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Running Back Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 13


We have now arrived at Week 13, which places us at the threshold of the fantasy playoffs. The unwanted process of bye weeks has been eviscerated until next season. However, if you own Ezekiel Elliott, Alvin Kamara, Latavius Murray, David Montgomery, Tarik Cohen, Devin Singletary, or Bo Scarbrough, here is a reminder that they will be performing on Thanksgiving Day. This makes it essential to have them in your lineups by Thursday if you are planning to start them.

Otherwise, this critical week provides the opportunity to focus on building lineups that will advance into the fantasy playoffs, or refine rosters that have already secured a place in the postseason. It is also highly recommended that you examine the Week 14-16 matchups for any backs that you are considering or currently own. This maximizes your planning process by establishing which backs will encounter formidable defensive units, and which runners will perform against vulnerable opponents.

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 13 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.

Rashaad Penny, Seattle Seahawks - 18% owned

Penny had only manufactured 167 rushing yards before Seattle's Week 12 matchup in Philadelphia and had also been limited to 36 attempts during the Seahawks' first 10 contests. But he surprisingly erupted for 129 yards and a touchdown on 14 attempts against the Eagles. His explosive 58-yard scoring run helped propel him to a sizzling 9.2 yards-per-carry average, and he has emerged among this week's most enticing waiver-wire options.  There is now a genuine possibility that he will retain an expanded role, as Chris Carson's renewed fumbling issue could create a shift in workload distribution. Carson had averaged 20-attempts-per-game from Weeks 1-10, but his inability to secure the ball limited him to eight attempts in Week 12. The protracted problem might also cause a permanent reduction in his touches, while Penny's performance could launch the second-year back into a significant role moving forward.

Jonathan Williams, Indianapolis Colts - 62% owned

While Williams' ownership percentage has increased by 60% during the past week, but he remains available in nearly 40% of all leagues. That entrenches him among this week’s premier roster additions if he still resides on your league’s waiver wire. There was considerable speculation regarding the potential touch distribution between Williams and Jordan Wilkins prior to the Colts’ AFC South matchup in Week 12. However, a timeshare that once appeared imminent never transpired. Wilkins failed to register a touch, while Williams functioned as the primary back (29 touches), and delivered his second-consecutive 100+-yard performance (104). He has now accumulated 220 yards on the ground since Week 11 while averaging 6.45 yards-per-carry. Second-year back Nyheim Hines assembled 51 yards with his nine attempts (5.7 per-carry) but operated as the clear backup. Williams should confiscate the vast majority of touches within Indy’s backfield until Marlon Mack resurfaces in the lineup.

Benny Snell Jr., Pittsburgh Steelers - 6% owned

The protracted shoulder issue that has repeatedly cemented James Conner to the sideline has created sizable frustration for his owners. But it has also presented Snell with the opportunity to receive an expanded workload. While there was considerable conjecture that Jaylen Samuels would be the recipient of a massive touch total during Conner’s Week 12 absence, Samuels was limited to just five touches. He inefficiency as a rusher during the season (47 carries/121 yards/2.6 yards-per-carry) is contrasted by Snell’s proficiency. The 5’10”, 220-pound rookie has bolted for 173 yards and two touchdowns during the two games in which he has been allotted 17+ attempts. That includes his 98 yards on 21 attempts in Week 12 (4.7 yards-per-carry), which has elevated Snell among this week’s most viable roster additions. He provides Conner owners with a source of protection if Pittsburgh’s lead back is sidelined during upcoming matchups. Snell can also boost the scoring of all other owners if Conner remains unavailable.

