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Week 11 Running Backs - Waiver Wire Pickups and Adds

We now enter the planning process for Week 11, as some of you are contending with backs that have been inconsistent or completely absent due to injuries, while others are receiving disappointing results from runners that you originally believed would be among your most dependable performers. Fortunately, you now have an opportunity to utilize your waiver wire in order to capitalize on the escalating value of the backs that are about to obtain a more extensive workload.

This week’s waiver wire can also benefit those of you who must replace backs from the six teams that will be absent during their bye weeks (Bills, Browns, Dolphins, Patriots, Jets, 49ers). This will present a problematic situation for anyone who owns Sony MichelJames White, Nick Chubb, Duke Johnson, Isaiah Crowell, Elijah McGuire, Frank Gore, Kenyan Drake, Matt Breida or LeSean McCoy.

Regardless of why you are now considering your waiver wire options, this article will assist you in locating the best players 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 dropped in order for you to secure your replacements. Here are this week's most viable waiver wire options at the running back position.

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Frontrunners - Week 11 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.  

Elijah McGuire, New York Jets - 18% owned

The second-year back was recommended here as one of the premier waiver-wire targets even before the Jets activated him from IR, and the rationale for adding him gained momentum after he accumulated 67 total yards on 10 touches upon his return in Week 9. New York’s dreadful performance in Week 10 included a substantial first-half deficit, which altered the frequency with which the Jets utilized their running backs. That resulted in McGuire receiving eight touches (55 yards) while splitting the workload with Isaiah Crowell (9 touches/37 total yards/1 touchdown) and Trenton Cannon (2 carries/30 yards). Still, this should not deter anyone from adding him, since he appears to be the Jets' most proficient back. Crowell does not have an impressive track record in performing as a workhorse, and Cannon is not a genuine threat to continue pilfering touches. That keeps McGuire among the preferred roster additions, as he provides the potential to deliver favorable scoring after the Jets return from their bye.

Josh Adams, Philadelphia Eagles - 13% owned

Adams was already a viable roster addition entering Week 10 based upon his production during the Eagles’ Week 8 matchup with Jacksonville (61 yards rushing yards/6.8 YPC). The fact that neither Wendell Smallwood nor Corey Clement has been overly impressive during their collective performances throughout the year has also been a sizable factor in the recent rise of Adams' value. When the Eagles returned from their bye in Week 10, Smallwood and Clement combined for just 17 yards with their seven attempts. Meanwhile, Adams was the team’s most effective runner while leading the Eagles in carries (7) and rushing yards (47). The touches will be dispersed between multiple backs in Doug Peterson’s offense. But Adams should now receive the majority of chances and generate enough weekly scoring to justify a roster spot.

Rashaad Penny, Seattle Seahawks - 14% owned

Just when it appeared that it was feasible to believe that Seattle's usage of running backs would have a consistent, understandable pattern, the distribution of 12 touches to Penny in Week 10 eviscerated that possibility yet again. Chris Carson's most recent health issue (thigh) had vaulted Mike Davis into a lead back role in Week 9, and it was logical to expect a similar scenario in Week 10 when Carson was sidelined yet again. But even though Davis did lead the Seahawks in touches (15) Rashaad Penny resurfaced from a destination far beyond the fantasy landscape to accumulate 108 yards (9.0 YPC) and generate his first career touchdown. It was easily his best performance of the season, and his output has allowed him to rematerialize as a flex option. The only reason for hesitation when considering an investment in Penny is Pete Carroll’s propensity to alter the responsibilities of his backs at any moment.


In The Running - Week 11 Waiver Wire Running Backs

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

Doug Martin, Oakland Raiders - 45% owned  

Martin has now averaged 15-touches-per game since assuming lead back responsibilities for Oakland. That includes the 18 that he was allotted in Week 10, as he bolted for a season-high 91 total yards. He has now averaged 85 total yards during his last three games, including an average of 61 yards on the ground. This supplies potential owners with the incentive to secure him for their rosters, although the escalating inadequacies the woeful Raiders will negatively impact Martin's ceiling. The shortcomings in the team’s deteriorating offense, combined with their highly vulnerable defense, make it difficult for Oakland to run the ball when game scripts force the team to overcome massive point differentials. Still, Martin has accumulated respectable yardage totals since elevating into the teams’ RB1 role, and he presents potential owners will an opportunity to secure a back who functions as his team’s primary runner.

Jalen Richard, Oakland Raiders - 48% owned

Richard is capable of performing proficiently as a runner and receiver even though he is deployed primarily as the Raiders’ pass-catching back. But that should sustain his value as a flex option in PPR leagues, as Oakland’s expanding deficiencies on both sides of the ball should ensure that they will be forced to throw while trailing throughout their remaining contests. Richard entered Week 10 with the fifth most receptions among running backs (43) and was tied for seventh with 49 targets. After collecting five of his eight targets for 52 yards against the Chargers, he has now assembled 6+ receptions in six different games while accruing at least 45 receiving yards seven times. Richard should continue to accumulate catches and yardage on a weekly basis while delivering fantasy points to his owners.

Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals - 25% owned

Prior to his reemergence in Week 10, the last time that we had observed Bernard in game action was back in Week 4, when he accrued 82 total yards and two touchdowns during a two-week stretch as Cincinnati's feature back. The knee injury that kept him sidelined for five games coincided perfectly with Joe Mixon's return from his own knee issue, which allowed Mixon to re-establish himself as the Bengals' workhorse back. Bernard is certainly not a candidate to ascend beyond his RB2 slot on the team's depth chart. But he has proven repeatedly that he is capable of generating yardage as a runner and receiver when he is deployed in either capacity. This supplies incentive to consider adding him, as he would become a viable starting option should Mixon suffer another injury. That also makes Bernard an outstanding handcuff option for Mixon owners, as he would help you evade a potential crisis if Mixon misses game action.


Dark Horses - Week 11 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. 

Rex Burkhead, New England Patriots - 20% owned

Owners of New England running backs have become accustomed to frustrating unpredictability in recent seasons, primarily due to a fluctuating pattern of usage. But Patriot backs have become a more reliable source of weekly production this season, due to the consistent roles for the team’s primary runners. That occurred after a neck injury sidelined Burkhead in Week 3, as Sony Michel bolted for 316 yards and two touchdowns while averaging 22 carries from Weeks 4-6, and James White became an outstanding ng source of fantasy production from Weeks 4-9. While owners should not overreact to the tandem’s diminished output in Week 10, the eventual return of Burkhead could become an unwanted obstacle that creates a highly convoluted backfield. Still, his potential return does supply needy owners with an opportunity to target Burkhead as a roster stash. However, anyone who does so should remain aware that he cannot help your rosters until at least Week 13.

Theo Riddick, Detroit Lions - 12% owned

The sixth-year back had averaged six targets-per-game from Weeks 1-5, which enabled him to assemble 138 yards on 23 receptions. After a two-game absence due to his knee injury, he has now re-established himself as Detroit's receiving back. Riddick has collected 13 of his 15 targets for 96 yards in two games since his return. Even though he does not generate any yardage of substance as a rusher, Riddick is locked in as a receiving outlet from the backfield. Those responsibilities have taken on increased importance, as the Lions could be contending with negative game scripts in upcoming weeks if they continue to mismanage how they use their existing talent. That would enable Riddick to manufacture sufficient receiving numbers and provide owners with a feasible a flex option in PPR leagues.

Peyton Barber, Tampa Bay Buccaneers - 54% owned

He is the unquestioned lead runner on his own team, the only perceived threat to that distinction is currently sidelined with a hamstring injury, and yet Barber remains available in nearly half of all leagues. Barber certainly has not exploded for astronomical yardage totals. But he has dominated the distribution of carries throughout the season, having run the ball 117 times, while Ronald Jones II and Jacquizz Rodgers have combined for just 35 attempts. Rodgers has become established as Tampa Bay's pass-catching back. but Barber is averaging 13 attempts per game, and his primary responsibilities are not going to change anytime soon. This makes his weekly output easier to forecast than the vast majority of backs and supplies a potential target for anyone who is scrambling to locate a flex option.


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.

Carlos Hyde, Cleveland Browns - 57% owned

Anyone who persevered through the protracted absence of Leonard Fournette was finally rewarded by his long-awaited return in Week 10, as he proceeded to commandeer 29 touches while accumulating 109 total yards and two touchdowns. Fournette’s reemergence in a workhorse role also dramatically reduced Hyde’s responsibilities, as he carried just three times while manufacturing a grand total of five yards. That was easily a season-low, as the 21-touches-per-game average that Hyde experienced from Weeks 1-5 is now a distant memory. At this point, the potential for Fournette to experience yet another health issue presents the only reason to contemplate keeping Hyde.  Considering the ramifications of the convoluted bye week, and the other challenges that owners may be facing, it is best to locate a back that operates in a more favorable situation.

Jamaal Williams, Green Bay Packers - 22% owned

Aaron Jones has demonstrated repeatedly that he is Green Bay’s more explosive running back, as his performance in Week 10 provides the latest example from the voluminous collection of evidence that he should be Green Bay's unchallenged RB1. Meanwhile, Williams’ track record is equally consistent in confirming that he should be relegated to a minuscule percentage of carries. However, Mike McCarthy penchant for retaining Williams in the backfield mix had been unwavering until Jones was allotted 18 touches in Week 10, while Williams only received three. Jones exploded for 172 yards and 2 touchdowns with his 18 touches. Jones has now averaged 18 touches-per-game since Week 8, while Williams has only been entrusted with a meager 5-per-game during that span. With Williams' limited effectiveness as a runner now being blended with an anemic workload, there is no reason to have him on your rosters.

Wendell Smallwood, Philadelphia Eagles - 48% owned

Smallwood is currently Philadelphia's leading rusher for the season (261) and he has presented potential owners with the most enticing option among Eagle backs throughout most of the year. However, he only manufactured four yards in Week 10, while receiving the fewest number attempts since Week 1 (2). He also touched the ball just five times, and the consistent decline in his opportunities since Week 6 is a concern (19/11/10/5). Smallwood has also been surpassed by Adams as Philadelphia’s primary rusher, as the rookie has garnered more carries (16-10) and rushing yards (108-28) than Smallwood during the Eagles' last two contests. He is no longer worthy of a roster spot, as other backs that have been recommended can be more beneficial for your rosters.

More Waiver Wire Adds and Pickups

Check out RotoBaller's famous fantasy football draft sleepers and waiver wire pickups list, updated regularly!

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