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Week 12 Running Backs: Waiver Wire Pickups & Adds

By Jeffrey Beall (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Jeffrey Beall (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (], via Wikimedia CommonsWe are now heading into Week 12 of the fantasy football season, and many of you know what that means. That's right, if you play in a league with playoff byes you're only about two weeks away from playoff time.

Many of you are also either past your trade deadline or it's coming up at the end of this week. The list of methods you can use to find capable running backs is shortening very quickly.

Let me help you find some viable running backs or sleepers on the Week 12 waiver wire that you might be able to use for that playoff push. Good luck hitting the waiver wire this week RotoBallers.


Fantasy Football Running Backs (RB) - Week 12

Jonas Gray (RB, NE) - 14% owned on Fleaflicker

Has there ever been a bigger "duh" as far as fantasy football waiver wire pickups go?  I'm pretty sure Jonas Gray will be the #1 waiver wire add across the entire fantasy football nation after posting up an otherworldly 199 yards and 4 TDs in Sunday nights trouncing of the Colts. Perhaps most impressive though is that he received 38 carries from Bill Belichick.

Gray is without a doubt the "feature back" in the New England offense, and after running with purpose and patience all game vs. the Colts, he should be looked at as a solid RB2/FLEX play going forward.  His Week 12 matchup vs. the Lions is a tough one, but with the volume of touches he'll likely see, he is startable in most formats.


Tre Mason (RB, STL) - 47% owned on Fleaflicker

Tre Mason has made multiple appearances in this column. In fact, I think he's living up to his name of Tre by making his third appearance in this column. So, obviously I love the guy. But this isn't about why I love him, this is about why you should love him.

Tre "Cool" Mason rushed 29 times on Sunday for 113 yards. While the 3.9 yards per carry isn't overly impressive, the volume of touches and yardage total is.  What chumps allowed Tre Cool to run all over them? Oh you know, just the Broncos. Otherwise known as a team that hadn't allowed a 100 yard rusher this season until Week 11.

In case that wasn't enough to assure you that Mason is the lead running back, look at the volume of touches he got today when the Rams were leading. Not many backs (not named Mark Ingram) get that volume of touches in today's game. The Rams should also play from behind less with Shaun Hill looking fairly effective in his return to the helm, leading to more rushing attempts in general.

What does this all mean? Well, if you listened to me about Mason in my past columns congrats! If you haven't yet, and he's still out there on the waiver wire, he should be one of your top priority claims going into Week 12. Tre Cool is worthy of being an RB2 in most league sizes.


C.J. Anderson (RB, DEN) - 47% owned on Fleaflicker

Speaking of priority claims, it seems like ages ago I was recommending C.J. Anderson as your top waiver wire pickup. Wait, it was only last week?  My perception of time is clearly off.

Anyways, I hope you all listened to me because Anderson was one of the few Broncos to have a nice game this past Sunday. He rushed 9 times for 29 yards, but more importantly he had 8 receptions for 86 yards. That's a nice running back to own in all formats, but especially nice for all of you in PPR formats.

But wait Anderson owners... it gets better! You might find yourself asking how can it possibly get better when I plucked this guy off the waiver for very little? Well, I'm here to tell you it gets even sweeter. You see, Montee Ball had returned and was largely expected to take back his lead back role. However, Ball could do nothing when he was on the field and then he re-injured his groin. With both Ronnie Hillman and most likely Ball out for a while, look for Anderson to continue to be the lead back for the Broncos.

Being the lead back for a team that is one of the top scorers in the NFL is always juicy, and the same should hold true for Anderson. Heck, even when his team couldn't score much he found a way to get your fantasy team a ton of points. For those that were curious, I'd pick up Anderson before Mason, though it depends on the extent of Ball's injury and time on the shelf.


Alfred Blue (RB, HOU) - 35% owned on Fleaflicker

Arian Foster was injured this week, so Alfred Blue had to take on the role of lead running back this week. The man who shares a name with Batman's butler did all he could to prove he was worthy of a cooler nickname by rushing 36 times for 156 yards. The rushing attempts may be a franchise record, but I still see Blue as more of a sidekick than the main event.

Don't get me wrong, it's not a bad day for  someone whose previous carry high in a game was 14. For those that don't remember Blue from when I wrote about him before, never fear I have you covered. He was the sixth round pick for the Texans in this past year's draft. Athletically speaking, he's nothing too special as he doesn't rank above the 50th percentile in any of the metrics that Player Profiler measures. Yet he somehow managed to have the game he did today, and I give him kudos for that.

