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2014 Fantasy Football Draft Strategy: 10 Must-Own Backups

2014 Fantasy Football Draft Strategy: 10 Backups Who Are Must-Own

Khiry Robinson New Orleans Saints
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Players that were not expected to be difference makers on draft day emerge every year in fantasy football, and it can be hard to unearth potential stars who may simply be buried on the depth chart.

Taking into account league depth and format where appropriate, here are 10 backups who should be on a roster by the end of most fantasy drafts.

10. Charles Sims, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Charles Sims Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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10. Charles Sims, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Charles Sims Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Brian Blanco-Getty Images

Doug Martin will reclaim his role as Tampa Bay's top running back after missing 10 games last season, but offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford has suggested a committee backfield will be used. Sims had 203 receptions during his college career, so he has immediate appeal in deep PPR leagues with the potential for increased fantasy value as the season goes on.

9. Chris Ivory, RB, New York Jets

Chris Ivory New York Jets
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9. Chris Ivory, RB, New York Jets

Chris Ivory New York Jets
Maddie Meyer Getty Images

Ivory had a solid first year with the Jets in 2013, rushing for a career-high 833 yards. The arrival of Chris Johnson pushes him down the depth chart, but if "CJ2K" disappoints or is injured Ivory would immediately have value beyond that of a likely goal line back.

8. Johnny Manziel, QB, Cleveland Browns

Johnny Manziel Cleveland Browns
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8. Johnny Manziel, QB, Cleveland Browns

Johnny Manziel Cleveland Browns
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Manziel's inclusion on this list assumes Brian Hoyer opens the season as Cleveland's starting quarterback, but a change under center could come quickly. Manziel will be worth a flier late in drafts, and those that can hang onto him until he starts could have a difference maker.

7. Stepfan Taylor, RB, Arizona Cardinals

Stepfan Taylor, Arizona Cardinals
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7. Stepfan Taylor, RB, Arizona Cardinals

Stepfan Taylor, Arizona Cardinals
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Andre Ellington is getting plenty of buzz in fantasy circles with his role as Arizona's No. 1 running back, but Taylor is first in line to step into the role vacated by Rashard Mendenhall's retirement. Mendenhall had 687 rushing yards and eight touchdowns last year in the role Taylor will likely take over, and my hesitancy to anoint Ellington as a fantasy stud puts the second-year back out of Stanford on this list.

6. Christine Michael, RB, Seattle Seahawks

Christine Michael Seattle Seahawks
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6. Christine Michael, RB, Seattle Seahawks

Christine Michael Seattle Seahawks
Joe Nicholson USA TODAY Sports

The longer Marshawn Lynch's holdout continues, the more Michael's fantasy stock will rise. Lynch is still the starter once he reports to training camp, but Michael is at least draftable as his handcuff with the potential to be much more.

5. Tre Mason, RB, St. Louis Rams

Tre Mason St. Louis Rams
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5. Tre Mason, RB, St. Louis Rams

Tre Mason St. Louis Rams
Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

Zac Stacy is the Rams' No. 1 running back after a productive rookie season in 2013 (973 rushing yards and seven touchdowns), but it's fairly certain Mason will have an immediate role after being drafted in the third round in May. His workload may be a detriment to Stacy's fantasy value more than anything, but using a late-round pick on Mason in deep leagues could reap significant rewards.

4. Ladarius Green, TE, San Diego Chargers

Ladarius Green San Diego Chargers
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4. Ladarius Green, TE, San Diego Chargers

Ladarius Green San Diego Chargers
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Green averaged 22.1 yards per catch last season, including nine catches for 206 yards over a three game-stretch from Week 11-13. He's worth drafting as a TE2 for owners who are willing to stash him, since he should take more snaps away from an aging Antonio Gates this year.

3. Fred Jackson, RB, Buffalo Bills

Fred Jackson Buffalo Bills
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3. Fred Jackson, RB, Buffalo Bills

Fred Jackson Buffalo Bills
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With C.J. Spiller limited by an ankle injury virtually all season, Jackson had a bigger role than expected and was productive (890 rushing yards, 47 receptions and 10 total touchdowns). Even with the likelihood of a scaled back role this year, Jackson will still be drafted in all fantasy leagues and stands to carry value all season.

2. Carlos Hyde, RB, San Francisco 49ers

Carlos Hyde San Francisco 49ers
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2. Carlos Hyde, RB, San Francisco 49ers

Carlos Hyde San Francisco 49ers
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Injuries to Kendall Hunter (right ACL) and LaMichael James (elbow) have thinned San Francisco's running back depth, and Frank Gore is 31 with nearly 2,200 career carries. Hyde's average draft position is certain to rise, but he looks likely to be worthy of a reasonable investment on draft day.

1. Terrance West, RB, Cleveland Browns

Terrance West Cleveland Browns
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1. Terrance West, RB, Cleveland Browns

Terrance West Cleveland Browns
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Positive buzz has surrounded West all offseason, including Browns' head coach Mike Pettine talking up his ability as a pass catcher recently. Ben Tate's hold on the starting job already looks tenuous, and it wouldn't be surprising to see West out-produce him this season.