 

In The Running - Week 13 Waiver Wire Running Backs

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

Bo Scarbrough, Detroit Lions - 43% owned

Scarbrough surprisingly snuck onto the fantasy radar in Week 11, by amassing 55 yards and a touchdown on 14 attempts. But the unfavorable results that occurred after the pursuit of waiver wire options  Ty Johnson and Brian Hill discouraged many potential owners from adding him. However, his ownership percentage should soar beyond its current level after the rookie accumulated 98 yards on 18 attempts in Week 12. Scarbrough has solidified his status as a viable fantasy option, and there is no apparent threat to his lead back status among Detroit’s stable of runners. Johnson and J.D. McKissic combined for just five carries during the Lions’ matchup in Washington, and Scarbrough’s 5.4 yards-per-carry average against the Redskins should convince the team’s decision-makers to keep him entrenched in his current role. The 6’1, 235-pound Scarbrough should also commandeer red zone carries, which further enhances his status as a flex option.

Alexander Mattison, Minnesota Vikings - 23% owned

Dalvin Cook entered Minnesota’s bye week as the league leader in rushing attempts (214/21.4 per game) and was second to Christian McCaffrey in rushing yards (1,017). His responsibilities will allow him to retain an extensive workload, as he operates within a Viking offense that is third in run play percentage (50.15). But if Cook would suddenly become unavailable for any reason,  Mattison would inherit the massive touch total that has propelled Cook to his exceptional numbers. The rookie has averaged 4.8 yards-per-carry with his 82 attempts while performing in his unquestioned role as Cook’s backup, and his aggressive style would help deliver RB1 production if he were to absorb Cook’s workload. That provides the rationale for Cook owners to secure Mattison, as his presence will safeguard rosters from a sizable drop in scoring if Cook is sidelined. It remains highly recommended that Cook owners seize Mattison this week in order to evade the potential for a crisis during the fantasy playoffs.

Tony Pollard, Dallas Cowboys – 13% owned

There should be no reservations about Pollard’s ability to accumulate significant yardage if he is presented with an expanded workload. This has elevated him into a category with Mattison as the preeminent handcuffs to target during this week’s waiver wire transactions. Pollard has capitalized on his opportunities throughout the season, by generating 347 total yards on 67 touches, including 257 yards on the ground (4.7 yards per carry). Pollard also bolted for 44 yards and a touchdown after collecting all four of his targets in Week 11. Elliott has averaged 22.4 touches per game compared to 25.4 per game during 2018, as Pollard continues to pilfer opportunities (26 since Week 7). Elliott has also averaged 3.6 targets/2.9 receptions per game after attaining averages of 6.3 targets/5.1 receptions per game in 2018. Elliott is the undisputed lead back in the Dallas backfield. But Pollard would vault into RB1 status if Elliott is sidelined during the fantasy postseason.

 

Dark Horses - Week 13 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.

Wayne Gallman, New York Giants - 5% owned

This provides another reminder to Saquon Barkley owners that Gallman would instantly inherit a substantial workload if Barkley becomes stationed on the sideline for any reason. Barkley manufactured 59 rushing yards on 17 attempts in Week 12 (3.5 per-carry), which continued a pattern of ineffectiveness that has created discomfort for his owners since Week 9 (1.86 yards-per-carry). While Barkley’s substandard production is a byproduct of his protracted ankle issue, the inability to perform with his usual proficiency has resulted in a mammoth reduction in his scoring. This has provided Barkley owners with growing justification to secure Gallman for their rosters. as this delivers a tangible safeguard if Barkley is sidelined by another injury. Seizing Gallman also allows Barkley owners to avoid a sizable issue if the Giants decide to preserve Barkley by resting him. Either scenario would supply Gallman with a favorable touch total, which provides the incentive to add him this week.

Ryquell Armstead, Jacksonville Jaguars - 1% owned

Leonard Fournette’s responsibilities as Jacksonville’s RB1 provide him with the opportunity to commandeer nearly every rushing attempt and target that is designated to his position. While that has propelled him to an average of 23.8 touches-per-game, it has also relegated Armstead to only limited usage. He has only exceeded three touches during three of the Jaguars’ matchups. However, the enticement for securing Armstead is not connected to his current workload. The rationale for adding the 5"11, 220-pound rookie is strictly related to the extensive involvement that he would attain if Fournette is forced to the sideline for any reason. There is no legitimate competitor for touches that lurks on Jacksonville’s depth chart, and Armstead would accumulate highly favorable touch totals if he were to function as the team’s RB1. This should persuade Fournette owners to protect their rosters from a significant dropoff in scoring if the Jaguars' lead back is suddenly unavailable.

