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Running Back Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 9

The regular season continues to advance at a relentless pace as we have now entered planning for Week 9. 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 be impacted by the escalating reality of bye weeks. We now enter a four-week sequence in which 18 teams will be absent from game action. That includes the Falcons, Bengals, Rams, and Saints, as these four teams will have their byes in Week 9. That will require anyone who owns Alvin Kamara, Latavius Murray, Todd Gurley, Darrell Henderson, Devonta Freeman, and Joe Mixon to deploy alternative options in your lineups.

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 9 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. 

Mark Walton, Miami Dolphins - 21% owned   

With the departure of Kenyan Drake, Walton’s ascension into fantasy relevance has accelerated significantly. He has already emerged as a viable roster addition after accumulating 34 touches and 183 total yards during his last three matchups with Drake on Miami's roster. That includes Walton’s career highs that were established in Week 7 (38 snaps/14 rushing attempts/66 rushing yards). He had demonstrated the ability to perform effectively if he were to be entrusted with more opportunities and that scenario has occurred. Walton's responsibilities are now more defined than many other players that are available on the waiver wire. This should reduce any apprehension about starting a back who is operating in the league’s 31st ranked rushing attack due to his potential to function with a sizable workload. Even though Kalen Ballage will siphon red zone targets, Walton now provides owners with a viable RB3/flex option as we advance toward the fantasy postseason.

Kenyan Drake, Arizona Cardinals - 60% owned

It became increasingly apparent that Drake would be traded into a new environment, and that scenario has occurred. His exodus to Arizona officially concludes his tenure with Miami. It also brings an end to the debilitating timeshares and puzzling usage that were prevalent throughout his time with the Dolphins. He is currently available in 40% of leagues, and a recommended roster addition for anyone that has the opportunity to secure him. However, expectations should be tempered regarding both short-term and long-term prospects with the Cardinals. Because the challenges of his new environment will include the congested nature of Arizona's revamped backfield. David Johnson (ankle) and Chase Edmonds (hamstring) are both contending with health issues, which theoretically vaults Drake into a sizable workload this week. Unfortunately, that will entail learning a new offense during a short week. When Johnson and Edmonds reemerge, Drake’s statistical ceiling will be lowered. As a result, Drake should be added but used primarily in the flex.

Jaylen Samuels, Pittsburgh Steelers - 18% owned

As the Steelers were approaching a return from their Week 7 bye, it appeared that Benny Snell had become a viable roster stash for anyone who owned James Conner. But Samuels' recovery from knee surgery progressed more quickly than had originally been anticipated. The versatile second-year back presents a collection of attributes that easily exceed Snell’s. This vaults Samuels into consideration among this week’s top roster targets. Samuels’ touch totals could be inconsistent, with Conner remaining entrenched in his role as Pittsburgh’s RB1. But Samuels captured a season-high 18 touches in Week 4, and could conceivably register double-digit touches in other matchups during the upcoming weeks. He is also a recommended addition for all Conner owners, as the Steelers’ lead back has already contended with multiple injuries (knee/ankle/quad). If Conner is forced to the sideline with another health issue, Samuels’ workload would soar, and his value would ignite.

Darrell Henderson, Los Angeles Rams - 27% owned

Henderson accumulated just one touch from Weeks 1-5, and he entered Week 6 with only one carry and no targets. But his touch total has expanded during each of the last three weeks (7/12/13).  The dynamic rookie should continue to garner opportunities when the Rams return from their Week 9 bye, as Todd Gurley’s ambiguous health status will remain intact throughout the season. This creates the possibility that the Rams’ RB1 could function with a managed workload or could conceivably be held out of games completely. Henderson should receive the majority of opportunities whenever Gurley is on the sideline, as Sean McVay will be compelled to capitalize on Henderson’s explosiveness. His big play potential is a critical attribute that Henderson can supply to the Ram offense which can also be highly beneficial to owners. Henderson will be unavailable this week. But he is an exceptional roster stash whose potential to ignite for significant yardage could carry fantasy rosters to postseason success.


In The Running - Week 9 Waiver Wire Running Backs

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

Alexander Mattison, Minnesota Vikings - 24% owned

The 5'11" 220-pound rookie remains entrenched as the preeminent handcuff option, but his ownership percentage has remained below 25%. This presents a significant risk to Dalvin Cook owners, due to the roster crisis that would ensue if the RB2 in fantasy scoring would be sidelined for any reason. Cook is now confiscating 23 touches and 139.5 total yards-per-game, within a Viking offense that owns the league's second-highest rushing play percentage (53%). Mattison has bolted for 331 rushing yards on 68 attempts (4.9 yards-per-carry) while displaying the ability to produce favorable output if he suddenly assumes Minnesota's RB1 responsibilities. That includes the 61 yards that he generated in Week 8 when an additional 40 yards were negated by penalties. Cook owners should avoid the uncomfortable scenario of having their highly productive back sidelined, and watching a league rival benefit from Mattison's production. That catastrophic situation can be avoided by adding him this week.

Adrian Peterson, Washington Redskins - 52% owned

Pederson’s ownership percentage reached 60% before his Week 7 matchup. But that number dropped before his 76-yard performance in Week 8. Concerns regarding his ankle issues fueled expectations of a managed workload with minimal production. But the 34-year-old Pederson surpassed 75 yards for the third consecutive week and has now accumulated 275 yards on 57 attempts (4.86 yards-per-carry/91.6 yards-per-game) since Week 6. He has also benefited from Bill Callahan’s commitment to the Redskins’ ground game, as the teams’ rushing play percentage has soared from 31.21% in Weeks 1-6 to 53% in Washington’s last two contests. Derrius Guice could reemerge in the lineup when Washington faces the Jets in Week 11. But that will not keep Peterson from confiscating a significant workload until that occurs. He can boost your scoring while he remains in the lineup while providing owners with a viable flex option.

