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Week 16 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 in December. Congratulations to those of you whose diligence through the draft process and the regular season has been rewarded with an opportunity to play for your league's championship this week.

You now have one final week to remain unwavering in your efforts to examine which backs are most likely to strengthen your chances of winning your league. This includes examining the matchups for any runners that you have located on the waiver wire or are already contained on your 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.

This article will assist you in locating the running backs that will be beneficial to your championship aspirations. 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. Good luck to everyone this week.

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Frontrunners - Week 16 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.   

Jamaal Williams, Green Bay Packers -15% owned

Through the first 23 games of his professional career, Aaron Jones had repeatedly demonstrated that he is Green Bay's most effective running back, while fellow second-year back Jamaal Williams simply could not match Jones explosiveness, or his potential to generate big plays. But the knee injury that Jones experienced in Week 15 has dramatically altered the landscape that surrounds Green Bay's backfield. Now, any concerns regarding Williams should be set aside since Jones could be destined to miss the Packers' Week 16 matchup with the Jets. Williams amassed favorable numbers in Week 16, by accumulating 97 total yards on 16 touches including 55 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries. During a critical week in which injuries, unwanted committees, and uninspiring performances might have you searching for a different starter at the running back position, Williams suddenly emerges as an outstanding target.

Elijah McGuire, New York Jets - 32% owned

After McGuire finally made his season debut in Week 9, he was only entrusted with 8.3 touches-per-game during his first four contests, while being limited to a disappointing 41 YPG. But Isaiah Crowell's escalating foot issue vaulted McGuire into lead back responsibilities, which instantly expanded the percentage of opportunities that were distributed to the second-year back. He has averaged 20.5 touches since Week 14 while being allotted 17 carries in both games during that span. McGuire has capitalized by generating 154 total yards and two touchdowns during those matchups, including the 71 yards that he accrued in Week 15 against the Texans. Now that Crowell has been jettisoned to IR, McGuire will confiscate the vast majority of touches even though some will be siphoned by Trenton Cannon. This week’s matchup with Green Bay is not daunting, and McGuire’s sizable workload should help him deliver a favorable number of fantasy points.

Theo Riddick, Detroit Lions - 50% owned

Self-defeating personnel decisions have blended with an endless collection of injuries to expunge Detroit's passing attack for anyone not named Golladay. However, the destruction of what had been a respectable arsenal of receiving weapons for Matthew Stafford has resulted in a sustained role for Riddick as an essential component among Detroit's remaining options. In his last seven games, the sixth-year back has collected 36 of his 40 targets, and Riddick has also captured 59 receptions of the 71 passes that Stafford has launched in his direction this season. He has also been deployed as a runner with greater frequency since Week 13, averaging 7.3 carries-per-game, and accumulating 107 yards during that three-game sequence. Riddick is available in half of all leagues and will provide owners with an appealing flex option this week.


In The Running - Week 16 Waiver Wire Running Backs

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

Kalen Ballage, Miami Dolphins - 1% owned

Ballage entered Week 15 with just eight carries and 11 rushing yards on the season. But he heads into Week 16 as a popular waiver wire target, who could easily be functioning as a feature back. When Frank Gore suffered a foot issue during the Dolphins Week 15 matchup in Minnesota, it was Ballage who became the recipient of an expanded workload rather than Kenyan Drake. Ballage was allotted 12 carries and capitalized by rumbling for 123 yards. That included a 75-yard burst for a touchdown, which helped him construct an impressive 10.3 YPC. The health of Gore should be monitored as the week progresses, and the reasoning behind Drake's lack of usage is often entrenched in uncertainty under Adam Gase. But none of this ambiguity should create any hesitation in seizing Ballage, who will be available in your leagues.

Zach Zenner, Detroit Lions - 1% owned

If you can set aside your initial reaction to observing Zenner's name among this week’s options, then there are actually tangible reasons for considering him. The Lions have been tremendously committed to their ground game, and it has been proven that any Detroit backs that are utilized in each week’s rotation will have opportunities to carry the ball. That principle has allowed LeGarrette Blount to maintain a weekly role despite failing to exceed 3.0 YPC in 10 of his 14 games. But Blount’s ongoing ineffectiveness has resulted in Zenner’s resurrection as an offensive component during the Lions’ last two contests. Since Week 14, Zenner has accrued 99 yards on 22 attempts, while averaging 4.5 YPC in both games. Meanwhile, Blount manufactured just nine yards on seven carries in Week 15, and his collection of unimpressive performances has propelled Zenner into a more significant workload for Detroit. That makes him a back that you should target.

Kenneth Dixon, Baltimore Ravens - 23% owned

Since Dixon resurfaced within Baltimore's offense in Week 13, he has accumulated 173 total yards on 30 touches. That includes the 50 yards that he generated in Week 15 against Tampa Bay, as the third-year back produced 48 of those yards on the ground. While Gus Edwards remains Baltimore's lead back, Dixon is presented with an unobstructed path toward commandeering virtually every target that is designated for the Ravens’ backfield. While Gus Edwards remain the team’s lead back, he has only been targeted once this season, and that occurred back in Week 8. When that is combined with the fact that Ty Montgomery was inactive in Week 15, Dixon’s potential as a dual-threat back elevates him to strong consideration among this week’s RB3/flex options.