Darrel Williams, Kansas City Chiefs - 5% owned

Williams’ role within the Chiefs’ backfield is largely dependent on the availability of Damien Williams and LeSean McCoy. Kansas City’s Week 12 bye provided Damien Williams with an opportunity to recover from the rib issue that emerged during his Week 11 matchup. However, he might require additional time before he can effectively operate with a sizable workload. McCoy could also resurface after he was evaluated for a concussion in Week 11. But the status of both veterans could remain unclear until well after your league’s waiver wire has processed. However, if you are contending with roster challenges at running back, you have been presented with the opportunity to pursue the 5’11”, 225-pound (Darrel) Williams in advance of any prospective news concerning both Damien Williams and McCoy. That will allow you to avoid a more competitive waiver wire process that involves other owners from your league. This is not a recommendation to seize Williams at any cost. But he has displayed sufficient versatility as a runner and receiver to warrant a roster addition.

 

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.

Royce Freeman, Denver Broncos - 68% owned

If you are a Freeman owner, you have recently been confronted with increasing evidence that he will not garner enough opportunities for you to use him in your lineup. Freeman has carried a grand total of 15 times since Week 8, which includes the season-low four that he received in Week 12. He has also averaged a paltry 22-yards-per-game during that sequence, as the result of his unmistakable workload reduction. Phillip Lindsay has collected 93 attempts since Week 5, including an average of 14.5 during the Broncos' last two contests. Freeman had also collected 20 red zone touches from Weeks 1-8, including 17 opportunities on the ground. But he has only received two touches inside the 20 since Week 9. While Freeman still operates in a theoretical timeshare with Lindsay, neither his touch totals or his recent output indicate a reason to retain him on your rosters.

Duke Johnson, Houston Texans - 55% owned

Through Houston’s first 11 matchups of the season, we have observed consistent touch distribution and responsibilities for both Johnson and Carlos Hyde. Even though Johnson has run effectively when he has been utilized (6.5 yards-per-carry), Hyde is Bill O’Brien’s unwavering choice as the Texans’ lead back. Hyde is averaging 16 attempts-per-game, while Johnson has averaged only 8.1 touches-per-game. He carried just five times for 22 yards (4.4 yards-per-attempt) in Week 12, even though he possesses enough talent to garner more opportunities. It is clear that O’Brien will limit Johnson’s weekly touch totals, and there is no evidence that the workload distribution will be altered during upcoming matchups. Any plays of significance that are delivered by Johnson will fail to result in an expanded workload, and he is not accumulating enough opportunities for owners to use him in their lineups. That eliminates any reason to keep him on your roster.

Adrian Peterson, Washington Redskins - 44% owned

Peterson has outperformed projections throughout the regular season, including an average of 96 yards-per-game and 5.15 yards-per-carry from Weeks 6-9. But despite the 34-year-old’s effectiveness, the return of Derrius Guice in Week 11 has negatively impacted Peterson’s workload. Guice has now accumulated 17 carries in two games since he resurfaced in Washington’s lineup while also accruing four targets during those matchups. Peterson has been relegated to an average of 9.5 attempts-per-game since Week 11, after averaging 19 per game during his previous four matchups. The Redskins’ backfield will become even more congested whenever Chris Thompson vaults into the equation. Thompson appears primed to return from the lingering toe issue that has sidelined him since Week 6, and will immediately function as a pass-catching specialist. This creates a problematic situation for Peterson owners, as his opportunity to accumulate yardage will decrease even further. This has removed all rationale for keeping him on your rosters.

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