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Week 2 Running Backs: Waiver Wire Pickups & Adds


Week 1 in finally in the books and boy was it a good one. We got plenty of great performances out of the top players in the league (as I'm writing this another stud, Julio Jones, is absolutely going off on Monday Night Football). And then there were some not so great performances out of expected studs (C.J. Anderson anyone). Week 1 brought some scary injuries (Dez Bryant's foot), and some near scares (T.Y. Hilton appears to have avoided serious knee trouble). Now that it's all in our rear view mirror, and we've had a chance to process and play Monday Morning Quarterback (what were the Giants thinking!), it's time to start scouring the waiver wire to find the hidden gems that will catapult our teams up the standings. Hopefully you started your season on a good note, but regardless of win or loss in Week 1, there is always an opportunity to improve your team.

The waiver wire is where league's can be won. Just last season, we saw players like Odell Beckham Jr., C.J. Anderson, and Justin Forsett emerge as waiver wire adds that ended up being top 10 scorers at their respective positions. My goal on the waiver wire is to try to find running backs that, with the proper opportunity, can be top players at their positions. This ultimately creates value in two potential ways: either you are able to play the added player in a starting spot of your weekly lineup, or it gives you a trade chip to use to find help at a position of weakness.

Each week, this article will aim to highlight running backs that you should consider targeting on your league's waiver wire. I've split these players up into three tiers from most desirable to most desperate. Additionally, I've included players at the bottom of this list that I would be comfortable cutting as I don't see them contributing in a major way this season.

 

Cream of the Crop Running Backs for Week 2 Waiver Wire

These are running backs that I would add, no matter what my team composition, if they are available on your waiver wire. These players have a chance to be starters and weekly contributors to their NFL teams:

Benny Cunningham (RB, STL) - 12% owned on Fleaflicker

Cunningham was the lead dog on Sunday against the vaunted Seattle Seahawks defense. I actually recommended Cunningham in my weekly Last Minute Adds piece on Saturday, and it payed off nicely for those who did. Cunningham showed off some serious versatility racking up 122 total yards, 77 of which came in the passing game. The thought process from that article remains; Todd Gurley is not ready to play yet, and will likely sit out at least the first four games this season. Tre Mason is still coming back from a hamstring injury and Jeff Fisher is in no rush to bring him back. I think Cunningham will be a serviceable FLEX play in 12 team leagues until Gurley comes back and proves that he is ready to take on the lead role.

Dion Lewis (RB, NE) - 8% owned on Fleaflicker

Most people are treating Lewis like a one week fill in while LeGarrette Blount was suspended, but I see more potential here. Lewis looks to be the clear choice to take over the passing back role in the New England offense, a role that has the potential to be very productive. Lewis racked up 120 total yards in week 1 against the Steelers, but the real story was his 4 catches for 51 yards. Listen, I love LeGarrette Blount and believe he'll be a productive early down back for the Pats this season, but he is  not going to catch many balls. Shane Vereen was able to put up 838 total yards last season with 5 TDs. I think that's Lewis' floor for this year, which will make him a viable bye week fill in and potential starter if Blount were to ever get hurt or get in more disciplinary trouble.

Honorable Mentions: Fred Jackson (RB, SEA) - 39% owned

 

Wait and See Running Backs for Week 2 Waiver Wire

These are running backs highly available on the waiver wire who you should consider stashing if you have room:

Khiry Robinson (RB, NO) - 16% owned on Fleaflicker

I actually wrote about Robinson last week, so please see my thought process here. But after Week 1,  I'm only more sure of myself and this pick. The great thing about Robinson is he has two routes to playing time, as he is essentially the handcuff to both Mark Ingram and C.J. Spiller (not exactly models of good health). He finished with 70 total yards last week with Spiller out, so if you are looking for someone to plug and play when either Ingram or Spiller misses a game, Khiry is your guy.

Chris Johnson (RB, ARI) - 48% owned on Fleaflicker

It makes me nauseous just writing his name down, mostly because he has burned me so many times in the past. But the fact is that Andre Ellington has a PCL sprain (technically he hasn't been ruled out for Week 2 yet), and head coach Bruce Arians has thrown his full support behind Chris (not David Johnson).

Chris Johnson got 10 totes on Sunday, and ended up with a pedestrian 37 yards. David Johnson only got one touch, which he did take to the house, but the 10:1 touch ratio only supports Arians' sentiments about Chris Johnson being the clear lead back if Ellington misses time. Arizona has Chicago this week, a team that projects to be one of the worst run defenses in the league - so if picking up Johnson for a one week start in your FLEX spot, or trading him to a desperate owner is possible, I say go for it. David Johnson is the more talented running back here, and may emerge if Ellington is out, so he makes for a solid waiver wire add and stash as well.

Honorable Mentions: David Johnson (RB, ARI) - 46% owned, Duke Johnson (RB, CLE) - 58% owned

 

Hail Mary Running Backs for Week 2 Waiver Wire

These are desperation plays who shouldn't be starting for you. The injury bug, bye week troubles, or something else needs to be affecting your team to add these players:

Karlos Williams (RB, BUF) - 8% owned on Fleaflicker

One thing that became clear on Sunday is that Karlos Williams, not Bryce Brown, is the clear backup to LeSean McCoy. The other thing that became clear is that Karlos Williams has some real talent too. In fact, from what I saw in this game, Williams looked more explosive than McCoy. Williams got 6 carries which he turned into 55 yards and an impressive TD run. If McCoy were to go down I'd expect Williams to take the lead back role and run with it.

Buck Allen (RB, BAL) - 9% owned on Fleaflicker

Similar to Williams, Allen separated himself as the clear backup to Baltimore starter Justin Forsett. Allen received 9 carries which he turned into 30 yards against the tough run defense of the Denver Broncos. Lorenzo Taliaferro is yet to return from injury, but it looks to me like Buck is the next man up on the depth chart.

Honorable Mentions: Marcel Reece (RB, OAK) - 1% owned, Lance Dunbar (RB, DAL) - 27% owned, Denard Robinson (RB, JAC) - 48% owned

 

Running Backs to Consider Cutting for Week 2

These are players that I would be comfortable releasing for a "Cream of the Crop" or "Wait and See" player:

Alfred Blue (RB, HOU) - 82% owned on Fleaflicker

This is a true RBBC in Houston until Arian Foster is back on the field. Blue got the most carries of the group (9), but he was closely followed by Jonathan Grimes (6 carries) and Chris Polk (5 carries). It doesn't look like Foster will be good for week 2, but he seems to be close to making his 2015 debut and considering the RBBC here there is no upside in Blue or any of these temporary running backs.

 

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