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Week 15 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.

You should now 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 15-16 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 15 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 - 7% owned

In the weeks leading up to McGuire's return from IR (foot), the second-year back appeared to be an excellent roster addition for savvy owners. The enticement continued after he re-emerged in Week 9. although his viability gradually faded as he averaged an equally discouraging eight touches and 41 total yards from Weeks 9-13. But McGuire had an opportunity to operate with an expanded workload in Week 14 after a foot issue sidelined Isaiah Crowell throughout most of the Jets’ matchup with Buffalo. McGuire responded by assembling 83 total yards and his first touchdown of the season while re-establishing himself as a legitimate target for owners who are searching for an alternative to their current arsenal of backs. If Crowell is forced to miss this week’s matchup with Houston, McGuire would be presented with an unobstructed path toward another favorable touch total. This provides the potential for McGuire to function as a productive flex component for anyone who seizes him this week.

Doug Martin, Oakland Raiders - 52% owned

Owners in nearly half of all leagues have had multiple opportunities to secure Martin since he vaulted into lead back responsibilities for the Raiders in Week 8. He has carried at least 10 times in all seven of Oakland’s matchups since he became the team’s RB1 while averaging 13.4 attempts per game during that span. He has also generated a touchdown in three straight games, and will now become the beneficiary of an outstanding matchup this week. Martin will be lining up against a Cincinnati run defense that has surrendered the most fantasy points to opposing running backs, which should propel him to a respectable yardage total, and presents an opportunity to extend his touchdown streak. Despite the ongoing reluctance to secure Martin, he enters Week 15 with a chance to fortify your scoring at the most opportune time.

Kenneth Dixon, Baltimore Ravens -8% owned

Once again we have encountered a sudden change in direction regarding which Raven backs will be involved in touch distribution. First, Alex Collins owners endured weeks of frustration while watching Javorius Allen siphon opportunities. Then, Gus Edwards emerged from a region far beyond the fantasy radar to requisition the team’s RB1 responsibilities in Week 11. Now, Dixon has resurfaced in the aftermath of Collins being jettisoned to IR. The oft-injured third-year back has performed effectively, by accruing 43 total yards on nine touches in Week 13, then assembling 80 total yards and a touchdown in Week 14. There is sufficient rationale for believing that Dixon will garner an acceptable workload while sharing touches with Edwards this week against the Buccaneers. Edwards has only received one target throughout the season, while Ty Montgomery only collected three touches in Week 14. Dixon should collect nearly all targets that are designated for the team's running backs while providing a flex option that could help you advance beyond your critical Week 15 matchup.


In The Running - Week 15 Waiver Wire Running Backs

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

Theo Riddick, Detroit Lions - 59% owned

Riddick has now collected 55 of his 67 targets this season after capturing all four of his targets during Detroit's Week 15 matchup with Arizona. He has also carried the ball 14 times in his last two outings, after being entrusted with just 11 attempts from Weeks 1-12. The opportunity to function as a rusher to supplement his ongoing responsibilities as the Lions' pass-catching back has enabled Riddick to average 59 total yards-per-game since Week 12. He will continue to operate in a sustained role within a Detroit offense that has been depleted by multiple injuries and the trade of Golden Tate, particularly due to the dearth of receiving weapons that are now available for Matthew Stafford. Riddick has averaged 5.3 targets-per-game since Week 9, and could easily exceed that number during this week's matchup with Buffalo. This supplies a reasonable statistical floor for owners in PPR leagues.

Jalen Richard, Oakland Raiders - 47% owned

Even though Richard was only targeted once during Oakland's Week 14 matchup with Pittsburgh, this recommendation is based upon the frequent targets and receptions that he has accumulated throughout the season while operating as Oakland's pass-catching back. He has collected 57 of his 68 targets which placed him seventh among all backs in receptions and ties him with James Conner for eighth in targets. The fourth-year back has also been allotted 26 carries during the Raiders’ last four contests, including the eight attempts that he received in Week 14. This week he is the recipient of an excellent matchup in Cincinnati, as only seven teams have yielded more receiving yards to opposing backs. Richard will perform with a favorable floor for owners who are searching for a flex option in PPR leagues or are contending with multiple lineup challenges due to injuries and ineffectiveness.

Chris Ivory, Buffalo Bills - 4% owned

This recommendation is largely based upon the premise that LeSean McCoy might be unable to perform this week. While that will require you to monitor McCoy's status as the days unfold, he was forced to depart Buffalo's Week 14 matchup with the Jets due to a hamstring issue. That immediately launched Ivory into lead back responsibilities for the Bills, and the 30-year old back proceeded to generate 42 yards with his 12 attempts. That level of production does not necessarily provide potential owners with a reason to become enthusiastic about owning him. However, the possibility of owning a workhorse back during Week 15 game action, should compel anyone who is searching for options to strongly consider Ivory.


