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Running Back Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 7

Some of you have been rewarded for your meticulous roster planning by receiving excellent production from your running backs. Unfortunately, many of you have been equally prepared when making roster decisions, but have been undermined by injuries, inconsistent usage, or underwhelming performances. If that applies to you, then those unwanted outcomes have forced you to examine your waiver wire.

In addition to those production-inhibiting issues, the ongoing annoyance of bye weeks might compel you to locate alternative options. Christian McCaffrey owners should brace themselves as you read this because he will not be available for your lineups this week. Carolina will join three other teams with Week 7 byes - (Cleveland, Tampa Bay Pittsburgh). That will leave two additional backs that are starting in over 90% of all lineups (Nick Chubb, James Conner), along with two backs that will be discussed later in this week's article - Ronald Jones, and Peyton Barber.

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 7 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. 

Darrell Henderson, Los Angeles Rams - 28% owned

Malcolm Brown confiscated the bulk of carries when Todd Gurley was sidelined by a problematic thigh. But Brown's uninspiring numbers (11 carries/40 yards/3.6 yards-per-carry) were overshadowed by the impressive display of big-play capabilities by Darrell Henderson. The rookie finally surfaced within the Rams backfield rotation after being limited to only one touch from Weeks 1-5. But he bolted for 39 yards with his six attempts (6.5 yards-per-carry) while demonstrating eye-opening acceleration and elusiveness that has not been exhibited by Brown. The Rams did move up 24 spots during the NFL draft in order to secure Henderson, and his potential to explode for sizable gains should entice Sean McVay to inject the 5'8", 210-pound rookie into LA's lineup with greater frequency. He is available in over 70% of all leagues and savvy owners should seize the opportunity to add him this week.

Chase Edmonds, Arizona Cardinals - 34% owned

David Johnson has already experienced a hand issue in Week 2 and is now contending with a back injury. If you are a Johnson owner, any additional health problems will be far less impactful if the explosive Edmonds is already among your arsenal of roster options. The rookie has delivered promising results during his limited touches this season, which was highlighted by his usage and output in Weeks 5-6 (18 touches/153 total yards). His recent performances should earn him a sustained role as a complement to Johnson, while Edmonds has also established standalone value. He remains an absolute must-add for Johnson owners who failed to seize him despite previous recommendations. This process of adding him will now be more challenging, as competition to pluck Edmonds from the waiver wire will intensify. He remains available in nearly 60% of all leagues and is among this week’s top waiver additions.

Adrian Peterson, Washington Redskins - 58% owned

Peterson finished Week 5 as a viable drop candidate, as he had only manufactured 108 rushing yards on 40 attempts (2.7 yards per game). His season-high was also an anemic 37 yards, and his involvement as a receiver was minimal (3 receptions/4 yards). But he also entered Washington’s Week 6 matchup with Bill Callahan directing the Redskin offense. Callahan preferred to expand Washington’s commitment to the run after the Redskins had generated the league’s fourth-highest percentage of passing plays through their first five matchups (68.8%). Peterson ultimately carried 23 times against the Dolphins, and easily assembled his best output of the season (118 yards/5.1 per-carry). The transition from Jay Gruden to Callahan has ushered Peterson back to fantasy relevance, and it is justifiable to add him. But expectations should be tempered because his upcoming opponents will be more formidable than Miami.

Jamaal Williams (Green Bay) - 19% owned

The perpetual concern with starting Williams has been the clear disparity in his explosiveness when compared to teammate Aaron Jones. However, flexibility is critical with every decision that you make throughout the regular season. It is difficult to ignore his Week 6 performance as a rusher (14 attempts/104 yards/7.4 yards-per-carry), along with his pass-catching presence from the backfield (5 targets/4 receptions/32 yards/1 touchdown). The forgettable night that was experienced by Jones (1 fumble/1 critical drop/ 47 rushing yards) will undoubtedly create an additional space in the pathway that could lead Williams to expanded usage this week against Oakland. While Matt LaFleur will likely deploy what he perceives to be the hot hand in each particular matchup, Williams has become one of this week's recommended targets for your roster.


