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Running Back Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 11

The regular season continues to advance at a relentless pace as we have now entered the planning process for Week 11. Some of you are in the favorable position of only needing slight modifications to rosters that are destined to enter the fantasy playoffs. But many of you are still searching for the most effective combination of players that can commandeer a spot in the postseason.

This is also one of the most impactful bye weeks for many owners, as critical running backs from four different teams will be absent from game action (Packers/Giants/Seahawks/Titans). This will involve three backs that are currently among the top 10 in scoring (Aaron Jones/Chris Carson/Derrick Henry) and an elite runner whose ankle issue has impeded his ability to join them (Saquon Barkley). Their collective absence will force their owners to endure the uncomfortable process of using alternative options in their lineups.

Regardless of your reasons for examining waiver wire options, this article will help you locate the best running backs to target. These recommendations will appear in three tiers - beginning with the most enticing and progressing to runners that are available if you are contending with desperation. You will also find a group of backs that can be considered as droppable in order for you to secure your replacements.

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Frontrunners - Week 11 Waiver Wire Running Backs

These backs should be your top priorities among the runners that are available on most waiver wires. Some will be more beneficial in PPR formats than standard. All players have 60% or less ownership in typical fantasy leagues. 

Brian Hill, (Atlanta) - 1% owned

Hill entered Week 10 having accrued 234 rushing yards since his 2017 rookie season. But a confluence of multiple injuries to Atlanta’s running backs has vaulted Hill into fantasy relevance as you prepare for Week 11. Devonta Freeman’s status is uncertain after he encountered an ankle issue during the first half of Atlanta’s matchup in New Orleans. Ito Smith had already been placed on injured reserve (neck) just one day earlier, which instantly elevated Hill into extensive backfield responsibilities once Freeman was sidelined. The 24-year old Hill generated 61 yards on 20 attempts against the Saints and would function as Atlanta’s lead back if Freeman is unable to perform this week against Carolina. While Freeman’s status will be monitored as the week progresses, Hill would become an RB2 for owners if Freeman is unavailable. That makes Hill this week’s premier waiver wire addition.

Kalen Ballage, (Miami) - 37% owned

If you are having difficulty becoming excited at the prospect of owning Ballage, you are not alone. His inefficiency has discouraged potential owners from seizing him for their rosters. However, a convergence of factors has propelled him into a substantial workload while operating with Miami’s RB1 responsibilities. The second-year back had played on 36% of the Dolphin’s offensive snaps from Weeks 1-3, and his involvement had plummeted to 9% from Weeks 4-7. However, Miami dispatched Kenyan Drake to Arizona, and Mark Walton was suspending for violating the league's personal conduct policy. This lifted Ballage into feature back duties, without any genuine threat to siphon touches. Ballard carried 20 times in Week 10 and only manufactured 43 yards. But despite his inability to explode for significant yardage, it is difficult to ignore the extensive touch total that he will continue to receive. Ballage should be added if you are searching for a flex option.

Alexander Mattison, (Minnesota) - 32% owned

Dalvin Cook owners have now navigated through 10 weeks of game action without being subjected to the negative impact of an injury to the elite back. But that does not alter the fact that handcuffing Cook with Mattison is an outstanding strategy. If you are a Cook owner who has failed to safeguard your investment by simply adding Mattison to your roster, then you should take advantage of your opportunity to finally secure him this week. The 5’11” rookie has eclipsed 52 rushing yards in five matchups since Week 3 and has demonstrated his ability to generate yardage whenever he has been entrusted with touches. His aggressive style fits perfectly with the Vikings' requirements for a workhorse back, and he could function as an RB1 for owners if he were to perform with lead back responsibilities. Adding Mattison is highly recommended for Cook owners. Otherwise, it will place their teams at significant risk of a crisis if they continue to avoid handcuffing the NFL's leading rusher.


