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Running Back Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 12: Top Free Agent Adds Include Zach Charbonnet, Keaton Mitchell, AJ Dillon, Ty Chandler

Zach Charbonnet - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, NFL DFS and Betting Picks

We have now progressed into reconstructing rosters and planning lineups for Week 12. The numbers that have been assembled by running backs during the first 11 weeks of the season have fueled a variety of emotions for all fantasy managers. Unfortunately, some of you have been contending with underwhelming results due to injuries, inefficient performances, and production-inhibiting committees.

All teams will be in action this week. That includes three games on Thanksgiving Day, along with the infusion of a Black Friday matchup into the equation. However, eight teams will have their byes in Weeks 13 and 14. That presents a challenge that should incentivize you to plan for the temporary absence of your players in advance. This includes the byes that loom in Week 13 when six teams will be impacted.

The recommendations in this week's article will appear in three tiers, beginning with the most enticing and progressing to options for managers who 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 have finished this breakdown, you can explore all of this week's fantasy football waiver wire pickups that are designed to help you maximize the scoring potential of your rosters.

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Upcoming NFL Bye Weeks

  • Week 13: New York Giants, Buffalo, Baltimore, Chicago, Minnesota, Las Vegas
  • Week 14: Arizona, Washington


Frontrunners - Week 12 Waiver Wire Running Backs

These backs should be your top priorities among the options that are available on most waiver wires.

Zach Charbonnet, Seattle Seahawks - 43% Rostered

Zach Charbonnet’s proficiency as a rusher and receiving weapon has elevated his prospects of functioning effectively as an every-down back. It has also sustained his presence among the league’s most enticing roster additions due to his potential to operate as an RB1 for fantasy managers if Kenneth Walker was forced to the sideline.

That scenario transpired when Walker suffered an oblique injury during Seattle’s matchup with the Rams in Week 11. Charbonnet immediately launched into lead-back duties while accumulating 55 snaps, collecting 21 touches, and assembling 69 total yards.

Walker’s status should be monitored as the week progresses. However, a Thursday night matchup with San Francisco is looming, which limits Walker’s recovery time.

That also increases the likelihood that Charbonnet will function with a massive touch total. The promising rookie was already operating with an expanding workload prior to Week 11 and should provide fantasy managers with a valuable asset both before and after Walker returns. He is available in 56% of all leagues but that percentage will plummet this week.

Keaton Mitchell, Baltimore Ravens -59% Rostered

Keaton Mitchell was available in 96% of all leagues two weeks ago. However, that was before his memorable explosion onto the fantasy landscape in Week 9, when Mitchell erupted for 138 yards and a touchdown. The explosive rookie also displayed his breakaway speed during a 39-yard touchdown run in Week 10, along with his 32-yard reception.

Mitchell’s snap share has steadily increased during each of his last three matchups (18%/24%/37%), while he has earned an expanding role in Baltimore’s backfield rotation. He has also been entrusted with 20 rushing attempts since Week 9 while generating 205 rushing yards and averaging 10.3 yards per attempt.

That includes Mitchell’s involvement when the Ravens hosted Cincinnati in Week 11 as he carried eight times while assembling 33 yards. Mitchell’s ascending role has also fueled a decline in Justice Hill’s snaps, as the fourth-year back has been limited to just 25 since Week 10.

Mitchell provides home run potential with every touch and should be added while he remains attainable. He would become a weekly starting option if his workload continues to rise.

A.J. Dillon, Green Bay Packers - 62% Rostered 

A.J. Dillon appears positioned to operate with a significant workload when Green Bay visits Detroit on Thursday. That has vaulted him among this week’s options from the waiver wire.

Aaron Jones sustained a knee injury that sidelined him from Green Bay’s Week 11 matchup with the Chargers. Rookie Emanuel Wilson was also forced from the contest (shoulder), and their absence elevated Dillon into a significant role. Dillon played on 52 snaps while accumulating 14 carries and generating 29 yards.

While that yardage total is underwhelming, Dillon also ran 27 routes, while collecting all four of his targets. He also generated a season-high 70 yards on nine carries when the Packers traveled to Pittsburgh in Week 10. That was the third time that Dillon eclipsed 60+ during Green Bay’s last six contests.

The status of Jones should be monitored. However, it is difficult to envision Jones performing at his normal capacity against the Lions due to the fast turnaround. That supplies the incentive for adding Dillon, who remains available in nearly 40% of all leagues.


In The Running - Week 12 Waiver Wire Running Backs

These backs remain available on the waiver wire and could become resources for your rosters.

Ty Chandler, Minnesota Vikings - 44% Rostered

Alexander Mattison returned from concussion protocol to reclaim his lead-back role during Minnesota’s Week 11 matchup at Denver. However, Ty Chandler also secured a favorable workload while operating in a rotation with Mattison.

