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Week 14 Running Backs - Waiver Wire Pickups and Adds

It is literally mind-boggling how rapidly each fantasy season progresses from the anticipation and optimism of Week 1 to the inevitable conclusion once we reach December. Congratulations to those of you whose diligence through both the draft process and the regular season has been rewarded with an opportunity to participate in the fantasy playoffs.

It is highly recommended that you remain unwavering in your efforts to examine which backs are most likely to strengthen your chances of winning a fantasy championship by continuing to examine the Week 14-16 matchups for any runners that you have located on the waiver wire or already have contained on your current roster. Because 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 runners who can be beneficial to your championship aspirations, and 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 the most viable waiver wire options at the running back position.

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Frontrunners - Week 14 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.  

Jaylen Samuels, Pittsburgh Steelers - 8% owned

We have seen multiple reminders during the past several weeks that it is critical to handcuff your undisputed RB1s prior to the fantasy postseason. This provides protection if your top runner is suddenly lost due to injury or off-field issues. That scenario emerged multiple times during Week 13 game action, including the ankle injury to James Conner that has launched Samuels into must-add status among this week's waiver wire options.  Conner had been averaging 22 touches-per-game this season, and Samuels should commandeer the vast majority of opportunities that will emerge during Conner's absence. Stevan Ridley will also receive touches but the 6'0", 225-pound Samuels is in position to thrive this week, when he lines up against an Oakland run defense that has already been shredded for 100+ yards by six different backs. Samuels' value has increased dramatically with Conner officially out, and Pittsburgh's fifth-round pick should be seized in all leagues.

Jeffery Wilson Jr., San Francisco 49ers - 1% owned

Matt Breida's propensity to contend with health issues did not induce owners to secure Wilson after the undrafted rookie accumulated 41 total yards on eight touches in Week 12. But he will absolutely be among this week's most popular additions after he exploded for 134 total yards on 23 touches in Week 13. Wilson assumed lead back responsibilities for San Francisco after Breida suffered a setback with his ankle during the 49ers' matchup in Seattle, and Wilson flourished when he was inserted into the lineup. Breida will be unavailable this week, which will enable Wilson to accrue favorable numbers while serving in the RB1 capacity. Wilson presents potential owners with an excellent opportunity to secure a potent scorer just in time for the postseason, and he resides just behind Samuels among this week's most highly recommended targets.

Stevan Ridley, Pittsburgh Steelers - 1% owned

Samuels should capitalize significantly while operating with a large number of touches that previously had been designated for Conner. But anyone who fails to secure this week's most enticing waiver wire addition can still focus their efforts on seizing Ridley. The eight-year veteran has been limited to 21 touches this season but has averaged 8.0 YPC with the 18 carries that he has received. Since Samuels will enter this week's game action having accumulated 19 touches during his initial season, it would be logical for the Steelers to supplement his efforts with a percentage of touches that are allocated to Ridley.  That will supply him with an opportunity to accumulate substantial yardage during an outstanding matchup against Oakland. Both Samuels and Ridley can function as viable starting options versus the Raiders, whose season-long vulnerability to opposing ground games includes having surrendered 118 rushing yards to Gus Edwards in Week 12 and yielding 154 total yards to David Johnson in Week 11. As a result, Ridley is unquestionably worthy of a spot on your roster.

Justin Jackson, Los Angeles Chargers - 22% owned

While Austin Ekeler has proven that he possesses unquestionable talent, he struggled while operating as the Chargers’ lead rusher in Week 13, Ekeler only manufactured 21 yards on 13 attempts, before Jackson was inserted into the Los Angeles lineup. The rookie proved to be the more dynamic runner once he was finally provided with the opportunity to touch the ball, as he exploded for 82 total yards on just nine touches, including 63 yards and a touchdown on eight rushing attempts. Jackson helped ignite the Los Angeles offense once he received an opportunity, and he should secure an expanded role this week if Melvin Gordon remains sidelined. Jackson’s performance should also earn him increased usage even after Gordon returns. That vaults him into a spot among this week's premier waiver-wire additions.