In The Running - Week 7 Waiver Wire Running Backs

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

Alexander Mattison, Minnesota Vikings - 23% owned 

Mattison has sustained an ongoing presence in this column as a highly recommended handcuff for owners of Dalvin Cook. He has also remained worthy of consideration for any other owners, due to his ability to deliver sizable yardage even if Cook confiscates the majority of touches. Mattison’s standalone value was evident in Week 6, as he received his largest workload of the season (14 carries) and generated a season-high in rushing yards (63). He has now averaged 5.25 yards-per-carry with his 48 attempts and should garner enough opportunities to operate as a flex option. Mattison would also thrive as the Vikings’ primary back if Cooks is sidelined, and would vault to the periphery of RB1 status from a fantasy perspective. Cook owners can still avoid a massive predicament by securing Mattison while his ownership percentage remains low. All other owners have been presented with significant motivation to add him this week.

Latavius Murray, New Orleans Saints - 48% owned

The sixth-year back was owned in 72% of all leagues entering Week 4. But that percentage steadily dwindled as his involvement in New Orleans' offense slowly evaporated (7 touches - Weeks 3/4). But Murray has now garnered 20 touches during the Saints last two matchups, including a season-high 11 in Week 6 against Jacksonville. Murray accrued 79 total yards against the Jaguars, and his output would have been even more impressive if his 42-yard touchdown reception had not been eviscerated by a holding penalty. Even though his expanded usage was a byproduct of Alvin Kamara's ankle issue, it did provide a reminder that he remains an outstanding handcuff for Kamara owners. He also delivers the prospects of stand-alone value if Kamara requires a managed workload in upcoming weeks.

Gus Edwards, Baltimore Ravens - 6% owned

Mark Ingram was averaging 16.4 touches-per-game entering Week 6 and was performing on 53% of Baltimore’s offensive snaps. While he continued to function as the Ravens' lead back against Cincinnati (13 attempts/52 rushing yards), Edwards and Justice Hill combined for 11 carries versus the Bengals. Edwards collected six of those attempts and has now averaged 7.3 attempts-per-game/4.5 yards-per-carry. Hill possesses the potential to explode for huge gains, which could eventually result in a larger percentage of touches for the talented rookie, But Edwards has easily confiscated the majority of carries whenever Ingram migrates to the sidelines (44/18). Any absence by Ingram would result in Edwards also commandeering the majority of rushing attempts, within a Baltimore offense that generates the third-highest percentage of plays on the ground (50%). Edwards is the preferred handcuff for any Ingram owner and a worthy roster stash that could ascend into an integral role.


Dark Horses - Week 7 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.

Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals - 9% owned

Having Bernard siphon targets is just one of the troublesome developments that have emerged for Joe Mixon owners. But Bernard’s continued usage has elevated the fifth-year back into consideration as a roster addition. His snap count percentage has never dropped below 32% and he has been targeted with greater frequency than Mixon (20/19). Bernard has also averaged 3.2 targets per game while collecting 11 since Week 4. He was also tied with Mixon in receptions (14), has generated more receiving yards (108/97) and his weekly role in Zac Taylor’s offense should not be ignored. His involvement as a receiver also serves as a reminder that he averaged 61 targets, 46 receptions, and 412 receiving yards from 2013-2017. The Bengal offensive line is an ongoing obstacle for both Cincinnati backs. But Bernard is collecting touches each week and can be considered a viable flex option as bye weeks intensify.

Rex BurkheadNew England Patriots - 20% owned

Maintaining any level of confidence in your ability to forecast usage of New England running backs has historically been difficult. At the onset of Week 1, it had appeared that Sony Michel could operate with a substantial workload, and assemble a favorable number of rushing touchdowns. But we have devolved into uncertainty once again. Michel’s averages of 13 attempts-per-game and 3.4 yards-per-carry are below his averages from 2018 (16 carries/4.5 yards). He has also carried three times inside the red zone, after finishing overall with 42 last season. Burkhead resurfaced as a viable option in Week 3, by accruing 18 touches. But his problematic foot issue rendered him touchless in Weeks 4-5. The usage of Brandon Bolden during Burkhead’s absence (11 touches/81 total yards/2 touchdowns) suggests that Burkhead will confiscate touches whenever he returns. The inherent risk when starting any Patriot rusher remains intact. But Burkhead supplies owners with a feasible roster addition that could elevate into flex consideration.