In The Running - Week 11 Waiver Wire Running Backs

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

Derrius Guice, (Washington) - 37% owned

The prospects of drafting Guice elicited considerable excitement among many owners during the offseason in both 2018 and 2019. But as he reemerges into Washington’s backfield rotation, the impact of two knee injuries (torn ACL/torn meniscus) has created enormous indifference to the possibility of targeting him on rosters now. A quarterback who just entered the initial stage of an extensive learning curve has also combined with the possibility of a three-way time share to create an uninspiring scenario for potential owners. But even though Guice could be relegated to the constraints of a committee with Adrian Peterson and Chris Thompson it is also conceivable that Guice will accumulate respectable numbers with his workload. The uncertainty surrounding the touch distribution for Bill Callahan's backfield has contributed to Guice’s availability. However, anyone who commits to adding Guice this week could be rewarded sizably as the fantasy postseason approaches.

Adrian Peterson, (Washington) - 53% owned

If another owner in your league has already seized Guice, or if you are not enamored with the prospects of adding the unproven second-year back, then there is also justification for believing that Peterson will remain involved in Washington’s rushing attack. The 13-year veteran’s ability to perform effectively has already been underestimated on multiple occasions during the season. Not only has he maintained a 4.3 yard-per-carry average, but he has also assembled almost 400 yards during the Redskins’ last four matchups (383). While Guice’s reemergence will ensure that he accumulates touches in Washington’s rushing attack, Peterson’s surprising proficiency this season could compel Callahan to keep him involved in the team’s ground game. The Redskins’ rushing play percentage has increased significantly from 31.21% in Weeks 1-6 to 49.6% since Week 7. This ongoing commitment to running the ball should keep Peterson relevant as a flex option in the upcoming weeks.

 Gus Edwards, (Baltimore) - 8% owned

Mark Ingram’s status as Baltimore's primary back is uncontested. But his owners cannot be blamed for wanting the Ravens' lead back to garner more usage. He was performing on just under 50% of Baltimore's offensive snaps prior to the Ravens’ Week 10 matchup with Cincinnati, and that percentage placed him just 21st among running backs. He then proceeded to register a season-low nine carries against the Bengals, while Edwards continued to operate as Ingram's backup. Edwards is now averaging 7 attempts-per-game, including 6.3 per-game during Baltimore’s last three matchups. While this does not constitute standalone status for Edwards, it has provided a consistent indication that he would commandeer a sizable workload if Ingram would be sidelined for any reason. Talented rookie Justice Hill could share a small percentage of touches in that scenario. But Edwards supplies an outstanding insurance policy that will protect Ingram owners from a substantial scoring dropoff if Ingram is absent from the lineup.


Dark Horses - Week 11 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 or byes.

Ryquell Armstead, (Jacksonville) - 1% owned

Leonard Fournette had performed on more offensive snaps than any other running back prior to Jacksonville’s Week 10 bye (569). He has also operated with an enormous workload (19.3 attempts-per-game) while eluding injuries that had sidelined him for 11 games during his first two seasons. But if a health issue would suddenly emerge during his upcoming matchups, Armstead would function as the Jaguars’ feature back. No other runner has been deployed in a complementary role throughout the season, while Armstead also became involved as a pass catcher in Week 9. The first-year back established season highs in targets (5), receptions (5), and receiving yards (65) and could rise to standalone status if he sustains a similar percentage of opportunities. He is an unquestioned handcuff for Fournette owners, who should strongly consider adding him. This will eliminate the potential for a significant decline in scoring if Fournette is absent.