Chandler accumulated 23 snaps, generated 73 rushing yards with his 10 attempts, and averaged 7.3 yards per attempt. He also captured all four of his targets, while producing 37 yards as a receiver. Mattison played on 48 snaps, carried 18 times, and assembled 81 yards on the ground while averaging 4.5 per attempt. However, Mattison has now failed to exceed 3.50 per attempt in seven of his 10 games despite his average in Week 11.

Chandler’s rising role in the Vikings’ backfield rotation began in Week 10 when Minnesota hosted New Orleans. Chandler accumulated 32 snaps while assembling 45 rushing yards with his 15 attempts, while also producing his first career touchdown.

Chandler's ability to perform effectively in Minnesota’s last two games could propel him to a sizable role during the Vikings’ remaining matchups. He continues to operate with a level of explosiveness that Mattison has failed to demonstrate. That supplies the rationale for adding him this week.

Rico Dowdle, Dallas Cowboys - 16% Rostered  

Rico Dowdle makes a second consecutive appearance in this column as he continues to earn an ongoing role in the Cowboys backfield. Dowdle is operating as the unquestioned backup to Tony Pollard. However, he has accumulated 43 snaps and carried 28 times since Week 10, while generating 116 rushing yards. Dowdle has also accumulated 55 rushing attempts and generated 235 rushing yards since Week 1.

Pollard continues to lead the Dallas backfield in every major category. However, Dowdle has also injected an enhanced level of burst into the Dallas backfield while Pollard has failed to perform with the explosiveness that was expected when fantasy managers made him a second-round selection during draft season.

This has provided the path for Dowdle to seize an ongoing role and he has displayed the ability to take advantage of his recent surge in opportunities. That should sustain his viability as a roster stash who could evolve into a flex option.

Ezekiel Elliott, New England Patriots - 39% Rostered

This is not a suggestion that Ezekiel Elliott can function as anything beyond a flex during your remaining matchups, as Rhamondre Stevenson will continue to operate as New England’s RB1. Stevenson has functioned with a 65.2% snap share since the Patriots’ season opener while Elliott has attained a 37% share.

However, Elliott's shares have ranged from 30%-46% while never dropping below 33% since Week 2. Elliott’s consistent opportunities have blended favorably with his ability to perform effectively toward elevating the eight-year veteran among this week’s recommendations on your waiver wire.

Elliott also carried 13 times and generated 54 rushing yards during the Patriots’ Week 10 matchup with Indianapolis, which were his highest totals since Week 3. He also accumulated four carries inside the red zone in Week 10, while accruing a season-high 34 yards as a receiving weapon.

Elliott remains available in 61% of all leagues and is positioned to resume his role when New England visits the Giants in Week 12. His usage and output would also expand if Stevenson would be sidelined at any point during the Patriots’ upcoming games.


Dark Horses - Week 12 Waiver Wire Running Backs 

These backs should be considered if you are searching for players who could eventually emerge in your lineups.

Tyjae Spears, Tennessee Titans - 40% Rostered

Tyjae Spears is still available in 60% of all leagues, even though his big-play capabilities could make him a valuable asset for managers who have him secured on their rosters.

The explosive rookie has now played on 292 snaps entering Week 12, which is closely behind the 313 that have been accumulated by Derrick Henry. Spears has also averaged 5.2 yards per attempt while assembling 234 yards with his 44 carries.

Henry was confronted by Jacksonville‘s fifth-ranked run defense in Week 11 while being limited to 38 yards on 10 attempts (3.8 yards per attempt). Spears played on 18 snaps, accumulated 26 total yards, ran seven routes, and collected both of his targets.

However, the incentive for stashing Spears remains his potential to operate with a massive workload if Henry is sidelined during Tennessee’s remaining matchups. His home-run potential could propel him to RB1 production if that occurs.

There would be significant competition from other managers for the opportunity to seize Spears from the waiver wire if that scenario transpires. However, many of you can secure him this week without the encumbrance of a congested runway.

 D'Ernest Johnson, Jacksonville Jaguars - 0% Rostered

D’Ernest Johnson has made appearances in this column during previous seasons due to his track record of erupting for sizable yardage totals whenever he was provided with an opportunity to accrue touches in an expanded role.

Johnson has also leapfrogged the mistake-prone Tank Bigsby on Jacksonville’s depth chart, which has placed him directly below Travis Etienne. This elevates Johnson into the cluster of viable handcuff options that can help managers elude potential roster dilemmas.

Johnson accumulated more snaps than Bigsby in Week 10 (12/9) and also secured a higher snap count in Week 11 (17/10). Bigsby's involvement also occurred after the outcome had been decided, while Johnson accrued 54 total yards and a touchdown with his eight touches.

Johnson has already demonstrated his potential to explode for massive yardage when he is operating with extensive workloads. Johnson’s most prolific outings were constructed in 2021 when Nick Chubb (calf) and Kareem Hunt (calf) were sidelined by injuries. Johnson stockpiled 146 rushing yards on 22 carries in Week 7, then accumulated 157 total yards on 26 touches in Week 10.