Mark Walton, Miami Dolphins - 0% owned

Walton has surpassed Kalen Ballage on Miami's depth chart after Walton collected more touches in two consecutive contests (Walton 19/Ballage 5). Ballage's usage had not been massive while operating within a timeshare with Kenyan Drake in Weeks 1-3 (Ballage-20/Drake-32). But he did present the possibility of an eventual feature back if Miami decided to trade Drake. However, that designation now resides with Walton. The second-year back has also accumulated 107 total yards during his last two matchups. That includes Walton's 85 yards on 11 touches in Week 6, which has elevated him into roster stash status. His role with Miami will not translate into mammoth fantasy point totals, as he labors within a talent deficient Dolphin offense. But he could assemble sufficient numbers to warrant flex consideration if you are feverishly searching for options.  Particularly if you are contending with bye week issues.


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.

Peyton Barber, Tampa Bay Buccaneers - 52% owned

The weekly usage of Barber, Ronald Jones, and Dare Ogunbowale has provided a massive incentive for owners to sidestep this entire situation. Jones easily possesses the most talent and potential for fantasy scoring among the trio (4.6 yards-per-carry). However, the three-way distribution of touches suppresses his value. The rationale for extracting Barber from all rosters is even more compelling. He has failed to exceed eight carries in three of his six matchups, including each of the Buccaneers’ last two contests. The fourth-year back has only surpassed 48 yards once throughout the entire season and has averaged a microscopic 26.3 yards-per-game since Week 4. Barber is also a virtual non-factor in the passing game (6 receptions/26 yards). His recent workload is dangerously low for anyone who considers starting him. When you blend his complete lack of upside into the equation, there is no reason to have him on your rosters.

Ronald Jones II, Tampa Bay Buccaneers - 61% owned

An excellent case can be made to drop both Jones and Barber, even though Jones has demonstrated that he is the one Buccaneer back that is capable of generating huge gains. Jones’ produced an encouraging 203 total yards with his 35 touches in Weeks 3-4, which provided the prospects of an expanded role as Tampa Bay’s primary back. But his workload has diminished significantly during the Buccaneers’ last two matchups. He only received 11 touches in Week 5, then was restricted to a season-low four during the team’s Week 6 matchup in London. Even though Jones registered a rushing touchdown, his significant decline in usage cannot be dismissed. lt becomes even more disappointing considering Jones’ ability to provide a level of burst that is otherwise lacking in Bruce Arians’ backfield. However, he has been relegated to a value decimating workload behind Barber. Jones can still be retained on rosters in deeper leagues. But if you are contending with lineup issues. it is advisable to locate a more dependable option.

Duke Johnson, Cleveland Browns - 64% owned

In an ideal world for Johnson owners, Bill O’Brien would recognize the efficiency that Johnson provides as a runner and an extremely effective receiver. His track record reinforces that assessment, as he averaged 4,2 yards-per-carry on 259 attempts from 2015-2017). He also finished fourth among backs in targets (83), receptions (74), and third in receiving yards (693) just two seasons ago. But even though Johnson offers reliability and versatility, his workload remains constrained by a value-deflating timeshare with the less explosive Carlos Hyde. O’Brien’s current usage of both backs is particularly devastating to Johnson’s value. He has played on (51%) of Houston’s offensive snaps while averaging 8.5 touches and exceeding 10 touches only in Week 1. While that touch total could usually provide a reason to target other backs that might ascend into larger roles. Johnson’s workload will be limited by O’Brien regardless of how proficiently he performs. The restrictions that are placed on Johnson’s touch totals make it virtually impossible for you to use him.

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