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Running Back Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 3


As we enter the decision-making process for your Week 3 rosters, anyone who drafted backs that garnered the top six ADPs have avoided injury concerns. But those of you that selected James Conner or Damien Williams have been confronted with the possibility of losing your coveted starters due to health issues.

The current uncertainty regarding the status of Conner and Williams underscores the rationale for making sure that you handcuff your primary backs during the draft process. That provides you with protection from a significant roster crisis by cushioning the impact of any unexpected absence.

Many of you have other issues that you are facing with your running backs, and this article will help you locate the best options on your waiver wire. 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 3 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. 

Jaylen Samuels, (Pittsburgh) - 35% owned

James Conner had accumulated 45 total yards and a touchdown on 14 touches before exiting Pittsburgh’s Week 2 matchup with Seattle. Samuels promptly inherited the responsibilities of performing as Pittsburgh’s primary back and will continue in that role if Conner is absent in Week 3. The uncertainty surrounding Conner’s status will create the highest level of discomfort for any of his owners who did not secure Samuels on their rosters. But if you are in a league in which Samuels remains available, he is currently the top addition among all options at the running back position. He possesses a cluster of skills that allow the Steelers to utilize him in a hybrid role, while also providing a sufficient workload for him to function as an RB2 in your leagues. Pittsburgh has developed an increasing need for receiving weapons after a brutal introduction to the post-Antonio Brown era. This has opened a path for Samuels to earn an expanding role even if Conner ultimately plays against the 49ers on Sunday.

Raheem Mostert, (San Francisco) - 16% owned

Mostert began the year as the RB4 on San Francisco’s depth chart but became Matt Breida’s backup when Tevin Coleman suffered the always unwanted high ankle sprain. That created an opportunity for Mostert to operate with Breida and Jeffery Wilson in the newest amalgamation of San Francisco's backfield. Breida produced 121 yards on just 12 attempts in Week 2, while Wilson accrued 34 yards and two touchdowns with his 10 carries. But Mostert led the trio in touches (16) and accumulated 151 total yards. Mostert also bolted for a 39-yard touchdown reception, which demonstrated the same speed that resulted in a sizzling 4.38-40 during his 2015 Pro Day. He also burst for 250 yards in Weeks 6-9 of 2018 before a broken arm prematurely concluded his season. But he is now in a position to receive double-digit touches each week, as Kyle Shanahan continues his deployment of Mostert on a regular basis. This makes him an excellent addition for rosters in 84% of all leagues.  

Carlos Hyde, (Houston) - 43% owned

Hyde’s first two performances as a Texan have been encouraging. He bolted for 83 yards on 10 attempts (8.3 yards-per-carry) in Week 1 while receiving one more carry than Duke Johnson (10/9). Hyde also assembled 90 yards with his 20 attempts in Week 2 (4.5 per-carry), as Johnson was relegated to six touches. Hyde’s 86.5 per-game average easily eclipses the anemic 23.6 per-game average that he manufactured during eight games with the Jaguars last season. That should encourage you to seize him for your rosters. However, that involves overcoming hesitation that might exist following his disappointing tenures in Cleveland, Jacksonville, and Kansas City. He has only surpassed 27 receptions once during his first five seasons and has just one target in two contests. But even though he will not deliver significant output as a receiver, he supplies the ability to generate respectable rushing numbers within a potent offense.

 

In The Running - Week 3 Waiver Wire Running Backs

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

Justin Jackson, (Los Angeles Chargers) - 34% owned  

Austin Ekeler has exploded for 287 total yards and four touchdowns during his first two games as the Chargers’ lead back. But this does not diminish Jackson’s talent, nor his ability to register favorable numbers when he is entrusted with touches. Jackson accumulated 57 rushing yards on just six carries in Week 1 (9.5 yards-per-carry), then manufactured 59 yards on seven attempts (8.4 yards-per-carry) during his Week 2 matchup with Detroit. He also exploded for a 60-yard touchdown that was eviscerated by a holding penalty. This demonstrated his elusiveness, which makes him an ongoing threat to accrue desirable yardage whenever he is involved in the Chargers’ attack. That presents potential owners with a degree of talent that eclipses most options that are dwelling on your waiver wires. He can be a resource for anyone who is searching for a flex option for any reason. This includes the upcoming reappearance of bye weeks, which will begin creating challenges for many owners in Week 4.

Darwin Thompson, (Kansas City) - 18% owned

During last week’s waiver wire recommendations, anyone who reads this column was advised to add Thompson or to avoid dropping him if he was already contained on their rosters. This would provide a safeguard for owners of Damien Williams and LeSean McCoy, while also providing all Thompson owners with a talented back whose relevance would expand substantially if Williams or McCoy would be forced to the sideline. That scenario could occur, as Williams has suffered a right knee contusion. Thompson is a versatile back who rushed for 1,044 yards and 14 touchdowns during his final season at Utah State (2018) while averaging 6.8 yards-per-carry. He can operate effectively inside and is not a liability in pass protection. If his role increases for any reason, he is fully capable of accruing sizeable output in Andy Reid’s high-octane attack. His availability on waiver wires should decrease considerably after this week.