In The Running - Week 14 Waiver Wire Running Backs

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

Rashaad Penny, Seattle Seahawks - 30% owned

In his last four games, Penny has rushed for 223 yards with the 31 carries that he has been allotted (6.3 YPC). while also producing his first two touchdowns of the season. Meanwhile, his primary competitor for touches - Mike Davis - has carried just four times in each of Seattle’s last three matchups while failing to eclipse 26 yards in any of those contests. Penny has rebounded impressively from an underwhelming start to his rookie season, during which he was prematurely characterized as a bust. He will remain behind Chris Carson on the depth chart, as Carson is cemented as the Seahawks’ RB1. But Carson also suffered a finger injury in Week 13, which could ultimately launch Penny into an expanded role this week. While Carson’s status should be monitored, Penny has proven that he can generate big plays, and he should be rostered in all leagues.

Doug Martin, Oakland Raiders - 52% owned

For the sixth consecutive week, Martin has demonstrated that he is capable of performing proficiently while operating as Oakland’s RB1. He has been entrusted with 10+ carries in every matchup since Week 8 while averaging 58 YPG/4.5 YPC during that sequence of contests. He has also generated a rushing touchdown in two consecutive games, and the seventh-year back's effectiveness has exceeded expectations since he ascended into his current role. He still remains available in nearly half of all leagues, even though his usage and consistent production should supply owners with the justification to add him to their postseason rosters. Concerns may exist regarding Oakland's ability to avoid falling so far behind that the ground game is rendered insignificant. However, Martin has been productive despite the numerous shortcomings that surround him on the Raiders and can supply owners with a viable streaming option.

Theo Riddick, Detroit Lions - 57% owned

Riddick enters Week 14 with the seventh most receptions among running backs (51), even though he missed Detroit’s matchup in Weeks 7-8 due to his knee issue. Since reemerging in Week 9, Riddick’s usage as the Lions’ primary pass-catching back has made him a viable waiver wire option in PPR leagues. He has collected at least five receptions in four of the Lions' last five contests, which places him second among all running backs in receptions (28), and third in targets (33) during that span. Even though the fantasy points that he generates will be accumulated primarily through receptions and receiving yards, he was allotted a season-high eight carries in Week 14. Owners who are contemplating their flex options in PPR leagues can remain confident in his statistical floor as he lines up against the Cardinals this week.

Ty Montgomery, Baltimore Ravens - 13% owned

Once again we have encountered a sudden change in direction regarding which Raven backs will be involved in touch distribution. Not only did oft-injured third-year back Kenneth Dixon resurface for the first time since Week 1, but Montgomery supplied owners in PPR leagues with even greater incentive to secure him for their rosters. During Baltimore's last two matchups, he has generated 161 total yards on 19 touches. He also received a team-high seven targets in Week 13 against Atlanta, while collecting five of those passes for 42 yards. Gus Edwards has performed as Baltimore’s primary rusher during the team’s last three contests (61 carries) but has yet to register a reception during that span. His usage may be reduced as the result of the game script this week because the Ravens must contend with the highly-explosive Kansas City offense at Arrowhead. That makes it highly feasible that Montgomery will collect targets and receptions during the matchup, as the Ravens should be playing from behind. This elevates him into status among this week’s preferred roster additions.


Dark Horses - Week 14 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. 

Jalen Richard, Oakland Raiders - 39% owned

Only five backs have now collected more receptions than Richard (56) and only eight have been targeted with more frequency (67). He did not quite replicate his season-long 5.7 target-per-game average in Week 13 when Oakland hosted the Chiefs (4) but did catch three of those passes. He also assembled a season-best 95 yards with his six carries, while providing evidence once again that he can deliver yardage and fantasy points to anyone who is still searching for a back to utilize in the flex. While there had been some level of concern that fellow third-year back Deandre Washington might pilfer touches from Richard, Washington has only accumulated seven opportunities during Oakland’s last two games combined. Richard should amass a respectable number of touches this week versus Pittsburgh, as the Raiders will likely trail throughout their matchup. He remains a viable target for owners in need.

