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Running Back Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 12

The regular season continues to advance at a relentless pace as we have now entered the planning process for Week 12. Some of you are concentrating on building lineups that will commandeer a spot in the fantasy playoffs, while others are making slight adjustments to teams that have already secured their place in the postseason. This includes evaluating options that can boost your scoring in Weeks 14-16.

As we shift focus to the specifics of Week 12, many owners have been released from the tribulations of bye weeks. This is the final installment of this unwanted process, as players from the Vikings, Cardinals, Chargers, and Chiefs will be unavailable. This will require anyone who owns Dalvin Cook, Kenyan Drake, David JohnsonMelvin Gordon, Austin Ekeler, or Damien Williams to locate alternative options.

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 12 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. 

Jonathan Williams, Indianapolis Colts - 2% owned

Those of you who recently invested in Ty Johnson (Week 8) or Brian Hill (Week 11), were forced to absorb massive disappointment when both backs failed to surpass 30 rushing yards in their next matchups. If you suffered through that experience, then it is understandable to have trepidation about prioritizing Williams on this week’s waiver wire. However, Williams' ability to capitalize on his expanded touch total is completely unrelated to the disappointing outings that Hill and Johnson delivered. Williams exploded for 147 total yards with his 14 touches in Week 11, which bolsters his chance of securing a significant workload this week. Jordan Wilkins should also be available to share touches with Williams, as both back split carries during Marlon Mack's absence (hand). Nyheim Hines will also accumulate targets in a pass-catching role. However, Williams' Week 11 performance should compel Frank Reich to provide him with an opportunity to accumulate carries against a Texans' run defense that was just shredded for 263 yards by the Ravens. That elevates Williams into consideration as one of this week’s premier waiver wire options.

Jordan Wilkins, (Indianapolis) – 1% owned

Jordan Wilkins has recovered sufficiently from his ankle issue to resume practice with Indianapolis. This vaults him into strong consideration as a waiver wire addition, as he could conceivably capture more touches than Jonathan Williams while Marlon Mack remains affixed to the sideline. Wilkins’ return provides potential owners with another option that could accumulate touches for multiple weeks. However, it also creates uncertainty regarding the touch distribution between Wilkins, Williams, and Nyheim Hines. The most likely scenario involves Frank Reich determining the trio’s workload based upon their collective performance during their matchup with Houston. This creates a massive challenge when making any attempt to forecast which Colt back will perform proficiently against the Texans. Anyone who is contending with bye week issues or daunting matchups for their starting backs can strongly consider the addition of Wilkins. He could also garner a significant role during the  fantasy postseason if Mack is unavailable

Bo Scarbrough, Detroit Lions - 1% owned

The former seventh-round pick was signed to Detroit's practice squad on November 6 and did not receive a promotion to the active roster until the 16th. But one day later, Scarbrough played the most snaps and commandeered the majority of touches among Lion backs. He generated 55 yards and a touchdown with his 14 attempts and now has an opportunity to ascend beyond the conga line of backs that have shared touches since Kerryon Johnson’s Week 7 knee injury (Ty Johnson/Tra Carson/Paul Perkins/J.D. McKissic). Anyone who adds Scarbrough is not automatically destined to join the collection of disenchanted owners that trusted other Detroit runners. The 6’1”, 235-pound Scarbrough brings a physical presence to the Lions' backfield, which should compel Matt Patricia to continue deploying him. It also provides the potential for Scarbrough to confiscate opportunities in the red zone. That makes him a viable roster addition for owners that are contending with roster issues.

Derrius Guice, Washington Redskins - 43% owned

The reemergence of Guice into Washington’s backfield equation created uncertainty regarding the touch distribution that would occur for both the second-year back and 34-year old Adrian Peterson. Peterson ultimately started the Redskins' Week 11 matchup with the Jets and manufactured 25 yards with his nine attempts (2.8 yards-per-carry). Guice was entrusted with seven carries and generated 24 yards. However, he also bolted for a 45 yard-touchdown with his only reception, which presented a glimpse of his potential to produce big plays in upcoming weeks. Peterson has exceeded expectations throughout the season and averaged 95.8 yards-per-game from Weeks 6-9. That should persuade Bill Callahan to utilize Peterson in an ongoing role. However, it is Guice that now presents potential owners with the most enticing option from Washington's backfield. He could also become a valuable resource as the fantasy postseason looms.


In The Running - Week 12 Waiver Wire Running Backs

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

Gus Edwards, Baltimore Ravens 7% owned

Edwards was destined to emerge as one of this week’s waiver wire recommendations even before he bolted for a 63-yard touchdown in Week 11. That propelled the second-year back to a season-high 112 yards, which has cemented his status as a worthy roster addition for savvy owners of Mark Ingram. Any issue that would sideline Ingram could result in shared touches for Edwards and rookie Justice Hill. However, Edwards will inherit the vast majority of those opportunities if Ingram becomes unavailable. Hill has averaged an anemic 2.8 touches-per-game since Week 2, while Edwards has maintained a more extensive role. Not only has he performed on 32% of Baltimore’s offensive snaps, but he has also sustained an average of 7.1 carries-per-game. Baltimore leads the league in rushing play percentage (53.4%), which would enable Edwards to function with an appealing workload even if Hill pilfers a percentage of touches. Ingram owners can avoid a substantial loss of scoring by adding Edwards this week.

