In today’s specialized NFL that includes multiple RB, WR, and TE packages, it’s particularly hard to isolate players who are clear backups and not simply complementary players. This article will try to highlight those players and detail why they have a chance to contribute if forced into the starting lineup.

There will always be players on our top backups list who wind up doing diddlysquat because we are trying to isolate low-end players with some legit upside, but you have to remember that almost all of these players need some help to make an impact. Yet it certainly doesn’t hurt to have a clear understanding of the league’s top backups. As we see year after year, players rise up their team’s depth charts during the season and help for fantasy.

As for our criteria for listing and ranking the following backups, we’re looking at a few factors: The backup’s ability to produce, the starter’s injury history, his supporting cast, and also the possibility that the player in front of him on the depth chart has some non-injury issues.

There were some hits in this article last year, ranging from singles to major home runs, when we first published in early July – Jimmy Garoppolo, Tevin Coleman, Spencer Ware, Tim Hightower, Devontae Booker, J.J. Nelson, Martellus Bennett, and Hunter Henry. Among those players, we had some with legit season-long value, some with excellent short-term value, and a couple of players who could have filled in for a week or two for injuries/byes, or guys who turned out to be excellent cheap DFS plays.

So as you can see, profiling the league’s top back-up players is a worthwhile endeavor, if for no other reason than to isolate players whose situations are worth keeping an eye on during the season.

Note: For brevity’s sake, we tried to ignore players who are projected to contribute in a significant rotational role or are currently given a decent shot of winning a starting job. This article is strictly for players we view as clear backups and the players are listed in order of their chances of getting on the field, as well as their ability to produce if they do.

Quarterbacks

Jimmy Garoppolo (NE) – Garoppolo would be one of the hottest pickups on the WW should Tom Brady miss time for wh...
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