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Week 1 Running Backs: Waiver Wire Pickups & Adds

Up until this point of the fantasy season, the draft is the pick topic of discussion. What pick do you have? Who did you get? Who are your sleepers? The draft is definitely a huge factor in winning your fantasy league, but it's important to remember that the roster that you leave your draft with is not the roster that is going to be competing for the league title at the end of the year. Upgrading your roster throughout the season is absolutely key and one way to do that is by being active on your league's waiver wire.

The waiver wire is where league's can be won. Just last season, we saw players like Odell Beckham Jr., C.J. Anderson, and Justin Forsett be waiver wire adds that ended up top 10 at their respective positions. My goal on the waiver wire is to try to find players that, with the proper opportunity, can be top players at their positions. This ultimately creates value in two potential ways: either you are able to play the added player in a starting spot of your weekly lineup, or it gives you a trade chip to use to find help at a position of weakness.

Each week, this article will aim to highlight running backs that you should consider targeting on your league's waiver wire. I've split these players up into three tiers from most desirable to most desperate. Additionally, I've included players at the bottom of this list that I would be comfortable cutting as I don't see them contributing in a major way this season.

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Cream of the Crop Running Backs for Week 1 Waiver Wire

These are running backs that I would add no matter what if they are available on your waiver wire. These players have a chance to be starters and weekly contributors to their NFL teams:

Knile Davis (RB, KC) - 57% owned on Fleaflicker

Only Ryan Mathews rivals Davis as a handcuff for the upcoming season, and that has more to do with Chip Kelly's system than Mathews' talent. In the two games that Jamaal Charles missed (or missed significant time) last season, Davis average 119 total yards per game and scored 3 total touchdowns. Davis is a talented runner and almost a guarantee to finish as a top-12 RB if Charles weren't in the picture. The Chiefs were ranked as the #2 run blocking team last season by ProFootballFocus, and as long as Andy Reid sticks to the run, I see Davis as a must-own running back.

Matt Jones (RB, WAS) - 23% owned on Fleaflicker

In case you've been living under a rock, here at RotoBaller we are very high on Matt Jones and have been writing about him ad nauseam for months. Some people may look at this situation and say - he's just a backup or handcuff, and we've been down this road with Roy Helu before. But there's more than meets the eye. First of all, he's a better RB than Roy Helu, and the Redskins coaches absolutely love this kid. He's young, talented, strong and fast. They hand picked him. Jones is going to be getting touches regardless, taking away work from Alfred Morris. And since the Redskins will most likely be playing from behind a lot, he should get a lot of passing targets as the receiving back. Morris can't catch, so Matt Jones may be getting as many touches as him early in the season, and eventually surpassing him as the lead back. Add him now. Seriously, go pick him up if he's still sitting on your league's waiver wire.

Honorable Mentions: Danny Woodhead (RB, SD) - 49% owned, Duke Johnson (RB, CLE) - 45% owned

 

Wait and See Running Backs for Week 1 Waiver Wire

These are running backs highly available on the waiver wire who you should consider stashing if you have room:

Khiry Robinson (RB, NO) - 17% owned on Fleaflicker

Saints lead-back Mark Ingram is also highly regarded by draft experts and is being taken as a top-15 RB based off of his stretch run in 2014. Listen, Ingram had a decent 10 game stretch to finish the season where he averaged 91 total yards and scored 6 total touchdowns. However, the TDs drove Ingram's value last season. He still only averaged 4.2 yards per carry over that 10 game period. Additionally, he's been hurt every season of his career, playing in just 50 of 64 potential games, most of that being before he was scheduled to get a heavy workload.

There has also been a lot of talk about C.J. Spiller in the offseason and rightfully so. Spiller has the talent to be a top-10 RB as we saw him do in Buffalo. He's inheriting the Reggie Bush / Darren Sproles role in the New Orleans which has been fruitful in the past. Similar to Ingram though, Spiller is no guarantee to stay on the field, playing just 9 games last season and being a week to week headache in the past.

Ultimately, Robinson should fill in for either one of these guys if they were to get hurt. The running back position is all about opportunity and I expect that Robinson will not only get that chance at some point, but he'll also be very good when that opportunity arises.

Terrance West (RB, TEN) - 48% owned on Fleaflicker

West isn't an especially talented running back, averaging just 3.9 yards per carry behind a very good run blocking Cleveland Browns offensive line. Once again though, this is about opportunity. Titans starting running back, sophomore Bishop Sankey, was equally as mediocre last season with a pedestrian 3.7 yards per carry. The Titans were pushing hard for rookie David Cobb to split time in the backfield with Sankey before he was put on injured reserve with a calf injury, at which point they immediately went out and traded for West. I have to imagine West will get his chance at some point this year.

Honorable Mentions: Reggie Bush (RB, SF) - 46% owned, Darren Sproles (RB, PHI) - 41% owned

 

Hail Mary Running Backs for Week 1 Waiver Wire

These are desperation plays who shouldn't be starting for you. The injury bug, bye week troubles, or something else needs to be affecting your team to add these players:

DeAngelo Williams (RB, PIT) - 58% owned on Fleaflicker

Williams' day as a lead back in the NFL are long gone, and he probably will struggle with health again this season, but with Le'Veon Bell out for the first two weeks of the season, Williams at least offers a running back that will get some consistent touches if you are in a pinch.

Bryce Brown (RB, BUF) - 5% owned on Fleaflicker

Bryce Brown is a talented running back who has had success backing up LeSean McCoy in the past when McCoy has gone down. The Bills cut Fred Jackson last week, opening up the backup role for Brown, and with McCoy already dinged up, you have to imagine that Brown will get some touches in Week 1 while McCoy eases back in.

Honorable Mentions: David Johnson (RB, ARI) - 21% owned, Denard Robinson (RB, JAX) - 12% owned, Christine Michael (RB, DAL) - 12% owned, Terrance West (RB, TEN) - 5% owned

 

Running Backs to Consider Cutting for Week 1

These are players that I would be comfortable releasing for a "Cream of the Crop" or "Wait and See" player:

Jonas Gray (RB, FA) - 52% owned on Fleaflicker

Gray had DeAngelo Williams type week 1 appeal with the potential for more if LeGarrette Blount found himself in any more trouble. The Pats cut him loose though this week which means he can be dropped in all formats.

 

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