Week 2 Running Backs - Waiver Wire Pickups and Adds

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Well, that didn't take long. Injuries to star running back David Johnson and fantasy sleeper Danny Woodhead have left openings for their understudies to make an impact in the coming weeks. Other lesser-known RBs have shown glimpses of talent that could be an indicator of future success. While I'd never recommend overspending FAAB or dumping more highly-drafted players based on the first week of the season, if you're in need of a free agent addition then these names may be the first to consider.

This article will aim to highlight Week 2 waiver wire adds for running backs, players that you should consider targeting on your league's waiver wire if available. Running backs will be split up into three tiers - from most desirable, to most desperate. I will also include RBs at the bottom of this list that you might consider cutting in order to make room for your new additions.

Once you're done here, be sure to read about even more Week 2 waiver wire recommendations, for all fantasy-relevant positions. Just click on any link: ALL - RB - WR - TE - QB - DEF

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Frontrunners for Week 2 - Waiver Wire Running Backs

This group consists of running backs that I would recommend adding if they are available on your waiver wire. Some are more viable for PPR formats, so take note of that. These players have either earned a greater workload due to injury/performance issues or have shown that they can be weekly contributors to their NFL teams. All players listed have 50% or less ownership levels across fantasy leagues.

Tarik Cohen (RB, CHI) 11% owned

Could the rookie from tiny North Carolina A&T become this year's RB version of Tyreek Hill? Cohen was initially thought to be just a return man, but he's shown great elusiveness as a runner and put his 4.42 speed on display throughout the preseason. He did just that in his NFL debut against the Falcons in Week 1, putting up 113 total yards, including 66 rushing yards on just five attempts and a long of 46. He's shown great hands and breakaway ability, which means it won't take a big workload to produce a fantasy-relevant game on any given week. Jordan Howard isn't in danger of losing his job, but the team already ditched Jeremy Langford and Benny Cunningham was nowhere to be seen in Week 1. His value will be much higher in PPR than standard, as his points from receptions will likely outweigh his touchdown total.

Kerwynn Williams (RB, ARI) 3% owned

The last thing David Johnson owners wanted to see was exactly what happened on Sunday. It may not be a season-ending injury, but DJ is expected to miss 2-3 months and was put on injured reserve. When Johnson went out of the game the first time with an apparent rib injury, Williams got the call and plunged in the end zone. He wound up with just 10 yards on five carries and shared time with Andre Ellington, but he impressed in the preseason and earned the backup job. He's never been a starter before, but could serve well in the role. He owns a career average of 5.6 Y/A, and must be considered a high-priority waiver wire pickup since Johnson is indeed out for a while.

Javorius Allen (RB, BAL) 0% owned

The notion that Buck Allen looked like the best running back on Baltimore's roster during training camp is about to be put to the test. Danny Woodhead was already looking like a PPR monster until he went down early in Week 1 with a hamstring strain. The injury that is expected to keep him out at least 2-4 weeks, and it's not reassuring that it's a repeat of the same exact injury he suffered in the preseason. Allen came in to rush for 71 yards in about three quarters of work against the Bungles. Although he didn't catch any balls, the Ravens were ahead all game and only attempted 17 passes all game so that was more a result of game flow. When Woodhead returns, Allen could be expendable again, but this coming week's matchup against the Browns is too tasty to pass up.

 

In The Running - Week 2 Waiver Wire Running Backs

This group consists of running backs widely available on the waiver wire who aren't must-adds, but could be worth stashing or streaming if the above options are already taken.

Mike Tolbert (RB, BUF) 1% owned

If there were a higher ceiling, Tolbert's opportunity would make him a higher priority add. As it stands, Tolbert is playing the role that made Mike Gillislee a desirable free agent last year as Shady's backup. It was certainly a surprise when the team cut Jonathan Williams just before the season began and left only a 31-year-old fullback as their No. 2 runner, but they sure seemed committed to using him in the run game on Sunday. He put up a respectable 42 yards on 12 carries and scored a touchdown as well after LeSean McCoy went to the sidelines momentarily with a hand issue before later returning. If you own McCoy, it appears you almost have to own Tolbert as a handcuff.

