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Running Back Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 12: Top Free Agent Adds Include Latavius Murray, Samaje Perine, Jerick McKinnon, James Cook, Kyren Williams

Samaje Perine - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, Waiver Wire Pickups

After 11 weeks of the regular season, some fantasy managers feel quite content about the running back slots on their rosters. If that's the case for you, congratulations, because you're one of a few. Unfortunately, an increasing number of fantasy managers have encountered injuries, while others have contended with disappointing output due to a collection of unexpected developments.

Injuries and evolving depth charts have made the running back position very murky, fueling interest in locating alternative options on the waiver wire. With that said, there are no bye weeks in Week 12.

This week's recommendations will appear in three tiers, beginning with the most enticing running backs and progressing to options for managers that are struggling with desperation. You will also find a group of backs that can be dropped in order for you to secure your replacements. After you've finished this breakdown, you can also find news updates and data-fueled analysis that is designed to help you maximize the scoring potential of your rosters.

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Upcoming Bye Weeks

Week 13: Cardinals, Panthers
Week 14: Falcons, Bears, Packers, Colts, Saints, Commanders

Note: In order for a player to be included as a potential "pickup," they must be rostered in less than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues. To qualify as a potential "drop," they must be rostered in greater than 50 percent of leagues. 

 

Frontrunners - Week 12 Waiver Wire Running Backs

These running backs should be your top priorities among the options that are available on most waiver wires. Some will be more beneficial in PPR leagues.

Latavius Murray, Denver Broncos — 23% Rostered

Murray operated as the Broncos' lead back in Week 11, rushing 17 times for 49 yards and one touchdown while also adding four receptions for 23 yards through the air. Murray played 50 percent of snaps while Melvin Gordon played 45 percent. Chase Edmonds was also expected to get involved, but he suffered an ankle injury early in the game and was quickly ruled out.

The Broncos have committed to giving the ball to both Murray and Melvin Gordon, a trend that should continue against the Panthers in Week 12. On one hand, neither player will emerge as a week-by-week workhorse, unless an injury occurs. That's okay, though. Considering the two backs have each eclipsed double-digit fantasy points in three of their last four games, they can both be viewed as fine FLEX options going forward. Not only should Murray be pursued on waivers, but he might be worth starting as soon as you get him on your roster. After all, he has the upper hand over Gordon considering his workload, ball security, and success on short-yardage conversions.

Samaje Perine, Cincinnati Bengals — 5% Rostered

An opportunity has emerged for Perine after Joe Mixon was diagnosed with a concussion in Week 11. While it's too early to rule Mixon out for next Sunday's game against the Titans, concussions tend to come with a one-to-two-week recovery period, as well as risk for re-injury. As a result, Perine instantly becomes one of the more intriguing names on the waiver wire simply due to the fact that he could be the lead back (albeit temporary) in one of the NFL's stronger offenses.

Perine made the most of his opportunities when Mixon was healthy, as well as after he exited with his concussion. Before Mixon even left the game, Perine sniped two touchdowns. He added one more in the waning minutes of the game. When all was said and done, the 27-year-old totaled 11 carries, 30 rushing yards, four catches, 52 receiving yards, and three receiving touchdowns. Go ahead and pursue Perine in Week 12, especially if we get more bad news about Mixon's status in the coming days.

 

In The Running - Week 12 Waiver Wire Running Backs

These running backs remain available on the waiver wire but are not necessarily must-adds.

Jerick McKinnon, Kansas City Chiefs — 23% Rostered

McKinnon underwhelmed on Sunday Night Football, totaling 24 rushing yards and zero receiving yards all while losing a fumble. However, over the two weeks prior, he was a key piece in the passing game, totaling 12 receptions for 96 yards through the air. Specifically, in PPR leagues, McKinnon is someone who could be a difference-maker in a FLEX spot down the stretch.

Adding to McKinnon's allure is the fact that Clyde Edwards-Helaire has seen his role decline exponentially, and now he is dealing with an ankle injury. Even if he is healthy by the time Week 12 kicks off, he is going to be the No. 3 option behind McKinnon and Isiah Pacheco. However, Pacheco has zero receptions over his last two games. Sure, he is the primary back on rushing downs, but every opportunity in the passing game belongs to McKinnon. He should get back on track with a FLEX-caliber performance against the Rams in Week 12.

