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Week 12 Running Backs - Waiver Wire Pickups and Adds

We now enter the planning process for Week 12, as some of you are focused on constructing lineups that will advance into the fantasy playoffs, while others have begun concentrating on how you can fine-tune your rosters that have already secured a place in the postseason. With the playoffs rapidly approaching, it is highly recommended that all owners examine the Week 14-16 matchups for any back that you are considering or currently own. It is important to establish which players will be performing against formidable defensive units, and which runners will have the benefit of lining up against vulnerable opponents.

Fortunately, you now have an opportunity to utilize your waiver wire in order to secure any backs who have enticing matchups later this season, along with the runners who can be beneficial to your efforts this week. We have also progressed to the final bye week of the season, and this is a development that all owners will undoubtedly embrace. However, there could be an element of distress for some of you, as anyone who owns Todd Gurley or Kareem Hunt must determine how to persevere for one game without their elite point producers.

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 12 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.  

Josh Adams, Philadelphia Eagles - 29% owned

Adams only played on a total of 18 snaps and carried just 11 times from Week 1-7. But he doubled his season-long snap total and received 10 touches during the Eagles' Week 8 matchup, and his usage has steadily increased for three consecutive games. As the sample size of his capabilities continues to grow, Adams' impressive performances have cemented his standing as the Eagles' most effective back.  He has now carried 23 times during Philadelphia's last three games while assembling 161 yards and a touchdown with those attempts. His 72 yards on 10 touches in Week 11 easily surpassed the paltry output of Wendell Smallwood and Corey Clement, who combined for a meager 11 yards on their five touches. Adams has catapulted above both veterans on the Eagles' depth chart and is this week's premiere waiver wire target among running backs.

Gus Edwards, Baltimore Ravens - 0% owned

Entering Week 12, the undrafted free agent had carried 15 times, while collecting 64 yards throughout the entire season. There was no discernible reason to expect that Baltimore would entrust Edwards with 17 carries against the Bengals, but that surprising development was matched by the equally unexpected level of success that he achieved while performing in a significantly enhanced role. Edwards' shockingly accrued 117 yards and a touchdown, which provides the 6'1", 240-pound rookie with an opportunity to benefit from a favorable schedule as the fantasy playoffs loom. Despite his Week 11 performance, the situation surrounding Baltimore's backfield is very unsettled, and it is not wise to assume that Edwards will automatically generate significant yardage every week. But there is no reason to avoid adding him if you have an opportunity.

Elijah McGuire, New York Jets - 14% owned

The Jets integrated McGuire into their offense in Weeks 9-10, and he capitalized by assembling 60 rushing yards on 13 attempts (6.0 YPC) while also catching six of his 11 targets for 64 yards. He now returns from New York's bye week with an opportunity to confiscate a significant workload and accumulate coveted fantasy points for anyone who wisely secures him for their rosters. A largely unobstructed path to an extensive role awaits him, as Isaiah Crowell has been frequently ineffective as a rusher, and is barely utilized as a receiver. If you extricate Crowell's 219-yard performance against Denver in Week 7, he has averaged just 37 YPG/3.25 YPC during the Jets' other nine contests, while the five-year veteran has only been targeted 18 times throughout the season. There are multiple reasons why McGuire remains an excellent addition who can help teams navigate through the postseason.


In The Running - Week 12 Waiver Wire Running Backs

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

Jalen RichardOakland Raiders - 48% owned 

Richard continues to supply potential owners in PPR leagues with motivation to add him, as he is now fifth among all running backs with 51 receptions, and has garnered the seventh most targets at his position (59). Three of those catches were collected in Week 11, when Richard also established new season highs in carries (11), and rushing yards (61). Doug Martin had accumulated 58 total yards on 11 touches during the first half of Oakland’s matchup with Arizona but remained affixed to the sidelines throughout the entire second half due to an ankle issue. That instantly increased Richard’s responsibilities, which resulted in his rushing output. If Martin is unable to perform this week when the Raiders travel to Baltimore, then Richard’s workload would increase. Even though Deandre Washington could siphon some touches from Richard if that scenario occurs, Richard is the Raider back that you should target this week.

Theo Riddick, Detroit Lions - 32% owned

Riddick continues to make his case for inclusion on a larger percentage of rosters in PPR leagues after collecting five of his seven targets for 30 yards against the Panthers in Week 11. He has now captured 18 of his 22 targets since returning from the knee injury that sidelined him in Weeks 7-8 and has accumulated 52 targets for 35 receptions and 264 yards in eight games this season. He will continue to function as Detroit's primary receiving weapon from the backfield. But even though he is not a candidate to stockpile rushing attempts, owners can rely on Riddick to capitalize on the desirable number of targets that he receives. This will enable him to assemble respectable output as the Lions' pass-catching back, which makes him a viable flex option for potential owners.