Marlon Mack (RB, IND) 9% owned

Mack was the only Colt to visit the end zone in their Week 1 disaster, but don't get too excited. He averaged 2.4 yards per carry on 10 attempts and was mainly used after it was clear the game was out of hand. Frank Gore is still the RB1 in Indy and should get more carries if they manage to be competitive. That said, Mack was used a bit more than initially expected, so perhaps a committee could form if he shows better in the future.

Giovani Bernard (RB, CIN) 17% owned

The only Cincinnati player who may have improved his stock this week is Gio Bernard. A few weeks ago it was thought he might not even be ready for the season, but now it seems he's at the forefront of a three-headed RBBC. Bernard outrushed both Jeremy Hill and Joe Mixon with 40 yards and wound up as the overall yardage leader among skill players with 79. Unless one of the other two RBs is out of the picture, Bernard is nothing more than a flex play, but he could be a better play than either Hill or Mixon who are higher owned.

Honorable Mentions: James White (RB, NE) 50% ownedDarren Sproles (RB, PHI) 46% owned, Jamaal Williams (RB, GB) 23% owned

 

Dark Horses - Week 2 Running Backs Waiver Wire

This group consists of running backs who are strictly desperation plays. They could serve as a bye week fill-in, short-term injury replacement or weekly lottery ticket.

Charcandrick West (RB, KC) 11% owned

It's pretty clear West is merely a backup to future Hall of Famer Kareem Hunt (too soon?), but he'll still get some run in KC. West jogged in a touchdown in the fourth quarter of Thursday's game as part of a surprising offensive outburst. It was just his ninth TD in his 37th career game, however. West is player to monitor in case Hunt goes down, but doesn't possess stand-alone value in re-draft leagues.

Chris Thompson (RB, WAS) 17% owned

There weren't many offensive highlights for the Skins in Week 1, but Thompson provided the best one. Thompson took a 29-yard touchdown pass to the house while bouncing off tacklers in the process. He only carried three times for four yards and will never see double-digit carries on a regular basis, but there's deep-league value in PPR formats.

Chris Carson (RB, SEA) 15% owned

Is it possible that a seventh-round pick can supplant one-time fantasy darlings Eddie Lacy and Thomas Rawls for early down work in Seattle? Carson outrushed everyone but Russell Wilson on the Seahawks in Week 1 with 39 yards, which may say more about the ineffectiveness of the offense than anything. Still, Carson's six carries was tops on the team and he had a nice 30-yard scamper. Once Rawls comes back, it will really become a four-headed monster in the backfield, which is scary for any fantasy owner. Wait to see if Carson is able to really distinguish himself down the road before investing. Prosise is still the better bet in PPR leagues.

Honorable Mentions: C.J. Prosise (RB, SEA) 33% ownedRex Burkhead (RB, NE) 29% owned, Alvin Kamara (RB, NO) 17% owned

 

Also-Rans - Time To Say Goodbye

Darren McFadden (RB, DAL) 68% owned

Run DMC's value dried up quicker than you can say "temporary injunction." To be honest, I still have no idea what's going to ultimately happen with Ezekiel Elliott, but he's on the field right now against the Giants, while McFadden has been labeled inactive. That's right, he didn't even dress up as the backup. If Zeke's legal issues take another turn for the worse, then you always have time to overreact once again and add McFadden after he's been dropped.

Samaje Perine (RB, WAS) 34% owned

Anyone still projecting Perine to take over the starting RB job in Washington is basing it off of pure hope rather than actual performance. Perine didn't impress at the combine, didn't show much in preseason, and didn't play in Week 1. I'm not cutting his NFL career short already, but he doesn't need to take up roster space at this moment.

Dion Lewis (RB, NE) 12% owned

There aren't enough balls to go around in New England for Lewis to gain any value. James White is locked in as the main pass-catching back, while Rex Burkhead also appears ahead of Lewis for touches.

 

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