James Cook, Buffalo Bills — 17% Rostered

Cook had the best performance of his young career on Sunday, rushing 11 times for 86 yards against the Browns. He even saw opportunities around the goal line, though he failed to score a touchdown. Buffalo has grown increasingly willing to give the ball to its rookie, making him an intriguing waiver wire addition ahead of Week 12.

There has been some (justified) concern that Cook's success was merely a product of the Bills jumping out to a big lead. For starters, the Bills trailed the Browns for nearly half of the game, so it's not like they took an early lead and just benched their starters. Josh Allen logged snaps from start to finish, as did Stefon Diggs and Gabriel Davis.

The Bills played their studs, and it's very promising that Cook was heavily involved. Second, even if Cook does have a greater chance of seeing volume when the Bills are leading by multiple scores, that's fine. Buffalo's upcoming schedule consists of the Lions, Patriots, Jets, Dolphins, and Bears. Outside of Miami, those matchups have the potential to be blowouts in favor of Buffalo, allowing the Bills to continue to utilize a heavy dose of Cook. Be proactive and get him on your fantasy roster before it's too late.

Cam Akers, Los Angeles Rams — 27% Rostered

Akers has a lot of pros and a lot of cons. Let's discuss them.

On a positive note, he has led the Rams' backfield in touches over the last two weeks, rushing 20 times for 83 yards during that span. He also averaged an impressive 4.4 yards per carry in Week 11, showing off solid efficiency. Finally, Matthew Stafford is being evaluated for another concussion, making it very possible that John Wolford or Bryce Perkins quarterbacks the Rams in Week 12. If so, they will likely take a very run-heavy approach, which favors not only Akers but his fellow backfield-mate, too.

Now, for the negatives. Akers doesn't have a touchdown since Week 3, and he hasn't caught a pass since Week 2. He lacks upside in the scoring department and receiving game, giving him a low ceiling. Furthermore, the Rams' backfield is quite messy. Akers logged a mere 17 percent snap share in Week 10, and although that number increased to 39 percent in Week 11, he was still out-snapped by Kyren Williams. There are so many mouths to feed, so it's hard to trust any one back.

So after reading those cons, why should you feel compelled to add (or at least monitor) Akers? Well, he has the chance to be the No. 1 back in an offense that is looking for playmakers to emerge after Cooper Kupp was placed on injured reserve. Between injuries to Kupp and Stafford, the Rams can no longer be penciled in as a team that will pass the ball all game long. At the running back position, volume is key, and Akers offers just that. Give him a second chance if he's available in your league and you have a roster spot to spare.

Kyren Williams, Los Angeles Rams — 29% Rostered

Well, would you look at that? Another Rams running back makes the cut as a name to watch on the waiver wire this week. Williams offers what Akers does not: snap share, burst, and receiving upside. As a result, it's fair to argue that he also has more upside. After all, the Rams have been let down by Akers and Henderson all year long. It would not be surprising to see them focus on a heavy dose of Williams going forward.

The strategy of adding any Rams running back is rooted in the idea that one of them should emerge among the rest very soon. Week 11 was just the second time that Akers, Henderson, and Williams had to split backfield duties, and we just might have seen how the opportunities will shake out going forward. While Akers led in rushing attempts, Williams had the upper hand in snaps, route participation, long-down-and-distance opportunities, two-minute work, and usage in the passing game. His involvement in the offense as a whole has grown drastically over just two games, and he clearly has more upside than his fellow backfield-mates.

 

Dark Horses - Week 12 Waiver Wire Running Backs 

This group consists of running backs that can be added if you are willing to wait for the possibility of a larger role during the year or consider your situation to be desperate due to injuries.

Eno Benjamin, Houston Texans — 28% Rostered

Benjamin made headlines this past week when he was released by the Cardinals out of nowhere. Unless there are behind-the-scenes details that haven't hit the media (which is very possible), it seems like Arizona didn't feel the need to roster the young back after James Conner's strong two-touchdown showing in Week 10. As a result, they quickly cut ties with Benjamin, who was immediately claimed off waivers by the Texans.

Benjamin demonstrated some good and some bad during his time in Arizona, but ultimately, he was viewed as one of the more promising, young backups in the NFL. This can be reflected in the fact that he was claimed by the very first team in the waiver order. The Saints, Seahawks, and Chiefs also made an effort to claim him. Benjamin's upside remains obvious as he begins the next chapter of his career in Houston.