Johnson would become an intriguing starting option for managers if Etienne were forced to the sideline, and remains available in all leagues.

Elijah Mitchell, San Francisco 49ers - 16% Rostered

Elijah Mitchell’s involvement as San Francisco’s RB2 has risen steadily, following his reemergence from a knee injury in Week 6.

Mitchell averaged six snaps per game from Weeks 6-8 before securing a season-high 17 in Week 10. That has solidified his status as the primary backup to Christian McCaffrey, which would instantly gain significance if McCaffrey is sidelined during San Francisco’s remaining matchups.

Mitchell was also the only other back beyond McCaffrey to accumulate rushing attempts in Week 11, as Jordan Mason has now failed to register a touch since Week 6.

That should dissipate any lingering concerns surrounding Mitchell’s status as the back that Kyle Shanahan will trust if McCaffrey is unavailable. It also elevates Mitchell among the league’s top handcuff options.

Tyler Allgeier, Atlanta Falcons 56% Rostered

Arthur Smith’s deployment of his resources has become a surging source of frustration for many fantasy managers. That includes Smith’s penchant for involving Tyler Allgeier, which routinely impacts the workload of Bijan Robinson.

While that is an unwanted scenario for anyone who has invested in Robinson, it also preserves the viability of Allgeier, who has now accumulated 237 snaps (35.8% share). The second-year back has also carried 12+ times in six different matchups this season while averaging 12.5 attempts per game. He has also averaged 40.2 yards per game, including five matchups in which he has eclipsed 40+.

Allgeier has also run 77 routes and has been targeted on 22.1% of his routes. He is currently available in over 40% of all leagues and should continue to receive a sufficient number of touches on a weekly basis to warrant consideration as a flex option. Particularly if you are contending with roster dilemmas that have been fueled by the remaining bye weeks and an assortment of injuries, that has decreased the number of viable options at running back.


Also - It Is Time To Say Goodbye

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

Dameon Pierce, Houston Texans - 71% Rostered

This recommendation for the removal of Pierce may not apply to managers who are participating in deeper leagues. However, there are several factors that should encourage anyone with Pierce contained on their rosters to find another option on their waiver wires.

Pierce sustained a high ankle sprain that has sidelined him during Houston’s last three contests. He was also inefficient on a basis from Weeks 1-8, as he averaged 3.00 yards per game while failing to exceed 3.5 per game in six of his seven matchups.

That has supplied Devin Singletary with an opportunity to operate as the Texans’ RB1, and he has responded by generating 262 rushing yards during Houston’s last two contests. Singletary has also accumulated 118 snaps, 52 carries, and 53 routes during that sequence while eclipsing 100 rushing yards in both matchups. He also provided evidence that he should remain the Texans’ primary back.

Even if Pierce were to operate in a rotation with Singletary during Houston‘s upcoming matchups, there is no indication that he will run with greater efficiency or generate numbers that would compel managers to elevate him into their lineups.

Justice Hill, Baltimore Ravens - 24 % Rostered

Justice Hill operated with a 50.5% snap share from Weeks 5-9, while accumulating at least 30 snaps in four of his five games during that sequence. He also averaged 7.2 carries and 33.6 rushing yards per game during those contests.

That includes Baltimore’s Week 9 matchup with Seattle, which provided the stage for Keaton Mitchell to force a reset of the Ravens’ backfield rotation. Mitchell’s potential to erupt for significant yardage on any given play has provided his path to expanding snap shares. Those have come at the expense of Hill, whose share has plummeted to 26% in both Week 10 and Week 11, while he is averaging 15.5 snaps per game.

Hill has also been limited to just three rushing attempts and eight rushing yards in Weeks 10 and 11 combined. The workload constraints that were inherent in Baltimore’s usage of Edwards and Hill have become far more restrictive as Mitchell’s emergence has ushered Hill into irrelevance. There is no reason to retain him on any rosters moving forward.

Dalvin Cook, New York Jets - 29% Rostered 

Dalvin Cook will be included among this week’s drop recommendations since he is still being rostered in nearly 30% of all leagues. His role within the Jets’ backfield has evaporated, and he has not performed efficiently with the touches that he has received this season.

Cook has now averaged just 4.0 attempts per game since Week 2, and only 2.6 per game since Week 6. He is also averaging just 14.1 yards per game since Week 2, has failed to surpass 26 yards during his last nine contests, and has not exceeded 13 yards in four of his last five matchups.

Breece Hall is performing proficiently as the Jets’ workhorse back while averaging 14.2 attempts and 55.7 yards per game since Week 5. Israel Abanikanda nearly matched Cook’s snap total in Week 11 (13/10) and operated on early downs behind Hall. Abanikanda would also split touches with Cook if Hall is forced to the sideline.

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