus Mariota is the hot name coming out of spring. Most have already penciled him in as the starter, and he'll likely be the first Duck QB off the board on draft day. Whoever wins the job, he is a better runner than Darron Thomas and he'll be doing more of it. Which opens them up for bumps and bruises.
Terrance Broadway, QB, Louisiana-Lafayette - This one has a weird Kyle Padron/J.J. McDermott/SMU feel to it already. Blaine Gautier will get the start, but the coaching staff has already said Broadway will see action. Don't stub your toe in Week One, Blaine.