Rashaad Penny, Seattle Seahawks - 50% owned

Penny's percentage of ownership rose by almost 40% after his performance in Week 10, and he is destined to disappear from even more waiver wires this week. The convoluted Seattle backfield has been well-chronicled and certainly has been discussed in this column on virtually a weekly basis throughout the season. But Penny's stock has ascended after he displayed the ability to generate huge gains during the Seahawks' last two games. He bolted for a season-high 108 yards, 9.0 YPC, and his first touchdown on 12 carries in Week 10, then delivered a memorable 30-yard burst against Green Bay on a play that was initially destined to lose yardage. Chris Carson remains the RB1 for Seattle when he can avoid injury, and Mike Davis will pilfer a small percentage of touches. But Penny has elevated beyond his previous role which relegated him to clear status as the Seahawks' third back. As a result, he should now be owned in all leagues.


Dark Horses - Week 12 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. 

Royce Freeman, Denver Broncos - 52% owned

Freeman reemerged in Week 11 after missing two contests due to his ankle issue and resumed his responsibilities while operating in a timeshare with fellow first-year back Phillip Lindsay. While Freeman’s eight touches were well below the total that was allocated to Lindsay (15), he did produce his fifth rushing touchdown of the season. Lindsay remains the preferred fantasy option among Bronco backs. But the 6'0" 235-pound Freeman has accumulated 10 red zone carries in eight contests, and Denver should continue to utilize him near the end zone. Freeman's role is less volatile than many other backs that owners are currently invested in, and he is now available in nearly half of all leagues. His return to Denver's backfield rotation should compel many potential owners to seize him while they can.

Frank Gore, Miami Dolphins - 25% owned

No, Gore is not an exciting roster addition. But if you objectively explore his numbers without creating a mental barrier regarding his age, then the back who has averaged 14.4 touches per-game since Week 4 is worthy of a roster spot. Gore has also been allotted double-digit carries in seven straight games while rushing for 65 YPG during Miami's last six contests, and his 4.5 YPC average is the highest average since 2012.  Kenyan Drake has averaged 10 touches-per-game since Week 7 and has received fewer opportunities than Gore in three of the Dolphins' last four games. Even if you are convinced that the 24-year-old Drake should be capturing the majority of opportunities, Adam Gase disagrees with you. Gore will continue to pilfer a respectable workload while generating enough yardage to function as a flex.

Rex Burkhead, New England Patriots - 19% owned

If Burkhead's impending return does not entice you, you may be hesitant to embrace the inevitable process of attempting to forecast how the workload distribution will ultimately unfold for New England running backs once he is officially in the mix. His resume is laden with injuries, which provides another deterrent for anyone considering him as a roster addition. But whenever the Patriots choose to activate him from IR he will undoubtedly receive touches. Even though Sony Michel will remain the primary rusher, and James White will sustain his value as the team's receiving back, Burkhead will confiscate opportunities from both backs. He is also a strong candidate to collect coveted carries and targets in the red zone. That provides the incentive for obtaining him since he will receive opportunities on a team that will consistently move the ball, and repeatedly operate in the red zone.


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.

Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans - 67% owned

If you invested in Henry during the draft process, or plucked him from the waiver wire after his original owner became impatient, it is understandable for you to maintain hope that he could somehow transform into the back that ripped Kansas City for 191 total yards and a touchdown during the Wild Card Round of the playoffs last January. But what we have observed this season is a back who emerged from Tennessee’s Week 8 bye having accumulated 273 yards and one touchdown with his 84 attempts (3.3 YPC), and has averaged 8.6 carries during the Titan’s last three games. That is exactly half of the attempts that have been averaged by Dion Lewis, who is clearly Tennessee's RB1. Anyone who retains Henry on their rosters is almost fully dependent on him to generate touchdowns with his limited opportunities, which is a situation that you should avoid.

Chris Thompson, Washington Redskins - 54% owned

The idea of dropping Thompson may initially be uncomfortable for those of you who have retained him in just over half of all leagues. But that is largely based upon the perception of what Thompson can accomplish when he is healthy, as opposed to what you are actually receiving from him through 11 weeks of the regular season. He has now performed in just five games, which has perpetuated an ongoing issue with Thompson’s inability to remain on the field. He has only touched the ball times 19 since Week 3, and it is increasingly doubtful that he will be available for Washington’s matchup with Dallas this week. Whenever he does finally return, he will be functioning in a Redskin offense that will be spearheaded by Colt McCoy, and there are more favorable scenarios for backs who are available on this week’s waiver wire.

Mike Davis, Seattle Seahawks - 45% owned

The Seattle backfield has been among the most challenging for owners throughout the season, as every indication that a blueprint has been created in the usage for each runner has been immediately followed by another change in how the touches are distributed for Carson, Penny, and Davis. But despite Pete Carroll's preference for competition between his trio of backs, it is difficult to envision Davis emerging with a substantial workload during the remaining weeks of the season. Despite being healthy, he was relegated to just six touches in Week 11, while Carson (17 carries) and Penny (8 touches) confiscated the remaining workload. Carson is going to operate as Seattle's lead back whenever he is injury-free, while the more explosive Penny has garnered virtually the same number of touches as Davis during the Seahawks' last two games (21/20). There is no reason to be confident that Davis will receive a workload that is large enough for you to start him. Which leaves you with no reason to keep him on 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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