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Week 2 Running Backs - Waiver Wire Pickups and Adds

Some of you who felt immediate satisfaction about your running back situation upon the completion of your drafts, may be experiencing different emotions after their Week 1 performances. While others among you who might have been concerned about your selections at this critical position might be more satisfied with your roster options after this week’s game action.

Leonard Fournette owners were reminded yet again that the benefits of having one of the league's true workhorse backs can be offset by a sudden injury that instantly terminates that runners' contributions to your scoring during that particular week. His latest health issue was just one of the latest developments that modified the expected workload distribution of backfields in Week 1.

Regardless of why you are now considering your waiver wire options, this article will assist you in locating the best players to target. These recommended options 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 considered as dropable in order for you to secure your replacements.

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Frontrunners - Week 2 Waiver Wire Running Backs

These backs should be your top priorities among the runners that are available on most waiver wires, and they are most likely to provide the boost in scoring that you are attempting to find. While some of these runners will be more beneficial in PPR formats, every back in this group has either captured an expanded workload as the result of injury or has proven that they could eventually be productive if a convergence of factors enhances their roles. All players have 50% or fewer ownership levels throughout all fantasy leagues.  

T.J. Yeldon, Jacksonville Jaguars - 9% owned

While there has been divergent opinion concerning the potential for Yeldon to supply stand-alone value for owners who had not drafted Fournette, his stock now elevates dramatically after yet another Fournette injury (hamstring). Yeldon carried 14 times for 51 yards after ascending into a sudden role as Jacksonville’s primary back, and caught three of his seven targets for 18 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, there had speculation that Corey Grant’s big-play potential would enable him to capture an expanded snap count this season. However, he only received one touch, and Yeldon was clearly the preferred back once Fournette departed the Week 1 matchup. Any Fournette owners who entered the season without Yeldon on their rosters should now make it a high priority to seize him. All other owners should also consider adding him, as any future absence by Fournette will instantly make Yeldon a viable starting option.

Phillip Lindsay, Denver Broncos - 2% owned

While rookie Royce Freeman garnered 15 carries and assembled 71 yards, the fact that fellow newcomer Phillip Lindsay replicated those numbers in both categories was completely unforeseen. Lindsay also manufactured a 29-yard touchdown with one of his two receptions, which made his NFL debut exceptional. There had been conversation concerning the favorable impression that Lindsay had been making on Denver’s coaching staff, but his Week 1 output surpassed expectations by an enormous margin. This immediately propels him from a region outside the fantasy landscape into a spot among this week’s most enticing waiver wire options, while also catapulting Devontae Booker beyond relevancy. As a result, all owners should consider him their second running back target beyond Yeldon.

James White, New England Patriots - 49% owned

White was included among the Week 1 recommendations, as the continuing delay to Sony Michel’s involvement with the Patriot offense appeared to provide the fifth-year back with a massive opportunity to accumulate targets, receptions, and fantasy points. He did ultimately collect four of his team-best nine targets for 38 yards and a touchdown, while generating 56 total yards against the Texans. White’s snap count was virtually even with Rex Burkhead’s (37/49.3%-36/48%), as his performance and usage provided further evidence that he merits inclusion within the weekly concoction of New England’s game-specific offensive approach, which should be retained even if Michel’s lingering knee issue allows the rookie into the team's mix. White should secure a respectable workload this week versus Jacksonville, and owners should take advantage of this opportunity to benefit from his involvement.


In The Running - Week 2 Waiver Wire Running Backs

These backs remain available on the waiver wire but are not necessarily must-adds. However, they are worthy of inclusion on your rosters if the top options are not available.

Jordan Wilkins, Indianapolis Colts - 36% owned

Owners were encouraged to seize Wilkins during last week’s waiver wire article, yet his ownership percentage remains surprisingly low. The level of skepticism regarding his workload and his ability to take advantage of his touches should diminish after his performance as Indy’s starting back against Cincinnati. Wilkins accumulated 61 total yards on 17 touches against the Bengals, while also leading the team with 40 rushing yards. Marlon Mack's hamstring issue has benefitted both Wilkins and Nyheim Hines (more on that later), although Mack could reappear next week when Indianapolis contends with Washington. However, Wilkins should have earned a sustained role in the offense, and is a viable addition to all rosters.

Darren Sproles, Philadelphia Eagles - 4% owned

Offseason discussion surrounding Philadelphia’s backfield was dominated by opinion on Jay Ajayi’s ability to reward owners for their investment of a fourth-round draft pick, and Corey Clement’s potential for confiscating a respectable workload. But the 35-year old Sproles surprisingly performed on 29 snaps (39%), which tied Ajayi, and was significantly higher than the count for Clement (13/18%). He also garnered all seven targets that were designated for the trio of backs, and collected four of those passes for 22 yards. The fact that Sproles was allotted more opportunities than Clement was unforeseen. But the expectation should now be for him to maintain a steady role as the team’s change-of-pace back on a weekly basis, as Doug Pederson will continue deployment of all three backs. That creates abundant rationale for rostering Sproles in PPR leagues, as he still possesses the burst to turn his opportunities into big gains.

Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers - 16% owned

While he did generate five touchdowns as a dual-threat back during his 2017 rookie season, Ekeler’s average of 4.6 touches per game could understandably lead to reluctance in adding him. But the incentive of procuring Ekeler may have expanded beyond the limited sect of Gordon owners, as he appears to have captured a role that is sufficient to provide stand-alone value. He accrued a career-high 126 total yards on 10 touches against Kansas City in Week 1, and could be used in similar fashion again this week when the Chargers line up against Buffalo. Ekeler bolted for 40 yards and a touchdown on just six carries versus the Bills last November, and is both a potential addition for owners in need, and a wise investment for any Gordon owners whose comfort zone is enhanced through the usage of handcuffs.


Dark Horses - Week 2 Running Backs Waiver Wire

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.  They could also supply you with an adequate bye week or short-term injury solution.

Nyheim Hines, Indianapolis Colts - 5% owned

While Wilkins should garner more attention among potential owners as a result of his Week 1 production, fellow first-year back Hines should also commandeer a larger presence within the fantasy landscape after he collected seven of his nine targets for 33 yards, while supplementing his receptions with 19 yards on the ground (3.8 YPC). He also performed on 35/45% of the Colts’ offensive snaps, which was not significantly lower than the 44/57% that was allotted to Wilkins. While a return to full health for Mack could impact Hines’ role, his versatility and potential to explode for huge gains should keep him involved within the Colts’ offensive approach.

Ty Montgomery, Green Bay - 29% owned

Montgomery was also a recommended option prior to Green Bay’s Week 1 matchup with Chicago, and there is nothing that occurred during the Packers initial contest that should discourage you from pursuing him. While he will not obtain a mammoth workload, he does remain involved in the team's offense as the primary receiving back. Montgomery’s prospective value has been largely disregarded amid the attention that was directed toward Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones, which is evident by his percentage of ownership. But his responsibilities are more likely to be sustained if he can evade health issues. This makes him a potential asset for owners in PPR leagues.

Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals - 30% owned

Joe Mixon capitalized on his 22 touches by amassing 149 yards and a touchdown, while displaying the proficiency that anyone who had drafted him in 2017 had yearned for throughout the year. So why is Bernard listed as a roster addition? Because he is capable of accruing sizable yardage while operating in Cincinnati’s offense, if he receives a sufficient number of opportunities. This should provide incentive for Mixon owners who remain comfortable with utilizing a roster spot toward handcuffing their valuable asset. However, all owners should consider his track record as a proven point producer when performing with a larger workload. In the three seasons that Bernard has played in 16 games (2013/2015/2017), he has averaged 49 receptions for 458 yards. He also accrued 507 total yards from Weeks 13-17 last season when Mixon was sidelined with concussion and ankle issues. If Bernard suddenly ascends into an expanded role, he will reward anyone who entrusts him on their rosters.


Also-Rans - Time To Say Goodbye

These backs can be dropped in order for you to secure a runner that delivers greater potential to bolster your scoring during the year.

Devontae Booker, Denver Broncos - 19% owned

Any remaining temptation to keep Booker on your rosters should have been eviscerated after he was allotted just four touches in Denver's Week 1 encounter with Seattle. Not only did Freeman capture a respectable workload, but newcomer Lindsay was also utilized with far greater frequency, and absolutely flourished in his professional debut. Booker only performed on 19 snaps, and his opportunity to function in any semblance of an integral role within the Bronco offense appears to have ended. There are better options available for you on the waiver wire.

C.J. Anderson, Carolina Panthers - 52% owned

Anderson’s inclusion is not a reflection on his effectiveness in Week 1, but instead is a byproduct of his expected workload and the projected ceiling that should result from his role as a complementary component behind Christian McCaffrey. Anderson produced 35 yards with his seven carries, and played on a microscopic 12 snaps (18%), while McCaffrey performed on 57 snaps (85%), and confiscated 16 touches - including 10 rushing attempts that manufactured 50 yards. We've now experienced tangible evidence that McCaffrey will be receiving the majority of rushing opportunities, and will be functioning as Carolina's pass-catching back. The belief from here is that he will often surpass his Week 1 workload, while Anderson's usage will not justify keeping him on your roster. This will make his presence on your bench an obstacle unless he dwells there solely as a handcuff for McCaffrey, as there are runners that will have the ball in their hands with greater frequency.

Mike Gillislee, New Orleans Saints - 4% owned

Last week, Gillislee was a suggested roster addition, as he appeared destined for a role with the Saint offense which could conceivably include goal-line opportunities. One week later, he is a prospective drop candidate after manufacturing an anemic nine yards on three carries and managing to lose a fumble despite the meager workload. That will not endear him to Sean Payton, nor should it leave him cemented to your bench. Alvin Kamara will capture the red zone chances until Mark Ingram returns to the field, and there are other backs that will be more useful for your team as the weeks progress.


More Waiver Wire Analysis

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