Justice Hill, (Baltimore) - 24% owned

Hill supplies an enticing level of explosiveness that is destined to deliver huge plays for the Baltimore offense this season. He also presents potential owners with an opportunity to seize a dynamic playmaker who could propel their teams to league championships. But despite the value that he provides through a basic roster addition, his ownership actually diminished by 9% over the last seven days. Even though Hill has only accrued nine touches during the Ravens first two matchups, his exceptional talent remains intact. He is operating within a potent attack that has exploded for nearly 1,100 yards, and upcoming game scripts should eventually compel John Harbaugh and Greg Roman to utilize him with greater frequency. That will elevate Hill's usage and his value will soar accordingly. When that occurs, adding him to your rosters will become an arduous task. You can avoid that situation by seizing him now.

 

Dark Horses - Week 3 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.

Chris Thompson, (Washington) - 48% owned

After waiting one year before he could commandeer a significant workload as Washington’s feature back, Guice was only available for 24 snaps and 13 touches. Now, the torn meniscus in his right knee has created a prolonged absence that could extend to eight weeks. That has expanded the responsibilities of Thompson, who has accrued 129 total yards, while also capturing 12 of his 18 targets for 116 yards as a receiver. The sixth-year back presents potential owners with a viable option in PPR leagues, due to his unchallenged responsibilities as the Redskins’ pass-catching weapon from the backfield. His role is more defined than many other backs, and his usage is also sustainable if he eludes injury. Thompson’s ownership percentage rose by nearly 30% after the news of Guice’s latest health issue. However, he remains available in over half of all leagues.

Tony Pollard, (Dallas) - 22% owned

The potential of a protracted holdout by Ezekiel Elliott prompted many owners to select Pollard during their drafts. Once Elliott’s contract extension became official, that vanquished the possibility that Pollard would operate as the lead back for Dallas. While disappointment for Pollard owners was understandable, a significant percentage of this group discarded him despite his enticing combination of size, speed, and playmaking ability. This has dropped his ownership to 22%, even though Pollard’s athleticism was on display during a Week 2 touchdown that was called back by penalty. Elliott’s presence will clearly impact Pollard’s touch total. But the rookie provides the ultimate insurance policy for Elliott owners and possesses the versatility to deliver excellent numbers if Elliott is forced to the sideline. His undeniable talent is worthy of your investment.

Alexander Mattison, (Minnesota) - 21% owned

Mattison’s ownership has not expanded since the draft process was completed. But a convergence of factors has entrenched him as an unquestioned handcuff option, who can bolster your weekly scoring as a flex. The 5’11”, 200-pound rookie operates with an aggressive running style that enabled him to average 5.4+ yards-per-carry, and rumble for 49 yards against Atlanta in Week 1. He was limited to just four carries in Week 2 but maximized his opportunity by amassing 25 yards (6.3 yards-per-carry). Dalvin Cook will confiscate the vast majority of opportunities, but Mattison remains worthy of flex consideration each week as he will be operating within a Minnesota offense that has run 65 times during the team’s initial two matchups. His value would ignite if he ascends into lead back duties for any reason, which provides the incentive for you to include him on your rosters.

 

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.

Damien Harris, (New England) - 21% owned

After New England invested a third-round pick on Harris during last April’s draft, it was justifiable to believe that Bill Belichick would create a role for the 5’11”, 215-pound rookie. But Harris’ relevance has plunged to a level far below expectations, as he was inactive during both of the Patriots’ first two matchups. Other rookie backs who have yet to confiscate a consistent workload have been presented with an uncomplicated path toward feature back duties if their teams' RB1s are forced to the sideline. But Harris does not share that distinction. Any absence by Sony Michel would trigger a convoluted touch distribution between Rex Burkhead, James White and (possibly) Harris. He is unable to provide you with fantasy points now and is further removed from relevance than other backs that you can stash on your bench.

Tevin Coleman, (San Francisco) - 79% owned

Coleman’s high ankle sprain occurred on the very first play of San Francisco's season opener, and he will remain absent from the 49ers' lineup for multiple games. It would be more reasonable to retain him for your rosters if he was his team’s unquestioned RB1. But whenever he does return, it is unclear how extensive his workload will be. He will share touches with Breida and Mostert whenever he begins accumulating snaps. But Coleman was destined to function within a committee with Breida even before the injury, and there is no assurance that he will attain enough touches to boost your scoring at any point in the immediate future. After an extended absence, Kyle Shanahan may opt to integrate Coleman into the offense over a period of weeks. You may not have that amount of time to wait in your efforts to win matchups and qualify for the fantasy postseason.

Kareem Hunt, (Cleveland) - 48% owned

Ownership of Hunt in dynasty leagues is justifiable, as he could easily regain a sizable workload next season. However, owners in redraft leagues who plan to have him affixed to their benches until mid-November should revisit that strategy - particularly if you are contending with shallow rosters. The recommendation to drop Hunt has maintained a consistent presence in this section, but his current percentage of ownership indicates that the message needs to be delivered once again. There is absolutely no guarantee that Hunt will receive a respectable workload upon his Week 10 return, providing that Nick Chubb remains healthy. While you might be focused on his potential to bolster your scoring during the fantasy playoffs, your team needs to prevail in matchups throughout the year in order to qualify for the postseason. It is wise to maximize your roster options during these early weeks in order to accomplish that goal.

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