Rashaad Penny, Seattle Seahawks - 31% owned 

Chris Carson has earned unquestioned RB1 status for the Seahawks and any fantasy owners who have secured him for their rosters (159 carries/659 rushing yards). His ascension has consigned Penny to a modest role, while also placing massive constraints on his workload (33 touches). His ownership has diminished sizably in recent weeks. But he still operates with a clear path to expanded touch totals if Carson is unable to perform for any reason. That alone supplies incentive for Carson owners to seize him as protection if Seattle’s lead back is absent from the lineup. Penny’s value could also surge if he is traded this week, providing that the former first-round pick resurfaces within an environment that will entrust him with a consistent role. That would provide all owners with a productive weekly presence in their lineups, through the investment of a waiver wire addition.


Dark Horses - Week 9 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.

Gus Edwards, Baltimore Ravens 5% owned

Edwards has demonstrated the ability to perform effectively by leading the Ravens in rushing yardage during his 2018 rookie season (137 attempts/718 yards/5.2 yards-per-carry). He has also delivered respectable numbers while performing as Mark Ingram’s backup this season (52 attempts/234 yards/4.5 yards-per-carry). But he has been almost universally disregarded by Ingram owners despite the insurance policy that he can provide if Ingram is suddenly forced to the sideline. Edwards has carried 6+ times in five of Baltimore's seven matchups, including four of the last five games. Rookie Justice Hill does not currently loom as a threat to usurp Edward’s status as the Ravens’ RB2, after receiving just 21 touches during the season. Hill also failed to register a touch when the Ravens invaded Seattle in Week 7, which cemented Edwards’ role as the direct backup to Ingram. Anyone who owns Ingram can elude a potential roster emergency by securing Edwards now.

Derrius Guice, Washington Redskins - 29% owned

You almost assuredly will be facing lineup challenges due to the expanding number of backs that will be absent through Week 12. That might present an obstacle during your attempt to designate a roster spot for Guice. However, anyone who can locate space should stash the second-year back. He could begin practicing this week and will be available to return in Week 11 if he is deemed physically capable of performing. Guice’s knee injuries have relegated his career to significant promise and little production. But he would be presented with a favorable opportunity if he can sustain his health. Chris Thompson appears close to returning as the Redskins’ pass-catching back. But Bill Callahan remains dedicated toward utilizing the run with greater frequency. That would benefit Guice, who should absorb a respectable workload upon his return. This presents all owners with an opportunity to seize a potential resource as we advance toward the fantasy postseason,

Wayne Gallman, New York Giants - 20% owned

If you had reservations about the need to handcuff your elite backs, then you are now witnessing the negative impact that resulted from a similar decision by David Johnson owners. Chase Edmonds ignited as a fantasy point producer prior to his hamstring injury, while Johnson was unavailable due to his own lingering health issues. Johnson owners who chose not to protect themselves from a crisis were forced to watch Edmonds accumulate 150 yards and three touchdowns for league rivals in Week 7, and will also be without their first-round selection in Week 8. If you own Saquon Barkley but have not secured Gallman, then you have left your team vulnerable to a similar decline in scoring if Barkley encounters another setback. This also applies to Barkley owners who captured Gallman at the onset of Barkley’s three-week absence only to discard him later. Barkley has experienced discomfort with his ankle following a quick return from the original sprain. That should provide Barkley owners with significant incentive to safeguard their investment.


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 39% owned

Barber’s inclusion among the recommended roster drops has become as consistent as his unwavering inefficiency. His repeated failure to average 4 yards-per-carry after seven games (3.5) replicates the unimpressive averages that he registered in 2017-2018 (3.7/3/9). Barber has failed to exceed 32 rushing yards during his last four matchups while averaging an anemic 24.75 yards-per-game. He has also been relegated to 8.3 carries and 16 yards-per-game since Week 4 while collecting just seven receptions throughout the season. Ronald Jones can provide more explosiveness to the Buccaneers backfield. But Bruce Arians and Byron Leftwich have remained steadfast in deploying both backs. That limits Barber to a modest workload, which combines with his ineffectiveness to form an undesirable scenario. Barber simply will not generate enough yardage for you to trust him in your lineup. That eliminates all rationale for retaining him on your roster.

Ronald Jones II, Tampa Bay Buccaneers - 46% owned

The talent level that Jones possesses exceeds anything that Barber can provide for your lineup. But there is a substantial risk that you will be supplied with insufficient production whenever you elevate Jones into your lineup. He has failed to surpass 35 rushing yards since Week 4 and has averaged just 3.2 yards-per-carry (24 carries/80 yards). Tampa Bay is just 21st in rushing play percentage, and the time share that has hindered Barber and Jones should remain intact. That creates a great likelihood that Jones’ will not receive anything beyond a modest workload during the matchup that you choose to start him. There are other options available on the waiver wire that provide greater potential for a respectable workload, which should compel you to locate a better roster component.

Duke Johnson, Houston Texans - 60% owned 

Johnson’s production in previous seasons still persuades owners in 60% of all leagues to retain him on their rosters. But Bill O’Brien’s consistent deployment of Carlos Hyde as Houston’s primary back should these owners with the incentive to discard the underutilized fifth-year back. Hyde has now averaged over 16 carries-per-game throughout the season, including 20-per game since Week 5. But Johnson has now been limited to single-digit touch totals during six of his last seven matchups, after receiving just seven during Houston’s Week 8 encounter with Oakland. That included three rushing attempts, which were his fewest since Week 3. Johnson’s talent has been displayed during his career, which has induced owners to hope that O’Brien will expand his workload. But there is no discernible reason to expect a surge in usage to occur.

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