Sure, he won't usurp up-and-coming rookie Dameon Pierce, but he should see significant volume, especially in the passing game. Notably, Benjamin is better in pass protection, posting a 53.0 PFF grade in that category (compared to Pierce's 42.2). As a result, he will earn snaps and opportunities, especially as Pierce continues to struggle; the rookie rushed 10 times for just eight yards in Week 11. Stash Benjamin because his role will grow very quickly as soon as he learns the ins and outs of Houston's offense.

Deon Jackson, Indianapolis Colts — 12% Rostered

Jackson will never be a must-start as long as he is healthy, but that's not the point. What fantasy managers need to realize is that Jackson has taken over for Nyheim Hines after he was traded to Buffalo. Yes, the Nyheim Hines who had an ADP of RB40 during fantasy football drafts. The Nyheim Hines who averaged 8.8 fantasy points throughout the six games for which he was healthy. If you can add someone like that to your roster in the depths of Week 12, you do it in a heartbeat.

While Jackson's weekly appeal as a pass-catcher (he registered four receptions in Week 11) is intriguing, it's his value as a handcuff that really makes Jackson a solid addition off waivers. If anything were to happen to Jonathan Taylor, Jackson's value would skyrocket into the mid-range RB2 tier. You can't let that value just sit on the waiver wire because as soon as his opportunity emerges, somebody ahead of you in the waiver order will snatch him up. Be proactive and add one of the best handcuffs in the entire NFL.

Dontrell Hilliard, Tennessee Titans — 12% Rostered

Hilliard touched the ball just twice in Week 11, but he racked up 18 scrimmage yards and also scored his fourth touchdown of the season. Heading into next Sunday's game against the Bengals, Hilliard has some standalone value. Beyond the fact that he is averaging one receiving touchdown for every four receptions, the 27-year-old fares quite well against defenses playing man coverage; his 74.1 PFF receiving grade against man coverage ranks 12th among NFL running backs. As luck would have it, the Bengals play more man-defense than roughly 75 percent of the NFL.

Beyond Hilliard's sneaky appeal in Week 12 is his allure as a handcuff. As was the case with Jackson, this section of the article focuses heavily on under-rostered No. 2 backs who could take off with just one injury. If Derrick Henry goes down, they would need to find 23 carries, 101 rushing yards, 20 receiving yards, and one touchdown in a pinch. Hilliard wouldn't earn all of these opportunities, but he would certainly receive a lion's share.

 

Also-Rans - It Is Time To Say Goodbye

These running backs can be dropped in order to secure an RB with greater potential to bolster your scoring during the year.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Kansas City Chiefs — 74% Rostered

Edwards-Helaire rushed twice in the first quarter of Sunday's game before being ruled out with an ankle injury. That means that through three games since the Chiefs' bye, the 23-year-old has totaled 10 scrimmage yards and 3.8 fantasy points. Not ideal. And it's not like he has no competition and the Chiefs are just passing the ball nonstop. Rather, the Chiefs have lost three of their best wide receivers due to injury and unleashed Isiah Pacheco for 107 rushing yards in Week 11. Even when Edwards-Helaire is healthy, he doesn't have a role. Not only can you drop him, but you can do it with confidence.

A.J. Dillon, Green Bay Packers — 82% Rostered

Dillon has been one of the biggest disappointments of 2022, and you should have no concerns about dropping him as we head into the final stretch of the fantasy regular season. Sure, he would be an immediate must-add if anything happened to Aaron Jones, but if you need to drop Dillon in order to add someone to the "frontrunners" category, you do it. Not only has Dillon not scored a touchdown since Week 1, but he hasn't eclipsed double-digit fantasy points since then, either. To make matters worse, his PFF receiving grade of 38.8 ranks 115th out of 119 running backs. Yikes.

Darrell Henderson Jr., Los Angeles Rams 65% Rostered

Woah, we've hit the trifecta. Three Rams running backs in one article! However, one of these names is not like the other. Henderson finds himself in the cut category because not only is he the only Rams running back rostered in more than 50 percent of leagues, but he also registered just two opportunities on a seven percent snap share this Sunday. There are so many better options on the waiver wire.

James Robinson, New York Jets — 75% Rostered

James Robinson's first three weeks of the season were fun. After that? Well, not only did he lose his lead-back job to Travis Etienne Jr., but he lost his roster spot altogether. In two of his three games with New York, Robinson has finished with fewer than two fantasy points. In fact, in Week 11, he was out-snapped by both Michael Carter and Ty Johnson. Sure, he totaled 13.3 fantasy points in Week 9, but the problem is that you'll never know when to start him. He also plays in a bad offense. You can find several players on the waiver wire with clearer roles in stronger units.



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