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Running Back Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 8

The regular season continues to advance at a relentless pace as we have now entered planning for Week 8. Some of you are ecstatic with the level of production that has been delivered by your running backs. But many of you have been contending with unwanted developments at this position including injuries, inconsistent usage, and underwhelming performances.

But even if you have avoided those production-inhibiting issues, you will eventually be impacted by the annoying reality of bye weeks. Only Dallas and Baltimore will be affected in Week 8, although that will create a lineup challenge for anyone who owns Ezekiel Elliott or Mark Ingram.  But Week 9 will begin a four-week sequence in which 18 teams will experience their byes and it is highly recommended that you prepare now for the issues that will eventually develop for your rosters.

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 8 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. 

Chase Edmonds, Arizona Cardinals - 46% owned

Edmonds had already vaulted beyond handcuff status entering Week 7 after assembling 190 total yards with his 24 touches from Weeks 4-6. But he has now skyrocketed into far greater relevance after exploding for 150 total yards and three touchdowns in Week 7. He operated as Arizona’s primary back, as David Johnson’s ankle issue limited him to just one touch. But the Cardinals rushing attack was highly productive, as the dynamic Edmonds repeatedly shredded the Giants for massive gains. The second-year back has performed proficiently as his workload has expanded, averaging 6.6 yards-per-carry and generating seven touchdowns during his last three matchups. This has provided Kliff Kingsbury with increased incentive to keep Edmonds highly involved on a weekly basis, as he has proven that he can function as a prolific weapon. His versatility allows the Cardinals to capitalize on Edmonds’ game-breaking capabilities in multiple formations and maximize his potential to burst for sizable gains. His status as a mere roster stash has concluded, and he is now an absolute must-add in all leagues.

Adrian Peterson, Washington Redskins - 60% owned

Peterson has reclaimed a feature back role during his 13th season, following the shift in offensive philosophy that occurred when Washington elevated Bill Callahan into the interim head coaching position. The Redskins were 29th in run play percentage (31.21%) prior to Callahan’s ascension. However, that percentage has risen considerably in Weeks 7-8 (57%/63%), while Peterson has accumulated 199 yards on 43 attempts during that span. Peterson is no longer the matchup-proof, elite back that we became accustomed to earlier in his career but he is now the centerpiece of Callahan's strategic approach toward attacking opposing defenses. He will not encounter any legitimate competition for lead back duties, as Chris Thompson will function as the receiving back, with Wendell Smallwood assuming that role while Thompson is sidelined. Peterson will accumulate a sizable number of rushing attempts on a weekly basis, which is a rarity among backs that remain available on your waiver wire. That elevates the veteran into RB2 status, and he should be seized in any leagues where he remains available.

Mark Walton, Miami Dolphins - 21% owned

The second-year back entered Week 4 with 28 totals yards on the season. But an expanded workload has propelled him to 167 total yards on 34 touches during Miami’s last three contests. That includes his 66 rushing yards in Week 7 when Walton commandeered 14 of the 23 carries that were distributed to Dolphins backs. He has already surpassed Kalen Ballage on Miami’s depth chart, as Ballage’s workload has diminished while Walton’s usage continues to rise. Ballage had averaged 6.7 touches-per-game from Weeks 1-3 but has only been allotted eight touches since Week 4. Walton also accrued six more touches than Kenyan Drake in Week 7 and should confiscate RB1 responsibilities if Drake is jettisoned in a trade. Even if Drake remains with Miami, the Dolphins’ offensive decision-makers are reluctant to entrust him with a mammoth workload. Walton is the only Dolphin back with an outlook that is ascending, and he provides owners with a flex option during the challenging sequence of bye weeks.