However, I cannot recommend him as highly as Tre Mason or C.J. Anderson. It's a simple matter of opportunity, and early reports are that Arian Foster is due back in Week 12. Even so, if you are a Foster owner then Blue is a must own. If you are in a 12 team league, he's worth the bench depth since Foster tends to find himself injured quite a bit.


Bryce Brown (RB,BUF) - 19% owned on Fleaflicker

Last week I decided to focus on his teammate Anthony Dixon because I figured that Bryce Brown would be in the dog house for fumbling. Silly me, this is the same coaching staff that couldn't seem to get C.J. Spiller in space. Nothing they do makes logical sense.

In all fairness to Brown, he did have 100 all purpose yards last week so I suppose he deserved another opportunity. Bryce is also the more talented of the two backups to Fred Jackson, and it's reasonable to believe that the depth he provides is the reason the Bills traded for him. This past Sunday Brown didn't disappoint owners who took a chance on him. He rushed 6 times for only a gross 14 yards, but he caught 7 passes for 57 yards. Obviously his value was more in PPR leagues, but even in standard leagues he managed to get you about 7 points.

Similarly to Blue, Brown is not someone I can really recommend wholeheartedly. I'm worried for Brown because similarly to Foster / Blue early reports are Fred Jackson will be healthy for Week 12. However, if F-Jax can't go then Brown makes for a nice flex play against the Jets in Week 12. Brown is worth owning at this point if you're an F-Jax owner, or if you're banking on F-Jax getting hurt again which is not a bad bet.


Isaiah Crowell (RB,CLE) - 37% owned on Fleaflicker

The Browns running back situation has been a three headed monster. Just when you think you figured out which back is going to be the lead, suddenly it changes. However, one player according to scouts has always stood out from the pack. He's also been featured in this article before, and his name is Isaiah Crowell.

Funny enough, Crowell's best comparison athletically in the NFL is Bryce Brown.  Much like Brown, Crowell ranks very high in his broad jumping ability and bench pressing ability. Both are fairly average in their other measured athletic talents though. However, unlike Brown Crowell has the opportunity to run away with the lead back job for the Browns.

You might be wondering why the spinner has stopped on Crowell this week instead of one of the other running backs that make up the Hydra system that the Browns like to go with. Well, against the Texans he rushed 14 times for 61 yards. You might be thinking that's not a big deal, but a 4.4 yards per carry average is pretty good against a defensive line featuring the Hercules of the NFL, better known as J.J. Watt.

I can't fully endorse Crowell because he still has to contend with Ben Tate and Terrance West, but for now he seems to be the guy. That's a good position to be in when your team is about to face one of the worst run defenses in the Atlanta Falcons. Crowell is a good Week 12 running back waiver wire pickup if you miss out on some of the other guys listed in this column.


Roy Helu (RB, WAS) - 34% owned on Fleaflicker

Let me start this by saying Washington is not a good team this year. Maybe they really should change their team name so they can focus on that rather than how much they stink on the field. However, that is coming from a Giants fan so it is a case of the pot calling the kettle black. Don't even get me started on how much the Giants stink this year.

Let's get back to focusing on what we came here for though. One bright spot for Washington this season has been a running back by the name of Roy Helu. Helu has really taken a step forward in the pass-catching game as evidenced by his 11.9 yards per reception this season as compared to a career average of 8.7 yards per reception. This past Sunday was no exception to Helu being one of the few bright spots, as he had the only touchdown for the team. He did it by catching 6 passes for 57 yards. Alfred Morris didn't have a bad day running the ball either, but it's intriguing to note that no other "receiver" had over 40 yards for Washington in the game.

Unlike most of the other guys listed here, Helu has been in the league for a few years now. But as I mentioned earlier, he's seeing his highest yards per reception totals in his career, oh and also his highest yards per rushing attempt totals as well. Did I also mention that he also ranks in the 90th percentile or better for his 40 yard dash and agility scores? Seems like a case of an athletically talented guy finally putting it together. I'd roll the dice on Helu in 12 team leagues or deeper, especially if I was competing in a PPR format.


Honorable Mentions & Other Running Back Pickups

  • Knile Davis (RB, KC) - 58% owned on Fleaflicker
  • Latavius Murray (RB, OAK) - 17% owned on Fleaflicker
  • Dan Herron (RB, IND) - 1% owned on Fleaflicker