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Running Back Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 17

Winning a fantasy championship has been your goal since you began preparing for your draft. It has also remained the driving force behind every roster decision that you have made throughout the regular season. Regardless of whether you have been competing against friends, family members, long-time rivals, or a group of owners that you do not know, the desire to win your league has propelled you to this point of the postseason.

If you have embraced the unique challenges of participating in a league that incorporates Week 17 matchups into the equation, then you are just one win away from fulfilling your championship aspirations. This article is designed to help you make the critical decisions that await you, by examining the running backs that are currently located on at least 40% of all waiver wires.

These recommendations will appear in three tiers - beginning with the most enticing runners that are available, then progressing to backs that can be considered if your normal starting options are unavailable for any reason. You will also find a group of backs that can be dropped in order for you to secure your replacements. Good luck to everyone in your matchups this week.

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Frontrunners - Week 17 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.

Gus Edwards, (Baltimore) - 10% owned

If you are a Mark Ingram owner who does not have Edwards contained on your roster, it has become essential that you add him this week. Edwards had been recommended as an excellent handcuff option for savvy owners well before Ingram experienced a calf injury in Week 16. Even if Ingram is capable of performing this week, Baltimore has also secured home-field advantage throughout the postseason. There is no reason for the Ravens to place Ingram at risk of any additional health issues during what is essentially an inconsequential game. That should compel John Harbaugh to keep Ingram safely affixed to the sideline when the team hosts AFC North rival Pittsburgh. Rookie Justice Hill should also receive opportunities. But Ingram has averaged 15.2 touches-per-game while functioning as Baltimore’s lead back, and Edwards will inherit a massive workload while Ingram is observing from the sideline. Securing Edwards will also prohibit your opponent from starting him against you during this week's championship matchup.

Deandre Washington, (Oakland Raiders)48% owned

Washington has now operated as Oakland’s primary back in two different contests and has capitalized by accumulating 202 total yards and two touchdowns on 45 touches during those matchups. That includes the 106 total yards that he accrued in Week 16 when Josh Jacobs’ lingering shoulder issue kept him from operating as the Raiders’ RB1. Washington also assembled 96 total yards with his 20 touches during Jacobs’s previous absence in Week 14 and should commandeer an extensive workload this week in Denver. There is a risk in exposing Jacobs’ troublesome shoulder to further contact against the Broncos, even though Oakland has not been mathematically eliminated from the postseason. Jalen Richard has been limited to nine touches in both games that Jacobs has missed and does not loom as a threat to keep Washington from attaining another sizable touch total.

Travis Homer, (Seattle) - 0% owned

Travis Homer is a sixth-round draft pick who has produced 52 yards on eight rushing attempts through Seattle’s first 15 games. But his importance to the Seahawks has increased dramatically after multiple injuries depleted the team’s backfield options in Week 16. Chris Carson will not be available to Seattle following his season-ending hip injury, and C.J. Prosise’s year has also concluded abruptly due to his arm injury. That leaves Homer as the Seahawks’ only healthy resource at the running back position until the team fortifies the position. His sudden transformation into the team’s RB1 has also sent his fantasy value skyrocketing while providing potential owners with an opportunity to secure him for their Week 17 matchups. The 5'10", 200-pound Homer should operate with a massive workload this week against San Francisco, which vaults him among the top waiver wire priorities. He is also available in 100% of all leagues.


In The Running - Week 17 Waiver Wire Running Backs

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

Dion Lewis, Tennessee Titans - 10% owned

Derrick Henry’s troublesome hamstring had increased the need for his owners to secure Lewis on their rosters, even before he missed Tennessee’s Week 16 matchup. But Henry’s playing status was altered dramatically within 24 hours of the Titans’ encounter with New Orleans, which resulted in Lewis being elevated into a feature back role. His ownership percentage rose from 10% to 28% before the opening kickoff, and he now resides among this week’s top roster additions. Tennessee can enter the playoffs if they prevail over Houston this week, which provides the Titans with enormous incentive to utilize Henry. However, it is currently uncertain how many touches he can absorb. Lewis did establish season highs in attempts (15) and rushing yards (68) against the Saints and supplies the potential to perform in the flex for owners that are searching for options.

Adrian Peterson, (Washington) - 59% owned

One of the unexpected developments at the running back position this season has been the consistent and favorable production that has been delivered by 34-year-old Adrian Peterson. The season began with Peterson as a healthy scratch in Week 1, amid questions concerning how he would function within a backfield that also included Derrius Guice and Chris Thompson. But he has now generated 820 yards on the ground while rushing for 76+ yards in six of his last 10 contests. Peterson has also accrued 146 total yards in two games since Guice was placed on injured reserve (sprained MCL). Chris Thompson has averaged just 6,25 touches-per-game since he resurfaced in Week 13 (toe), and is not a threat to pilfer a sizable touch total. Peterson will operate with a favorable workload as the Redskins’ lead back against Dallas this week. That sustains his value as a flex option.

Alexander Mattison, (Minnesota) - 43% owned  

Mattison was included among weekly waiver wire options on a frequent basis throughout the season. This was largely due to his consistent ability to generate yardage within Minnesota’s ground-oriented approach, as Baltimore is the only team that has run with greater frequency during the regular season (49.9%). Mattison exceeded 50 rushing yards in five different contests from Weeks 3-10 while appearing fully capable of accumulating significant numbers if he were to function as the Vikings lead back for any reason. It is ironic that after frequent warnings regarding the potential for Cook to suffer an injury, Mattison was contending with his own health issue when Cook finally did become unavailable. However, he can still provide respectable numbers this week, if he can perform when Minnesota hosts Chicago. That makes him is a worthy roster addition for owners that are scrambling for options, despite the current uncertainty regarding his health.