In The Running - Week 8 Waiver Wire Running Backs

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

Darrell Henderson, Los Angeles Rams - 32% owned

Henderson’s path to an extensive workload is neither direct nor definite. Particularly when his situation is compared to other rookie backs that are being recommended as stash options. However, now that Henderson’s speed and acceleration have finally been displayed, it is reasonable to believe that his usage could expand significantly before the season has ended. Henderson bolted for two eye-opening runs of 22 and 14 yards during the Rams’ Week 6 matchup with San Francisco, which provided a glimpse of the big-play potential that he possesses. Malcolm Brown’s ankle injury cleared a path for Henderson to operate as the Rams’ RB2 in Week 7, although he did not assemble any huge gains (12 touches for 39 total yards). But it is difficult to envision Sean McVay eschewing the opportunity to integrate Henderson’s game-breaking potential into LA’s offense, as he possesses an enticing level of talent that Brown cannot match. His home run capabilities could also propel owners to postseason success if Todd Gurley is sidelined for any reason.

Alexander Mattison, Minnesota Vikings - 25% owned

Mattison's presence among the recommended waiver additions has become a weekly event in this column. He remains the premier handcuff option, despite a percentage of ownership that continues to languish in the mid-20s. The rookie has accumulated 270 rushing yards on 55 attempts (4.9 yards-per-carry) during Minnesota's first seven matchups. He had also generated 115 yards on the ground in Weeks 5-6 before managing just 18 yards against Detroit in Week 7. 48% of Mattison's yards have been generated after contact while he has been operating as a complement to Dalvin Cook. The Vikings’ lead back is averaging 19 touches-per-game within an attack that utilizes the ground game on 53% of its offensive plays. If Cook would be sidelined for any reason, Mattison would instantly absorb an enormous workload. His value would ignite if that scenario occurs, which supplies significant incentive for Cook owners to add him while you still can.

Ty Johnson, Detroit Lions - 2% owned

Johnson was included among the recommended roster additions early in the season because he appeared to be positioned as the direct backup to Kerryon Johnson. But the rookie accumulated only 19 total yards on nine touches from Weeks 3-6 and did not receive a touch in Week 6. Former Seahawk J.D McKissic captured 11 touches and accrued 96 total yards during that sequence, which created uncertainty regarding which back would absorb the larger workload if Kerryon Johnson would become unavailable. That scenario transpired in Week 7 when Kerryon Johnson was sidelined with a knee issue. Ty Johnson attained a larger workload than McKissic (14/7), which revealed that the first-year back will confiscate the majority of touches if Kerryon Johnson remains sidelined. Anyone who owns Detroit’s RB1 should prioritize Ty Johnson as their primary waiver target this week. He can also develop into a valuable resource for all owners if he inherits an expanded role.

UPDATE: Kerryon Johnson has officially been placed on IR.


Dark Horses - Week 8 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.

Kareem Hunt, Cleveland Browns - 50% owned

If you have routinely examined the waiver recommendations in this column you are already aware that the 2017 rushing champ (1,327 yards) was included among the recommended drops earlier this season. That advice was delivered due to the protracted waiting period that would be involved before he could provide a scoring boost for your lineup. There was also the additional risk with enduring a lengthy wait without any guarantee that he would garner enough touches to become a productive resource when he did return. The uncertainty surrounding his role still exists, but the prolonged waiting period is nearing completion. Hunt will resurface in two weeks, and he could attain a desirable workload while sharing touches in the backfield despite Nick Chubb performing effectively (134 touches/735 total yards/6 touchdowns). If your roster contains sufficient depth and your other waiver options are limited, then the downside in stashing Hunt has been largely eliminated.

Gus Edwards, Baltimore Ravens - 5% owned

Potential owners continue to ignore Edwards on their waiver wires which is clearly indicated by his 5% ownership percentage. But he is now averaging 7.4 attempts-per-game while functioning as the unquestioned backup to Mark Ingram. This provides distinct value to anyone who has Ingram contained on their roster, as Edwards has also retained a respectable 4.5 yard-per-carry average with his 52 attempts. That includes the 35 yards that he generated on eight carries against Seattle in Week 7 (4.4 per-carry). Ingram has only averaged 12.5 attempts during the Ravens last two matchups, after collecting 15 carries-per-game in Weeks 1-5. However, he should still commandeer the majority of opportunities on a weekly basis after the Ravens return from their Week 8 bye. But Edwards will instantly inherit a significant workload if Ingram is unavailable at any point of the season. That provides motivation for Ingram owners to bypass a sudden crisis by securing Edwards for their rosters.