Dark Horses - Week 16 Waiver Wire Running Backs 

This group consists of running backs that can be added if you consider your situation to be desperate due to injuries or byes. 

Alfred Blue, Houston Texans - 8% owned

Lamar Miller owners were placed in the frustrating position of losing him to a high ankle sprain during the second quarter of Houston’s Week 15 matchup with the Jets. That limited Miller to a disheartening eight yards and his availability for Week 16 is currently uncertain. Blue only managed 15 total yards on 11 touches while performing as the Texans’ primary back, but his unimpressive production does not prohibit him from being a viable roster addition this week. Blue has averaged only 3.3 YPC on the ground this season and has only captured 14 receptions, but he would still supply owners with the enticement of a substantial workload if he is operating as the team’s primary back. If D’Onta Foreman performs for the first time this season, that would impact Blue’s role if Miller is sidelined. But Blue is the back to target as you monitor Miller's health throughout the week, and there is no reason to hesitate in seizing him for your roster.  

Keith Ford Buffalo Bills- 0% owned

When LeSean McCoy (hamstring) and Chris Ivory (shoulder) were both sidelined due to their respective injuries in Week 15, that immediately launched Marcus Murphy into an expanded role for Buffalo. But the fourth-year back suffered his own injury (arm) after assembling 35 yards on 11 carries. That elevated Ford into the Bills’ RB1 responsibilities and the rookie ultimately produced 53 total yards on 15 touches. He could function as Buffalo’s primary rusher again this week, depending upon the health of all three backs that had remained above him on the depth chart. While Ford is a logical roster addition, you already know how critical it is to monitor the status of McCoy, Ivory, and Murphy throughout the week.  But it is certainly possible that Ford will emerge from an area beyond the fantasy landscape to suddenly commandeer a favorable number of touches in Week 16. That is a scenario that owners usually cannot locate in Week 16.

Mike Davis, Seattle Seahawks - 18% owned

During your planning process for this week's roster, you should have alternative backs that you plan to target if your attempts to obtain this week's most enticing options are unsuccessful, or a combination of unwanted factors leave you scrambling later this week. Davis can still help potential owners who are searching for a flex option even though his value is constrained by the presence of Chris Carson above him on Seattle's depth chart. His role is also dependent upon the health of Rashaad Penny, as the rookie’s knee issue kept him sidelined during Seattle’s Week 15 matchup in San Francisco. Davis assembled 84 total yards on 13 touches against the 49ers, including a season-best 63 yards as a receiver. This served as a reminder that Davis can be effective while operating with responsibilities that go beyond simply functioning as a third-down back. If Penny is still contending with his injury this week, then Davis could easily receive another sizable role.


Also-Rans - Time To Say Goodbye

These backs can be dropped in order to secure an RB with greater potential to bolster your scoring this week. 

Chris Thompson, Washington Redskins - 45% owned

While Thompson is an absolute drop candidate, it should first be noted that Isaiah Crowell has been sent to IR as the result of his foot issue. Yet he is contained on rosters in 63% of all leagues. If you own Crowell and are playing for a championship this week, he should be dropped the instant that it is possible to do so. That same principle applies to Thompson, who has contended with health issues since Week 5 (knee/ribs) and has only touched the ball 23 times since Week 8. He is also encumbered even further by the struggles of Washington's injury-depleted offense, and you should not be compelled to retain him for any reason.

Duke Johnson, Cleveland Browns - 55% owned

Johnson should have been dropped from most rosters weeks ago, once we were supplied with sustained evidence that he would not be deployed with desirable frequency with Freddie Kitchens scripting Cleveland's offensive plays. Talent is certainly not an issue, as Johnson's resume includes averages of 80 targets/63 receptions/580 yards from 2015- 2017, and an RB11 finish in PPR leagues last season. However, he had been entrusted with an anemic total of seven touches from Weeks 12-14 before receiving eight during Cleveland's Week 15 matchup in Denver. While that did represent an increase in usage,  the consistent lack of opportunity throughout the season should provide enough rationale for you to avoid using him during your championship games. That leaves you with no reason to keep him unless you are a Chubb owner who prefers to retain a handcuff.

Carlos Hyde, Jacksonville Jaguars - 40% owned

When a running back's own NFL team decides that he is not worthy of even being active on game day that might be a pretty good indication that you don't need him on your roster. If you are among the 40% of league owners who have preserved a roster spot for Hyde, there has really hasn't been a tangible reason to keep him since Leonard Fournette returned to the Jaguars' lineup in Week 10. Hyde is not a true handcuff, as T.J. Yeldon confiscates a sizable percentage of touches whenever Fournette is absent. Hyde can't help you he isn't even allowed to enter the field, and there are other backs who should be designated for his roster spot.

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