Dark Horses - Week 15 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. 

Damien Williams, Kansas City Chiefs - 17% owned

Williams has now collected 20 touches in the last two weeks, after receiving 13 against Baltimore in Week 14. He generated 38 total yards and two touchdowns during the contests, even though Spencer Ware performed as the Chiefs' RB1 while gaining 181 total yards. However, Ware also encountered a shoulder problem in Week 14, and it is conceivable that the timing of Kansas City's Thursday Night matchup with the Chargers could keep him sidelined this week. It is encouraging that neither Charcandrick West or Darrel Williams were deployed during the game, as Damien Williams appears entrenched as the backup to Ware. That elevates Williams among this week's potential roster additions while cementing him as a handcuff for anyone who owns Ware.

Justin Jackson, Los Angeles Chargers - 55% owned

We have now attained a two-game sample size from which to assess Jackson's ability to supply fantasy points during your remaining matchups. After exploding for 82 total yards on only nine touches in Week 13, Jackson was entrusted with nine touches once again in Week 14. However, he only manufactured 35 total yards, as Austin Ekeler performed more effectively against Cincinnati (17 touches/94 total yards). But Ekeler also suffered a stinger, and his status for the Chargers’ Thursday Night matchup is currently uncertain. If Ekeler is unable to perform, and Melvin Gordon is also sidelined, Jackson would assume feature back responsibilities. But even if Gordon returns for the contest, Jackson would still provide an effective handcuff option for owners of both Gordon and Ekeler. He is worthy of a stash and could reward anyone who chooses to add him.

Frank Gore, Miami Dolphins - 27% owned

The majority of owners have not been enamored with the idea of adding Gore throughout the season, and the importance of this week’s fantasy postseason matchups might increase any apprehension. However, if you can avoid an extreme focus on his age (35) then you might stop dismissing a back who carries the ball with far greater frequency than many other runners that have been popular additions in recent weeks. He has received double-digit carries in nine of his last 10 games which includes the 12 attempts that he attained in Week 14. Gore capitalized on those opportunities by bolting for 92 yards (7.7 YPC) and has now averaged 4.4 YPC during the season. If you are exploring your most feasible flex options, Gore will receive enough carries to warrant consideration.


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 

Peyton Barber, Tampa Bay Buccaneers - 69% owned

There are several reasons to avoid using Barber in your lineups. This ultimately leads to the question of whether to even retain him on your rosters since there is essentially no way that you are going to use him. Even though he did generate a touchdown in both Weeks 12-13, he has only exceeded 47 yards twice since Week 7 and has failed to eclipse 4.1 YPC in nine of his 14 games. While his uninspiring output did not automatically make him a drop candidate during your regular season, his daunting schedule should provide you with sufficient incentive to avoid trusting him. The Ravens and Cowboys are both among the top five in fewest fantasy points allowed to opposing backs, and Barber's season-long limitations in generating yardage do not instill confidence that he will produce adequate results in Weeks 15-16.

Isaiah Crowell, New York Jets - 73% owned

There are several backs that would not necessarily be considered as droppable commodities if the season had not progressed into Week 15. But Crowell is among the backs that have retained a high ownership percentage, yet could only be started due to a massive and unwarranted leap of faith. While Crowell rushed for 219 yards in Week 5, and 98 yards in Week 13, those performances become lost among a mammoth collection of underwhelming outings in which he has failed to eclipse 40 rushing yards in nine different games. That includes Week 14, during which he was sidelined due to his foot injury. Even if he is active for the Jets’ matchup with Houston, it is difficult to envision a scenario in which he can be trusted with your season hanging in the balance. That should compel you to avoid having a wasted roster spot that contains his name.

Duke Johnson, Cleveland Browns - 58% owned

The fourth-year back was among my favorite middle-round targets throughout the draft process, primarily due to his extensive track record as a dynamic receiving weapon. But the same back who averaged 80 targets/63 receptions/580 yards from 2015- 2017, has received just 47 targets this season. Considering the pattern of limited use that we have witnessed throughout the 14 weeks that have transpired this season, his 59% ownership is surprising. There is no need to continue having Johnson anchor a spot on your roster that could be utilized for a runner who is actually receiving touches. Not only does Nick Chubb confiscate virtually every carry, but he has also captured 15 of his 22 targets during Cleveland's last four games. Unless you are focused on handcuffing Chubb, there is no reason to continue owning Johnson.

More Waiver Wire Adds and Pickups

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