Wendell Smallwood, Washington Redskins - 1% owned

After four seasons with Philadelphia, Smallwood reemerged with division rival Washington this season. He had only performed on 43/11.4% of the Redskins’ offensive snaps prior to Week 7 and had received just 11 touches during that time. However, Smallwood accrued six touches when Chris Thompson was sidelined (toe) during the team’s matchup with the 49ers. Thompson had been averaging 8.3 touches/59.1 yards-per-game while operating as Washington’s pass-catching back, and Smallwood will absorb those responsibilities while Thompson remains sidelined. Smallwood could retain this role for multiple weeks, as Thompson’s resume is laden with lingering health issues (13 missed games since 2017). Adrian Peterson does not present a threat to pilfer targets, as he has only received five throughout the season. These factors have elevated Smallwood into flex consideration for owners whose starting options are being expunged due to bye weeks. He is available in 99% of all leagues, and his defined role makes him worthy of 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.

Duke Johnson, Houston Texans - 62% owned

Johnson's inclusion among the recommended drops is purely a byproduct of the constraints that are placed upon his opportunity to generate yardage. He possesses a track record of favorable production during his career,  particularly his averages as a pass-catching presence from 2015-2017 (80 targets/63 receptions/580 yards). He has also performed efficiently with the opportunities that he has received this season (57 touches/400 totals yards). Johnson has also averaged 6.5 yards-per-carry, including 6.9 per-carry since Week 4. But Bill O’Brien has been unwavering in his commitment to utilizing Carlos Hyde as Houston’s primary back (111 attempts/461 yards/4.2 per-carry). Hyde's season-best 8.3 yard-per-carry average in Week 1 has been followed by a gradual regression toward the inefficiency that has been largely prevalent throughout his career. Johnson is more capable than Hyde of providing a burst that would be beneficial to the Texans’ ground game but he remains difficult to trust due to the workload distribution within the backfield.

Peyton Barber, Tampa Bay Buccaneers - 43% owned

Barber has played in 54 games during his four seasons and has averaged just 3.8 yards-per-carry. His average of 3.7 per-carry since 2017 actually exceeds the 3.5 average that he has manufactured this season. His substandard inefficiency becomes even more concerning due to his modest workload. Barber will continue sharing touches with Ronald Jones and, to a lesser degree, Dare Ogunbowale, and has averaged just 8.6 touches during his last three matchups. That unwanted combination of unproductive performances and limited opportunities has also resulted in lackluster yardage totals. Barber has failed to surpass 48 yards in four consecutive games and has averaged a paltry 26 yards-per-game since Week 4. His output has become alarmingly low and it will not help your scoring total if you start him. That should provide your incentive to drop him and locate a more productive option.

Ronald Jones II, Tampa Bay Buccaneers - 51% owned

The multiple shortcomings that exist with Barber’s substandard output and restricted usage should theoretically elevate Jones’ value. He is easily the most explosive back in Tampa Bay’s arsenal of options and has provided the only big plays generated by a Buccaneer runner this season. But even though Jones possesses more talent than Barber, Bruce Arians’ affinity for keeping Barber involved in the rushing attack has severely limited Jones’ workload. After attaining a season-high 20 touches in Week 4, Jones’ touch total was reduced to 11 in Week 6 and plunged to a season-low four in Week 6. Even if you believe that Jones will eventually garner additional carries, it is risky to start him unless that occurs. There has been no indication that Arians will reward his most talented back with additional opportunities, and there are other backs with more expansive workloads available.

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