Nyheim HinesIndianapolis Colts - 27% owned

Hines does not present the same level of appeal as he did before Marlon Mack recaptured the Colts’ lead back role, but he has still retained an ongoing role within the team’s offensive approach.  Hines is still receiving opportunities on a weekly basis and has now reached double-digit touches in two consecutive games after receiving 11 touches against Miami in Week 12, then collecting more opportunities than Mack when Indianapolis faced division rival Jacksonville in Week 13 (13/9). Hines captured all nine of his targets versus the Jaguars, and his value is primarily associated with his usage as a receiver. He has caught 58 of his 69 targets this season and should maintain a pace that resembles the target-per-game average that he has attained through 12 games. That enables him to provide a reasonable floor for owners who are searching for a flex option in PPR leagues or are facing a problematic situation at this position.

Rex Burkhead, New England Patriots - 23% owned

Burkhead returned to New England’s lineup in Week 13 and proceeded to garner nine touches for 41 total yards. It was his first game action since being placed on IR in September, as he resumed his previous responsibilities as part of a three-man backfield with Sony Michel and James White. That should be consistent with his role in upcoming matchups, as Burkhead is not a threat to pilfer a sizable number of carries from Michel, and White will remain the preferred pass-catching weapon for Tom Brady out of the backfield. However, Burkhead will accumulate a weekly allotment of carries and targets, and will also be operating within an offense that will frequently progress down the field. That makes him a strong candidate to receive coveted touches near the goal line while vaulting him into consideration as a roster addition in their flex position.


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

Duke Johnson, Cleveland Browns - 57% owned

Johnson was woefully underutilized during Cleveland's first eight games, as he never exceeded six touches during any of those contests. But during Freddie Kitchens' first game as the Browns' offensive coordinator in Week 9, Johnson received 11 touches, caught all nine of his targets, and generated 78 yards and two touchdowns. All of this made it appear that he would finally become an integral component in the team's offense this season. However, in three matchups since that time, his usage has dramatically declined, as his touch total has plunged to an infinitesimal level (7/3/2). The fact that he only was utilized as a receiver twice during a game in which Cleveland trailed by a significant margin should provide all of the justification that owners would need to drop him. Anyone holding onto Johnson needs to locate a back who is actually supplied with opportunities to touch the ball.

Carlos Hyde, Jacksonville Jaguars - 56% owned

Jacksonville's late October acquisition of Hyde has seemed curious since its inception because it appeared that he would be relegated to a minimal workload once Leonard Fournette returned from his protracted hamstring injury. That is exactly what occurred in Weeks 10-11 (5.5 touches-per-game) before Fournette's extra-curricular activities resulted in a third-quarter ejection and eventual suspension in Weeks 12-13. During Fournette’s absence, Hyde functioned as the primary rusher in coordination with the pass-catching responsibilities of T.J. Yeldon. However, he only averaged 3.0 YPC, including 2.7 when he managed just 36 yards on 13 carries in Week 13. While Fournette owners might be compelled to keep Hyde on their rosters, he does not present the same attributes that can be found in more favorable handcuff scenarios. He has been ineffective and would be relegated to a timeshare working within a highly substandard attack. That should encourage all owners to find a better alternative.

T.J. Yeldon, Jacksonville Jaguars - 60% owned

The fourth-year back generated 65 total yards on 16 touches in Week 13. However, his usage will also be negatively impacted by the return of Fournette this week. Yeldon was averaging just 7.5-touches per game in Weeks 10-11 while Fournette functioned as the Jaguars’ RB1 throughout both contests, and Yeldon’s level of opportunity will be reduced to its previous level since Jacksonville is fully committed to utilizing Fournette as the offensive centerpiece. It has already been established in this column that Yeldon would not be the sole beneficiary of opportunities if Fournette is sidelined once again, as Hyde would confiscate the vast majority of carries, while Yeldon would absorb the role of pass-catching back. The diminished role that Yeldon is destined to return to and the timeshare that would result if Fournette is sidelined again both eliminate the rationale for keeping Yeldon on your roster. Particularly with so many enticing additions that are available this week.

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