How Does Roy Helu Figure into the Husker Running Attack?

Joe at CollegeFootballGeek.comCorrespondent IMarch 19, 2010

by Kevin Mount - CollegeFootballGeek.com contributing writer

Roy Helu Jr. was a solid fantasy contributor for most of the 2009 season, but his swoon at the end of the year leads to concern for the upcoming year. The Nebraska offense as a whole struggled to move the ball with any consistency down the stretch, and Helu found himself losing a chunk of his carries to freshman Rex Burkhead. With the Huskers appearing to be committed to running the football often in 2010, the division of carries will be a hot topic going into this fantasy season. How the Nebraska RB situation will pan out is a key question that many owners will be looking to answer.

Cast of Characters

Roy Helu Jr. (Senior 2010)
Rex Burkhead (Sophomore 2010)
Dontrayveous Robinson (Sophomore 2010)
Braylon Heard (True Freshman 2010)

What’s the Scoop?

The 2009 season ended poorly for Roy Helu Jr., and he will be pushed for time in 2010 by some young, talented backs in Lincoln. There will be plenty of carries to go around, as the Huskers are getting back to basics and turning into a running team once again. With the Huskers returning four of their five starting lineman, the running game should be ready much improved and should lead to productive fantasy seasons for Helu and company.

What happened in 2009?

In order to find out how the running back situation might play out in 2010 for the Huskers, it is important to see how it looked last season.

Player Rush Att. Rush Yds. Rec. Rec. Yds TD
Roy Helu, Jr.22011471914910
Rex Burkhead8134613904
Dontrayveous Robinson391654262

The carries broke down to Helu getting 65 percent, Burkhead receiving 24 percent, and Robinson picking up the remaining 11 percent. The interesting note is that despite being bothered by an injured shoulder for most of the season, Helu still got the bulk of the carries in 2009. The percentage of carries for Burkhead would have been higher had he not missed five games due to injury. Almost all of the carries that Robinson received came in two games where he was filing in for an injured Helu and Burkhead.

What to expect in 2010?

Roy Helu Jr.: What does 2010 have in store for Mr. Helu? Assuming he is completely healed from a shoulder injury that nagged him much of 2009, it looks to be a banner year for the senior. With the Huskers prepared to run the ball more this fall, it is safe to assume that Helu will see a jump in his carries which will equate to more fantasy points. A minimal 10 percent bump in carries would put him up to 242, and with his 5.21 YPC from last year, he would wind up with an impressive 1260 yards on the ground. A healthy Helu should be in line for a season of at least 1400 yards and 12 scores.

Rex Burkhead: This kid showed Huskers fans why they called him Super Man in high school back in Texas. He is a powerful, straight-line runner with better than expected quickness. He showed that he is capable of carrying the load if called upon. There is talk of Burkhead being used in some “Wild Cat” formations in 2010, which can only help his fantasy value. This youngster is too good to keep off the field, so expect the Huskers to get the ball in his hands whenever they are able. He will not surpass Helu as the lead back, but he will see significant playing time in 2010.

Braylon Heard: The true freshman looks to have the goods to see some time in his first year on campus. He is an elusive, quick runner with good cut back ability and has good hands coming out of the backfield. He could see some extensive mop up duty when the Huskers play some lesser opponents this season. I think he will supplant Robinson as the No. 3 back on the depth chart.

Dontrayveous Robinson: He was called on as a true freshman to carry the load against Iowa State and Baylor last season. He responded with adequate performances but nothing earth shattering. While he is a talented back, he might find it hard to see much playing time with the guys in front of him.

If your fantasy draft was today (3/9/2010)…

We would draft Roy Helu as a lower end No. 1 RB with the potential to be even better as the season goes on. If health is not a concern, it’s quite conceivable to use an early round pick on Helu. In the case of Rex Burkhead, he is definitely draft worthy either as insurance to Helu or as a bye week fill in. Check back for spring and fall practice reports to see how these two backs are being used in the Nebraska offense.

Kevin Mount is a contributing writer for CollegeFootballGeek.com , your premier resource for college fantasy football information. Check us out.


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