Rex Burkhead, (New England) - 8% owned

Sony Michel performed on 44.6% of New England’s offensive snaps from Weeks 4-8. But that plunged to 22% in Week 9. He had also been averaging 17.5 attempts-per-game from Weeks 1-8, and that number rose to 21 per-game from Weeks 6-8. But he only registered four attempts in Week 9, as the Patriots were confronted with a different game script than they had encountered during their previous matchups. Burkhead was involved in 36% of the Patriots’ snaps in Week 9, which was his highest total since Week 3. His usage was not massive (4 carries/2 targets). But the deployment of both backs served as a reminder that an increased reliance on passing during any particular matchup can dramatically impact Michel's workload. It can also open a path toward greater usage for Burkhead. 'Certainty' is not a word that should be associated with the roles of New England’s running backs during any given week. But Burkhead can supply desperate owners with a flex option.

Wayne Gallman, (New York Giants) - 20% owned

This recommendation is directed to those of you who own Saquon Barkley. Gallman does present any standalone value, and he has not created the same level of interest as several other viable handcuff options. But he remains Barkley’s unquestioned backup. This provides savvy Barkley owners with an opportunity to safeguard their investment by adding Gallman to their rosters. He did perform effectively with lead-back duties in Week 4, by playing on 60% of New York’s offensive snaps, collecting 24 touches, and assembling 118 total yards and a touchdown. He would commandeer additional feature back duties again if Barkley were to experience another health issue. This would result in highly favorable touch totals for Gallman, with the opportunity to capitalize by accruing respectable output. Barkley owners who secure Gallman now will avoid the unwanted scenario of experiencing an enormous decline in scoring, while Gallman accumulates fantasy points on a competitor’s roster.


Also-Rans - Time To Say Goodbye

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

Frank Gore, (Buffalo) - 45% owned

The 36-year old Gore averaged 13.25 rushing attempts from Weeks 1-9 while generating 437 yards (4.1 yards-per-carry). He also carried 11 times in Week 9, while performing on 34% of Buffalo’s offensive snaps.  However, the touch distribution within Buffalo’s backfield also indicated a transition from Gore to Devin Singletary in the role of Buffalo's lead back. The rookie entered Week 9 with 20 carries throughout the season. But he doubled that total against the Redskins and igniting the Bills’ rushing attack with 95 yards and a touchdown. He has now received 34 touches during Buffalo’s last two matchups, while Gore has been relegated to only half of that total (17). Singletary provides the Bills' offense with a dynamic weapon that is greatly needed in the backfield while Gore’s reduced importance now makes it risky to start him. This should provide you with the confidence to move on from Gore, and locate a more productive option.

Tarik Cohen, (Chicago) - 58% owned

Cohen is just one year removed from finishing at RB12 in PPR leagues scoring. But he is also outside the top 40 this season. The restrictions that have been placed upon his usage have also removed the incentive for owners to start him. The third-year back’s value as a rusher has been obliterated this season, as his 6.2 attempts-per-game average from 2018 has been reduced by virtually 50% (3.2 per-game). That has resulted in a minuscule 8.5 yards-per-game average, as he has yet to exceed 18 yards in any matchup. His production as a pass catcher has also failed to offset the plummeting usage as a rusher, as his 24 yards-per-game average as a receiver has also dropped significantly from the 45.3 per-game that he attained during 2018. /24.1). Cohen is performing in a substandard offense (ranked 29th) and is not receiving enough opportunities to help your scoring. If you are a Cohen owner, that leaves no justification to retain him on your rosters.

Kerryon Johnson, (Detroit) - 41% owned

Maybe it is the lingering disappointment of yet another shortened season that has somehow compelled nearly half of Johnson’s owners to retain him on their rosters. But regardless of the reasoning behind this decision, keeping him affixed to the bench ignores the reality of his protracted absence. He was placed on injured reserve in October following surgery on his right knee. The earliest that Johnson could return would be Week 16 when the Lions travel to Denver. Even if this best-case scenario were to transpire, it is questionable that Detroit would use him if they have been eliminated from playoff contention. Owners should utilize this roster spot for players that are actively participating in current game action, rather than having Johnson occupy a valuable roster space. This will enable you to maximize your chances of progressing through the postseason by making full use of every potential source for scoring. That should compel you to drop Johnson.

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