Alexander Mattison, Minnesota Vikings - 29% owned

If you are a Dalvin Cook owner, then your team has benefited significantly from having him in your lineup. He currently resides at RB2 in both standard and PPR scoring, has delivered high-quality production on a weekly basis, and should continue to deliver excellent output if he can avoid injury. But if he is suddenly absent for any reason, your dependable source of point production will dissipate. However, that scenario will not transpire if you secure Mattison for your roster. The first-year back is the premiere handcuff option and would deliver excellent results with the massive workload that has been received by Cook. Mattison has bolted for at least 52 yards in five different matchups while averaging for 5.6 yards-per-carry during those contests. Minnesota’s bye week should not deter Cook owners from securing the talented rookie back. There is no reason to prolong the precarious strategy of waiting until an emergency develops, as this creates the risk of losing him to a competitor.

Kalen Ballage, Miami Dolphins - 36% owned

There are several backs such as Darrell Henderson that possess considerable potential big play potential despite limitations in their level of opportunity. That contrasts with Ballage’s situation, as he has not demonstrated effectiveness as a rusher or receiver that would persuade potential owners to remove him from their waiver wires. What he does present is the prospect of an enormous workload while functioning as Miami’s lead back. The exodus of Kenyan Drake and suspension of Mark Walton have presented Ballage with a favorable touch total that is inherent with RB1 responsibilities. That has resulted in 38 touches since Week 10, even though his 62 total yards are uninspiring. Walton will be eligible to return in Week 14, which will supply Ballage with several more matchups that contain a sizable workload. There is no guarantee that he will capitalize to the degree that owners would prefer. But he remains in a position to accrue more touches than other options that are available on the waiver wire.


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 or byes.

Trey Edmunds, Pittsburgh Steelers - 3% owned

The fluctuating fantasy fortunes of both James Conner and Jaylen Samuels have also impacted Edmunds in recent weeks, and Conner’s latest health issue will alter the outlook for all three backs yet again. Conner has sandwiched a 145-yard performance in Week 8 between an unimpressive 39.1 yards-per-game average from Weeks 1-6, and a meager 10 yards from Weeks 9-11. His lingering shoulder issue could also prevent him from performing in multiple games, which will elevate Samuels into an expanded workload. He has generated 57+ receiving yards in two different matchups, including 73 yards in Week 9. But Samuels has been largely inefficient as a rusher (45 carries/115 yards/2.6 yards-per-carry). That should result in opportunities for Edmunds, who was impressive with an increased workload in Week 9 (12 carries/73 yards/6.1 per-carry). He should also benefit from this week’s outstanding matchup with the 32nd ranked run defense of Cincinnati. That vaults Edmunds into consideration among this week’s flex options.

Tony Pollard, Dallas Cowboys – 12% owned

This is not a suggestion that Pollard is a candidate to siphon a significant percentage of touches from Ezekiel Elliott. Elliott is entrenched among the league’s top three backs, and clearly remains the lead rusher in Dallas. However, Pollard has consistently demonstrated that he can be effective when the ball is placed in his hands. He has now accumulated 319 total yards during his rookie season, after generating 56 in Week 11 at Detroit. 44 yards of those were accrued through his performance as a receiver, while he has also built a 4.6 yard-per-carry average. His dual-threat proficiency should motivate any Elliott owners to seize Pollard from the waiver wire while the opportunity still exists. This provides an opportunity to safeguard the investment that has been made in Elliott. It will also eliminate the potential of a catastrophic situation if the star back would be sidelined for any reason.

Wayne Gallman - New York Giants - 6% owned

Gallman was included among the Week 12 roster additions even before Saquon Barkley manufactured mind-boggling results in Week 10 (13 attempts/1 yard/.01 per-carry). But Barkley’s recent ineffectiveness has provided additional incentive for owners to secure Gallman on their rosters. Barkley has only averaged 1.83 yards-per-carry since Week 8, and his substandard performances could indicate an attempt to play despite the presence of one or more health issues. If Barkley’s condition(s) linger, or if he contends with any additional problems, it might compel the Giants to shut him down before the season concludes. That would safeguard the team’s investment in their elite back while also vaulting Gallman into RB1 responsibilities. He performed proficiently while operating as the workhorse back in Week 4 when he accrued 118 total yards and a touchdown with his 24 touches. Gallman has emerged as one of the most viable handcuff options, which presents Barkley owners with enormous motivation to secure him this week.


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 Bills - 41% owned  

From Weeks 1-7, Frank Gore’s inability to explode for significant numbers was offset by a steady workload. This created a reliable but unspectacular weekly output, and the potential to deploy him a low-end flex option. However, a three-game statistical surge by rookie Devin Singletary has combined with Gore’s diminishing workload to eliminate the rationale for retaining him on rosters. Since Week 8, Gore has carried 36+ times, averaged 2.5 yards-per-carry, and failed to exceed 27 yards in any of those for matchups. Gore has not been involved as a receiving weapon throughout the season, as he has only accumulated nine receptions for 70 yards. Singletary has assembled 269 total yards on 50 touches since Week 9, including the 79 yards that he collected in Week 11. Singletary also presents the potential for big plays, while delivering a burst that the 36-year-old Gore simply cannot replicate at this point of his career. That removes any rationale for keeping him on your rosters.

Kerryon Johnson, Detroit Lions - 37% owned

For those of you who are still maintaining a roster spot for Johnson, here is a reminder that the earliest that he could possibly resurface with the Lions will be Week 16. That will require you to proceed through your next five matchups while designating a critical roster spot to a player that cannot conceivably help you. When Johnson recovered from a mid-November knee issue last season, the Lions decided to preserve him, since they had no opportunity to play in the postseason. There is a great likelihood that the scenario will be repeated once again this season, as the 3-6-1 Lions proceed with Jeff Driskell under center. This should eliminate the rationale for retaining Johnson, with the exception of owners in deeper leagues, as there is a significant downside to having him dwell on your roster. If you are still contending for an opportunity to participate in the postseason, then it is recommended that you find a player that can bolster your efforts.

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