Dark Horses - Week 17 Waiver Wire Running Backs 

This group consists of running backs that can be added if you consider your situation to be desperate due to the impending absence of backs that have been your starters.

Kerryon Johnson, (Detroit) - 42% owned

It was exceedingly difficult to project how the Lions would distribute touches to their running backs in Week 16. Johnson was primed to return for his first game action since Week 7 (knee). However, Bo Scarbrough was also available after missing Week 15 with a rib issue. When you blend the erratic nature of usage for Detroit’s backs, it was unclear how many touches Johnson would actually receive. However, he ultimately led the Lions with 10 attempts and one target (43 total yards), while Scarbrough carried eight times (34 yards) and did not register a target. You have progressed into this week’s matchup without Johnson in your lineup, and it is unlikely that his workload will be enormous. But if a convergence of factors has left you without sufficient options at running back, Johnson remains available in nearly 60% of all leagues. 

Malcolm Brown, (Los Angeles Rams) - 13% owned

Los Angeles will not be participating in the postseason, which should persuade Sean McVay to safeguard Todd Gurley’s health in Week 17. This could have provided rookie Darrell Henderson with an opportunity to put his big-play capabilities on display. However, he has been placed on injured reserve with an ankle injury. This has presented Brown with a clear path to significant usage. He has accumulated 228 yards with his 61 carries during the season (3.8 per attempt), including 116 from Weeks 6-14. He also averaged 5,5 attempts per-game during that sequence but appears destined to operate with an expanded workload this week. He has also been placed in a position to perform more proficiently when he lines up against a vulnerable Arizona defense. This delivers the prospects of respectable numbers if you deploy Brown as a flex option.

Duke Johnson, (Houston) - 54% owned

Johnson has repeatedly demonstrated a level of elusiveness the could have been beneficial for Houston’s ground game. However, that has not deterred Bill O’Brien from utilizing Hyde extensively on a weekly basis, as the sixth-year back has accumulated 16.7 touches-per-game. That has propelled Hyde to his first 1,000-yard season while relegating Johnson to fewer than eight touches per game (7.86). That average includes the minuscule seven that he received in Houston‘s last two matchups combined. However, the Texans have clinched the AFC South, and O’Brien might be compelled to protect his lead back’s health during this week’s matchup with Tennessee. If Hyde is rested, Johnson’s usage would expand significantly, and his versatility provides the potential for favorable yardage totals as both rusher and pass catcher. Even though there is justification for believing that Johnson has been underutilized throughout the regular season, he can accumulate more yardage and fantasy points than many other options on your waiver wire.


Also-Rans - Time To Say Goodbye

These backs can be dropped in order to secure an RB with greater potential to bolster your scoring this week.

Chris Carson, (Seattle) - 99% owned

If you are a Carson owner and have advanced to the Week 17 championship game, you have been heavily reliant on the third-year back throughout the season. He entered Week 16 as RB9 in both standard and PPR scoring and was an unquestioned weekly starter on all rosters. But the season-ending hip injury that Carson experienced will force his owners to construct this week’s lineup without the highly productive back. If it will be necessary to add another back for this week’s matchup, Carson becomes a viable drop candidate. He clearly cannot be utilized as a starter, since he will not be involved in any further game action.  That removes all reason to retain him on your roster, as the spot that he currently occupies should be used on a player that will accumulate fantasy points this week.

Tevin Coleman, (San Francisco) - 71% owned

If you are playing for a league championship this week, your team has advanced through the postseason without any assistance from Coleman. He has carried just 17 times since Week 13 after accumulating 115 attempts from Weeks 1-12 (12.8 per game). He has also manufactured just 85 rushing yards during that span, after accruing 448 before his workload was reduced significantly. Raheem Mostert has confiscated 59 touches during San Francisco’s last three matchups and has performed effectively while operating with lead back responsibilities (375 total yards). It is unlikely that Kyle Shanahan will alter the touch distribution during this week’s battle with Seattle for the NFC West, and Coleman has not been an integral component in Shanahan’s backfield in four consecutive matchups. That creates substantial risk in projecting him to receive a favorable workload against the Seahawks while eliminating any chance that you would deploy him in your lineup.

David Johnson, (Arizona) - 79% owned

Any review of the most disappointing players of 2019 will have David Johnson near the top of the list. He was selected in the middle of Round 1 during the majority of drafts. However, 33 running backs have scored more fantasy points than Johnson during the season. Anyone who is playing in a meaningful matchup during Week 17 received exceptional seasons from other players in order to overcome the statistical disaster that was involved with owning Johnson. He has not exceeded 34 rushing yards since Week 6, as multiple injuries in late October created a pathway for newly acquired Kenyan Drake to confiscate responsibilities as Arizona’s feature back. Drake’s ongoing efficiency obliterated Johnson’s value while leaving his owners with no rationale for trusting him in their lineups. Johnson has only manufactured 47 yards on a meager 18 attempts since Week 7, as Drake has commandeered the vast majority of touches (19.4 per-game). There leaves you with absolutely no reason to retain Johnson on your roster this week.

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